Gifts for Philosophers

Having a crisis over what to buy for the philosophy lover who overthinks everything? Don’t despair. We have dozens of expert interviews full of philosophy book recommendations, including our philosophy editor Nigel Warburton’s selection of the best philosophy books of 2019. The novice or aspiring philosopher can find out where to begin in philosophy by reading books from this list. If your dream is for your child to be a philosopher, we even have a list for that. You’ll find recommendations for the Stoic in your life, the loved one who dreams of being an existentialist or even that friend who’s opted for an Epicurean lifestyle. HOWEVER, failing all those, here’s our hand-picked selection of gift ideas for philosophers:

  • 1

    Buy

    Reproduction of Bust of Socrates
    $$

    "I know that I have no wisdom, small or great" —Socrates. It may not be quite as good as the original in Athens, but a reproduction of the famous bust of the Greek philosopher is the perfect item to have on your desk. It's particularly useful when work is not going well. You say to yourself, 'Cut yourself some slack! Even one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived knew nothing.'

  • 2

    Buy

    René Descartes finger puppet
    $

    "I think, therefore I cannot be a finger puppet." Unfortunately later generations may turn you into one, and here is the great French philosopher reduced to 4 inches of knitted wool. If you've always wanted to have words with him about Cartesian dualism, you can pop him on your finger and look him in the eye while making your case. He can also be used as a fridge magnet. (NB Other philosophers also available)

  • 3

    Buy

    Friedrich Nietzsche Eternal Return of The Same Watch
    $$

    "If, in all that you wish to do, you begin by asking yourself: Am I certain that I would wish to do this an infinite number of times?" Thus spake Nietzsche. Reviews of this watch suggest the strap might need to be replaced, but what a great way to continually remind yourself to live in the moment.

  • 4

    Buy

    New Philosopher subscription
    $$

    As a group, philosophers aren't always the cheeriest bunch and they never seem very taken by those feel-good magazines at supermarket checkouts, promising "236+ Warm & Wonderful Festive Ideas." This quarterly magazine—which you can also buy at newsstands—is more up their street. Cheery articles include titles like "What makes a good death?" and more.

  • 5

    Buy

    Be Like Water T-Shirt
    $$

    There's all sorts of T-shirts on sale with philosophical maxims, but it's better for the philosopher in your life not to look too academic. As Harvard professor Michael Puett explained to us in his interview on Chinese philosophy, Bruce Lee's advice to 'Be Like Water' is straight out of the Daodejing by Laozi. Obviously, in our view, it's always better to buy the book. However, this T-shirt is a good second best, allowing you to spread philosophy while pretending to be into martial arts.

  • © Five Books 2019