Heads Up Philosophy by DK Publishing (ARC Review)

Heads Up PhilosophyInformation

Goodreads: Heads Up Philosophy
Series: None
Source: Shelf Awareness giveaway
Publication Date: October 20, 2014

Official Summary

The second installment in DK’s new Heads Up series, Heads Up Philosophy addresses the issues and theories that are most intriguing and relevant to the curious minds of teens — making a difficult topic easier to comprehend. Questions such as “What is knowledge?” “What is reality?” “What is the mind?” and “What’s right and wrong?” are all addressed, offering big ideas, simply explained. Written and designed specifically for the teen market, Heads Up Philosophy combines challenging but clear text with cool graphic illustrations that clarify and explain theories and arguments.

Biography spreads cover the famous quotes of great philosophers including Socrates, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Epicurus, Plato, and Thomas Aquinas, while major theories and debates including epistemology, metaphysics, and ideologies are also explained. Heads Up Philosophy also includes case study panels, diagrams, and real world spreads to show how philosophical theories relate to everyday life.

Making a difficult subject more approachable, Heads Up Philosophy is designed to provoke, entertain, and stimulate young minds.


This year, DK Publishing launched a nonfiction young adult line, which they hope will appeal to teens through use of illustrations and age-appropriate presentation of material.

Heads Up Philosophy delivers on these desires.  The book presents a brief overview of major philosophical arguments: what reality is, what the mind is, how we can tell right from wrong, and so forth.  Each major theme is subdivided into specific questions, which each get a two-page spread.  Interspersed are biographies of famous philosophers like Plato and Wittgenstein.  This breakdown ensures that the book is easy to follow and that readers always have new content to keep their attention.

The graphic nature of the book also plays a large role in making the content manageable.  Although each page is packed with information, the text is delivered in bite-sized chunks.  The editors make good use of subheadings, illustrations, captions, and quotes.  In the ARC, all of this is in black and white, which makes it a little difficult to navigate, but I am assuming (though I have no confirmation of this), that the final book will be in color, which will help to further organize the text.

In terms of content, Heads Up Philosophy covers a lot of ground, moving from Ancient Greece to contemporary times, and ending each chapter with examples of how readers might use philosophy in their own lives.  The authors generally frame each pages as, “Some philosophers believe X, but then some other philosophers came along and proposed that the opposite of X is true.”  The book is very objective and does not lead readers to prefer one theory over the other, but it is generally clear which theory is most believed today.

Heads Up Philosophy is a very good overview of some major philosophical questions.  The information is pretty basic, but it is, after all, supposed to be an approachable introduction to the topic.  It would still be difficult to read in one sitting, as the constant topic changes could be overwhelming to process all at once, but the book is nonetheless a great reference tool.

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