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The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy

Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon

Hill and Wang

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy Download image

ISBN10: 0809033623
ISBN13: 9780809033621

Trade Paperback

176 Pages



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Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon introduce us to the grand tradition of examined living. With the wisecracking Heraclitus as our guide, we travel down the winding river of philosophy, meeting influential thinkers from nearly three millennia of Western thought and witnessing great debates over everything from ethics to the concept of the self to the nature of reality.

Combining Cannon's playful artistry and Patton's humorous, instructive prose, The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy puts the fun back into the quest for fundamental truths, imparting a love of wisdom to any student who grabs a paddle and joins the ride.


Praise for The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy

"Michael Patton and Kevin Cannon’s guide to philosophical thought is a creative addition to the cartoon academy, offering readers well-written, engaging mini-portraits of influential thinkers from Plato to John Stuart Mill to Zombie David Chalmers."—Slate

"Michael Patton and Kevin Cannon have pulled off something remarkable; they've produced a rigorous introduction to philosophy in the form of a comic book. In these times of assaults on education from ideological, economic, and political dimensions, it is essential to ignite a love of learning and inquiry in folks-both young and old. With consistent wit, marvelous pacing, and brilliant illustrations, Patton and Cannon take the reader through simple but accurate explanations of the basic ideas of many of the canonical figures from the history of philosophy, linking these ideas to other disciplines and at all points drawing the reader into the great dialogues of the Western intellectual tradition."—Mark Lance, professor of philosophy and professor of justice and peace, Georgetown University

"The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is smart, funny, and up-to-date. Entertaining without oversimplifying, Patton and Cannon bring the world of philosophy to life. For those who have not yet been exposed to the pleasures of philosophy, The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is a great place to start."—Todd May, Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities, Clemson University

"The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy uses a whimsical narrative to guide readers through classic philosophical topics. We begin with the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who delivers an introductory monologue before conjuring a river with a few taps of his heel. Taking his canoe to this aptly-named River of Philosophy, Heraclitus introduces readers to a veritable Who's Who of philosophers ranging from other pre-Socratics to modern voices such as Alan Turing and David Chalmers. The material is arranged by topic rather than by time period, meaning that a visit from Friedrich Nietzsche can be followed by an encounter with Aristotle. This device is especially useful for new students of philosophy, who may be unfamiliar with the topics being discussed. Rather than having students tackle a collection of challenging texts and expecting them to parse out the subtle differences among approaches, the text clearly explains the stances various philosophers took on topics such as free will, ethics, and logic. Having a basic understanding of the philosophical conversations, students can proceed with their primary texts with a sense of direction. The book's efficiency in clearly explaining philosophical concepts is aided by the visual aspects of the comics medium. At the opening of the book Heraclitus remarks that the graphic narrative form is perfect for the 'visual descriptions, analogies, and metaphors' that are frequently employed in philosophical conversations. It is certainly true that these philosophical devices find new life in this text. Plato's Cave is now converted into a dimly-lit theater whose stupefied inhabitants are too engrossed in the film they are watching to ever think about exploring the world outside the movie theater. Similarly, David Chalmers's discussion of consciousness opens with the image of Chalmers walking a zombified version of himself on a leash. By rooting philosophical discussions in modern media such as film and the recent proliferation of zombies in pop culture, Patton and Cannon show that philosophy is engaging and fun. All said, The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is an important piece of work. Michael Patton's clever dialogue turns even the most difficult topics into lively discussions and Kevin Cannon's noodly illustrations create appealing characters who fascinate with every jaunty step. Together, Patton and Cannon have created a captivating book that proves that graphic narratives can teach just as well, or better, than traditional textbooks. This book is an excellent resource for both students and non-students alike. As Heraclitus says at the beginning of the book, the only prerequisite for the study of philosophy is a 'fundamental yearning to discover the truth behind our world and ourselves.'"—Lindsay Hodgens, Alabama Writers' Forum

"If this isn't the Platonic ideal of a graphic novel about philosophy, I don't know what is. Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon's The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is terrific, and that's probably the only thing you could get all the philosophers featured in their book to agree on."—Jim Ottaviani, author of The Imitation Game, Feynman, and Primates

"The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is as good a philosophy book as it is a comicbook. Indeed, the force of the arguments, the give-and-take between the opposing voices, and the clear presentation of what is important in each of these classic debates makes this book a better introduction to philosophy than many . . . It helps to raise some interesting questions about the visual nature of philosophy itself and it reminds us of the power of comicbooks to tell our stories, express our ideas, and help us think."—Gregory L. Reece, PopMatters

"A fun, clear and clever introduction to the rich history of philosophy in the Western world."—Kirkus Reviews

"Like many nonfiction graphic novels written by non-comic writers, philosophy professor Patton's wordy text drives the narrative. But Cannon's art transcends what could have been a second-place relationship to keep this textbook-like explanation of the key thinkers of history visually entertaining . . . The concept-based structure, which incorporates ideas from across eras, is welcoming and understandable."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon

Michael F. Patton is a professor of philosophy and the program director of philosophy and religion at the University of Montevallo. He lives in Montevallo, Alabama. Kevin Cannon is an award-winning illustrator and a cofounder of Big Time Attic. He and his studio partner, Zander Cannon (no relation), have worked together on many comics and illustration projects, including Evolution and The Stuff of Life (both Hill and Wang Novel Graphics). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Michael F. Patton

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Kevin Cannon

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