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Manga Introduction to Philosophy: An Exploration of Time, Existence, the Self, and the Meaning of Life

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Abstract

This book was first published in Japanese in 2013 and was warmly welcomed not only by general readers but also by specialists in philosophy. I believe that it succeeded in breaking new ground in the field of introductory approaches to philosophy. Many manga or comic books explaining the thought of major philosophers have already been published. There have also been manga whose story was conceived by philosophers. To the best of my knowledge, however, there has never been a book in which a philosopher has illustrated his or her own philosophical thought entirely in manga form. There are no doubt many philosophers who can draw manga or illustrations, so it’s quite strange that no such book has been published until now. “I want to try drawing a manga introduction to philosophy myself!” After this idea came to me, I began by taking a draft of about twenty manga pages to the editing department at Kodansha Publications. The characters were awkward at first, but as I kept drawing they seemed to move more smoothly, and by the time I had finished it almost felt like they were speaking for themselves. I drew around 220 original pages in detail using a pencil. Manga creator Nyancofu Terada then gave these pencil drawings professional lines. It is entirely thanks to him that I was able to publish my manga in the Kodansha paperback series. As the title says, this book is an introduction to philosophy. I tried to write about questions like “What is philosophy?” and “What does it mean to think philosophically” for a general readership. This is not a book that presents easy-to-understand explanations of the theories of famous philosophers. Instead, I have tried to express as clearly as possible how I myself think about four major topics: “time,” “existence,” “I,” and “life.” By following this route, the reader will be led directly to the core elements of philosophical thought. My aim was to imbue this journey with a sense of speed and intensity.
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