6

As described by writer Jostein Gaarder in his book Sophie's World, to philosophize is to be astonished by things in nature around us, and we can always see children always surprised of things happening, which we consider it normal, does that mean that children are all philosophers but when they grow up, they follow a system which destroys their sense of astonishment?

Asking this question because I myself am still very young, and I have noticed that what surprises children doesn't surprise me but if i were to be in their age, it would.

  • If you define philosophy to be astonished by nature then sure, but that is a very weird definition of philosophy. The issue is that there's more than one definition of words most of the time so confusing one use with another use of a word leads to issues. There are many people who are still amazed by the natural world when they're adults (a lot of them become scientists/professional philosophers/authors/etc.). But I don't think that's a good definition of what a philosopher is in general. – Not_Here Jun 30 '18 at 15:31
  • If you're interested in a professional philosopher's conception of what it means to be a philosopher in this day and age, you should check out the book What Do Philosophers Do?: Skepticism and the Practice of Philosophy by Penelope Maddy. – Not_Here Jun 30 '18 at 15:34
  • 2
    Philosophers are trying to answer the questions, not only ask them. There also are philosophical methods, of which children are not aware. – rus9384 Jun 30 '18 at 23:40
  • 1
    This is begging the question, as you use a definition which directly includes children. That means this question ends up in a general discussion about the nature of the field. As the answers reflect, this is not very suitable on SE sites. We are looking for questions that can objectively be answered. – user2953 Jul 1 '18 at 6:25
  • 1
    It has been my experience that most children are fascinated by philosophy. It usually gets knocked out of them at school but it's rarely difficult with teenagers to spark an interest in metaphysics. Perhaps it would avoid problems with teh question if you proposed that children are inclined to think about philosophical issues, which seems inarguable. I'd rather teach a teenager than an adult. – PeterJ Jul 1 '18 at 12:22
1

I don't think so. Children just wonder disconnectedly : 'why does the light go on ?', 'why does the moon change its appearance ?', 'why haven't I got wings ?'

Philosophical wonder or puzzlement is different. It usually involves, not first-order questions about the world like the child's question about the moon but second-order questions about first-order questions. If the moon changes its appearance, then it is a continuant - it persists through time, changing its appearance. What kinds of thing persist through time ? Physical objects or other things as well such as the US Constitution ? How do we know the moon does persist through time, and exists when we are not looking at it ? Perhaps it passes out of existence constantly, and is instantaneously and imperceptibly replaced by another moon ?

I have used what examples come to mind. I think they are appropriate but whatever the case I do not think children's wonderment is continuous with philosophical wonder or puzzlement. Nice question, though.

  • Well, children also might ask "what is bad/good?". This is philosophical question. – rus9384 Jun 30 '18 at 23:28
  • You have a great answer, but a child would ask his parents a question because he/she wants an answer, they wouldn't ask a question if they don't want an answer And after all they are questioning nature around them and trying to understand it, just like philosophers did. Also, being somewhat a kid myself, I can tell, I question a lot of the science that I'm taught, and I also get questioned about it, we can see that even though schools kill our sense of wonder but a lot of kids still wanna question what they are taught, of course a lot of them don't. – captindfru Jul 1 '18 at 14:28
0

Aren't all children philosophers?

No. While stereotypes may have their foundation in common experience, hyperbole is almost always exclusively false.


From "Being A Philosopher" - an interview with Professor John R. Searle https://youtu.be/Dvn6SIWCQpo?t=22m39s

At one point you say, "We have to begin by approaching the problem naïvely. We have to let ourselves be astounded by facts that any sane person would take for granted." So this sense of wonder and naïveté and innocence that you might have is a virtue, in a way.

Yes. I mean that quite literally, and in fact we've been exhibiting that just in our discussion. The way that I describe the mind-body problem: you have to allow yourself to be astounded by things that any sane person takes for granted. We've got this stuff in our brains, it's conscious. How the hell can it be conscious? Now that's the childlike question that you have to ask. When you begin working on a philosophical question you have to be totally naïve. "I've got this hole in my face, noise comes out. People find it meaningful. They think it's true or false or interesting. How can that be? How can just making these noises through my mouth, how can that have all of these remarkable properties?" That's the naïve stage. Then you have, at some point, to become incredibly sophisticated. You stop being naïve and become immensely knowledgeable, rigorous, and sophisticated. And I've never figured out the algorithm for when you stop being dumb and start being smart. But you have to start off very naïve and very dumb. "Oh yes, amazing, how can that be?" Then later on, then you bring in your intellectual apparatus and get it resolved.


Asking this question because I myself am still very young, and I have noticed that what surprises children doesn't surprise me but if i were to be in their age, it would.

Consider the maxims:

  1. Youth is nothing if not wasted upon the young
  2. Youth and talent are no match for age and treachery.

Welcome to the world - it owes you no explanation.

That you might construct explanation adequate to occasion and develop rhetorical acumen, when making use of ambiguous terms, ask yourself, what has been communicated? For example, by your use of "children", do you mean those generally of less than a decade old? Two decades? Those under three feet tall? In one sense every presently living human (i.e. homo sapien) and all prior are aptly described by the term "children." That humans are taxonomically identified by the Latin for "wise one" - does that make each human wise any more than the Latin "homo" for the species makes each human male? No.

Per my answer to your other question, "philosopher" is an honorific term. Especially when "philosophy" is used in the sense of "a way of looking at things" even the likes of Ayn Rand, Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Žižek, or fictional characters like Socrates, Morpheus, Gandalf et cetera can be considered "philosopher". So sure, it may be rhetorically apt to describe children as "philosophers". On the other hand, when philosophy is used in the sense of the translation from the Greek, all one need do is reject false argument, rationally assess the truth value of claim(s), or advance knowledge claim(s) for adequate use of philosopher as descriptor. Philosophy is, after all, respect for obtaining knowledge. In this sense humans may very well be adequately described as philosophers from the time they are capable of utterance.

As described by writer Jostein Gaarder in his book Sophie's World, to philosophize is to be astonished by things in nature around us, and we can always see children always surprised of things happening, which we consider it normal, does that mean that children are all philosophers but when they grow up, they follow a system which destroys their sense of astonishment?

No.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.