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Library resources for philosophy: find primary and secondary sources online and on the library shelves

What are Primary Sources?

In Philosophy, primary sources can include:

  • Philosophical texts, treatises, meditations

  • Personal narratives, diaries, memoirs, correspondence, letters

  • Speeches

Find Primary Sources in the Library Catalogue

Search in the Library Catalogue and enter the philosopher you want to read as an author, or the work you want to read as a title


  • Author: Beauvoir, Simone de

  • Title: Diary of a Philosophy Student

For prolific philosophers, try using an Advanced Search to specify both title and author.

  • Author: Plato Title: Republic

  • Author: Confucius Title: Analects

If you are looking for works in translation, limit by language, eg:

  • Author: Aristotle Language: English

  • Author: Spinoza, Benedictus de 
    Language: English

If you are looking for a short treatise by a specific philosopher, look for the collected works of that philosopher, eg:

  • Author: Wittgenstein Title: Works 
    - using the title word "Works" will give you English translations

Search the Library to find Primary Sources

Search the Library to find books and ebooks by your Philosopher.
⇒ Use limits to narrow down by language, author, format, etc. Examples:

  • Republic
    - Location: Rutherford; UAlberta Internet
    - Language: Ancient Greek
  • A search for Simone de Beauvoir will find items by and about her. Limit by Author to focus on works by her. 
  • If you're looking for a short treatise by a specific philosopher, search for the collected works of that philosopher. Limit to "Catalog only", eg:
        AuthorWittgenstein Title: Works  (using the title word "Works" helps to focus on English translations, if that is what you need)
    - If you're looking for English translations, you can limit by language, eg:
        Author: Wittgenstein Title: Works  Language: English

Find Primary Sources in Selected Digital Collections

Classical Texts

Medieval and Renaissance

"Some questions are more important than answers." - Nancy Willard. Sculpture by Jean-Michel Folon Photo credit: Bellucci

Question mark by Beluscci

Philosophy Librarian

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Lucinda Johnston

17th-19th Centuries