Monday, August 11, 2014
(This is a chapter I wrote for a children's philosophy book called The Outer Limits (now part of The Complete Philosophy Files). This chapter was thought too abstract by the editors, and was not included).
Sometimes it is the things that are most familiar to us that turn out to be the most deeply puzzling. Take mirrors, for example. How many times do you see yourself reflected in a mirror each day?
1.ILLUSTRATE: BOY LOOKING INTO A MIRROR
At least ten or twenty times, I should think. Most of us never stop to think about what we see. But, as you are about to discover, mirrors are very strange and puzzling things.
An adventure in the mirror
Aisha and Kobir are visiting Kobir’s auntie. Auntie Anaximander lives in an enormous, fusty old house deep in the moors.
2. THE BIG SPOOKY HOUSE IN THE MOORS. LIGHTENING.
It’s a wild and stormy night and the phone and power lines are down. Auntie Anaximander has gone off in her car to report the powercut leaving Kobir and Aisha all alone in the dark house.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Religion and philosophy in schools
Is philosophy in schools a good idea? The extent to which early exposure to a little philosophical thinking is of educational benefit is, of course, largely an empirical question. As a philosopher, that sort of empirical study is not really my area of expertise.
But of course there is also a philosophical dimension to this question. As a philosopher, conceptual clarification and the analysis of the logic of the arguments on either side certainly is my field. That is where I hope to make a contribution here.
This essay is in two parts. In the first, I look at two popular religious objections to the suggestion that all children ought to be encouraged to think independently and critically about moral and religious issues. In the second part, I explain a well-known philosophical distinction – that between reasons and causes – and give a couple of examples of how this conceptual distinction might help illuminate this debate.
PART ONE: Two popular religious objections