Philographics Presents a Visual Dictionary of Philosophy: 95 Philosophical Concepts as Graphic Designs

We so often hear pictures described as worth a thousand words apiece, but the Philographics project seems to have found a way to increase that value by at least 27,218. Or it has if you believe its blurb from Co.Design: “It takes the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 28,250 words to explain the woolly concept of relativism. It takes Genis Carreras 32 words and a single image.” When the Girona, Spain-based graphic designer harnessed his professional background in graphic design to his interest in philosophy, something hitherto unseen resulted: a visual dictionary of philosophy.

“I started the project two years ago with the intention to merge the world of philosophy and graphic design,” writes Carreras on the page of the Philographics Kickstarter drive, which raised £65,217 in 2013. “In the beginning it was a set of 24 posters, explaining philosophical theories like Dualism, Free Will, Existentialism or Idealism using only shapes and colour. But so many important ‘isms’ were left out that I decided to add more designs to the collection. Today the project consists of 95 designs, each of them depicting a different ‘ism’ using a unique combination of geometric shapes, colors and a short definition of the theory.”

The video above shows some examples, more of which you can browse one-by-one at Studio Carreras’ site, which also sells art prints, postcards, and the book Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple ShapesBrain Pickings’ Maria Popova calls the results, which look a bit like the kind of high-design midcentury paperback covers that have lately come back into vogue, “a playful and thoughtful celebration of symbolic and metaphorical thinking — that distinctly human faculty that is the hallmark of our imagination,” and one meant to “tickle our curiosity and spark deeper interest in influential theories of human nature and human purpose that those of us not formally trained in philosophy may not have previously been inspired to explore.”

These images certainly make the famously wordy field of philosophy — and one so often lampooned for that wordiness — infinitely more inviting for the philosophically inclined visual thinkers among us. If Carreras is considering Kickstarting another edition of Philographics posters, might we suggest blacklight versions? Dorm-room philosophical discussions the world over may attain a new level of rigor as a result.

via Brain Pickings

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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  • Travis says:

    Bigger font in the video, please.

  • Petteri says:

    Philographics as in love of graphics, yes. I like the visuals. But I was a little disappointed in that I was looking for sophographics, if you will… I stopped at the dollar sign/sales graph of “capitalism” (clever by itself). It looks as if mostly simple intuition is used according to what first came to mind, which is often common iconography, without unifying principles. (It still might be that even the “capitalism” is also using more sophisticated color/shape codes and ingeniously manages to combine them with the dollar sign etc, but I didn’t get there…) So I’m not convinced how much these will help understand philosophical concepts, at least as a logically interrelated whole.

  • Craig Keeling says:

    You tipped your hand with the atheism poster. An upside-down cross symbolizes a biblical, christian antagonist or satanist, not a lack of belief in a higher power.

    The subtitle is correct, but the icon is very wrong. Great project though.

  • Jake Fobean says:

    Vitalism rises. We are surely within the Deleuzian Century. I have great optimism about the propagation of life-affirming philosophy.

  • Markus Ketola says:

    I agree that the icon is wrong, as it’s associated with Christianity rather than theism in general. But the subtitle was also incorrect. Atheism isn’t merely an “absence of belief”, but rather the active belief that no god exists (otherwise little children and even animals would count as atheists, not helpful!).

    The definition of theism sounds also a bit hazy in the video, as if God of theism didn’t transcend space.

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