Philosophy & the Young Child

Gareth B. Matthews

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While reading this book, I made a variety of comments on Post-it throughout.  Below you will find some interesting excerpts from the book as well as the comments I made.  My comments appear in pale yellow.



Philosophising As a Child (p. vii)

I’ve never thought of philosophy as unnatural, and can distinctly remember philosophising as a young child.  But then, I was probably a bit abnormal for a child.  I distinctly remember telling myself that I had to remember certain things in the future, so that I could know how children think.  I remember being an extremely rational child in some respects, and extremely irrational in others.


1.  Puzzlement

The Dream Problem (p. 1)

Oh, yeah, I’ve asked myself that.  I still do.  I also asked myself if I could not be a figment in someone else’s imagination—and still do.

One postulation I came up with was that a creature exists that sleeps for a hundred years at a time, and while it is sleeping, it forgets reality and begins to believe that its dream is reality.  Perhaps I am one of these creatures, and I only think I’m a “human” (whatever that is) because I’ve been off in la-la land for a couple of decades.  Perhaps in a half dozen decades, I’ll awaken again, and when I do, remember, “Oh yeah, I’m this creature that lives for many millennia.”  Then I’ll remain awake for another three-hundred years or so before falling back asleep, and the cycle begins again.

But this doesn’t go far enough, because it still assumes that a “reality” exists.  What if “reality” is itself an illusion?  Matter, the law of non-contradiction…all of it.  I came to question reality itself much later than questioning whether everything were a dream.