Cartoon showing an eager child reading a book titled ‘The Bumper Book of Wonder’. Near the child is a book that will be read in the future, called ‘My First Book of Disillusionment’
Child development cartoon showing an eager child reading a book titled ‘The Bumper Book of Wonder’. Near the child is a book he will read in the future, called ‘My First Book of Disillusionment’
A cartoon about growing up and loss of innocence, acquisition of knowledge, epistomology, epistemology.
Religion cartoon, showing two bishops talking. One is saying that he thinks of the universe as a “god shaped whole” (a word play on the usual expression, God shaped hole.
Cartoon showing a bishop saying that he thinks of the universe as a “God shaped whole”.
This is a pun on the usual saying that people feel a “God shaped hole”.
By the way, I have no religious convictions myself. I’m very much an atheist. This cartoon is meant as an illustration of how people with a strong religious faith think, not how I think.
Cartoon/illustration. A walking brian with legs and a head
Cartoon/illustration. A walking brian with legs and a head
I’m not sure what this drawing means. I suppose it’s something to do with the importance of the human brain’s contribution to what it means to be human. I don’t really know – it just popped into my head.
It’s probably a cartoon about psychiatry, neuroscience, neurology, how the mind works, how the brain works, cognition, the self.
A cartoon parody of a Roy Lichtenstein painting.
Roy Lichtenstein’s art lends itself very well to parody and spoof in cartoons, not least because the paintings themselves are often almost direct copies of images lifted from the pages of comic books.
A Roy Lichtenstein style parody illustration on the subject of the meaning of life, the search for meaning, philosophy, existentialism, existentialist angst, what’s the meaning of life?.
Cartoon depicting a western businessman visiting an eastern guru to try to find the meaning of life. He wants the answer quickly, because he is very busy and is short of time.
This is possibly a cartoon criticising the emptiness of western capitalist consumerist society. Having said that, I’m not a follower of eastern (or any other) mystical or spiritual societies either!
The humour in the cartoon is related to the fact that the businessman expects the answer to his difficult question in a very short time – possibly because the businessman is used to his minions and advisors giving him information in bite-sized chunks and in over-simplified and un-nuanced form.
It is a cartoon about the materially rich, time-poor nature of modern capitalist society, and about the expectation that life should be easy, with any answers instantly available.
Cartoon showing a procession of people following each other in a circle.
A cartoon that is possibly about lack of leadership and lack of direction within groups, or on a larger social scale possibly about inward looking insular societies, restrictive religious, social or cultural traditions that stifle thought and progress.
A cartoon about leadership, followers, leaders, following like sheep, insularity, conservatism, orthodoxy, narrow mindedness.
This is a reworking of a popular cartoon of mine on the subject of atheism to mark the death of Christopher Hitchens, polemicist, contrarian, combative atheist.
In case there’s any doubt, I’m an atheist myself. This is a joke – it does not indicate that I believe in Heaven.
Any pro-Heaven websites or publications that use this cartoon without permission will be chased up and their owners will be asked to pay. Oh, and they’ll be condemned to eternal damnation for cheating. I only mention this because it happens too frequently for my liking.
Pro-religion websites and publications are more than welcome to use the cartoon as long as they seek permission and pay for the cartoon license, as I actually find religion very interesting but just don’t happen to believe in its tenets.
Obituary cartoon for Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great and many other diatribes against religion.
Cartoon about taste, both gastronomic and aesthetic. Showing that values and tastes that people (or rats) possess are dependant on circumstances, context and so on, and are not fixed or absolute.
Cartoon showing rats looking at a discarded, decaying, rotting piece of food covered with flies and thinking that it looks delicious and attractive. In such circumstances we as humans would be subject to the gag reflex or wretch reaction.
Cartoon about consciousness and solipsism
A cartoon showing a man inside a thought bubble (or thought balloon). The illustration is about the concept that through consciousness man is aware of himself. This man in some ways ‘thinks himself into existence’
A cartoon about self awareness, Descartes saying “I thing therefore I am” or “Cogito ergo sum”, cognition, philosophy, philosophical thought.
The cartoon is about solipsism – the philosophical concept that the mind can only be aware of its own existence and not the existence of anything else. Solipsism is an epistemological position that holds that the external world cannot be known, and that other minds cannot be known, and that such things might not exist outside the mind that is thinking about them
Cartoon about consciousness
A cartoon showing a man with a thought bubble (or thought balloon) that has eyes and is looking at the man. The illustration is about the concept that through consciousness man is aware of himself (self aware) and is aware of his own existence
A cartoon about Rene Descartes saying “I thing therefore I am” or “Cogito ergo sum”, cognition, philosophy, philosophical thought, self awareness and solipsism
Philosophy cartoon or illustration
A man carrying a huge question mark, burdened by questions
A cartoon showing a man struggling to carry a huge, cumbersome question mark on his back. The dot of the question mark is a ball and chain attached to his ankle.
This is a cartoon about the burden that some people feel concerning questions about life, death, morality, existence, purpose, religion, spirituality, the meaning of life and so on
The fact that most of these questions are unanswerable can be something of a burden to some people depending on their psychological makeup.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
This illustration suggests that it’s possible to overdo the questioning.
The burden of some questions are possibly a reason that some people turn to religion for answers, as religions claim to be able to answer the unanswerable questions
Cartoon – searching for happiness
The pursuit of happiness cartoon
A cartoon showing a person walking along a road in a quest to seek happiness. He is asking a person who lives alongside the road if he will find happiness and fulfilment along this route, as that is what he is seeking.
The local man says that he thinks that the traveller has passed the place he is looking for back along the route he has already taken (without noticing it)
A cartoon about expectations, contentment, never being happy, happiness always just out of reach, seekers after meaning, the meaning of life, grass is greener on the other side of the hill
Illustration of visual ambiguity of scale
Is the bird huge or is the balloon tiny?
Or are they both the normal size and it’s just the viewpoint thatgives the dramatic effect?
An illustration showing how the position of the viewer can influence the interpretation of events
An illustration about birds, flying, flight, interpretation, relativism, illusion, optical illusions, ambiguity, ambiguous interpretation, deceptive scale, visual deception, trompe-l’œil, trompe l’oeil
DNA cartoon or illustration
DNA tightrope as a metaphor for life
A strand of dna depicted as a tightrope, with the double helix creating the strands of the rope. A person is walking along the strand.
The strand of dna is a metaphor for life and its precariousness
The ilustration also suggests existential vertigo – the dizzy feeling that can come about when contemplating the precarious nature of existence and reality
Domino effect cartoon
An illustration of the domino effect
A domino at the back of a line of dominos trips up.
Part of this joke is that the domino that falls is tripping over a sign saying “Queue Here”.
So the fact that the dominos have been lined up in a queue is also the reason that they are going to fall
A cartoon about self fulfilling dynamics, inevitability, cascading effect, knock on effects
A silhouette of a man with a stylised fish as an eye
This conceptual illustration may be about the fact that because we are evolved from fish we still see the world through our animal sensibilities.
Or maybe, because the fish eye is similar to the fish symbol used by some Christian groups, is this man looking at the world through the eyes of someone with a religious outlook?
Maybe it’s an illustration about the way that people generally see the world in the way that they want to see it, interpreting it through their own preconceived ideas and prejudices.
To be honest, the image just came to me one day, so the meaning is somewhere in my own subconscious
A cartoon about human evolution, vision, religion, bias, sight, insight, eye sight
Artificial intelligence cartoon
Will computers become conscious?
An illustration showing computer mouse as sperm (a metaphor for life and consciousness)
A cartoon about artificial intelligence, ai, sentient computers, computer awareness, Turing test, reproduction, meaning of life, definition of life, digital intelligence, artificial lifeforms
A cartoon about our place in the universe
A person looking through a telescope and a person looking through a microscope. Both seeing the same thing
A cartoon to illustrate the fact that we as humans occupy a position in the scale of things that is part way between the really big and the really small, and that to a large extent both extremes are inaccessible to us.
I’m not implying that the really small is actually the same as the really big by the way (as in the common game of imagining that atoms are planetary systems and that our solar system is actually an atom in a more gigantic scale of reality), although it’s a fun concept
A cartoon about perception, our place in the universe, stars, bacteria, size, scale
Gurus as authority figures
A cartoon about suspicion of authority, anti-authoritarianism persuasion
A cartoon about independent thinking, gullibility, followers, following authority, suspicion, identifying charlatans, charlatanism, wisdom, wise men, spiritual teachings, false authority, trust
Is outer space boring or awe inspiring?
Someone staring at the night sky and finding it boring when compared to a night’s television viewing (or other digital entertainment)
A cartoon about our perception of our place in the universe, spirituality, awe, world views, spiritual perspectives, existentialism
Practical uses of philosophy cartoon
Philosophy in the kitchen cartoon
A man ponders on a variation of Bishop George Berkley’s theory that if you can’t see something it doesn’t exist.
The caption reads: Who said philosophy had no practical uses?
The person is thinking: Because I can no longer see it, the washing up ceases to exist!
Bishop Berkley’s concept is known as idealism – the view that the external world does not exist independently of the mind. According to Berkeley all that exists are minds and their thoughts and sensations, with nothing to suggest that the external material world exists at all
A cartoon about domestic philosophy, materialism, immaterialism, excuses, rationalism, irrationalism, rationalisation, home-spun philosophies, justifications
The trolley problem – cartoon
Cartoon about ethics
The runaway trolley ethical dilemma
A runaway trolley or railway carriage is hurtling along a track and is heading for five workmen. It will kill the five workmen unless you (who happen to be in the signal box) move the points and divert the carriage onto a side track. However, there is a single person standing on that track. Can you bring yourself to divert the carriage, thus sacrificing the one person to save the many?
The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics that was first formulated by Philippa Foot, and has since spawned numerous alternative versions, most famously the one in which in order to save the group of people on the track the option is to push a fat man onto the track
A cartoon or illustration about ethics, neuroethics, ethical dilemmas, virtue, morals, morality, thought experiments, utilitarianism, cognitive science, philosophical problems
Galileo discussing the discoveries he made with his telescope with the church
The representative from the church (the Pope?) is thinking of hitting Galileo on the head with his telescope in order to shut him up.
The joke is that Galileo’s telescope made the discoveries and the church wants to use Galileo’s telescope to silence him
A cartoon about anti-scientific religious thinking, suppression of knowledge, fundamentalism, religion, doctrine, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei, pope Urban VIII
An atheist at the pearly gates
Where do atheists go when they die?
An atheist dies and finds himself at the gates of heaven. He is saying “I don’t believe it!”
A cartoon about religion, religious belief systems, the pearly gates, St Peter, the afterlife.
(By the way, I’m an atheist myself, in case you thought that this was an anti-atheism joke)
Cartoon about the search for fulfilment
Cartoon about happiness and aspiration
A person floating above the world in a hang glider, but thinking “There must be more to life than this”
A cartoon about life quests, satisfaction, contentment, boredom, never being satisfied, acquisitiveness, material wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, spirituality, dissatisfaction, religion
Cartoon – seeking the “True Self”
An idealistic young man on a spiritual quest to find his true self in the mountains of the east
He comes across a version of himself from a few years in the future, dressed as a conservative businessman
This cartoon was drawn in the early 1990s, but is relevant to issues of the 2010s when personal identity politics is very dominant.
A cartoon about spiritual quests, seeking, seekers, eastern enlightenment, mysticism, religion, buddhism, eastern spirituality.
This cartoon was a very popular greetings card published by Paperlink.
An eastern guru being asked what’s the meaning of life by a businessman who’s too busy and distracted to listen to the answer
A cartoon about religion, religious purpose, spiritual quests, seeking meaning, cultural determinism, materialism
This design was published as a greetings card by Paperlink.
Eastern guru cartoon
An eastern guru pronouncing that possessions and money are meaningless. A westerner listening to him asking him if he can give him fifty pounds in that case.
The cartoon was published as a greetings card by Paperlink
A cartoon about acquisitiveness, anti-materialism, materialism, spiritual values. devotee, buddhism
Cartoon about heaven and hell
Everlasting life as an eternity of boredom – cartoon
A soul in heaven, sitting on a cloud, finding that everlasting life in heaven is so boring that it’s actually hell
I realise that everlasting life in heaven would have no dimension of time, and thus wouldn’t be tedious, but then – why be everlasting if the term has no meaning?
A cartoon about the down side of life after death – eternal tedium, boredom or ennui – possibly it’s a fate worse than death
Primitive creation myths cartoon
Prehistoric cave painting cartoon
Cartoon of cavemen debating the nature of the universe.
The birth of religion.
A cartoon about the possibility that people would rather believe what they want to believe rather than what actually is. We all do this. It’s also about the fact that our caveman ancestors were probably more intelligent and aware than is sometimes thought. They had to be to survive, after all
Religious literalism cartoon
Religious fundamentalism cartoon
An illustration of the concept that taking religious texts too literally inhibits rational analysis
A cartoon about religion, fundamentalism, rationality, irrationality, atheism, atheists, bigotry, religious zealots, zealotry
Is this a cartoon about sport or about human nature? Or both?
It’s essentially a cartoon about the nature of competitiveness and how it’s an innate component of the human psyche or personality.
The cartoon depicts people drawing the white lines of an athletics track, and spontaneously racing against each other in the process.
The dna double helix as a ladder, with a person climbing up it
The shape of the dna double helix makes it easy to use the dna molecule in metaphors about the nature of life (at both the physically and psychological levels). Here it’s being used as a ladder to invoke the idea of live as a journey (again both physically and psychologically, with the physical aspects being anything from evolution over eons to the length of a single human life)
Transport system cartoon
A cartoon about the concept of progress
Is progress an illusion?
Is progress a good thing?
Cars at a standstill in a traffic jam symbolising progress (or the lack of it) in transport planning and the excessive use of cars as personal transport.
Also a cartoon about the philosophical question of whether progress is necessarily a good thing
Cartoon: the tree of knowledge reading a book, and discovering that paper is made from trees
A cartoon about the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’
A cartoon about the acquisition of knowledge and its possible unsettling consequences
The cartoon can be interpreted as being about the fact that humans are aware of their own mortality due to their level of awareness