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Action Philosophers!: the lives and thoughts of history's A-list brain trust
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Action Philosophers!: the lives and thoughts of history's A-list brain trust

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  334 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Imagine Plato as a wrestling superstar of ancient Greece, Nietzsche as the original ubermensch, and Bohidharma as the grand master of kung fu. These are not just great thinkers they also make great comics. Action Philosophers details the lives and thoughts of history's A-list brain trust in hip and humorous comic book fashion. All nine issues of the award-winning, best-sel ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published November 11th 2009 by Evil Twin Comics (first published 2009)
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Todd N
Jul 07, 2010 Todd N rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: philosophy professors who live in Coeur d'Alene
Impulse buy bought during a routine stop at Lee's Comics.

As a dilettante's dilettante, I love any kind of popularization. So when I saw the work of the major philosophers summed up in convenient graphic novel form, I couldn't resist.

It didn't disappoint. Though I can't vouch for the accuracy of the overview of each philosopher covered, at least it jibed with all the other popularizations I remembered. The chapters on Decartes (represented as a light bulb) and Bodhidharma (who drilled two holes i
Apr 25, 2016 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Overall I enjoyed this comic book. Some parts were over my head but it got me more into philosophy then I thought. My favorite stuff is still the existentialist because that the stuff I really liked in college. I also have an interest in Machiavelli (because of the Borgias) and Campbell; who are both in the book. If there is on thing I learned form this is philosophy to me is a very vague topic. There are some people I would call philosophers that others probably wouldn't. The one thing I notice ...more
zoe nicol
Aug 03, 2012 zoe nicol rated it liked it
A solid B+ work. The upside: anyone can understand the concepts. Each philosopher is presented succinctly and amusingly. The downside: while it may be in comic form, it's pretty much the same old, dead, white guy philosophy material. There's a grand total of two female philosophers (one of them being Ayn Rand-which hardly counts as philosophy) and the other is Mary Wollstonecraft (whose bio ends with a note that her granddaughter wrote Frankenstein).
So, if you're into philosophy, it's a fun boo
A funny book that takes the reader through a crazy, silly, irreverent survey of "Dead White Guy" philosophers. It's not just the DWGs, but mostly, and that's okay--this book (and the smaller issues and volumes published previously) do exactly what they're supposed to do. Witty and informative, it helps some things stick in your mind better than just slumping down in a chair in an undergrad philosophy class. Well, it did for me, anyway. I loved it, and a teacher in the school where I used to teac ...more
Chris "Stu"
Apr 11, 2010 Chris "Stu" rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2010
A surprisingly in depth run down of three dozen philosophers, touching on the basics of some of their most fundamental philosophical contributions. Obviously, a lot is left out, but the overview is given in such a quick and light but obviously well-read manner. J.S. Mill is done in the style of Charlie Brown, and much is made of the Ubermensch of Nietzsche being related to a certain comic character, but Van Lente gives a fairly balanced introduction to a lot of philosophers I knew, and a number ...more
Sep 10, 2012 Miguel rated it really liked it
Hilarious and digestible exploration of most important Western philosophers, and a few Eastern ones, Action Philosophers both entertains and educates. A few problematic passages don't bog down the otherwise spot-on text. Perfect for philosophy hobbyists and academics alike.
Dec 16, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
A complete treat to read. These guys are so inventive with the philosophers of yore and their ideas. The complaints about oversimplification are fatuous. It's a fun comic book and you will learn something of the history of philosophy along the way.
Dec 30, 2016 Cappy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is the most delightful reference book you'll ever read - and not just because it is a graphic novel.

The epilogue on the pitfalls of public discourse to avoid and tips for becoming an Action Philosopher oneself should be required reading in every high school, legislative assembly, and cable news network newsroom in America.
Oct 17, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
The easiest thing to do here would be to get nitpicky with who they chose to focus on: too little Foucault, too much Ayn Rand, not enough Socrates, too much Jefferson. And I guess that's the danger of doing any incomplete list of anything: you're going to leave something out. So it probably wasn't worth my having said that.

Anyway, I thought this was cool. It's a relatively quick read, and some of the philosopher's are explained extremely well. My main complaint is that the fun comic book format
Lance R. Goebel
Sep 12, 2013 Lance R. Goebel rated it it was ok
The book has, at rare points, hilarious and insightful jokes (as opposed to lame Thomas Aquinas fat jokes). This does not make up for the many errors in the text which will leave people just being introduced to philosophy (the book's target demographic) with factual misinformation.

Schopenhauer scheduled his lectures purposefully at the same time as Hegel's - the book claims this was a result of a decision by the University.

The Jean-Jacques Rousseau comic posits that, upon having sex with James B
Sep 17, 2012 John rated it really liked it
From Thales of Miletus to Derrida, a kind of photo album of, as some blurbs say, "A List" philosophers with often funny illustrations and pithy statements and exchanges about the distinctive ideas, claims, insights and personalities of each. I wish there had been more of a sense of dialog, and because I had trouble keeping all those ideas in my head, also more cross referencing or review---though I gather the original comics weren't written in chronological order, so that might have been an impo ...more
Nov 02, 2014 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot to like in this book. It's a great and often hilarious dive into the lives and ideas of some of the greatest philosophers throughout history. But on the whole if you're already familiar with a majority of these figures, you'll find they often just go with half-truths common in other popularizations (for example that Nietzsche was a nihilist, or that Descartes' methodological doubt wasn't methodological). Still, for anyone who wants to learn about this stuff, it's a pretty great int ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Marianne rated it liked it
Some part of this book are mad genius, others fell flat for me. Also, I didn't notice until nearly the end, but this could be just as easily called Boys' Own Philosophers - there are almost no women (I know, partly a problem with the discipline itself), and the few women included are MUCH more likely to be portrayed with more attention to their love affairs than their ideas, compared to the men - I mean, seriously, Ayn Rand's comic is all about the Nathaniel Branden thing, but the Sartre story d ...more
This was a witty and timeless joy to read. I heard about them for a while till a friend brought them over to read. Since then I wanted all of them in one comic collection extravaganza. I was not disappointed and found such a thing did exist and snatched it up at a local book store. There are still a lot of philosopher's left out but all the major ones seem available. If only the authors made a few more *sigh*. This isn't the best introduction to philosophy but it's by far the most entertaining o ...more
Paul C Graham
Dec 25, 2012 Paul C Graham rated it really liked it
Does what it is supposed to do and does it well. A broad range of philosophy/philosophers in bite size chunks, delivered with humor, wit, and care. I found a couple of mistakes, but they were minor. Unlike most survey philosophy books, this one had a medieval section and a wee bit of renaissance thought. Most books go from Aristotle to Descartes as though nothing happened during the intervening years... Props for that. It's a fun read and I recommend it as a light way to brush up on who said wha ...more
Nov 27, 2013 David rated it liked it
If you want to learn about some of history's top philosophers, from Thales of Miletus! to Derrida!, then Action Philosophers! is for you!

It is a pretty good way to learn about the views of different philosophers in comic book form, but it is still, after all, Philosophy. It's about as painless as possible, but I still found myself sometimes reading a few panels, and not remembering what the guy was talking about. In that case, I could just look at the pictures.
Ramya (Idea Smith)
Who said history had to be boring or that philosophy had to be dry? Action Philosophers sexes up these real stories of belief system stalwarts like Plato (ex-wrestler), Bodhidharma (he of the Dhyana/Chen/Zen cult) and Nietzsche (the Ubermensch). Shrewd side-comments, post facto critiques and sundry anecdotes appear in a conversational style while we go through some of the biggest religions and philosophies in the world. If only school was like this!
Aug 15, 2010 eddie rated it really liked it
Sort of, but not quite, in the vein of Larry Gonick (more vignettes than organized presentation). Interesting and funny. Lots of visual humor and references (Jack Kirby's New Gods in St. Augustine, J.S. Mill as Charlie Brown, cameos by Battle Pope and the Katzenjammer Kids) and, of course, "Plato Smash!"
Daniel Clark
Sep 27, 2015 Daniel Clark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics-read-2015
I enjoyed this for many reasons. The content was well researched so this was a great review from all the philosophy I haven't used since college. Not only did I learn from this book I also laughed many times.

This comic book is a great gift to the field of philosophy because it makes it accessible to a large audience.
Sep 04, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it
Although strictly speaking I haven't finished this book,I can say it is great fun. It is a graphic novel portraying famous philosophers as super-heroes. Despite the whimsy, it gives a surprisingly good insight into the philosophies of these great thinkers, and it is a LOT easier to read than the originals!
Fantastic book for anyone interested in learning a little more about philosophy. Van Lente and Dunlevey make it very interesting and funny, much like their other masterwork "The Comic Book History of Comics."
Lucas Brown
Mar 17, 2013 Lucas Brown rated it it was amazing
While by no means a complete text (think Horrid Histories and the like) this is an extremely well-written and funny graphic novel series that will be the conversation starter with many actual philosophers. The Plato issue especially is PERFECT.
Jun 06, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
I am a fan of Van Lente's work and philosophy so i was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately it is very much at the introductory level and not even an advanced introduction. Also he is extremely unfair in his treatment of Foucault.
Oct 21, 2012 Halley rated it it was amazing
A fantastic primer for anyone who missed or skipped a few philosophers along the way. As a comic review of philosophy from pre-Socratic to contemporary philosophers, you could want nothing more. I cannot recommend it enough. These guys are fucking amazing.
Derek Parker
Dec 20, 2013 Derek Parker rated it it was amazing
Sheer fun! It's great to go back and reread these comics as an entire collection. Love Van Lente's sense of humor. These treatments of thinkers are great companions of the old "For Beginners" series that used to come out from Pantheon years ago.
Bryan Zorko
Jan 29, 2011 Bryan Zorko rated it it was amazing
Excellent intro to a bunch of philosophers that I was only vaguely aware of. Quick stories, good art, and pretty clear explanations of potentially difficult concepts.
Jan 12, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
Fucking awesome.
Apr 13, 2011 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Clever, energetic, irreverent, informative - this would make a great textbook for college philosophy courses, and is equally worthwhile as (usually) light reading.
Kevin Saunders
Aug 16, 2013 Kevin Saunders rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, humor, 2013
Wide ranging, and surprisingly deep account of much of the history of philosophy. Is it complete? Of course not, but it's a fun introduction and ends the only way it can (hint: Derrida)
Rob Koch
Oct 11, 2010 Rob Koch rated it really liked it
I wish it had been a bit more thorough in the people it covered. It skipped some important chunks of time. Otherwise, this would be great for curious novices or teens.
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Van Lente was raised by a mystery-loving mother (who preferred Dorothy Sayers to Agatha Christie, but we won't hold that against her) and a wisecracking Woody Allen-lookalike scientist father in what appears to be some kind of genetic experiment to write his first novel, TEN DEAD COMEDIANS, even though neither parent nor the son himself would know it for many years.

Van Lente spent his time betwee
More about Fred Van Lente...

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