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Infographic Posters Reduce Huge Philosophical Ideas To Shapes And Colors

Genis Carreras uses minimal graphic design to explain some of the world's thorniest philosophical ideas, from relativism to atheism.

It takes the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 28,250 words to explain the woolly concept of relativism. It takes Genis Carreras 32 words and a single image: an ingenious blur of overlapping gray circles on a gray background. If you ask me, he doesn’t even need the text.

"Relativism" is one of 24 Philosophy Posters that Carreras, a London-based graphic designer, created to build "a new language to communicate philosophy visually, in order to make it more accessible and attractive," he tells Co.Design. Each poster boils down an absurdly complex theory to shapes and colors that are so basic a kindergarten kid could get it. You’ve got a gold star on a red background (Marxism); a white "X" on black (nihilism); an upside-down cross (atheism); and so on. "Minimalism makes people complete the concept behind each poster," Carreras says, "allowing different interpretations but at the same time giving a general picture of what the theory is."

This stuff should plaster the classroom walls of every philosophy professor everywhere. I think back to my high-school Christian morality teacher who, bless his eager, exasperated heart, had a hell of a time unpacking Kant for a bunch of spitefully bored teenagers. Carreras’s posters would’ve been like manna. Hardcore philosophy snobs might complain that they’re too simple—that a complicated theory can’t, under any circumstances, be reduced to pretty squares and circles. Incidentally, there’s a poster for that line of thinking, too. See above.

Posters cost $17 to $48 each, depending on size. See more of Carreras’s work here.

[Images courtesy of Genis Carreras]

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  • jFaulkner

    Ridiculous. These are icons, symbols playing off prior knowledge. Kinda like WTF?

  • Bmladeno

    These are visually attractive images of the sort that we have seen for decades on various book covers. Some of them could be interpreted as showing the structure of some philosophical positions, but not all. For example, the Dualism poster is misleading: the point of dualism is that the two substances never become blurred (in visual language, you never get purple out of red and blue, even when red and blue occupy the same area - mind and body remain distinct in human being). Other posters could be interpreted in any way you want (Free Will, Existentialism for example) - they are not particularly useful for explanation of any specific position. 

  • Renee

    Philosophy snob here: What's the point of this exactly? How useful these are really depends on how deep you want to go and it's sort of offensive to to think that he or you (the author) are an appropriate judge of how deep is deep enough.

    I'm sure a physics professor could explain Relativity to me well enough for me to "get it" in a conceptual stance but it's sort of ignorant to say that's all you need or that it's even useful to "get it" like that. I mean, you have to know relativity and all of it's boring mathematics to actually USE IT and make it more than coffee table talk and into the sort of useful physics for creating GPS systems.

    So yeah, sure these posters are great for killing about 5 minutes worth of class but if you really wanted to get it well enough to actually use philosophy (yeah, it has a purpose) then you need to go deeper into the concepts.

  • memo

    these kinds of minimal shape/color posters are starting to annoy me very very very much.

  • Michael Lynch

    Visually I think these are great. Conceptually they are mediocre. Some basic understanding is required to appreciate the visual. Without that, the viewer is left with a vague idea, not a solid understanding of the theory.

  • Leban

    For a fad, it doesn't seem to be doing too bad. This is the third online publication that I've seen it in.

    The kudos to the designer are more for the attempt to simplify complex information... That's kind of what designers do ;-)

    I agree that boiling Atheism down to an anti-Christian context is an unsuccessful interpretation. Maybe a blank page with the title "Atheism" would have been more appropriate.

    All in all, I appreciate the work, even with the flaws. Thanks for the article!

  • Alexander

    Do the posters come with the rose-tinted glasses Labarre seems to be wearing included free, or do you have to buy those separately?

  • devinkye

    Boiling down atheism to meaning simply anti-Christianity is as dangerous as it is stupid.

  • George Santayana

    This is a dumb fad that will die soon. Philosophy holds more meaning than simple shapes and bad typography.



  • Matt Fry

    These are definitely cool. I don't know if he quite captures the robustness of the Stanford definition, though. He doesn't mention much about the history and proponents of relativism, or its practical impact on society and culture, or how the development of language and literature have impacted our view of it, or the nature and substance of the debate between it and its counterparts, nor does he give much in the way of citation or support. But they're pretty! I might even buy one...