Western Canonical Texts - List of 54
Unlike "South Asian", "CWANA" and "East Asian", we do not name this list "European and American" Canonical Text, because quite a few works were written outside of Europe. Mostly these are Christian texts - Bible, Eusebius' Church History, John of Damascus' Fountain of Wisdom (Israel / Palestine); St. Augustine (Algeria); Origen's On First Principles (Egypt); Pseudo-Dionysius Aeropagite's Corpus (Syria). Then there is Roman Greek Diogenes Laetius' Lives of Eminent Philosophers which was probably written in modern-day Turkey. More broadly, some authors wrote in Europe but really came from outside - Herodotus (from Asia Minor), Plotinus (from Egypt), and Gregory Palamas (born in modern day Turkey).
The list below has 54 texts. Why 54? Well, when added to the other 3 lists, it makes up a nice round number of 150 (36 each for South and East Asian, 24 for CWANA). More importantly, I think the proportion is right: this is comfortably larger than the East Asian list (which if we include "embedded" text would add to 45+ texts) - yes, East Asian tradition has historically the largest population, and the highest literacy ratio, but as we are compiling the list now, it is also a stretch to argue against the fact that the Western tradition has a larger influence than the East Asian one -- through Colonialism and Christianity, the influence of Western tradition has spreaded to Africa, Americas, SE Asia. Numerically, worldwide Christian population alone is larger than total population of East Asia. This sense of proportion is different from when I drew up the main list of 36 texts on this site.
|Classical - Greek||3. Herodotus' Histories; 5. Thucydides' Peloponnesian Wars; 14. Diogenes Laertius' Lives of Emminent Philosophers||6. Plato's Complete Works; 7. Aristotle's Metaphysics; 15. Plotinus' Enneads||1. Homer's Iliad; 2. Sappho's Lyric Poems; 4. Sophocles' Theban Plays||9|
|Classical - Latin||
11. Livy's History of Rome
|8. Cicero's On Duties; 9. Virgil's Aeneid; 10. Ovid's Metamorphoses||4|
|Christian - General||12. Bible||
16. Eusebius' Church History; 19. Bede's English Church History
|13. Origen's On First Principles; 17. Augustine's On Trinity; 18. Pseudo-Dionysius Aeropagite's Works; 20. John of Damascus' Fountain of Wisdom||7|
|Christian - Orthodox||
|24. Greogry Palamas' Triads; 50. Solovyov's Lectures on Divine Humanity||2|
|Christian - Catholic||30. Jose de Acosta's Natural and Moral History of the Indies||22. Aquinas' Summa Theologica||2|
|Christian - Protestant||28. Calvin's Institutes; 43. Schleiermacher's The Christian Faith||2|
|Romance - Italian||27. Machiavelli's The Prince||23. Dante's Commedia; 25. Petrarch's Canzoniere||3|
|Romance - French / Latin||38. Voltaire's Essays on Manners||34. Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy||21. Chretien de Troyes' Arthurian Romances; 31. Montaigne's Essays; 48. Hugo's Les Miserables||5|
|Romance - Spanish / Portuguese||29. Luis de Camoens' Lusiads; 33. Cervante's Don Quixote||2|
|Germanic / Slavic - English||40. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire||36. Locke's Two Treatises on Government; 37. Hume's Essay Concerning Human Understanding; 46. J.S.Mill's On Liberty; 54. William James' Pragmatism||26. Chaucer's Cantebury Tales; 32. Shakespeare's First Folio; 35. Milton's Paradise Lost; 41. Wordsworth's / Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads; 42. Austen's Pride and Prejudice; 53. Whitman's Leaves of Grass||11|
|Germanic / Slavic - German||47. Burckhardt's Civilization of Renaissance in Italy||39. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; 51. Marx's Das Kapital; 52. Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra||44 Goethe's Faust||5|
|Germanic / Slavic - Slavic||45. Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz; 49. Tolstoy's War and Peace||2|
Author or Compiler
|Date used for Ordering (Work Completion)||
Modern Country of Work Completion (or Author's Birth, if Different)
|11||History of Rome||Livy||14A.D.||Italy|
|12||Bible||Multiple||150A.D.||Israel / Palestine|
|13||On First Principles||Origen||215A.D.||Egypt|
|14||Lives of Eminent Philosophers||Diogenes Laertius||235A.D.||Turkey|
|16||Church History||Eusebius||313A.D.||Israel / Palestine|
|17||On the Trinity||Augustine||426A.D.||Algeria|
|19||English Church History||Bede||731A.D.||U.K.|
|20||Fountain of Wisdom||John of Damascus||753A.D.||Israel / Palestine (Syria)|
|21||Arthurian Romances||Chretien de Troyes||1190A.D.||France|
|22||Summa Theologica||Thomas Aquinas||1274A.D.||Italy|
|24||Triads||Gregory Palamas||1341A.D.||Greece (Turkey)|
|28||Institutes (Latin / French editions)||Calvin||1560A.D.||Switzerland (France)|
|29||Lusiads||Luis de Camoens||1572A.D.||Portugal|
|30||Natural and Moral History of the Indies||Jose de Acosta||1590A.D.||Spain|
|32||First Folio||Shakespeare||1613A.D. (last date of works included)||U.K.|
|34||Meditations on First Philosophy (in Latin)||Descartes||1641A.D.||Netherlands (France)|
|36||Two Treatises on Government||Locke||1689A.D.||U.K.|
|37||Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding||Hume||1748A.D.||U.K.|
|38||Essay on Manners||Voltaire||1756A.D.||France|
|39||Critique of Pure Reason||Kant||1787A.D. (2nd Edition)||Russia|
|40||Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire||Gibbon||1788A.D.||U.K.|
|41||Lyrical Ballads||Wordsworth / Coleridge||1802A.D. (3rd Edition)||U.K.|
|42||Pride and Prejudice||Austen||1813A.D.||U.K.|
|43||The Christian Faith||Schleiermacher||1831A.D.||Germany (Poland)|
|45||Pan Tadeusz (in Polish)||Mickiewicz||1832A.D.||Italy (Belarus)|
|46||On Liberty||J.S. Mill||1859A.D.||U.K. (not sure of location of completion)|
|47||Civilization of Renaissance in Italy||Burckhardt||1860A.D.||Switzerland|
|49||War and Peace||Tolstoy||1869A.D.||Russia|
|50||Lectures on Divine Humanity||Solovyov||1881A.D.||Russia|
|51||Das Kapital||Marx||1883A.D.||U.K. (Germany)|
|52||Thus Spoke Zarathustra||Nietzsche||1885A.D.||France (Germany)|
|53||Leaves of Grass||Whitman||1892A.D.||U.S.A.|
1. Sub-traditions: after much hestiation, I decide to go with a top-level groupings of "Classical", "Christian", "Romance", "Germanic / Slavic". Instead of "Greco-Roman", I now uses "Classical" as most Christian texts are "Greco-Roman". Many of the later authors from Petrarch onwards are Christians, yet their texts no longer focuses in on their Christian identity - in a way the texts are more "Christianite" (c.f. Marshall Hodgson's coining of the word "Islamicate") than "Christian". To sub-divide the large number of texts in such category, I decide to group texts under language groups - a somewhat arbitrary decision, but traditions sometimes do form themselves around certain language groupings.
2. Generally, for the classification by genre, for "philosophy" I have included theology, mysticism, works on practical and political philosophy - as I have done in all other lists.
3. I have included several author's Works or Complete Works - more than I have done in the other lists. Say for Plato, the texts really has come down to us in Tetralogies which represent the complete works. Pseudo-Dionysius is the same way, the four main texts were passed to us as one group. While I am not as certain, Chrietian de Troyes' Romances are the same way. And lastly the same for Shakespeare in that most important plays are already published as a group in the First Folio, within a decade after Shakespeare's death. All these books can now be found bounded between two covers (true, sometimes even bigger than the Bible, but still one volume). Because of my considerations above, right now, hesitantly, I am not including Odyssey or Aristotle's complete extant works. (And as a rule, I don't select works from the same author twice).
4. I also had a rule of not including texts that are not passed down to us in mostly complete form. But I find that I have to break this rule with History authors in Latin - clearly a category a list should include - but where the authors of highest reputations (Livy and Tacitus) we only had works in substantial (but far from "mostly complete") forms. Tacitus's reputation was based in later Europe mostly on his "republicanism" it seems, and his Annals starts where Livy ends. With these considerations, I have only included Livy, but not Tacitus.
5. Across the three main Christian Churches, I have only picked two "exclusive" author each (Aquinas/Jose de Acosta, Calvin/Schleiermacher and Palamas/Solovyov) - arguably discounting the numerical ratios of Catholics vs. Protestants vs. Orthodox (roughly with current worldwide adherents of 1.2B vs. 500-600M vs. ~300M, or a ratio of 4:2:1).
6. Camoes and Mickiewicz were included for the numerically significant but tradition-wise understated languages / nations (Portuguese and Polish). Mickiewicz wrote in Polish, but also revered in Belarussian and Ukraine, so I have read.
7. My lists' end date was originally 1900, but with William James' Pragmatism, the end date is pushed towards 1910. If we picked Charles Peirce it would have been cleaner, but it also happened that Peirce didn't really leave us with easily accessible texts (i.e. books) other than a collection of essays which are still being edited and published. Similar considerations also argued for the inclusion of Burckhardt's History rather than Ranke, who does not really leave a canonical text generally interested public still read nowadays.
8. For 19th century philosophy, I didn't include Hegel - from the sheer fact that while in 19th century he was a central figure by now I think he is much less of our academia's focus vs. Kant or Marx or Nietzsche.