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Action Philosophers! Paperback – November 11, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The pictures and writing are hilarious. You'll be impressed at just how well a mere comic book can illuminate complex ideas. Credit is to be given to writer Fred Van Lente and illustrator Ryan Dunlavey. And their series has been widely praised. One suspects they took a look at previous series like "For Beginners" or "Introducing" which use illustrations to communicate philosophy to students and said "we can do this way better". And also take it to the next level by making original stories with the philosophers as comical (anti-)heroes and do it in a hip, tongue-in-cheek and savvy fashion. Nobody could come up with more imaginative ways to bring philosophy to life and the eccentric characters that shaped "the great conversation of mankind" through this medium.
A couple examples: Picture a beady-eyed, walrus mustachioed Nietzsche reading his philosophy to two innocent young lads for their bed time story. The overjoyed expressions on their beaming, bright eyed little faces in eager anticipation of being read a story by Uncle Fritz. I also got a kick out of Karl Marx: "I kick a$$ for the proles!" He takes one perhaps not-so-lucky boy on a tour of the "splendiferous world of commodities" and demonstrates for us first hand real Communists mean business! Action philosopher indeed. (None of this academic lefty identity politics nonsense for Mr. Marx! is the message of this tale). Oh and Derrida as "The Deconstructor". You get the idea. This is all up there with the legendary Monty Python football match with German philosophers vs. the Greeks.Read more ›
The format of Action Philosophers is as such: Each chapter is devoted to a different philosopher, with a narrator explaining the philosopher's thoughts as the panels depict visual aid, either in a picture of the philosophy or a picture of the philosopher demonstrating this concepts. The philosophers displayed are given appearances that parody either their philosophies or their personal lives (for instance, Plato is drawn as a pro wrestle and talks like an unintelligent brute, while the earliest greek philosophers are drawn with traits of the elements they believed formed the universe). While some of the chapters are written as literal biographies, others depict fictional events, either to display the philosophy better (Kant is depicted as a lawyer defending God) or simply add humor (Mill's chapter is a Charlie Brown parody.)
Of the visual aids.. I often found them amusing but otherwise uninformative. Very often a panel that could really help explain things feels rushed, and on more than one occasion a "humorous" picture is given far too much priority on a page. For instance, in Craig Thompson's "Blankets," Craig tells of Plato's "cave" analogy, using excellent images to depict what can be difficult to imagine while also comparing it to a situation the reader can better relate to.Read more ›
Seriously, I think this book does for Philosophy what Sid Meier's "Civilization IV" does for history. It whets your appetite. It makes you want to read more. I'd highly recommend it for anyone taking an Introduction to Philosophy course if for no other reason than it's lot more fun than Cliff Notes. The illustrations will have you laughing out loud. Often. The writing is concise and witty, often quoting directly from the philosophical texts / philosophers themselves. The illustrations are very well done, and each different "Action Philosopher" has his own distinct look. The details in the panels, humorous blends of things contemporary to us, and others contemporary to the philosophers, make for some really funny jokes.
Once this team releases their more than complete Comic Book Comics, I'm buying it. No second thoughts.
I consider this one of my best book purchases from Amazon, and am seriously considering getting additional copies to give to my cousins who are starting their freshman year in college.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really good introduction to philosophers in a very entertaining media. You might not be able to pass an exam on the history of philosophy after reading this, but you could... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Learnt more from this book than a year doing philosophy at university. Distills philosophical ideas to basic concepts.Published 14 months ago by Ramjet
Learned about this when listening to the Partially Examined Life Podcast and loved every comic. This is a great resource for those who want a humorous summary of some of the most... Read morePublished 19 months ago by D. Matthew Monarres
A different way of learning philosophy. It thrills you from the beginning because it connects the content of the phiposopher's point of view and the drawings. Read morePublished 20 months ago by CamilaBrazil
Learned a lot and it was fun and funny. Images are very well done. Can't wait for the new book, Action Presidents.Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
does not include some well known philosophers who even a high school graduate would recognize as important or influential. Read morePublished on October 18, 2013 by DEADHEAD ASTRA
The book has, at rare points, hilarious and insightful jokes (as opposed to lame Thomas Aquinas fat jokes). Read morePublished on October 18, 2013 by Lance Goebel
This was purchased for teenagers starting college. It is a good overview and makes philosophy courses easier to understand. Highly recommended.Published on October 2, 2013 by dw
Makes philosophy digestible for even the youngest reader. I will mention some of the subject matter may be better suited for mature audience. Read morePublished on February 14, 2013 by TC