Philosophical Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Philosophical Encyclopedias and Dictionaries


reference works that contain a compilation of important information on philosophy and its subdivisions. Philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries are arranged alphabetically, according to topic, or in a combination of these two methods. There are several types of philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries: those of a general nature; those devoted to individual subdivisions of philosophy, to individual countries, or to philosophical schools; biobibliographical dictionaries of philosophers; dictionaries devoted to the works of individual philosophers; and interlingual dictionaries of philosophical terms.

Aristotle’s works can be considered the first general encyclopedia covering the knowledge acquired in the ancient world. It included a work on philosophy, entitled Metaphysics, that followed a work on physics. Almost every section in Metaphysics began with a definition of a philosophical concept. In the first half of the third century A.D., Diogenes Laertius compiled the first biographical dictionary of Greek philosophers, the only surviving work of its kind from the classical period. It consisted of ten books and had no title or conclusion. Published in many editions since 1457, it is often called Lives, Doctrines, and Opinions of Famous Philosophers.

During the Middle Ages, encyclopedias usually combined philosophy with other subjects from among the seven liberal arts; by philosophy was meant the totality of the knowledge covered by these subjects. At this time, encyclopedias and dictionaries specializing in philosophy were compiled as well. The Byzantine author of the Universal History to 518, Hesychius of Miletus (mid-sixth century), compiled the Onomatalogus sive Compendium de vitis philosophorum. A later author expanded this work in the first half of the ninth century and made it into an alphabetical dictionary. A Neoplatonist from Egypt, Isaac ben Salomon Israeli (c. 850-c. 950), wrote in Arabic the Kitab al-Hudud wal Rusum. Suidas’ philosophical Lexicon of the second half of the tenth century was arranged alphabetically. Avicenna wrote the encyclopedic philosophical compilation Kitab al-Shifa, as well as the Kitab al-Hudud.

The anonymous Compendium philosophiae, written (probably in France) around 1327, was a philosophical dictionary arranged nonalphabetically, according to topic; it was first published (partially) in Paris in 1936. The 13th-century scholar Moses ben Solomon of Salerno compiled A Hebrew-Italian Philosophical Dictionary of the 13th Century, a work that was first published in Rome in 1969. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae (1265–73) was an encyclopedia of scholastic philosophy arranged by topic.

The first printed philosophical encyclopedia, Margarita philosophica (Heidelberg? 1496?), was compiled by Maximilian I’s confessor, Gregor Reisch. It was later published in Basel in 1503 and in Strasbourg in 1504, and was reissued several times during the 16th century. Its 12 parts dealt with natural philosophy, logic, psychology, and ethics. The first philosophical encyclopedia devoted solely to philosophy was written by the Venetian Giovanni Baptista Bernardo and was entitled Seminarium sive Lexicon triplex atque indices in philosophiam Platonicam, peripateticam, stoicam (vols. 1–3, Venice, 1582–85).

In modern and contemporary times, particularly beginning in the 19th century, the number of philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries has increased. They have been published in different countries and vary in format and in terms of the philosophical schools and subdivisions that they deal with.

Among the many general philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries published in the 20th century, the most important are the Italian Enciclopedia filosofica (vols. 1–4, Venice-Rome, 1957–58), compiled at the Gallarate Center of Philosophical Studies, and the British and American The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (editor in chief, P. Edwards, vols. 1–8, New York-London, 1967). The world’s first Marxist philosophical encyclopedia, the Philosophical Encyclopedia, was published in the USSR (editor in chief, F. V. Konstantinov, vols. 1–5, Moscow, 1960–70).

The first philosophical dictionary in Russia was “Information About Words That Have Been Adopted by Necessity in Philosophical Material.” Consisting of a single page, it was inserted by G. N. Teplov in his Knowledge Generally Relating to Philosophy, for the Use of Those Who Cannot Read About This Material in Foreign Books (book 1, St. Petersburg, 1751, p. [14]). A more extensive philosophical dictionary, also published within a book, was the “Philosophical Dictionary” that A. I. Galich published in the second book of his History of Philosophical Systems (St. Petersburg, 1819, pp. 300–40).

The first separately published philosophical dictionary in Russia was the very important Philosophical Lexicon (vols. 1–4, Kiev, 1857–73) by S. S. Gogotskii, who was also the author of the Philosophical Dictionary, or Brief Explanation of Philosophical and Other Scholarly Expressions Encountered in the History of Philosophy (Kiev, 1876). The publishing house of Brockhaus and Efron published the Philosophical Dictionary of Logic, Psychology, Ethics, Aesthetics, and the History of Philosophy, edited by E. L. Radlov (fases. 1–2, St. Petersburg, 1904). The ninth volume of I. D. Sytin’s Popular Encyclopedia of Scholarly, Scientific, and Applied Knowledge (vols. 1–14, Moscow, 1910–12) was devoted to philosophy and pedagogy.

In the USSR, two editions of T. S. Ishchenko’s Brief Philosophical Dictionary were published in 1930 and 1931. The year 1939 witnessed the publication of the Brief Philosophical Dictionary, edited by M. M. Rozental’ and P. F. Iudin. An expanded edition of this dictionary, entitled A Philosophical Dictionary, was published in Moscow in 1963; it was reissued in 1972 under the editorship of M. M. Rozental’. In 1966 the 1939 edition of the Brief Philosophical Dictionary was reissued as A Brief Dictionary of Philosophy under the general editorship of I. V. Blauberg et al.; a second edition was published in 1970.

Other Soviet philosophical dictionaries have included A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms [by R. N. Nurullaev] (Baku, 1959), A Russian-Kirghiz Dictionary of Philosophical Terms by B. Amanaliev (Frunze, 1967), An Interpretative Philosophical Dictionary by A. A. Zavtur (Kishinev, 1968), A Russian-Tadzhik Dictionary of Philosophical Terms [by M. Asimov, M. Bachaev, and M. Dinorshoev] (Dushanbe, 1966), Filosofiiadan kiskacha lurat, edited by M. M. Khairullaev (Tashkent, 1973), and A Philosophical Dictionary, edited by V. Shinkaruk (Kiev, 1973).

The most important foreign philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries of the 17th century were Reportorium philosophicum by N. Burchardi (Leipzig, 1610), Celebriorum distinctionum turn philosophicarum turn theologicarum synopsis by H. L. Chasteig-ner (Poitiers, 1612), Lexicon philosophicum by R. Goclenius (Frankfurt, 1613), Compendium philosophicum by J. H. Alsted (Herborn [Germany], 1626), Distinctiones philosophicae by G. Reeb (Ingolstadt [Germany], 1629), Lexicon philosophicum terminorum philosophis usitatorum by J. Micraelius (Jena, 1653), Vade mecum, sive Manuale philosophicum quadripartitum by J. A. Scherzer [et al.] (parts 1–4, Leipzig, 1658), Dictionarium philosophicum by H. Volckmar (Giessen, 1676), and Lexicon rationale, sive Thesaurus philosophicus ordine alphabetico digestus by E. Chauvin (Rotterdam, 1692).

Among the increasing number of philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries published in the 18th century, the most important were Philosophia definitiva, hoc est definiciones philosophicae by F. C. Baumeister (Wittenberg, 1735), Philosophia recens controversa complexa definitiones theoremata et questiones nostra aetate in controversiam vocatas by Baumeister (Leipzig-Görlitz, 1738), Compendieuses lexicon philosophicum by J. H. Hübner (Frankfurt-Leipzig, 1715)—the first general philosophical dictionary in a European language (German)—and Lexicon philosophicum by Plexiacus (The Hague, 1716). The Philosophisches Lexicon by J. Walch (Leipzig, 1726) was the first alphabetical general philosophical dictionary in German, and the Dictionnaire philosophique portatif by Voltaire (London [actually Geneva], 1764) was an alphabetical antireligious dictionary of Voltaire’s essays that gave rise to polemics and that was frequently reissued. Other important philosophical dictionaries of the 18th century were the Dictionnaire anti-philosophique [by L. M. Chaudon] (Avignon, 1767), The Philosophical Dictionary [by F. X. Swédiauer] (vols. 1–4, London, 1786), Philosophisches Wörterbuch by S. Maimon (Berlin, 1791), and Encyclopädisches Wörterbuch der kritischen Philosophie by G. S. A. Meilin (vols. 1–6, Züllichau-Leipzig-Jena, 1797–1804).

The most important philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries published in the 19th century were Allgemeines Handwörterbuch der philosophischen Wissenschaften, nebst ihrer Literatur und Geschichte by W. T. Krug (vols. 1–5, Leipzig, 1827–29), Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques, edited by A. Franck (vols. 1–6, Paris, 1844–52), The Vocabulary of Philosophy, Mental, Moral, and Metaphysical by W. Fleming (London-Glasgow, 1857), Wörterbuch der philosophischen Grundbegriffe by F. Kirchner (Heidelberg, 1886), and Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe und Ausdrücke by R. Eisler (parts 1–8, Berlin, 1899).

A list, by country, of the most important foreign philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries follows.


Boyer, P. H. Diccionario breve de filosofía. Buenos Aires, 1962.

Diccionario filosófico. Edited by I. Quiles and J. Rey Pastor. Buenos Aires, 1952.

Pequen̄o diccionario de filosofía, parts 1–2. Buenos Aires (Centurion), 1947.

Ruiz Moreno, M. T. Vocabulario filosófico, Buenos Aires, 1941.


Gould, L. H. Marxist Glossary. Sydney, 1946.


Grooten, J., and G. J. Steenbergen. Filosofisch lexicon. Antwerp-Amsterdam, 1958.


Lopes de Matos, C. Vocabulario filosófico. São Paulo, 1957.

Soares, O. Dicionário de filosofía, vol. 1 (A-D). Rio de Janeiro, 1952—.


Blatná-Orálková, L. Česko-ruský a rusko-český slovník z oboru filosofie a marxismu-leninismu. Prague, 1958.

Stručný filosofický slovník. Prague, 1966.


Hanneborg, B., and K. Hanneborg. Filosofiskordbog. Copenhagen, 1971.


Vakhba, Murad, Yusuf Karam, and Yusuf Shlala. Arabic-English-French Philosophical Dictionary. Cairo, 1971.

Federal Republic of Germany

Herders kleines philosophisches Wörterbuch. Edited by M. Müller and A. Halder. Freiburg, 1958.

Marxistisch-leninistisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Edited by G. Klaus and M. Buhr. Vols. 1–3. Reinbek [near Hamburg], 1972.

Metzke, E. Handlexikon der Philosophie. Heidelberg, 1948.

Neuhäusler, A. Grundbegriffe der philosophischen Sprache. Munich, 1963.

Philosophisches Wörterbuch. Edited by W. Brugger. Vienna, 1948; 13th ed., Freiburg, 1967.

Schmidt, H. Philosophisches Wörterbuch. Leipzig, 1912; 19th ed. revised by G. Schischkoff, Stuttgart, 1974. Translated into Russian as Philosophical Dictionary. Moscow, 1961.

Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe. Edited by J. Hoffmeister. Leipzig, 1944; 2nd ed., Hamburg, 1955.


Cuvillier, A. Nouveau Vocabulairephilosophique. Paris, 1956.

Foulquié, P. Dictionnaire de la langue philosophique. Paris, 1962.

Goblot, E. Le Vocabulaire philosophique. Paris, 1901; 7th ed., 1938.

Jolivet, R. Vocabulaire de la philosophie. Lyon, 1942; 4th ed., Lyon, 1957.

Lalande, A. Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie. Fases. 1–21. Paris, 1902–12; 11th ed., Paris, 1972.

Legrand, G. Dictionnaire de philosophie. Paris, 1973.

German Democratic Republic

Buhr, M., and A. Kosing. Kleines Wörterbuch der marxistisch-leninistischen Philosophie. Berlin, 1966; 2nd ed., 1974.

Philosophisches Wörterbuch. Edited by G. Klaus and M. Buhr. Leipzig, 1964; 11th ed., vols. 1–2, Leipzig, 1975.


Filozófiai kislexikon. Budapest, 1964; 3rd ed., Budapest, 1973.


A Glossary of Philosophical Terms. Madras-Timmalai-Tirupati, 1941.


Abbagnano, N. Diiionario de di filosofia. Turin, 1961; 2nd ed., Turin, 1971.

Cantoro, U. Vocabolario filosofico. Bologna, 1956.

Dizionario di filosofia. Edited by A. Biraghi. Milan, 1957.

Lamanna, E. P., and F. Adorno. Dizionario di termini filosofici. Florence, 1951; 17th ed., Florence, 1969.

Morselli, E. Piccolo dizionario filosofico. Milan, 1939.

Plebe, A. Termini della filosofia contemporanea. Rome, 1966.

Ranzoli, C. Dizionario di scienze filosofiche. Milan, 1905; 6th ed., Milan, 1963.

Rotta, P. Dizionarietto filosofico. Milan, 1946.

Semprini, G. Nuovo dizionario di cultura filosofico e scientifica. Turin, 1952.

Semprini, G. Piccolo dizionario di cultura filosofico. Milan, 1931.


Mori Koichi. Philosophical Dictionary. Tokyo, 1971.

Yamazaki Masakazu and Itakawa Hiroshi. A Modern Philosophical Dictionary. Tokyo, 1970.


Ferrater Mora, J. Diccionario de filosofía. Mexico City, 1941; 4th ed., Buenos Aires, 1958.

Pallares, E. Diccionario de filosofía. Mexico City, 1964.

The Netherlands

Ballestrem, K. Russian Philosophical Terminology. Dordrecht, 1964. (A Russian-English-German-French dictionary.)

Elseviers filosofische en psychologische encyclopedic Amsterdam, 1970.

Elseviers kleine filosofische en psychologische encyclopedic Amsterdam, 1960.


Mic dicţionár filosófic. Bucharest, 1969; 2nd ed., Bucharest, 1973.


Conde Obregón, R. Enciclopedia de la filosofía. Barcelona, 1961.

Rubert Candau, J. M. Diccionario manual de filosofía. Madrid, 1946.

Zaragüeta Bengoechea, J. Vocabulario filosófico. Madrid, 1955.


Ahlberg, A. Filosofiskt lexickon. Stockholm, 1925; 4th ed., Stockholm, 1963.


Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Edited by J. Ritter. Vols. 1–3. Basel-Stuttgart, 1971–74.


Çanki, M. N. Büyük felsefe lûgan. Vols. 1–3. Istanbul, 1954–58.

Sena, Ongun Cemil. Büyük filozoflar ansiklopedisi. Vols. 1–2. Istanbul, 1957–59.

USA and Great Britain (simultaneous and republished editions) The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy and Philosophers. Edited by J. O. Urmson. London, 1967; New York, 1975.

Dictionary of Philosophy. Edited by D. D. Runes. New York-London, 1942.

Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. Edited by J. M. Baldwin. Vols. 1–3, New York, 1901–05; vols. 1–2, Gloucester (England), 1957.

Peters, F. Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon. New York-London, 1967.


Filozofijski rječnik. Editor in chief, V. Filipović. Zagreb, 1965.

Grlić, D. Leksikon filozofa. Zagreb, 1968.

A list of biographical philosophical encyclopedias and dictionaries follows.

Decurtins, C. Kleines Philosophen-lexikon. Affoltern am Albis, 1952.

Dictionnaire desphilosophes. Paris, 1962.

Eisler, R. Philosophenlexikon: Leben, Werke, und Lehren d. Denker. Berlin, 1912; Würzburg, 1972.

Kiernan, T. Who’s Who in the History of Philosophy. New York, 1965.

Thomas, H. Biographical Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, 1965.

Ziegenfuss, W., and G. Jung. Philosophen-lexikon, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1949–50.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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