Tabulae Rudolphinae : quibus astronomicae… by Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630, NOAA

Why Open Source?

Many works in philosophy and literature are accessible via online sources on the Internet. Fortunately, much of the best work in philosophy and literature is available in the public domain. A translation of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, in particular, became available through Project Gutenberg by Michael Pullen. This edited version of that text is subject to the legal notice following the title page referencing the "GFDL License."

Since the edited text is placed under the GFDL, this work is open-sourced, in part, to minimize costs to interested students of philosophy and, in part, to make it widely available in a form convenient to a wide variety of readers. A particular virtue of the DocBook method of publishing used here is the practicable conversion of the source files into a variety of formats, including audio and Braille. Moreover, readers, themselves, can improve the product if they wish to do so.

This particular edition represents the first stable version in the development of the open-source text. The development model of Siddhartha is loosely patterned on the "release early, release often" model championed by Eric S. Raymond.[1] Various formats of this work are being made available for distribution. If the core reading and commentary prove useful, the successive revisions will be released as incrementally numbered "stable" versions beyond version 1.0. Our publication is based on Open Source DocBook, a system of writing structured documents using SGML or XML in a presentation-neutral form using open source programs. The functionality of DocBook is such that the same file can be published on the Web, printed as a standalone report, reprinted as part of a journal, processed into an audio file, changed into Braille, or converted to most other media types. If the core readings and commentary prove useful, successive revisions, readings, commentaries, and other improvements by users can be released in incrementally numbered "stable" versions.

Several sources on the Internet deserve special mention for authoritative and insightful analysis and commentary on philosophy. Readers who wish to be conversant fully with the philosophical ideas will wish to consult the following e-texts.

  1. Dictionary of the History of Ideas.[2] Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas, edited by Philip P. Wiener, was published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, in 1973-74. Now out of print, the Dictionary is published online with the help of Scribner's and the Electric Text Center at the University of Virginia. The Dictionary includes articles on the historical development of a broad spectrum of ideas in philosophy, religion, politics, literature, and the biological, physical, and social sciences.

  2. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[3] This site (subtitled "A Field Guide to the Nomenclature of Philosophy") consists of regularly updated original articles by fifteen editors, one hundred academic specialists, and technical advisors. The articles are authoritative, peer-reviewed, and available for personal and classroom use. The general editors are James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. The site is most useful for students in obtaining secondary source information on the key terms and personages of philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy can also be recommended for obtaining an overview of the problems of philosophy for background readings for lectures and papers. In general, the articles are well researched and are accessible by undergraduates.

  3. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism.[4] The electronic version of the well-known guide to literary theory has hyperlinked cross-references, names, topics, and subject entries as well as full text search capability. The work, edited by Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth, includes references to the social and physical sciences as well as connections to historical, philosophical, and cultural theories.

  4. Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[5] A dynamic resite by Andrew Chrucky accesses the following sources: Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy, 1942, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind, The Ism Book, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), and A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names.

  5. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[6] This continuously updated reference work is a publishing project of the Metaphysics Research Lab at the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) at Stanford University. The general editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia is Edward N. Zalta. Authors of subject entries are well-known scholars in their fields; even so, the subjects discussed are authoritative and well balanced. The Encyclopedia is the most scholarly general source for philosophy on the Internet and is essential as a starting point and background research for philosophy term papers.

  6. Thoemmes Encyclopedia.[7] Biographical and bibliographical database including major figures in the history of ideas has a search function as well as a list of key personages. Thoemmes Press (pronounced as "Thomas") originated from Thoemmes Antiquarian Books and specializes in publishing the scholars of intellectual history. The biographical sources on this site are authoritative, accurate, and helpful background summaries of the life and thought of important figures in the Western intellectual tradition.

  7. The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.[8] The 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica contains articles from experts in their fields is still a widely used reference and a classic resource for the state of knowledge in 1911.

Our first consideration for this book is to make primary sources accessible to a wide variety of readers—including readers curious about the subjects presented, readers with disabilities, readers in developing countries, as well as college, high school, and home schooling students on a budget.

Please send your questions and inquiries of interest to the "Editors" at



Eric Raymond. The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1999. Online at The Cathedral and the Bazaar.