Portland-based software developer Corey Mohler never took a philosophy class in college. But when it comes to popular philosophy, his Existential Comics rule the Internet.
He’s made well over 100 of them since 2013, encompassing thinkers from the pre-Socratic Greeks to contemporary philosophers like Peter Singer and Robert Nozick. The existentialists do tend to appear the most, as you’d expect from the site’s name (and the fact that its logo is a cartoon of Jean-Paul Sartre), but Mohler showcases an extensive knowledge of every topic his works cover. Most importantly, he shares that knowledge easily and openly with uninitiated readers. You can click a “Didn’t Get The Joke?” tab below each comic for a brief explanation of the concepts that comic explores, and on the blog section of the website, there’s an excellent beginner’s guide to philosophy—what books to read, how to read them, and other web resources to explore.
Of course, Existential Comics wouldn’t be nearly as effective at spurring an appreciation of philosophy if they weren’t so damn funny. Here, we’ve collected ten of the best panels from the collection (with brief explanations of each) to give you a taste of the full site.
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Mohler's most popular comic for a reason: Marx's perfect response to bankruptcy and Freud's perfect reaction.
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Sartre believed in radical freedom, the notion that we are completely free at any time to make any choice.
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Pyrrho was a hardcore skeptic, meaning that he didn't believe true knowledge of anything was possible.
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The lines here are taken from Kierkegaard's Either/Or, which depicts a character in despair because he is attempting not to be a self.
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Nietzsche famously proclaimed "God is dead" in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. His übermensch is someone who has overcome society, morality, and their own past.
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Franz Kafka was famous for depictions of absurd bureaucratic nightmares that render human existence meaningless.
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Marx's theory of dialectical materialism is said to have "turned Hegel on his head." Hegel, notably, is the most incomprehensible writer ever to have existed.
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A major tenet of existentialism: to exist authentically is to feel despair in our lack of inherent purpose. The bears, L-R: Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, de Beauvoir.
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Albert Camus was an existentialist who focused mainly on the absurdity of existence—that is, you can't deduce an objective purpose.
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Some of Mohler's comics feature concepts instead of specific philosophers. Fallacy Man, one of his "superheroes," obnoxiously points out logical fallacies.