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A selective guide to information resources in Philosophy at Queen's University Library.

The Importance of Background Information

Finding background information at the beginning of your research is especially important if you are unfamiliar with the subject area, or not sure from what angle to approach your topic. The types of information that a background search in a specialzed reference work can provide include:

  • Broad overview of the subject
  • Definitions of the topic
  • Introduction to key concepts/issues
  • Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
  • Major dates and events
  • Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches
  • Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

In addition to the sources listed here, you can also search Omni using the keywords of your topic combined with the type of reference work you're looking for, such as: encyclopedia, dictionaries, companion, bibliography, or handbook.



Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2006 edition, D. Borchert ed.
Paul Edwards, editor in chief
REF B41.E5 1972 (Includes 1996 supplement, D. Borchert ed.)
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online)
REF B51.R68 1998 (print)


Augustine Through the Ages: an Encyclopedia
REF B655.Z69A84 1999
4th ed.  Edited by Bruce Jennings
Brill's New Pauly
Online English-language version of the encyclopedia of ancient world studies.
Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy
REF B1111.C66 2006 (4 volumes)
Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy
REF B126.E496 2003
Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy
REF B163.E53 1997
Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
REF B802.E53 2003 (4 volume set)
International Encyclopedia of Ethics  
editor-in-chief: Hugh LaFollette. Published: Chichester : Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.


Dictionary Plus Philosophy
Published by Oxford, this dictionary comprises authoritative, highly accessible entries on terminology, concepts, theories, techniques, people, and organizations relating to philosophy. These entries are supplementary to other philosophy titles in the Quick Reference collection, and are written by specialist authors. The dictionary is an ongoing project, and more entries will be added over time.
New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (online)
REF CB9.N49 2005 (Law Library) (print)
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy 3rd ed. revised, 2016
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
REF B41.C35 1999
A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy
REF B131.G67 1996
Dictionary of Existentialism
REF B819.D455 1999
A Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations
B21.D54 1992
Dictionary of Philosophy & Religion: Eastern and Western Thought
REF B41.R43 1996t
This dictionary is laid out more like an encyclopedia in its approach to key terms. Terms are defined in the context of the ideas of those who introduced and developed them and cross references steer the user towards other movements, topics and philosophers. The brief analyses cover basically all the major philosophers and religious leaders.
Historical Dictionary of Feminist Philosophy
REF HQ1190.G36 2006
The Philosopher's Dictionary
REF B41.M37 2002t
The Sartre Dictionary
REF B2430.S33 Z84 2008

Biographical Information

Consult biographical dictionaries to get brief information about people, dates and events:
Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers
REF B104.B55 1996t
Lists not only publications by each philosopher but also secondary literature about the entrant. The scope is worldwide and entries are between 250 and 1250 words.
Biographical Encyclopaedia of Islamic Philosophy
REF B741.B56 2006
Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers
REF B851.D53 2005
Directory of American Philosophers
REF B923.D5 [24th edition (2008/2009)]
B935.D5 [v.3(1966)-v.18(1996-97)]
A guide to American and Canadian philosophers. The directory is divided into 6 sections: Universities (faculty), Assistantships (PhD and MA), Centers & Institutes, Societies, Journals and Publishers.
The Dictionary of Seventeenth-century British Philosophers
REF B1131.D538 2000
The Dictionary of Eighteenth-century British Philosophers
REF B1301.D53 1999t
The Dictionary of Nineteenth-century British Philosophers
REF B1573.D528 2002t
Fifty Eastern Thinkers
REF B5505.C645 2000
Provides information about major thinkers in eastern philosophy and religion. Also included are a glossary of philosophical terms, as well as bibliographies and recommended further reading for each thinker.
Women Philosophers: a Bio-critical Source Book
B105.W6.K47 1989


Consult bibliographies to find a comprehensive list of sources on a specific topic or a selective list of key works on a topic. 
Lists books, journals, primary documents, web resources, and multimedia in various discipline-based subject modules, including Philosophy.
Bibliographie de la Philosophie/Bibliography of Philosophy
A Bibliography of Philosophical Bibliographies
REF Z7125.A1G83
International Nietzsche Bibliography
B3316.Z9R35 1968
International Philosophical Bibliography
REF Z7127.R42 from 1949-
The Philosopher's Guide to Sources, Research Tools, Professional Life, and Related Fields
REF Z7125.D445
World Philosophy: a Contemporary Bibliography
REF Z7125.W87 1993


Blackwell Companions to Philosophy (Series)
Call number varies in SL Books, for editions available online, search Blackwell Reference Online
This reference series offers a comprehensive survey of philosophy as a whole. Each volume provides coverage of key figures, terms, and movements of the main subdisciplines of philosophy. Each essay is cross referenced and is supported by a selected bibliography.
Cambridge Companions to Philosophy (Series)
Call number varies in SL Books
Each volume of this series of companions to major philosophers contains specially commissioned essays by an international team of scholars, together with a substantial bibliography.
Cambridge Histories Online
Historical reference compendium allows access to the texts of the Cambridge Histories series, including eight volumes in the Philosophy Series.
Columbia Companion to Twentieth-Century Philosophies
REF B804.C5657 2007
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Online (2005 edition)
Print: Stauffer Library B51.O94 1995
"Surveys the foremost philosophy from all parts of the world."
Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race
The Companion synthesizes current philosophical understandings of race, providing 37 chapters on the history of philosophy and race as well as how race might be investigated in the usual frameworks of contemporary philosophy. 

Online Reference Collections

Oxford Reference Online: Philosophy
The Philosophy collection of reference works is one component in the Oxford Reference Online database, a huge and comprehensive resource which contains the full-text of over 120 dictionaries, companions and other reference publications covering the complete subject spectrum. Includes The Oxford Companion to Philosophy and The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

Oxford Handbooks Online: Scholarly Research Reviews
An outstanding collection of the best handbooks published by Oxford in 14 subject areas, including philosophy. The Handbook series contains in-depth, articles that review key issues and major debates.