Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts

The Presocratics


A great read for those interested in philosophy or the ancient world. The Presocratics contains various writings and information from the biggest and best philosophers of western thought (pre-Socrates as the name implies).

Including work by Zeno, Parmenides, and Pythagoras; this contains many of the first written words of the great thinkers as they wondered over life, creation, and other questions that humanity has had. While not a complete collection of their works, this text does work as a helpful primer to the writings of these scholars.

Oxford hosts one of the best editions of this book. Translated by Robin Waterfield, who is well versed in these philosophers and noting their works. It does the best about compiling and making this text easy to go over. Another great choice for this book is the Hackett Classic’s version. Tag-teamed by Patricia Curd of Purdue University and Richard McKirahan of Pomona College, you can tell they poured over the text line by line in their translation. On top of that there is a variety of different writings on these works from some of today’s best scholars.