An obscure, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher takes readers down the long river of philosophy, explaining movements, theories, breakthroughs and ethics with the help of a few special guest stars.
Oh, what cartoonist and mathematician Larry Gonick started when he launched his cartoon histories of history and the universe. Now, Hill and Wang follows up its cartoon histories about economics with this clever and high-spirited history of philosophy by Patton (Philosophy/Univ. of Montevallo) and illustrator Cannon (Crater XV, 2013, etc.) Our narrator is Heraclitus, who literally paddles readers down the river of philosophy represented in his teachings, stopping along the way to pick up passengers like a foulmouthed Friedrich Nietzsche. “Twenty-five centuries ago, when I said that ‘It is not possible to step twice into the same river’…I was remarking on the fact that everything around us is in flux, and change is the only constant,” Heraclitus explains. “This also applies to the field of philosophy, which, perhaps more than any other, is constantly changing due to its own progress and self-criticism. No two rides down this river will be the same.” The themes are broken up nicely so that in the chapter on logic, we might meet Aristotle but also John Stuart Mill; in “Minds,” we reconnect with Nietzsche but also run into the British mathematician Alan Turing and his famous “Turing Test” or even the contemporary Australian philosopher David John Chalmers. In the chapter on God, we meet classical thinkers in Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant but also debate Charles Darwin over whether evolution and natural selection are possible without a guiding hand from a creator. Patton and Cannon also offer a nice visual portrait of each philosopher as well as a concise summary of each person’s work and ideas, not to mention a helpful glossary covering the spectrum from “Absolutism” to “Validity.”
A fun, clear and clever introduction to the rich history of philosophy in the Western world.