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Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics Hardcover – August 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Series: Discovery in Comics
  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561636983
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561636983
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With her fellow-cartoonist husband providing vivid color, de Heer employs an outline style, similar to Cathy Guisewite (Cathy) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts), which helps her emphasize the text of this congenial, bare-bones introduction to Western philosophy. Avoiding formal philosophical language, she first illustrates the nature of thinking, self-awareness, and thinking logically before turning to the Greeks who forged Western philosophy’s fundamental method (dialectic) and metaphysical concerns (being and becoming)—Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. After an interlude on self-knowledge, she turns to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the medievals who most influentially married Platonic and Aristotelian insights to Christian theology. She then discusses free will and the rise of science, which leads to the Renaissance thinkers Erasmus, Descartes, and Spinoza, who developed humanism, revived dualism, and refined epistemology, respectively. Consideration of the modern obsession with the nature of reality prefaces the personal philosophies of four moderns—de Heer’s husband, mother-in-law, brother, and an old family friend. A glossary of basic philosophical terms (illustrated) might have been nice, but this shrewd, engaging graphic primer is very ingratiating. --Ray Olson


"...this book combines simple and elegant visuals with a linear explanation of the topic to create a work that pumps energy and intrigue into the topic. (...) I was completely impressed by how good this book is, and it is most definitely a keeper."
Marc Mason in the Comics Waiting Room

"It's a smart and giving book that should be required reading for anyone -- a sweet and amusing manual of how to navigate human beings and use your own brain while doing it. You don't have to live life on automatic pilot and de Heer's cartoons can show you the way!"
- John Seven in the North Adams Transcript

"De Heer knows her stuff and possesses a charming style." - Publisher's Weekly

"Reducing all of Western thought into an easy to understand narrative is a daunting task. Using the deft touch of an artist's pen and a clear passion for what she is writing about, Ms. de Heer manages to do the near impossible." 
Mark Squirek in the New York Journal of Books

"This is a perfect intro to the complex and weighty topic of philosophy -- Margreet de Heer delivers a surprisingly fun and really intriguing look into an area in life that many of us consider occasionally but end up taking for granted." - Jason Sacks in the Comics Bulletin

"Colorful, clever, this is an accessible and fun primer on a topic that too often is considered to be musty and shrouded in academic argot." —School Library Journal (August 2012)

"The characters and arguments of philosophy come brilliantly to life through a series of quirky, memorable conversations." —Teacher Librarian (December 2012)

"I got an overview of philosophy with difficult concepts explained in a variety of ways. I got an introduction to the basics that left me with a desire to learn more." —www.unshelved.com

"This shrewd, engaging graphic primer is very ingratiating." —Booklist (December 2012)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on March 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This effort had a lot of potential but fell short for a couple of reasons. First, let me say that I am a great fan of visualization, of taking words and using pictures to make them more understandable. That is a challenge for many topics, particularly philosophy. de Heer is a talented cartoonist and provides a wonderful example of this ability when she draws a 3-D timeline from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages. For the most part, the explanations of different philosopher's ideas were helpful and easy to understand.

The shortcomings arrive when the author attempts to summarize or wrap up her thoughts. For example, the main difference between Eastern and Western philosophy is not unity vs. analysis. Early ancient philosophy, Stoicism specifically, had a lot of elements that could be considered "Eastern". At the end of the book, when de Heer gives us examples of philosophies that people live by today, these are not more than individual attitudes or mindsets. These examples include her mother-in-law, her husband and a family friend. Their "philosophies" amount to nothing more than short-term attitudes and responses to existing conditions. A philosophy should be founded on something that transcends both the individual as well as time, there should be something universal and timeless about it. That is not the case with these examples, which, in there presentation basically support relativism rather than any specific philosophy. One of her subjects specifically refers to George Carlin as his philosophical guide, using his cultural criticism as a way to measure the world. Readers would do well to read Pierre Hadot's What is Ancient Philosophy to understand what a philosophical lifestyle is about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Westeneng on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Margreet de Heer has done a great job by covering philosophy from the ancient greeks upto the modern age in a comic book format. Despite the format, the content is definitely not trivial. It is a good introduction.
In the book, the author, her spouse and their cat play an active role in their quest on discovering the truth about "thinking".
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Format: Hardcover
Philosophy: a discovery in comics

I really enjoyed this book. It gives great illustrated overview of the historical development of Western Philosophy in a fun way. I particularly liked the way it linked religion and philosophy and how the author related it to her own friends and personal experience.
It is not possible to cover all philosophers, but I was a bit disappointed that Bertrand Russell and Schrödinger did not feature.
This is an ideal introductory book for anyone that is interested in Philosophy or a younger reader studying a related area. My daughter loved it; whom is studying ethics A level.
A great read.
The Writing IMP
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More About the Author

Margreet de Heer lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her husband Yiri T. Kohl and two cats. A long time ago, she studied Theology at the University of Amsterdam, but through divine intervention she ended up being a comic artist. She worked at the famous comic store Lambiek from 2000 until 2005, and wrote a book about Dutch comics together with Kees Kousemaker. Since 2005, the same year she contributed to the 24 Hour Comic Day Anthology, she is a full-time comic artist producing a wide range of work, from children's comics in magazines to cartoons at business conferences. In 2007 she started making philosophical comic "reports" for newspaper Trouw. This resulted in a book edition in 2010 which was published in the US by NBM Publishing with the title 'Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics' in 2012. Margreet continued the series with a comic book about religion in 2011, followed by one about science in 2012. The latter is published in the US with the title 'Science: a Discovery in Comics', in September 2013.

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