The Grim Reaper with a baby Grim Reaper

grim reaper and baby grim reaper in pushchair

The grim reaper with a baby grim reaper in a pushchair

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper pushing a pushchair or baby buggy in which sits an infant grim reaper.
Part of the concept behind the cartoon is to show a link between birth and death.
It’s also meant to be humorous because it humanises the grim reaper.

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The grim reaper upgrades from a scythe to a combine harvester

grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper upgrades from his scythe to a combine harvester. The harvester is here a symbol of much greater ‘harvesting’ power than the scythe – in other words a means of achieving a much greater death toll, similar to a weapon of mass destruction.

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A chess board as a metaphor for conflict resolution – cartoon

Chess as a metaphor for conflict resolution

A chessboard on which the chess pieces are not only black and white but are also shades of grey.

The idea of the cartoon is that conflict occurs when things are seen in black and white or when people are polarised in outlook. With shades of gray or nuances of opinion conflict is less likely – specifically as on the chessboard in the illustration.

The cartoon is a comment on the fact that people tend to analyse things in black and white, as “either/or” or in binary.

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Reach for the stars – cartoon

cartoon - studying the stars with a telescope

A cartoon showing an astronomer reaching for the stars by reaching up inside an astronomical telescope.
The astronomer’s hand is appearing out or the top of the telescope as though it is grasping for the stars.

An illustration concerning people’s urge to discover more about the universe through scientific exploration.

A cartoon about scientific exploration, inquiring minds, curiosity, curiousity, reaching for the stats.

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Weird illustration of a person with a padlock as a head – and the key as a pet

Surreal cartoon of a person with a padlock as a head and a key as a pet

Bizarre illustration of a padlock as a person’s head

A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person with a padlock as a head – and with the padlock’s key on a lead like a pet dog.
The image was created with no specific meaning, although it’s probably an unconscious metaphor for something as it gives the impression of aspiring to be psychologically meaningful.

Perhaps it’s meant to refer in some ways to psychology or psychological processes, the workings of the mind, the conceptualisation of ideas and such like. Perhaps it’s about the way that people become locked into particular patterns of thought and behaviour (while possessing the key to their release).
A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, psychiatry, the mind.
I think it owes a debt to surrealist art, with a touch of Rene Magritte or salvador Dali in there

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Cartoon about the saying ‘To your own self be true’

criticism of excessive self fulfilment - cartoon

A cartoon about the pitfalls of ‘being yourself’ and ‘being true to yourself’

The illustration shows a guru dispensing advice to ‘Be true to yourself in all things’.

The cartoon highlights the absurdity of the expression ‘To thine own self be true’, as the expression can be taken as a license for people to do whatever they want. The expression only makes sense if you assume that everyone’s nature is essentially good.
“To thine own self be true” is a quote from Shakespeare (by Polonius in Hamlet).
The image is a criticism of philosophies and lifestyles that take concepts of self fulfilment or self actualisation to an extreme, and or the concept that it’s morally good to follow the impulses of your own personality without self-restraint.

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Philosophy cartoon – a philosopher talking to a man with no insight

Philosophy cartoon - men talking about the meaning of life

Philosophy cartoons
Strip cartoon about the nature of philosophy

A philosopher and a layman talk about the meaning of life

The joke in this cartoon is that the layman is intrigued about the purpose of life but the philosopher has come to the conclusion that it isn’t an important question.
It’s a cartoon that questions our assumptions of what is important

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Atheism cartoon – an atheist at the gates of heaven

atheist at gates of heaven cartoon

Atheism cartoon

An atheist arrives at the gates of heaven (the Pearly Gates)

St Peter is pointing out to the atheist that there is a notice on the Pearly Gates declaring “No atheists”.
The atheist is thinking “I don’t believe it!”
The joke is a play on the fact that the atheist doesn’t believe in heaven rather than that he is exasperated by the fact that he isn’t allowed in.

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What is Philosophy?

what is philosophy?logo

Philosophy cartoon or logo

Using the expression “What is philosophy?”
A talking question mark is asking the question.
My cartoons about philosophy are published in Philosophy Now magazine.

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Philosophy cartoon – the human condition

Philosophy - the human condition cartoon

Philosophy cartoon
A signpost to doom

Cartoon. A signpost pointing to negative conditions of the human psyche in all directions (sadness, misery etc). The sign on the top of the signpost indicates where the signpost is right now – boredom.
The people standing beneath the sign decide to stay where they are.

They’d rather be bored than risk experiencing something more negative.
Notice that the signpost has no positive directions on it. This doesn’t mean that there are none – but that to the people beneath the sign see it that way.
A cartoon about motivation, outlook, pessimist, pessimists, optimism (or the lack of it), mindsets, melancholia, negativity, inertia, the human condition.
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Philosophy cartoon

Environmental cartoon

Philosophy cartoons

I’ve been drawing cartoons about philosophy for many years.
I tend to have one or two cartoons in each issue of Philosophy Now magazine, and occasionally I create a cartoon or illustration for its cover.

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Illustration: thinking without words

cartoon philosophy of language

A cartoon about cognition.
An illustration about the philosophy of language
Non-verbal thoughts

Is language necessary for thinking?

Do we have to think in words
A cartoon about linguistics, articulating concepts, abstract thought processes
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A quote about science: SCIENCE LIES… at the heart of our search for truth

anti-science quote subverted

A science quote about the truth of the scientific purpose.
A riposte to anti-science

Quote playing with the fact that some people misrepresent science as telling lies about the nature of things

The quote is my own
A typography-based image
This quote is a riposte to the claim by anti-scientific sections of society that science peddles lies and untruths (often at the behest of big business, drug companies, governments and other interested parties). Such critics of science are often unaware of the scientific method.

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Philosophy logo

Philosophy logo - question mark

Philosophy logo
A question mark incorporating a face

A logo or symbol representing philosophy – in the form of a question mark with a face in the design
A typographical logo of a questionmark symbolising philosophy

See my book on philosophy
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Cartoon of a person watching reality tv – infinite regression image

reality tv cartoon - infinite regression of image in tv screen

Reality tv cartoon – showing a person watching reality tv watching a person watching reality tv – an infinite regression image

A cartoon about television reflecting life: about the way that people’s lives are seemlessly integrated with technology – to the point where people only exist in relation to technology

An illustration of people doing nothing but watching reality television, for whom nothing exists beyond the tv screen, the computer screen or the phone screen.

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Altruism cartoon

altruism cartoon

Altruism cartoon

An illustration depicting altruistic behavior

The cartoon shows a person spanning a chasm or abyss, acting as a bridge with other people walking across.
The benefits of altruism are sometimes debated in evolutionary terms, sometimes arguing that altruism evolved because the good of the group is more important than the good of the individual. Altruism may also be seen as a form of display, where the altruistic individual is displaying his or her positive qualities to others, thus improving social status.
The illustration could also be interpreted as depicting exploitation, depending on context
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Neurological or genetic causes of criminality – cartoon

neurological or genetic causes of criminality - cartoon

Medicalisation of deviant behaviour cartoon
Neurological origins of behavioural traits
Neurocriminology and its implications

A cartoon about the possibility that criminal behaviour or deviant behaviour may sometimes (or often) have its roots in a person’s biology.
The idea that personality may be determined by biology is one aspect of the nature v nurture debate, and has implications for the concept of free will

An illustration about the medicalization of behaviour. This may include behavioural syndromes ranging from psychopathic tendencies and deviance to conditions such as hyperactivity, ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder), rebelliousness or non-conformity.

The cartoon illustrates the tendency of criminal lawyers to sometimes claim, for instance, that particular parts of dna or neurological makeup are responsible for criminal behaviour – thus removing responsibility from the person and placing it on the person’s dna or neurology.

The subject of neurological origins for criminal behaviour is dealt with in the book The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine

The cartoon was first published in Philosophy Now magazine

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Illustration: unlock your creativity: unlock your mind

Padlock as head - unlocking it releases the imagination

Bizarre cartoon featuring a padlock as a person’s head or an imaginary creature’s head
An illustration about unlocking creativity

A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person or imaginary creature with a head in the form of a padlock.
The person is holding a key and is saying “Unlock your imagination!”.

The illustration is about freeing the imagination or liberating the mind to be creative. It is an image to convey the link between creativity and thought processes

The cartoon has uses as an illustration in art education or in areas of philosophy or psychology.
For a less bizarre, more child-friendly version of the same concept click here

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Padlock head – a cartoon about psychology

Illustration - person with a head in the form of a padlock and holding the key in

Padlock head cartoon

A surreal or bizarre image showing a person with a head in the form of a padlock.
The person is holding the padlock’s key in their hands.
The drawing was created with no idea what it means, although it’s probably an unconscious metaphor for something as it gives the impression of aspiring to be psychologically profound. Perhaps it’s meant to refer in some ways to psychology, the workings of the mind, the conceptualisation of ideas and so on. Maybe it’s about the way that people become locked into patterns of thought and behaviour (while holding the key to escaping).

A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, psychiatry, the mind

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Philosophy cartoon – a philosopher talking to a man with no insight

Philosophy cartoon - men talking about the meaning of life

Philosophy cartoons
Strip cartoon about the nature of philosophy

A philosopher and a layman talk about the meaning of life

The joke in this cartoon is that the layman is intrigued about the purpose of life but the philosopher has come to the conclusion that it isn’t an important question.
It’s a cartoon that questions our assumptions of what is important

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Yes or No? Being pulled in opposite directions – illustration

Yes and No pulling in opposite directions

Yes or No – which will win in a tug-of-war?

A cartoon illustrating the idea of being pulled in two directions at once, or of indecision.

A conceptual illustration that might be about voting, a yes and no vote in an election, indecisive behaviour, being pulled in several directions, opposites pulling in opposite directions, weighing up an argument, forming opinions, decisiveness
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Professor Brian Cox cartoon – we are stardust

professor brian cox cartoon we are stardust

Professor Brian Cox cartoon
We are made of stardust

A humorous comment about the fact that all of the elements apart from hydrogen and helium were created inside stars – so everything is made of stardust

The joke here is that when the tv astronomer Professor Brian Cox says that everything is made of stardust he really lays it on thick in a way that many people, especially women, find very attractive. So here the woman is actually saying that she finds Brian Cox attractive, and it even affects her attitude to slugs

See my book on the nature of the universe
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Philosophy cartoons

philosophy cartoon - cognition

Philosophy cartoons
Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am

The cartoon refers to the idea that people create their own reality or project reality outwards from their minds. The idea is that the outer reality is an illusion created by neurological activity (or some other process if neurological activity is an illusion)

The cartoon shows a person creating a thought bubble inside which the person is sitting – thus creating their own reality
The phrase cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) is attributed to philosopher René Descartes
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Giant space monster cartoon – size is relative

Space monster cartoon - size is relative

Cartoon – a giant space monster is still insignificant when compared to the size of the universe
A cartoon about the importance of context to significance

The cartoon shows two astronauts about to be devoured by a huge space worm

The inspiration behind this cartoon is the assertion that people sometimes make that people are insignificance when compared to the vastness of the universe. It’s my view that the size of the universe is of no significance for all practical purposes
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Cartoon – aliens trying to deduce what humans look like based on limited evidence

aliens trying to visualise what humans look like from glove and shoe

Cartoon – aliens trying to deduce what humans look like based on limited evidence

Aliens trying to visualise what humans look like based on their clothing – however the aliens only have a glove and a shoe with which to work

A cartoon about trying to reach conclusions when you don’t have enough evidence

In the cartoon the aliens have deduced that a human glove is a garment for the body and the (five) legs, while the shoe is an article of headgear like a hat.
The aliens have reached their conclusion due to their bias towards their own body forms.
A cartoon about cognitive limitations, cultural bias

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Cartoon – an alien visiting earth observes man’s inhumanity to man

Cartoon - an alien asking a soldier what monster he is fighting

Cartoon – an alien asking a soldier what monster he is fighting

The cartoon shows an extraterrestrial creature that has landed on earth. The alien is talking to a soldier who is dressed in fighting gear and is heavily armed. The alien is asking the soldier what sort of monster he shares his planet with that he has to be so well armed against it

The joke, of course, is that the monster is us, the human race

This cartoon makes a very negative point about the human race. Personally I think that the human race is okay, but that we tend to have too high an expectation of ourselves and an unrealistic view of the possibility that we can attain an ideal state of existence.
I drew this cartoon in the 1970s. It’s now forty years later. By coincidence I’ve just read a few articles about philosopher John Gray, who is of the opinion that the human race is not exactly the best thing to have evolved on this planet. Possibly a bit misanthropic, but not deluded in the way that some of the more shiny concepts of the nature of humanity are. John Gray’s latest book is The Silence of Animals

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The uninvention of the wheel – a nonsense cartoon

Cartoon/illustration - the uninvention of the wheel

The uninvention of the wheel – a nonsense cartoon

A cartoon or illustration illustrating the fanciful notion that inventions can be ‘uninvented’

Here, in an imaginary setting in a fictitious world, the inhabitants are discovering that by removing the wheels from a cart the cart becomes really hard to move. They seem to be excited by this revelation. Quite why I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not really sure what the cartoon’s about at all. Perhaps it’s about the discovery of the significance of meaninglessness.

This cartoon was drawn quite a few years ago, maybe in the 1980s. I must check.
A quite surreal cartoon, bizarre both in subject and style

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Unicorn cartoon. Proof that unicorns don’t exist

unicorn proof of existence cartoon

Unicorn cartoon. Proof that unicorns don’t exist

In the illustration a unicorn is reading a magazine or newspaper article with the headline “Unicorns don’t exist – the proof”.
The joke is that something that doesn’t exist is reading an article giving proof that it doesn’t exist.
The cartoon is based on the fact that generally you can’t prove a negative. For instance, in Britain before the time of ocean-going discovery all swans that were observed were white – however this didn’t mean that there were no swans that were black (as indeed there were in Australia).
The argument is often applied to religion and the subject of attempting to prove the existence of god. Believers in god frequently ask nonbelievers to disprove the existence of god. Atheists have to reply that disproving the existence of god is similar to disproving the existence of unicorns. The onus is really on the believer to prove the existence of god (or prove the existence of unicorns).

A cartoon about mythical or mythological creatures, the burden of proof
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Illustration – do we live inside a hologram?

hologram credit card cartoon

Do we live inside a hologram? Cartoon

A cartoon showing people climbing out of the holgram panel on a credit card.
The caption reads “Bad news. Not only are we living inside a hologram, but we’re nearing our expiry date.”

The illustration is about whether our three dimensional reality is a form of hologram like projection or illusion.
The joke is in comparing a grand theory of a hologramic universe with the mundane hologram on a credit card.
A cartoon about the nature of the universe, virtual reality
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Culturally determined world views – cartoon

culturally based science cartoon

A cartoon about culturally determined world views
The idea that different cultures will use whatever methods are at their disposal to reinforce their established philosophy of how the world works.

An observation about theological determinism, cultural bias in science, cognitive dissonance, pseudoscience

The cartoon shows a nonspecific non-western culture planning to build their own large hadron collider (LHC) to obtain results that are consistent with their cultural heritage.
It is an illustration about the misrepresentation of science or the lack of use of the scientific method.
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Social control through the ages – cartoon

social control through the ages - cartoon

Cartoon – social control through the ages
In medieval times social control was imposed by the church and religion.
In the twenty first century social control is imposed by technology

A cartoon showing society in the middle ages being controlled by the church (symbolised by a cross), contrasted with society today being controlled by technology (symbolised by a cctv surveillance camera)

A cartoon about coercion, repression, repressive societies
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Cartoon about Utopia

utopia by-laws - cartoon

Welcome to Utopia – cartoon
You are now entering Utopia – please abide by these by-laws

A cartoon illustrating the idea that utopian societies can only exist if they are repressive or prescriptive to some degree (probably a necessary degree to be honest).

The list of by-laws that have to be enforced in Utopia show that it’s maybe impossible for people to act unselfishly without a degree of coercion. A cartoon about politics, philosophy,
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