The Cartoon History of Humanism

By George B. Kauffman

The Cartoon History of Humanism: Volume One: Antiquity to Enlightenment. Words by Dale DeBakcsy, Art by Count Dolby von Luckner, Humanist Press, Washington, DC, 2015, paperback $24.99. 126 pp. ISBN 978-0-931779-70-1

Dale DeBakcsy (the writer) and his alter ego, Count Dolby von Luckner (the artist) are regular contributors to Philosophy Now, American Atheist Magazine, and Skeptical Inquirer. Their graphically illustrated project, based on a long-running web column involving an everyman time-traveling character named Dave, is now available in book form.

When he was a child, Dave carelessly made fun of a logical positivist. As a punishment, the logical positivist cursed Dave to wander time and space to converse with humanist philosophers until he learned his lesson. On his journey, detailed in the book under review here, DeBakcsy presents a compelling history of humanist ethics and the courageous persons, female as well as male, who defied the religious authorities of their time periods to advance rationality and free thought. The book is an excellent light-hearted introduction to humanism for anyone as well as a delightful read for committed humanist seeking a fresh and engaging perspective on their familiar philosophical views.

Here is an outline of the book’s contents:

Introduction

Episode 1 Epicurus and the Right to Moderately Party

Episode 2 Lucretius: The MacGyver of Natural Philosophy

Episode 3 Cicero: Classical Skepticism on the Brink of Empire

Episode 4 Arnold of Brescia: The Man So Important, You’ve Never Heard of Him

Episode 5 One Nun Against God: The Human Tragedy of Heloise d’Argenteuil

Episode 6 Peter Abelard: How To Not Make Friends and Still Influence People

Episode 7 The Archpoet: Twelfth Century Gangsta

Episode 8 How Europe Got Its Aristotle Back the Life and Philosophy of IbnRushd (Averroes)

Episode 9 A Monk of Nature: The Medieval Science of Albertus Magnus

Episode 10 (Peasant) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: The Heresy of Grazida Lizier

Episode 11 Giovanni Boccaccio: Master of Mythology and Softcore Fourteenth Century Erotica

Episode 12 Failing on the Side of Greatness: the Life and thought of Leonardo da Vinci

Episode 13 Farewell, the Soul Immortal: The Reality-First Psychology of Pietro Pomponazzi

Episode 14. Keeping it Real: The Practical Religious Skepticism of Niccolo Machiavelli

Episode 15 The Reformation’s One Good Man: Erasmus of Rotterdam

Episode 16 Outprincing the Princes: The Renaissance Diplomacy and Patronage of Isabella d’Este

Episode 17 Giordano Bruno and the Secret Origins of Modern Philosophy

Episode 18 From the Midst of Massacre: The Religious Tolerance of King Henry IV

Episode 19 Paolo Sarpi: Venice’s Secret Atheist?

Episode 20 Baruch Spinoza: The Most Dangerous Man in Europe

Episode 21 Thomas Hobbes: Materialist. Atheist. Radical?

Episode 22 We’re All Mad Here. The Seventeenth Century Tolerance of Pierre Boyle

Episode 23 Novelist. Journalist. Spy. Wit and Sexual Liberation in Seventeenth-Century England

Episode 24 Anthony Collins and the Bad Boys of English Deism

Episode 25 Soul Man: La Mettrie’s Great Step Forward

Episode 26 Hermann Samuel Reimarus: The Man Who Exposed the Apostles

Episode 27 Reason from Passion: David Hume, The Great Infidel

Episode 28 One Poet Against Christendom: Voltaire, Part 1: The Brilliant, Awful Years

Episode 29 One Poet Against Christendom: Voltaire, Part Two: The People’s Hero

Episode 30 Making Determinism Art: The Humanist Fictionscapes of Denis

Diderot

Episode 31 The Royal Road to Enlightenment: Frederick the Great

Episode 32 Trying Herder: The Lost Voice of the Eighteenth Century’s Greatest Twentieth-First Century Thinker

Bonus! It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: A Cartoon History of Humanism Holiday Special

*****

George B. Kauffman, Ph.D., chemistry professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno and Guggenheim Fellow, is recipient of the American Chemical Society’s George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach, and Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, and numerous domestic and international honors. In 2002 and 2011, he was appointed a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society, respectively.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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