Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

TRoOB: Action Philosophers

Okay -- after a slightly loony week, I now have a few minutes to type, and a whole *bunch* of LJ entries stacked up. So let's start off with the one that's sitting next to me right now: the truly offbeat comic, Action Philosophers.

No, really, it's exactly what the title sounds like: an action comic book about the greatest minds of the ages. They bounce from philosopher to philosopher, giving some combination of the life history and philosophical thinking of each one. But -- well, let's just say that they don't play it particularly straight. The issue I have sitting here (#8), includes "Emmanuel Kant -- Epistemological Attorney!", as Kant defends God in the court of Cognopolis, demonstrating that he has the right to exist despite the lack of evidence for him, as well as "You're a Good Man, John Stuart Mill", which is every bit the Peanuts pastiche it sounds like.

I'm not going to claim that the stories are laugh-out-loud funny (at least, not consistently). This comic is walking the line between entertainment and education like a tightrope, and sometimes gets a little shaky up there. The stories are always a tad silly and usually a bit snarky: these guys are not terribly reverential of their subjects. But it's well-researched (every issue includes a "further reading" page at the back, with recommendations of a good book or two to read if you are intrigued by this issue's subjects), and each story gets a whole bunch of serious information in around its metaphor. That often slows down the yucks -- indeed, I often find myself having to pause and read each panel pretty carefully to understand the philosophy, which can get pretty thick -- but the metaphor, if anything, tends to make the concepts more digestible.

So while this isn't a book I'd recommend to absolutely everyone -- heaven knows, it's not brain candy -- it's pretty neat. It's in the same general category as The Cartoon History of the Universe (albeit with a bit more of a Monty Python flair), and I'd commend it to anyone who likes those books, as well as anyone who's simply interested in learning some excerpts from the history of philosophy in an amusing package...
Tags: comics, reviews

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