Philosophy Essay Topics

This list of philosophy essay topics has been constructed to assist students who wish to explore a number of ideas in a specific time period or in a distinct subfield of philosophy. Topics have, accordingly, been grouped under two general headings: “Historical Periods” and “Subfields of Philosophy.”

HISTORICAL PERIODS IN PHILOSOPHY

Ancient Philosophy Essay Topics

Ancient Aesthetics
Ancient Skepticism
Arete Agathon Kakon
Aristotelianism
Aristotle
Arius and Arianism
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Confucius
Cynics
Demiurge
Epicureanism and the Epicurean School
Galen
Greek Academy
Homer
Hypatia
Mani and Manichaeism
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Neoplatonism
Origen
Plato
Pre-Socratic Philosophy
Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Sextus Empiricus
Socrates
Stoicism
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian
Thucydides
Xenophon
Zeno of Elea

Medieval Philosophy Essay Topics

Peter Abelard
Albert the Great
St. Augustine
Augustinianism
Averroes
Avicenna
Roger Bacon
Gabriel Biel
Maimonides
Petrarch
St. Thomas Aquinas
John Wyclyf

Modern Philosophy Essay Topics

Francis Bacon
Cesare Bonesana Beccaria
Jeremy Bentham
Robert Boyle
Edmund Burke
John Calvin
Margaret Cavendis
Nicolas Copernicus
Rene Descartes
Denis Diderot
Benjamin Franklin
Galileo Galilei
Edward Gibbon
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Thomas Hobbes
David Hume
Immanuel Kant
Johannes Kepler
Chevalier de Lamarck
Pierre Simon de Laplace
Duc Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leonardo da Vinci
John Locke
Martin Luther
Niccolo Machiavelli
James Clerk Maxwell
John Milton
Michel Eyquem De Montaigne
Baron de Montesquieu
Thomas More
Isaac Newton
Thomas Paine
Paracelsus
Blaise Pascal
Alexander Pope
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Friedrich Schiller
Hryhorii Skovoroda
Adam Smith
Benedict de Spinoza
Jonathan Swift
Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
Mary Wollstonecraft

19th Century Philosophy Essay Topics

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Auguste Comte
Emile Durkheim
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thomas Henry Huxley
John Stuart Mill
Friedrich Nietzsche
Arthur Schopenhauer
Henry Sidgwick
Georg Simmel

Early 20th Century Philosophy Essay Topics

Walter Benjamin
Nikolai Berdyaev
Georg Cantor
John Dewey
Albert Einstein
Sigmund Freud
Antonio Gramsci
Karl Kautsky
John Maynard Keynes
Petr Kropotkin
Vladimir Lenin
George Herbert Mead
Vilfredo Pareto
Ivan Pavlov
Marcel Proust
Wilhelm Reich
Alfred Edward Taylor
Thorstein Bunde Veblen
Max Weber
Wilhelm Wundt

Mid and Late 20th Century Philosophy Essay Topics

Theodore Adorno
Hannah Arendt
Jean Baudrillard
Simone de Beauvoir
Isaiah Berlin
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Albert Camus
Noam Chomsky
Jacques Derrida
Thomas Eliot
Michel Foucault
Jurgen Habermas
Martin Heidegger
Carl Gustav Jung
Thomas Kuhn
Jacques Lacan
C. S. Lewis
Jean-Francois Lyotard
Karl Mannheim
George Edward Moore
Robert Nozick
Jean Piaget
Karl Popper
John Rawls
Bertrand Russell
Amartya Sen
B. F. Skinner
Arnold Joseph Toynbee
Georg Henrik von Wright

SUBFIELDS OF PHILOSOPHY

Epistemology Essay Topics

A Priori and A Posteriori
Belief
Common Sense
Critical Realism
Doubt
Error
Feminist Epistemology
Idealism
Illusions
Imagination
Intuition
Irrationalism
Knowledge and Belief
Knowledge and Modality
Knowledge and Truth
Knowledge and Vagueness
Knowledge in Indian Philosophy
Moral Epistemology
Naturalized Epistemology
Perception
Pragmatist Epistemology
Rationalism
Realism
Reason
Self-Knowledge
Self-Prediction
Social Epistemology
Sociology of Knowledge
Thinking
Virtue Epistemology

Philosophy of Mind Essay Topics

Action
Agent Causation
Animal Mind
Artificial Intelligence
Behaviorism
Cognitive Science
Consciousness
Dreams
Dualism in the Philosophy of Mind
Emotion
Existential Psychoanalysis
Folk Psychology
Gestalt Theory
Innate Ideas
Intention
Knowledge Argument
Language of Thought
Memory
Mind-Body Problem
Parapsychology
Philosophy of Mind
Psychoanalysis
Self-Deception
Subjectivity
Thinking

Metaphysics Essay Topics

Appearance and Reality
Being
Chance
Constructivism and Conventionalism
Cosmology
Determinism and Freedom
Determinism in History
Dialectical Materialism
Essence and Existence
Eternal Return
Event Theory
Existence
Feminist Metaphysics
Fictionalism
Force
Idealism
Identity
Laws of Nature
Macrocosm and Microcosm
Materialism
Monad and Monadology
Monism and Pluralism
Naturalism
Ontology
Pantheism
Persistence
Personal Identity
Pessimism and Optimism
Possibility
Realism

Philosophy of Science Essay Topics

Black Holes
Bohmian Mechanics
Chaos Theory
Common Cause Principle
Conservation Principle
Copenhagen Interpretation
Decision Theory
Evolutionary Theory
Feminist Philosophy of Science
Functionalism in Sociology
Game Theory
Human Genome Project
Information Theory
Logical Positivism
Philosophy of Biology
Philosophy of Economics
Philosophy of Physics
Philosophy of Social Sciences
Philosophy of Statistical Mechanics
Physics and the Direction of Time
Probability and Chance
Quantum Computing and Teleportation
Quantum Logic and Probability
Relativity Theory
Science and Pseudoscience
Science Policy
Science Studies
Scientific Method
Scientific Realism
Scientific Revolutions

Logic Essay Topics

Combinatory Logic
Computability Theory
Computing Machines
Fallacies
First-Order Logic
Induction
Infinity in Mathematics and Logic
Intuitionism and Intuitionistic Logic
Liar Paradox
Ancient Logic
Logic and Inference in Indian Philosophy
Chinese Logic
Logic in the Islamic World
Medieval Logic
Modern Logic
Logical Knowledge
Logical Paradoxes
Logic Machines
Modal Logic
Second-Order Logic

Philosophy of Language Essay Topics

Artificial and Natural Languages
Compositionality
Conversational Implicature
Definition
Demonstratives
Events in Semantic Theory
Language
Language and Thought
Logical Form
Meaning
Metaphor
Modality and Language
Mass and Count Nouns
Performative Theory of Truth
Performative Utterances
Philosophy of Language
Phonology
Plurals
Pragmatics
Presupposition
Private Language Problem
Proper Names and Descriptions
Quantifiers in Natural Language
Questions
Reference
Religious Language
Rule Following
Semantics
Subject and Predicate
Syntactical and Semantical Categories

Continental Philosophy Essay Topics

Alienation
Alterity
Bad Faith
Jean Baudrillard
Albert Camus
Consciousness in Phenomenology
Critical Theory
Deconstruction
Discourse Ethics
Existentialism
Jurgen Habermas
Martin Heidegger
Hermeneutics
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
Jacques Lacan
Modernism and Postmodernism
Phenomenology
Philosophical Anthropology
Jean-Paul Sartre
Structuralism and Post-structuralism

Feminist Philosophy Essay Topics

Analytic Feminism
Feminism and Pragmatism
Feminist Aesthetics and Criticism
Feminist Epistemology
Feminist Ethics
Feminist Legal Theory
Feminist Metaphysics
Feminist Philosophy of Science
Feminist Social and Political Philosophy
Women in the History of Philosophy

Ethics Essay Topics

Altruism
Asceticism
Categorical Imperative
Conscience
Consequentialism
Contractualism
Deontological Ethics
Duty
Egoism and Altruism
Environmental Ethics
Moral and Social Equality
Error Theory of Ethics
Ethical Egoism
Ethical Naturalism
Ethical Relativism
Ethical Subjectivism
Ethics and Economics
Ethics and Morality
Evil
Evolutionary Ethics
Happiness
Hedonism
Human Nature
Intrinsic Value
Justice
Kantian Ethics
Love
Loyalty
Lying
Moral Dilemmas
Moral Rules and Principles
Objectivity in Ethics
Pleasure
Practical Reason
Projectivism
Promises
Punishment
Racism
Respect
Virtue and Vice

Applied Ethics Essay Topics

Abortion
Animal Rights and Welfare
Applied Ethics
Bioethics
Business Ethics
Computer Ethics
Engineering Ethics
Euthanasia
Genetics and Reproductive Technologies
Impartiality
Informed Consent
Informed Consent in the Practice of Law
Medical Ethics
Paternalism
Patriotism

Social and Political Philosophy Essay Topics

Affirmative Action
Anarchism
Authority
Censorship
Civil Disobedience
Communism
Conservatism
Cosmopolitanism
Democracy
Dialectical Materialism
Fascism
Freedom
Historical Materialism
Just War Theory
Justice
Liberalism
Liberty
Marxist Philosophy
Nationalism
Natural Law
Pacifism
Patriotism
War and Peace
Pluralism
Power
Property
Punishment
Racism
Reflective Equilibrium
Republicanism
Rights
Social Contract
Socialism
Society
Sovereignty
State
Terrorism
Toleration
Utopias and Utopianism
Violence

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art Essay Topics

Aesthetic Experience
Aesthetic Judgment
Aesthetic Qualities
Ancient Aesthetics
Authenticity in Art
Beauty
Creativity
Definitions of Art
Environmental Aesthetics
Expression in Art
Feminist Aesthetics and Criticism
Formalism in Art
Humor
Imagination
Interpretation of Art
Ontology of Art
Performance in Art
Philosophy of Film
Philosophy of Music
Representation in Art
Style and Genre in Art
Tragedy
Truth in Art
Ugliness
Value in Art

Philosophy of Religion Essay Topics

Agnosticism
Analogy in Theology
Atheism
Common Consent Arguments for the Existence of God
Concepts of God
Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God
Death
Deism
Divine Command Theories of Ethics
Doctrines of Heaven and Hell
Eschatology
Eternity
Hiddenness of God
Immortality
Infinity in Theology and Metaphysics
Liberation Theology
Meaning and Value of Life
Miracles
Moral Arguments for the Existence of God
Myth
Nihilism
Popular Arguments for the Existence of God
Providence
Reincarnation
Religious Doctrine of Creation and Conservation
Religious Experience
Religious Language
Religious Pluralism
Revelation
The Problem of Evil

Philosophical Movements Essay Topics

Empiricism
Enlightenment
Florentine Academy
Geisteswissenschaften
Gnosticism
Greek Academy
Hegelianism
Hellenistic Thought
Hermeticism
Historicism
Humanism
Jansenism
Logical Positivism
Mani and Manichaeism
Modernism and Postmodernism
Multiculturalism
Neo-Kantianism
Neoplatonism
New England Transcendentalism
New Realism
Nihilism
Ockhamism
Pantheism
Personalism
Pessimism and Optimism
Phenomenalism
Phenomenology
Physicotheology
Platonism
Stoicism
Thomism

Philosophy Essay TopicsSome of the topics can be placed within Ancient Philosophy (such as Arete and Demiurge), Medieval Philosophy (such as Liber de Causis and Scotism) and Modern Philosophy (such as Atheismusstreit and Jansenism). Most philosophical topics, however, defy allocation to one time frame because they relate to questions that have engaged philosophers for many centuries.

The list of philosophical subfields into which topics have been placed is not exhaustive. Indeed, there are many additional subfields that frequently bear the title “Philosophy of . . . ” such as Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Sex, Philosophy of Technology, etc.

Because most biographical topics describe scholars who make contributions in more than one subfield of philosophy (such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Bertrand Russell, and Hilary Putnam to mention only a few), it would be overly cumbersome to list each of them in all the subfields in which they worked. Some persons, however, can be reasonably associated with one particular subfield, such as Monroe Beardsley with Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, Georg Cantor with Philosophy of Logic, Confucius and Mencius with Chinese Philosophy, and Mohammed Arkoun and Seyyed Hossein Nasr with Islamic Philosophy. Such scholars are listed not only in one of the five historical periods but also within their distinctive subfields.

Philosophy begins with wonder, and the West has no monopoly on wonder. Human beings from diverse cultures have wondered about such things as truth, knowledge, logic, morality, and the nature of the human and also the transcendent. While the way questions are posed and answers are given may vary significantly from culture to culture, the topics of philosophy are truly multicultural. Dividing human development into distinct periods has an element of unavoidable arbitrariness. The point to be emphasized by utilizing such divisions, however, is that philosophical thinking is a growing concern and that stages of growth are usually recognizable. The topics covering diverse philosophical traditions will, it is hoped, display that growth and also the commonality of human wonder.

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