A new group to publish and discuss the answers of children to the greatest philosophical problems of humanity was created: PHILOSOPHY BY CHILDREN! Philosophy is not ‘for’ children. Philosophy can only be conducted BY children! We must forget how to think in order to think! True philosophers should always question everything. And who is better in doing that those who have learnt nothing?
Thinking is always based on specific axioms. Any person must start from somewhere when pondering on any question: The things he knows, the things he thinks he knows, his beliefs, his hopes, his wishes. In that sense, any attempt to think freely is hindered by the very notion of thinking per se.
The only think to truly think is to forget how to think!
Harmonia Philosophica has been trying for a long time to promote the idea of non-thinking or of irrational thinking as the way forward regarding philosophy and science (search articles related to ‘irrational’ or ‘non-thinking’ for that). In that sense, looking at what children have to say regarding the big questions of humanity is a way to get a glimpse of what that non-thinking could look like.
About Children’s Philosophy: A series of articles that will show how small children answer the greatest philosophical questions of humanity. Philosophers need to question everything. And in order to do that, one must think as a child again!
One can find wisdom in crazy persons and in children. So that is what I did: I asked the greatest philosophical questions to a seven years old child. And the answers were amazing.
Some of them you can find in various posts hidden in Harmonia Philosophica (e.g. in the There is no death article). This is an attempt to gather the major answers of the child here.
Humans have been pondering on big questions of philosophy for thousands of years now. And yet, no definitive answers have been found. Harmonia Philosophica tries to guide humans to these questions by promoting non thinking and irrationality, for this is the only way to discard all dogmas and think freely. The child provided great input that helps us enhance our faith in the path we have taken.
A child thinks with no premises, no dogmas, no prior knowledge of things. In that way one can say that a child’s thought is more close to non-thinking than to thinking. This way of thinking can be a true revelation for a grown up who is too used to the things he or she already ‘knows’. True philosophers and scientists alike question everything.
Are you ready to stop thinking in order to think?
Let’s see what the child had to say…
EPISODE 1: Does death exist?
Truth puzzles are an invention of Harmonia Philosophica that helps someone formulate a ‘solution’ to the great philosophical questions of human mind. In these ‘puzzles’ you have all the basic elements of philosophy and all you have to do is connect them with lines or arrows to indicate their relationships. There are no rules on how to do that and that is the basic rule: there are no predefined rules on how to think!
One can read the Truth Puzzles article here to learn more about that method of philosophical investigation.
Details set aside, what is of interest here is that I have a Truth Puzzle to the child to complete.
The instructions were simple: My child, take that page and draw lines or arrows between these words.
An important note is that the child did not have English as its mother tongue so it was difficult for it to understand the words, let alone the fact that the child could not in any case be fully aware of the meaning of the words in the Truth Puzzle anyway due to its age.
After a minute the puzzle was completed. And the result was astounding.
What I saw was that…
The child had connected with lines all elements on the page except one: Death!
Besides the importance of the coincidence that the word Death was the only one omitted (Read the ‘There is no death‘ article for that), another important thing we should always keep in mind: There are no rules on how to think! I had thought that one should connect all elements I had written on the page, but the child showed me that this should not be the case!
Lesson learned: There are no rules on thinking! Question everything! Especially the things that you don’t!
That is how philosophy and science progress!
EPISODE 2: What is Being?
I once asked a child ‘What is Being?’.
I have the question written on a piece of paper and waited to see how this difficult philosophical question will be tackled by a seven-year old brain.
After a minute, the answer was handed back to be.
“What is Being?” – “A word”
To my astonishment the child answered that “Being” is a word. Thinking in a simple manner is and has always been a trait of wise men and women. And children. Yes, Being is a word. Perhaps the best answer to our great philosophical questions cannot be found through Logos but through the experience of life and existence itself.q
Lesson learned: Don’t think too much about questions that you yourself has invented. Question everything. Especially yourself!
Some days after the Truth Puzzle was filled in the way it was (missing ‘Death’ as one can read in the above-mentioned article) the same child struck again.
During a discussion about life and what life means, the child simply asked the obvious…
‘How do you know you are alive?’
‘But I can eat!’ I answered back.
‘So? You are not alive!” said the child and giggled.
To cut the long story short, to whatever I said the child continued to answer back that there is no proof I am alive. And this discussion brought into my mind the previous Truth Puzzle instance and the lessons learned from that. For the same lesson should be learned from this story as well.
Of course the child was playing. Yet, within that funny game of denying the obvious (that I am alive), it showed something very serious and important: Why should we take for granted anything? Our knowledge about metaphysical questions regarding existence and being is zero. We do not know what the cosmos is, we do not even know what our consciousness is, if such thing even exists. The greatest philosophers and scientists have tried to answer such questions regarding the nature of our life and failed miserably.
So who are we to claim that we are alive?
Is it because we feel something? But what does that mean and how can we interpret it with zero knowledge about the meaning of all this ‘something’ that we feel? How can we even know what we see and sense is real without any objective definition of the the infamous ‘Reality’ to begin with? How can we say that someone ‘is’ alive if we have not even reached a consensus on what ‘Is’ is?
It reminds me of the story with the captive Vietnam general who once told his American interrogator that the Vietnamese did not believe they would win the war. The Americans were so much leased with the answer that did not even bother to check out the rest of the interrogation transcript. Because if they did they would see that the same general, when asked if he thought the Americans could win the war, he also answered No…