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Philosophy: Biographical Information

Basic Biographical Sources

Use the following sources, as well as many of those listed under "Encyclopedias and Dictionaries" to find biographical information on philosophers.

Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers
Main Library Reference B 104 .B5 1996
Each entry includes biographical information and a brief discussion of a twentieth-century philosopher's ideas and reception. Also includes a "Guide to Schools and Movements" section with references for further reading.
Contains biographical information on over 500,000 individuals from all time periods, geographical locations, and fields of endeavor. The advanced search option allows searching for people based on one or more personal facts, such as occupation as well as by broad subject categories (e.g., the Obama administration, criminals, inventors, etc.).
A Companion to the Philosophers
Main Library Reference B 72 .C595 1999
Presents essays on major African, American, Chinese, European, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, and Jewish philosophers throughout history.
Directory of American Philosophers, 1996-97
Main Library General Collection B 935 .D5
International Directory of Philosophy and Philosophers, 1995-96
Main Library General Collection B 35 .I67
Both volumes, produced by the Philosophy Documentation Center, list university and college philosophy departments, centers and institutes, philosophical societies, journals, publishers of philosophical works, and the names and addresses of philosophers, including some individuals with graduate philosophy degrees but not affiliated with any academic institution.
Great Thinkers of the Eastern World: The Major Thinkers and the Philosophical and Religious Classics of China, India, Japan, Korea, and the World of Islam
Main Library Reference B 5005 .G74 1995
In signed articles by noted scholars, summarizations of key ideas of major Eastern philosophical and religious thinkers.
Great Thinkers of the Western World: The Major Ideas and Classic Works of More Than 100 Outstanding Western Philosophers, Physical and Social Scientists, Psychologists, Religious Writers, and Theologians
Main Library Reference B 72 .G74 1992
In signed articles by noted scholars, summarizations of key ideas of major Western philosophical thinkers.
Women Philosophers: A Bio-Critical Source Book
Main Library General Collection B 105 .W6 K47 1989
Biographical information on women philosophers from ancient times to about 1920. Entries include bibliographies of works by and about the women described.

Choosing Biographical Sources

There are several aspects to consider when you are looking for biographical information and choosing a source.

> What type of information do you need? Basic information (e.g., birth and death dates) or an in-depth essay about the person with a list of other resources to consult?

> Do you want direct information about the person or do you want a list of resources to consult?

> Is the person you are researching living or dead?

> In what field (politics, business, writing) is/was this person active?

Read the brief descriptions of the available sources with these questions in mind and you'll be more likely to choose a source that will suit your needs.