How To Think Like A Philosopher

Scholars, Dreamers and Sages Who Can Teach Us How To Live

Peter Cave

How did the great philosophers of human history think? And what did they think about? In this light-hearted but intelligent guide, learn about existence, love and how to flourish – through the lives of some tremendous thinkers of the distant and recent past.

Whatever is this thing called ‘reality’ and how can we deal with it? What are we to make of our thoughts, feelings and sense of acting freely? The philosopher Peter Cave provides a readable and entertaining introduction to thinking philosophically via bite-sized biographies of some of the greatest sages the world has known. Addressing centuries-old puzzles with which philosophers have grappled, he relates them to our own lives right now, to existential anguishes of free speech, thought, the mind, ethics and sexual desire.

The chapters paint vivid portraits of a global assortment of remarkable scholars: from Lao Tzu, Socrates and Nietzsche, to Wittgenstein, Simone de Beauvoir and Iris Murdoch. Cave brings to life these often prescient, sometimes weird, always compelling philosophers, and shows how we can use their insights today. Now more than ever we need to understand how to live, and how to understand the world around us. This is the perfect guide.

First published by Bloomosbury Books in April 2023


This is an ideal guide to philosophical thinking; it does not try to reduce the views of those that it covers to bullet points, but instead engages with them in a thoughtful and witty way. Peter Cave is the perfect companion for a bright but leisurely walk through these labyrinths.
Derek Matravers, Professor of Philosophy, The Open University, Fellow of Churchill College, CambridgeBritain’s wittiest philosopher.

Raymond TallisHere is an extraordinary philosophical journey taking us through a maze of thinkers. For all those seeking to understand the myriad modes of philosophical thinking-ancient and modern-this is the perfect introduction.
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Emeritus Professor of Judaism, University of Wales

Peter Cave introduces the reader to thirty different thinkers. Not all are easily classified as academic philosophers: some are better thought of as sages or poets or playwrights. But each has something important to say about things that matter: rationality, science, sex, and duty, among other topics. Cave’s approach is to introduce each thinker through their chosen questions. From Sappho to Wittgenstein, from Arendt to Spinoza, we are able to enter into a chosen figure’s preoccupations and enjoyably think along. This is a much more effective and engaging approach than simple intellectual biography or summaries of key ideas. An absorbing and rewarding book.
Tom Sorell, Professor of Politics and Philosophy, University of Warwick.

Peter Cave introduces his top thirty thinkers with wit and clarity, and crams a surprising amount of judicious reflection into each of the short chapters.
John Cottingham, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading

Read this book. You may not learn to love like Sappho, cure like Avicenna, ponder like Spinoza, disguise yourself like Kierkegaard or rival any of the other fascinating eccentrics who fill the volume. But if you learn to think like Peter Cave – with freshness, humour, objectivity and penetration – you will have been amply rewarded.
Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, University of Notre Dame, author of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It

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