I'm not saying we are trendsetters. I'm not saying the Philosophy Talk guys at Stanford are copycats. I'm just saying that coincidentally, a mere month after I posted about whether children should be exposed to philosophy, they blogged about the same subject.
Hey, they're from Stanford. Older, wiser, more well-read, respected, smarter, better funded, more articulate - probably morally superior. But I was first. Just sayin'.
Wes Alwan says
This I find hilarious: ” Done wrongly, philosophy can be highly corrosive to one’s life. It can lead you to doubt everything. It can cause you wonder whether life has meaning, to question your religion, your country, your parents, and even your teachers. Do we really want to cast the young out onto the sea of philosophical doubt and uncertainty? Don’t we want to teach them to how to thrive and succeed in the world? To do that, they sometimes have to accommodate authority, not question it or reflexively rebel against it. “
@Wes, your quote seems to answer Mark’s question from the Driscoll combox:
“…Or am I missing the distinction here between philosophizing and preaching, where the latter is allowed to appeal to the audience’s emotions and call upon them only to reference doctrines already previously imparted so that they can reject new ideas such as pantheism as being repugnant to these preconceptions?”
Philosophical doubt is doubting because there is reason to doubt – not an existential attitude – but an intellectual one.
Seth- I have neem worlomg with children philosophically for nearly two decades – it’s nothing new! But, it is fantastic.
Wes Alwan says
@Burl — right, youth corruption!
Seth Paskin says
So Janette, what you’re saying is that you’ve been corrupting youth for 20 years? 🙂
Seriously, sounds like you have a much sounder basis for making a comment on this than I or the Stanford guys – what’s your experience been with how children respond to philosophy?
Mark Linsenmayer says
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the connection between religion and childhood: For me, at least, religion was hammered (though lightly) into my head at a young age, and philosophy was something I did as I matured, and was in fact a continuation of my interest in religion and a pretty quick escape from it.
Consequently, I associate religion with childishness, and the media doesn’t help in this regard: the appeals of evangelical religion (see the recent Driscoll video I posted) don’t strike me as particularly aimed at adults, and the emphasis among evangelicals on keeping youngsters “on track” really keeps public religious discourse in this country at a very low level. But what’s the alternative? Go to adult Bible study groups where I feel like everyone I’m sitting with has long since been mind-fucked? Clearly, I need to just read some Grade A theologians if I want some pro-religion teachings that don’t insult my intellect.
So, I find the inversion here interesting: kids should be taught to think philosophically from a young age, and as they mature and read more widely, that’s the time, I think, when we should all be introduced to the various religions, so as to be able to intelligently decide which, if any, of them seem plausible, useful, and satisfying.
As a side note, I have less objection to cultural norms being imbued at a younger age (e.g. “I am an American.”), and I understand that some religious traditions are bound with these. Judaism, at least, seems at a point where kids can be brought up Jewish w/o necessarily having specific metaphysical beliefs thrust upon them at an age earlier than they’re capable of understanding them. I can’t say with certainty to what extent this has worked or is able to work with other tight connections like this (e.g. Latin American catholicism, Russian or Greek Orthodoxy… certainly it doesn’t set easily with American Protestantism, insofar as that’s even a cultural as opposed to a merely religious thing… in the South it is more, I guess.).
A few personal reflections, prompted by Marks proposed reversal of the ‘cursus animi’.
On Religion as childishness:
The sunday school I attended as young fella was that of the Australian Uniting Church. It was pretty liberal, and I was never heavily indoctrinated. Sure, it took me a while to rid myself of the whole notion of hell – the only bit that caught my attention – but 1 hour a week of God vs many, many hours spent reading about sharks and dinosaurs and volcanoes and cool stuff? I don’t feel that my ‘churching’ really progressed past story-telling. Even as a young kid I was uneasy about it. The focus was keeping us entertained with old testament action blockbusters and really, all of the animals on one boat? What, he was in the whale for three days?
On my introduction to Philosophy:
This was via the television version of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. There was a brief section where the discourse between God & Oolon Coluphid results in the former disappearing. I wasn’t hooked on Philosophy, but I was pretty much enrolled in the atheist/agnostic camp from then on. At the tender age of 13 I had been introduced to philosophical doubt, and there was no looking back.
More to come, time for work.
Seth Paskin says
Calling someone out deserves being called out. Kyla from The Philosopher’s Zone let me know that they covered this subject 2 years ago. Here’s the link:
Go, download, now. And if you haven’t read my review of their program, you’re in for a treat:
or you can skip my ramblings and go straight to the source:
I am glad that work interuppted before I continued with my socially awkward self revelatory posting. All that I really wanted, and needed, to say, was that at a quite early stage in my education a little philosophical literacy would have been a significant advantage. It would have saved me a lot of wasted emotional energy.
Any brief review of a news website that allows user comment would seem to suggest that the wider population would also benefit from some reflective philosophically directed exercises. But I am not really saying anything that isn’t obvious so I will stop.