Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Action Philosophers: the lives and thoughts of history's A-list brain trust told in a hip and humorous fashion, vol. 1

by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey

Graphic novels and comics (and manga too) are sometimes praised as the wedge that can get teens and other reluctant readers reading — content be damned, as long as they're reading something! And then of course you might be able to trick them into learning something by reading a graphic version of Shakespeare or Moby-Dick or whatever. I've even seen graphic presentations of chemistry and other science subjects, for all those "visual learners" out there. (I sort of agree, but I also sort of think it's baloney. I mean, the mental effort and discipline, and the imagination involved in reading a novel as a novel — and lots of other kinds of words-only reading — has educational and intellectual value beyond just knowing the story.)

Action Philosophers is a fun way for anyone to learn the bullet points of major figures in philosophy. If you like to think of yourself as well-rounded, widely-read, culture, erudite, etc., this series would be a great way to get exposure to philosophers and their ideas without having to read an introduction to philosophy book; the graphic format might even help lodge some of the info in your cranium. Serious students of philosophy need not apply, but I'd say there's enough info even for a very short report or essay.

This volume 1 collects numbers 1-3 of the original comic book series. Included are Plato, Bodhidharma, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Jefferson, St. Augustine, Ayn Rand, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung, and Joseph Campbell.

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