Thursday, January 30, 2003

Look! A Post Two Days in a Row!

Well, I read a book a few weeks ago. Good for me. Philosophy Rocks by Stephen Law is a discussion of philosophy written for young people. When it was originally published in England, it was called The Philosophy Files, a far better title, in my humble opinion.

Philosophy Rocks doesn't try to cover everything about philosophy. Even someone who knows as little about the subject as I do was able to figure that out. The author seems more interested in trying to give young readers an idea about what a philosophical question is and how philosophers think. Most chapters end with the question "What do you think?" I would have liked to see more answers, not because I think young people need them but because I do. But that definitely was not Law's point. His point is the process. To illustrate this process he uses kids arguing about things or aliens trying to understand what's going on on Earth. I know that that was an attempt to make the concepts discussed more interesting to the reader, but I started skipping them and cutting to the chase, which came later in the chapters. As a result, I now know something about Plato and have thought about how definitions impact philosophical questions. (Read the book.)

Though I respect what Law is doing here, I wonder if this isn't one of those kinds of books that adults think is a great idea but kids won't actually read. Like using scripture in picture books.

Law has written a follow-up book, published in England, called The Outer Limits: More Mysteries from the Philosophy Files. He has a very readable article on why philosophy should be discussed with children called Natural Born Philosophers at The Humanist website.


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