Western philosophy’s relationship with prisons stretches from Plato’s own incarceration to the modern era of mass incarceration. Philosophy Imprisoned: The Love of Wisdom in the Age of Mass Incarceration draws together a broad range of philosophical thinkers, from both inside and outside prison walls, in the United States and beyond, who draw on a variety of critical perspectives (including phenomenology, deconstruction, and feminist theory) and historical and contemporary figures in philosophy (including Kant, Hegel, Foucault, and Angela Davis) to think about prisons in this new historical era. All of these contributors have experiences within prison walls: some are or have been incarcerated, some have taught or are teaching in prisons, and all have been students of both philosophy and the carceral system. The powerful testimonials and theoretical arguments are appropriate reading not only for philosophers and prison theorists generally, but also for prison reformers and abolitionists.


Philosophy Imprisoned is a unique and often startling reflection on the importance of philosophy and teaching philosophy in prisons. Incorporating essays from prisoners and professional philosophers, this volume shows what philosophy can do even in the direst of circumstances. (Kelly Oliver, Vanderbilt University)

Sarah Tyson and Joshua M. Hall have compiled a diverse collection of writing by philosophers behind bars and beyond them. The book offers important insights into the meaning of thought and action in a world shaped by mass incarceration. By connecting the personal and the theoretical, these reflections on teaching and learning philosophy in prison affirm the importance of the examined life as a practice of freedom and of mutual transformation. (Lisa Noelle Guenther, Vanderbilt University)

Philosophy Imprisoned is a disturbing and moving collection of diverse philosophical engagements. Critical prison scholars and educators who teach across prison walls will find much common cause here, but also much to question their complacencies. Philosophers will find nothing less than a radical challenge to academic philosophy and a powerful endorsement of the power of philosophy to transform the world. (Michael Hames-Garcia, University of Oregon)