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:
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
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.