Saturday, 21 November 2015

Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing, Volume 3 Review (Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey)

The third and final volume in Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s excellent Action Philosophers series covers: The Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, Epictetus, Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Georg Hegel, John Stuart Mill, Baruch Spinoza, Confucius, Gottfried Liebniz, David Hume, Diogenes, George Berkeley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lao-Tzu, Michel Foucault, Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Phew! 

Van Lente and Dunlavey come up with humorous and clever ways to present their subjects’ philosophies in a fun and accessible format to readers who’re interested in philosophy but aren’t up/inclined to digesting substantial books on the subject. John Stuart Mill is drawn like a Peanuts strip, Rousseau is caught up in a cheesy TV sitcom, and Foucault appears in The Foucault Circus (like The Family Circus strip but definitely not for kids)! 

This time around I think the guys tried to cover too many philosophers for one book. A lot of them are done in just a page so you don’t really get a sense of their lives and works – it’s too rushed. One of the instances where they do take their time, with Kant putting God on trial, becomes a bit too heavy going. To be fair the subjects aren’t exactly breezy and Action Philosophers is definitely not a series you can recline and relax with – you need to give it your full attention or else entire strips will pass you by! 

That said, Van Lente and Dunlavey do remarkably good work in putting across these big ideas informatively and concisely, putting the philosophies in historical context, showing their impact and legacy as well as providing biographical detail on the philosophers. It’s an admirable endeavour and inspired approach that this team has successfully pulled off in each of the Action Philosophers books – this third volume is no exception. 

If you’re interested in philosophy and read comics, Action Philosophers is for you.

Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing, Volume 3

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