About Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers

We feature thousands of critical biographical entries on individuals who have contributed to the history of modern thought and philosophy. Each entry includes a comprehensive overview of a subject’s life, work, and reception together with a bibliography and list of further reading.

Designed to grow each year, our regions currently include Britain, Germany, France, Ireland, North America and the Middle East. Our time period focuses on the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Each year we add another region.

What makes our encyclopedia different is that as well as being purely biographical – the only entries you will find are entries on philosophers – we include figures who tend to be neglected. We have entries on individuals who have contributed to the development of modern American and European philosophy, but are usually overlooked because they are female or working in a profession omitted from studies of philosophy. 

Alongside the giants of philosophy you will encounter people from other intellectual domains: civil rights activists, classicists, clergymen, economists, mathematicians, novelists, poets, politicians and scientists who had something to say on topics that count as philosophical.

Download the full list of entries

Content Highlights:

  • More than 8,000 peer-reviewed entries on figures from North America, Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Middle East
  • Entries include a comprehensive overview of a subject’s life, work, and reception together with a bibliography and list of further reading
  • Covers thinkers from economics, sciences, classics, political thought, philosophy, theology, literature, law, and medicine
  • Excellent indexing tools using a bespoke taxonomy, organised by subject, school of thought, region, and period
  • Over 15,000 inter-article cross-references
  • An interactive, visual timeline to support contextual understanding
  • A glossary of Islamic terms

Extracts from Reviews:

The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2005

“Impressive historical and thematic breadth purposefully prevail over analytic and expository depth in this unique biographical dictionary encompassing individuals who contributed to philosophical thought in the US and Canada from 1860 to the early 1960s. Of the 1,082 entries by over 500 authors, 130 are devoted to women and minorities ... Entries are consistently clear and widely accessible, covering salient biographical and career information, followed by discussion of the subject's thought and work.”

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty/researchers.

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2005

“Befitting the biographical focus, all the major (and many minor) philosophers, theologians, and mystics (so long as they are not alive) receive illuminating treatment ... The wide net is welcome, given the great variety of approaches to wisdom (hikma) in Islamic traditions, from rational philosophy (falsafa) to illuminationist gnosis (ishraq). Potential readers will discover that this work covers not only a great variety of philosophers, but also nonphilosophical Sufi mystics like Abu Sa'id and Rabi'a, and influential mystical poets like Ibn al-Farid. The entry on the great Rūmī fills 18 columns, one of the largest. The editor is to be commended for compiling a work that will help to alleviate the pervasive ignorance of Islamic thought and culture in English-speaking countries.”

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic libraries supporting lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.

The Dictionary of Seventeenth-Century British Philosophers

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2000

“This source defines "philosopher" in the broadest sense possible, including writers on theological and political topics who might be left out of other reference volumes ... This approach yields two rich volumes, with entries arranged alphabetically, covering a large part of British intellectual life across an entire century ... Each entry has a bibliography of works by the philosopher and further readings, the latter including both biographical and specialized studies ... One cannot easily find elsewhere John Dryden's response to Whig resistance theory, Elias Ashmole's interest in the occult, or Isaac Newton's contributions in many fields.

Each entry has a bibliography of works by the philosopher and further readings, the latter including both biographical and specialized studies. Clear writing and well-chosen cross-references make this source all the more useful. Recommended for all research collections."

The Dictionary of British Classicists

Choice, 2004

“The recent, monumental Oxford Dictionary of National Biography will provide sufficient coverage of classicists for most collections, but from a random sample of ten entries from Todd, only six appeared in ODNB. Todd's dictionary draws together many elusive facts about the history of classical philology previously scattered through disparate Festschriften, memoirs, and senior common room legend.”

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Research libraries.

Image credits (top to bottom): Samuel Johnson: Image by Sir Joshua Reynolds / Getty Images; Ibn Rushd (Averroes): Photo by Design Pics / Ken Welsh / Getty Images; Sojourner Truth: Image by Hulton Archive / Staff / Getty Images; Karl Marx: Photo by Bettmann / Getty Images