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Heretics! : The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy

3.75 (435 ratings by Goodreads)
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An entertaining, enlightening, and humorous graphic narrative of the dangerous thinkers who laid the foundation of modern thought This entertaining and enlightening graphic narrative tells the exciting story of the seventeenth-century thinkers who challenged authority--sometimes risking excommunication, prison, and even death--to lay the foundations of modern philosophy and science and help usher in a new world. With masterful storytelling and color illustrations, Heretics! offers a unique introduction to the birth of modern thought in comics form--smart, charming, and often funny. These contentious and controversial philosophers--from Galileo and Descartes to Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Newton--fundamentally changed the way we look at the world, society, and ourselves, overturning everything from the idea that the Earth is the center of the cosmos to the notion that kings have a divine right to rule. More devoted to reason than to faith, these thinkers defended scandalous new views of nature, religion, politics, knowledge, and the human mind. Heretics! tells the story of their ideas, lives, and times in a vivid new way.
Crisscrossing Europe as it follows them in their travels and exiles, the narrative describes their meetings and clashes with each other--as well as their confrontations with religious and royal authority. It recounts key moments in the history of modern philosophy, including the burning of Giordano Bruno for heresy, Galileo's house arrest for defending Copernicanism, Descartes's proclaiming cogito ergo sum, Hobbes's vision of the "nasty and brutish" state of nature, and Spinoza's shocking Theological-Political Treatise. A brilliant account of one of the most brilliant periods in philosophy, Heretics! is the story of how a group of brave thinkers used reason and evidence to triumph over the authority of religion, royalty, and antiquity.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 22.86mm | 709g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • with French flaps
  • 173 color illus.
  • 0691168695
  • 9780691168692
  • 143,791

Back cover copy

"With its engaging, playful graphics, Heretics! combines narrative immediacy, intimacy, and warmth, reminding us that philosophy and history are alive, and bringing abstract and complex ideas back down to earth--faithfully, concisely, and wittily."--Ivan Brunetti, author of Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

"The revolutionary beginnings of modern thought are brought vividly and amusingly to life in this masterful and entertaining book."--Anthony Gottlieb, author of The Dream of Enlightenment

"Steven Nadler and Ben Nadler's graphic exploration of the thinkers of the seventeenth century is brimming with information concisely expressed, and the illustrations add an extra dimension of irreverent wit to the text, truly earning it its proud title of Heretics!"--Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away

"Heretics! is a triumph of modern comic art. It will be widely read by those of any age seeking a way into the vast and many-sided transition to modern thought and life."--Paul Buhle, coeditor of Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

"Heretics! is very charming, with a zippy, whimsical text and attractive illustrations."--Daniel Garber, editor of The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy

"Leading historian of philosophy Steven Nadler and gifted artist Ben Nadler have created a wonderful book."--Eric Schliesser, author of Sympathy: A History
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Review Text

"With its engaging, playful graphics, Heretics! combines narrative immediacy, intimacy, and warmth, reminding us that philosophy and history are alive, and bringing abstract and complex ideas back down to earth - faithfully, concisely, and wittily." - Ivan Brunetti, author of Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
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Review quote

"Bring[s] both entertainment and enlightenment to the subject of how modern philosophical thought challenged the church's doctrine on the relationship between God and man and led to democratic challenges to monarchy and the divine right of kings... Nimbly advance[s] through a little more than a century in fewer than 200 pages, presenting a primer that can instruct those new to the period while serving as a refresher for readers who have forgotten what they studied in history and philosophy."--Kirkus "A quick introduction to the basic figures and concepts of modern philosophy as it was developed in the 17th century. Rene Descartes, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza, and other philosophers pop up to discuss, and sometimes argue, about the nature of matter, the existence of God, mind-body dualism, the structure of society, and even the existence of knowledge itself. The authors use quotes from the philosophers themselves and quickly place them in historical context, and the lively illustrations keep the narrative from getting bogged down."--Brigid Alverson, School Library Journal "Being a philosopher in the 17th century was a dangerous career choice. At odds with the Catholic church, Western philosophy found itself in a precarious position that would sometimes end in violence. Written by the father-son team Steven and Ben Nadler, the comic book aims to turn the trials of early scientific thought into a riveting graphic narrative. With the help of colorful illustrations and jokes, the duo is able to make complicated philosophical ideas easier to digest for a larger group of readers as well as offer up plenty of drama."--Mental Floss
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About Steven Nadler

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include Spinoza: A Life, which won the Koret Jewish Book Award, and Rembrandt's Jews, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Madison. Ben Nadler is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and an illustrator. He lives in Chicago. Follow him on Instagram at @bennadlercomics.
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Rating details

435 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 21% (91)
4 41% (179)
3 31% (136)
2 6% (27)
1 0% (2)
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