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Philosophy and Psychology Books Organized in 4 Easy Steps

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You may have a sizable collection of philosophy and psychology books if you can answer yes to any of these questions: Do you have an obsession with Marcus Aurelius? Do you collect books on self-improvement? Does the meaning of life, the universe, and everything keep you up at night?

If this is you, please keep reading to find out what to do with your books. 

A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
philosophy-and-psychology-books

Home Library Organization

People who love books often accumulate large collections. And it can be frustrating when you find yourself wanting to consult or reread a particular one only to waste a lot of time tracking it down. You’re pretty sure you still own it, but it’s lost among all the others. 

In an earlier post, I outlined the advantages of using the Dewey Decimal Classification system for organizing your nonfiction books. If you have a lot nonfiction print books in your collection, reading that post should be your first step. I also listed a few of the subjects that belong in the the philosophy and psychology books section. Personality types, ghosts, hypnoses, and critical thinking are a few more examples.

If you suspect that more than 30 of your books belong in the 100s, read on.  This post will give you the guidance to further refine the arrangement of  the Philosophy and Psychology books in your collection.

Dewey Decimal Categories

The chart above covers the basic ten categories of the DDC. If you haven’t gone through your books to decide where they belong, you may want to look at my previous post and go through those steps first. Then come back here for more in-depth information on the second category:  the 100s Philosophy and Psychology.

The 4-step process for home library organization

The four-step home organization process is covered in more detail in “Easy Home Library Organization Using the Dewey Decimal System.” But here, briefly, are the steps:

  1. Examine the chart above.
  2. Decide in which category above each book belongs. 
  3. Make piles of books for each category.
  4. Decide where each category will be housed. 

Very few personal collections contain books in every category. In fact, you may be surprised to find that 90 percent of your books can be grouped into one specific section.

Sometimes the books in the Philosophy and Psychology section can be confused with books in the Religion or Social Sciences sections. This is understandable, they can deal with similar themes. If you are wondering where some of your books belong, this and my posts on those sections should clear it up for you.

I also have deeper dives into General Knowledge, Language, Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences, Arts and Recreation, Literature, and Geography, Biography, and History

Below is a chart that further subdivides the Philosophy and Psychology category.

You may want to look over each subdivision and further divide your books accordingly. If you chose to make a spreadsheet of your books as suggested in “Easy Home Library Organization Using the Dewey Decimal System,” you may want to further mark your books on the spreadsheet. For instance, if you had 30 books marked as belonging in Philosophy and Psychology, you may now have 10 of those marked at 110, 5 as 150, 12 as 170, and 3 as 180.

I go over how to create recordkeeping systems for your books in “Simple Record-Keeping for Your Home Library.”  If you suspect you have a lot of books on General Knowledge, I have a post for that too. 

Every book collection is different. The point is to narrow your collection down more specifically, so you will be able to locate the books effortlessly when you need to find one. 

Philosophy and Psychology books in brief

Below is a brief discussion of each subcategory of Philosophy and Psychology books. Each of these can be further subdivided into ten subcategories. I’ll go into more detail about some of these subcategories in future posts. 

100 Philosophy, parapsychology, and occultism, psychology

This section is for works that discuss philosophy as a subject in itself. Any work that either contains several branches of philosophy or that answer broad philosophical questions belong here. This includes books of theory, dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances of philosophy, serial publications, and organizations, as well as education on and research in philosophy and psychology. Philosophical histories and biographies round out this section.

Recommended books in general philosophy, parapsychology, psychology, and occultism:

  • Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer
  • Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon edited by Barbara Cassin
  • The Philosophy Shop: Ideas, Activities, and Questions to Get People, Young and Old, Thinking Philosophically  edited by Peter Worley
  • A History of Western Philosophy by Bertand Russell
  • The Pursuit of Wisdom: A Chonological Inquiry of the World’s Most Influential Seekers of Wisdom in the Fields of Theology, Philosophy, and Science by Dean Chavooshian

110 Metaphysics

metaphysics-fractal

Metaphysics refers to any reality beyond the perception of human sense organs. In other words, it is the study of anything and everything we cannot study through direct observation. We can speculate about these topics, but may never be able to know with objective certainty.

metaphysics

This includes are great deal of territory such as ontology which is the study of being and existence. It contains books on cosmology in the philosophical sense, which covers aspects about the nature of the universe, such as cosmic harmony, space, time, change, structure, force and energy, as well as number and quantity. All these are examined from a philosophical, not a scientific viewpoint, although the speculations contained in them may be informed by science.

In my opinion, this is truly a mind-blowing section. It is not for the timid.

Recommended books in metaphysics:

  • God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams
  • Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism, and the Birth of a New Myth by Theodore Richards
  • The Image of Eternity: Roots of Time in the Physical World  by David Park

120 Epistemology, causation, humankind

epistemology

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. I asks questions like: What does it mean to know something? What is the structure of knowledge?

Causation asks questions like: What is the reason that things are as they are? Is it mere chance or is there a reason? Those examining the question of determinism vs. indeterminism and books about the definition of the self—consciousness, subconscious, and unconscious belong here.

Here’s a video clip by Systems Innovation. It is an extremely simple definition of causation. 

Books on humankind would examine the soul and the mind. Comprehensive works on consciousness, philosophical anthropology and the origin and destination of souls,  (immortality, incarnation, reincarnation, and transmigration) are shelved in this fascinating section!

Recommended books in epistemology, causation and humankind:

  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz
  • Causation: A User’s Guide by L.A. Paul and Ned Hall
  • The Taming of Chance by Ian Hacking
  • Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett
  • The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
  • An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth that the Brain Produces Consciousness, and the Implications for Everyday Life by Mark Gober
  • The Conduct of Life  by Lewis Mumford
  • The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson
  • Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Afterlife by Leslie Kean

130 Parapsychology and occultism

Both parapsychology and occultism (which means hidden) are compelling topics for many. Here we find books on hauntings; divination through bones, dice, dowsing, cards, tea leaves and so on; demonology, witchcraft, magic, witch hunting, spells, curses, charms, and the black arts; astrology; parapsychological phenomena such as ESP, psychokinesis, and auras; spiritualism, mediumship and life after death, among others.

The symbolism and interpretation of dreams go here, as do mystery schools like Rosicrucianism and Hermetism. Physiognomy (studying a person’s character from the features on their face) and phrenology (determining intellectual and character traits about a person by the shape of their skulls) are also placed in this section.

Recommended books in parapsychology and occultism:

  • Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century edited by Etzel Cardean et al.
  • Color Your Chakras: An Interactive Way to Understand the Energy Centers of the Body by Susan Shumsky
  • Evidence of the Afterlife: the Science of Near-Death Experience by Jeffrey Long
  • In the Devil’s Snare by Mary Beth Norton
  • Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth by Benebell Wen
  • The Forgotten Language: An Introduction to the Understanding of Dreams, Fairytales, and Myths by Erich Fromm
  • The Mature Mind by H.A. Overstreet
  • The Meaning of Persons by Paul Tounier

140 Specific philosophical schools and viewpoints

philosophical-schools

This is another section that covers a lot of ground, these books discuss the concepts of ideology, world views, systems of beliefs, critical appraisals and contain the collected writings of individual philosophers.

Plato

A few examples would be idealism (like subjectivism and individualism); critical philosophies (like Kantianism and phenomenology); intuitionism; humanism (such as Pragmatism and utilitarianism); sensationalism; naturalism (like dynamism); pantheism (like dualism; dogmatism, eclecticism, and liberalism); and many others, some of  the better know ones are relativism, realism, mysticism, rationalism, nihilism, fatalism, Neo-Scholasticism, and linguistic philosophies.

And that’s a partial listing. Whew!

Recommended books in specific philosophical schools:

  • At the Existenialism Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Meleau-Ponty and Others by Sarah Bakewell
  • American Transcendentalism: A History by Philip Gura
  • Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett
  • Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill

150 Psychology

psychology

This is such a huge section it is hard to do it justice. It may seem strange that the psychology section is shoehorned into just one tens category surrounded on all sides by philosophy. But at the time Melvil Dewey created the system in the 1870s, psychology was still a budding science. In fact, the word psychology had not yet entered the common lexicon. Dewey labeled this category “Mental Faculties.” Freud hadn’t yet begun to publish his works.

This section contains general and comprehensive works of psychology which cover some or all  the systems, viewpoints, groups of people, history, geographic treatments, and biographies involved with it. So you would find the collected works or biographies of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Howard Gardner, Steven Pinker, Susan Blackmore, and Daniel Kahneman just to name a few.

hallucination

The section also covers studies of sensory perceptions such as visual and auditory; the emotions; motor functions; and physiological drives. Conscious mental processes, intelligence, memory, imagination, thought processes, will, motivation, and personality  books go here. Books on the subconscious, daydreams, hallucinations, drug-induced altered states, dream phenomena, and  hypnosis go here.

Individual psychology with books on personality and identity, sex psychology, developmental psychology covering childhood through late adulthood, behavior genetics, group psychology, and environmental psychology all have a place here. 

Finally, applied psychology books are those that discuss applications of psychology, counseling, and self-help. So books on how to achieve personal well-being, good relationships with others, assertiveness, sensitivity, transactional analysis, group counseling, and vocational psychology go in the 150s.  

An entire post will be devoted to the psychology section in the future.

Recommended books in psychology:

  • Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential, and How You Can Achieve Yours by Shirzad Chamine
  • Freud: A Life for Our Times by Peter Gay
  • Man’s Search for Himself by Rollo May
  • What if This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Islands of Genius: the Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant by Darold A. Treffert
  • Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience by David Luke
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
  • Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are by Roger Fouts and Stephen Tukel Mills
  • Secrets from the Sofa: A Psychologist’s Guide to Achieving Personal Peace by Kenneth Herman

160 Philosophical logic

Venn-diagram

Logic is the science of reasoning and it involves logic operators, the logic of types, critical thinking, and predication and propositions. Inductive and deductive reasoning, fallacies, syllogisms, hypotheses, argument and persuasion, as well as analogy books belong here.

Did you catch all that? Check out Carneades.org for more information. 

Recommended books in logic:

  • Guides to Straight Thinking by Stuart Chase
  • If A then B: How the World Discovered Logic by Michael Shenefelt and Heidi White
  • Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking by Douglas Hofstadter

170 Ethics

This is the area of moral philosophy. Metaethics, conscience, ethics of specific subjects and interdisciplinary works on social ethics, and biographies of ethical thinkers are shelved here. Ethical systems are based on things like authority, reason, and perfectionism. Other ethical systems are based on biology, education, and social factors.

Ethics of areas like politics; family relationships; occupations (including and not limited to the clergy, business, law, finance, and medicine); recreation (including and not limited to dancing, gambling and sportsmanship); sex and reproduction (including and not limited to birth control, obscenity and pornography); social relations (hospitality, politeness, personal appearance, and love); and consumption (abstinence, consumption of natural resources, and wealth) belong in the 170s.

A few other ethical norms included are environmental and ecological ethics, the treatment of children and animals, respect for human life, capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, and the ethics of violence and nonviolence.

Recommended books in ethics:

  • A History of Western Morals by Crane Brinton
  • The Ethical Project by Philip Kitcher
  • Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Dreger
  • The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse: How to Spot Moral Meltdown in Companies–Before It’s Too Late by Marianne M. Jennings
  • Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells by Jane Maienschein
  • Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok
  • The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories edited by Daniel Imhoff
  • Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge by Susan Jacoby

180 Ancient, medieval, Eastern philosophy

eastern-philosophy

Eastern philosophy is referring to any philosophy originating in the eastern hemisphere, whether ancient, medieval or modern, including those based on specific religions and from specific regions.

Ancient and medieval philosophies are referring to  those originating in the Western Hemisphere. Pre-Socratic Greek philosophies such as Ionic philosophy and Heraclitan philosophy are shelved here along with Sophistic, Socratic and related Greek philosophies like Cynic and Elian philosophies. The later Platonic philosophies and Aristotelian philosophies, both ancient and modern also go here.

Skeptic, Neoplatonic, Epicurean, Stoic, and Medieval philosophies including patristic, scholastic, and mystical philosophies are shelved in the 180sW

Recommended books in ancient, medieval and Eastern philosophy: 

  • The Heart and Science of Yoga: The American Meditation Institute’s Empowering Self-Care Program for a Happy, Healthy, Joyful Life by Leonard Perlmutter
  • Fragments of Parmenides: A Critical Text with Introduction, and Translation, The Ancient Testimonia and a Commentary by A. H. Coxon
  • The Death of Socrates by Emily Wilson
  • Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Goldstein

190 Modern Western and other non-Eastern philosophy

modern-philosophy

Comprehensive works on modern philosophy and those of occupational (medicine, law, and education) and religious groups (Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic), as well as national and ethnic group philosophies are shelved in this section.

 As far as I can tell, the countries and regions that are specifically spelled out as Eastern are not listed anywhere, but the Western ones specifically spelled out as belonging in this section are The United states and Canada, the British Isles, Germany and Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, Russian and the former Soviet Union, Scandinavia and Finland.

Other geographic areas included here are specified as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Since they are not generally considered part of the East, I am assuming all South American, Central American, African, Australian and New Zealand philosophies would go here. I am not sure about the Pacific Islands. 

Recommended books in modern western philosophy:

  • The Fragmentation of Being by Kristopher McDaniel
  • Philosophical Explanations by Robert Nozick
  • The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays by Isaiah Berlin
  • Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography by Julian Young
  • The Passion of Michel Foucault by James Miller
  • Spinoza: A Life by Steven Nadler

Sit back and admire your organized shelves

Once you have further subdivided your philosophy and psychology books, be sure to update any spreadsheets or card catalogs you may have made for them. If you don’t know how, it is covered in “Simple Record-Keeping for Your Home Library.” Part of the joy of having a system is that you will never need to worry about misplacing a beloved book again.

Now pour yourself a favorite beverage and enjoy your organized book collection.

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