Action Philosophers!

Philosophy Beyond The Textbook

Asking Why Never Looked So Good

July 29, 2009
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Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Ryan Dunlavey
Evil Twin Comics

Ever wanted to read a comic that told you about Ayn Rand’s childhood, or explained Nietzsche’s relationship to Wanger? How about the wrestling record of Plato, or the sexual exploits of St. Augustine? Look no further than Action Philosophers! This playful, but poignant series takes a fun look at who’s who in the world of philosophy, and why it is their ideas stick with us to this day.

Action Philosophers was originally released back in 2005, and after a 2 year run, is now available in 3 collected trade paperbacks. Each covers a wide range of philosophers and their respective beliefs and ideologies.

Books like this really showcase the unique power comics have to introduce and simplify ideas for the rest of us. It won’t give you the kind of insight a college course would, but it humanizes concepts that are often touted as lofty and beyond the realm of the layman. Even the most advanced of concepts can be made simple. That’s the role of prophets, and they come in many forms. They take not only the messages of God, but the implications and realities of his existence, and spread them among the masses like butter on toast. Tasty, golden truth butter.

Dunlavey’s art is simple enough that it complements the nature of Van Lente’s writing and what the book as a whole is trying to accomplish. It’s not easy to present the complexities of individual philosophies without appearing to talk down to us non-intellectuals.

As I read the story of Ayn Rand and her childhood, learning what events influenced her later novels and lectures, I was drawn deep into the legitimacy of her conclusions. As with many of the philosophers presented here, it seems she came so close to acknowledging the presence of a personal Creator. We learn of her reverence for the possibility of human achievement, and how she despised the corrupting and destructive nature of socialism.

Her firm belief in man’s right to own and enjoy what he works for, led her to an atheistic outlook on life. She openly rebuked religious institutions and their imprisoning and suffocating practices. But aren’t we image bearers of the Creator? Shouldn’t the creations of man be immense and beautiful? And didn’t Christ himself rail against the sedentary and religious life styles?

I think, had someone really shared their personal experience of the greatness man can achieve by embracing their God-like nature, Rand might have seen the possibilities in the Man and legacy of Christ. But maybe not. The truth is, there may have been nothing that could have fulfilled her systems of belief. I like to think if anything could, it’s the teachings of a carpenter, who took great pride in the work of his hands.

The followers of the Way are not salesman, and we’re not conversion specialists. We’re struggling through, just like everyone else. We have a hope, and a story to share, that’s growing as we are. If we can share that story, maybe we can inspire the great minds around us to think about the world a little differently.

Want a second opinion? HERE‘s what someone else thought.

Buy this book online HERE or find the closest comic shop HERE!

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I live on the northside of Indianapolis with my lovely wife and 2 beautiful daughters. I love writing about comics, almost as much as I love reading them, and hope to help make HJ a welcome place for comic lovers (like myself) to visit.

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