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Action Philosophers! Vol. 3

Updated on June 10, 2011

Readers of this hub may assume from my reviews that I like pretty much everything. And while I usually can find something good to say about anything, there are still things that just don't work for me.

"Action Philosophers Vol. 3" is one of those things. It's not bad, but I found it to dull to actually recommend. This is odd, as I read the previous two volumes of this series a few years ago, and I remember liking them. I don't know if I've changed or if the previous two volumes were just more approachable.

"Action Philosophers" takes a similar tack to the "Cartoon History" series I talked about before, except instead of history they're profiling the lives and philosophies of various famous thinkers. There's also the fact that the artist, Ryan Dunlavey, is not quite as talented as Larry Gonick is, the cartoonyness of his art undercutting the meaning that's supposed to be present within it. This is not to say he's totally without success--I quite liked his art in the profile of John Stuart Mill, which is styled into a pastiche of "Peanuts" with Charlie Brown as Mill. That profile was probably my favorite, as it was easy to understand while also being informative. Fred Van Lente's writing and Dunlavey's art combine well to serve Mill well. Other good ones include the combined profile of Schopenhauer and Hegel (which compared and contrasted their lives and philosophies rather well), Diogenes the Cynic (which was appropriately snarky and sarcastic), and George Berkeley (which is short and sweet, and demonstrates his philosophy that something only exists if you're thinking about it simply and comprehensibly).

Some of the ideas for profiles however simply doesn't work. The profile of Confucius, for example, is a pointless parody of King Kong, which does absolutely nothing to explain or demonstrate Confucianism.

I suspect my problem with this book is less to do with any particular lack of quality and more to do with my general apathy towards philosophy. I struggled to understand some of the philosophies , and more often than not I forgot what a particular philospher's argument was once I finished reading about it. but this is a fault of mine, not of the book itself.

So if you like philosophy, or think you might like it, check this book and its two antecedants out. If you suspect you'll just end up confused, then stay away

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