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May 15, 2013 BOOKLIST
With her fellow-cartoonist husband providing vivid color, de Heer employs an outline style, similar to Cathy Guisewite (Cathy) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts), which helps her emphasize the text of this congenial, bare-bones introduction to Western philosophy. Avoiding formal philosophical language, she first illustrates the nature of thinking, self-awareness, and thinking logically before turning to the Greeks who forged Western philosophy’s fundamental method (dialectic) and metaphysical concerns (being and becoming)—Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. After an interlude on self-knowledge, she turns to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the medievals who most influentially married Platonic and Aristotelian insights to Christian theology. She then discusses free will and the rise of science, which leads to the Renaissance thinkers Erasmus, Descartes, and Spinoza, who developed humanism, revived dualism, and refined epistemology, respectively. Consideration of the modern obsession with the nature of reality prefaces the personal philosophies of four moderns—de Heer’s husband, mother-in-law, brother, and an old family friend. A glossary of basic philosophical terms (illustrated) might have been nice, but this shrewd, engaging graphic primer is very ingratiating.