Why Children Make Great Philosophers


April 5, 2023


Why Children Make Great Philosophers? Scott Hershovitz, director of the Law and Ethics Program at the University of Michigan, has two sons who have always raised philosophical questions. He noticed that they advanced arguments that re-created ancient ones and even made entirely new ones.

He writes about those conversations in his new book, Nasty, Brutish, and Short. It’s a delightful debut and explores some of the best things we can learn from children.

They’re curious

The idea that children can thoughtfully consider abstract issues is a challenging one for many adults. Philosophy is often seen as a difficult and esoteric subject that’s only accessible to adults with advanced degrees and specialized knowledge, so it can seem like an unreachable goal for children.

But this isn’t necessarily true. And in fact, children are often very good philosophers.

In Scott Hershovitz’s delightful debut, Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids, he explores this phenomenon by writing about the conversations he had with his two young sons.

They were able to raise philosophical questions from the moment they could talk, and Hershovitz found that they re-created ancient arguments and advanced entirely new ones.

While these discussions aren’t going to be held in every home, Hershovitz’s approach can be a valuable tool for parents and teachers. It encourages a sense of wonder and curiosity, vibrant awareness and imagination, and a boundless sense of the possible.

They’re curious about themselves

As children grow up, they start to ask themselves questions that adults often shut down. They don’t take anything for granted, and they are open to new ideas.

In fact, children are some of the best philosophers because they’re so curious about the world around them. They’re asking themselves why, what, and how they do things.

These are important skills for lifelong learning, and we want to encourage them as early as possible.

This is why Scott Hershovitz wrote “Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids,” a book he hopes will inspire parents to talk to their children about philosophy. He based it on conversations he had with his sons, Rex and Hank.

They’re curious about the world

In his delightful book, Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy With My Kids, Scott Hershovitz makes the case that children are capable of careful, thoughtful thinking about abstract issues. He calls it “the gift of a philosopher” and argues that children harness their creativity and curiosity to make sense of the world.

Unlike adults, who often take their questions for granted and are often more concerned with how they might come across, children are always curious about the world. They’re interested in the way things work and what it means to be alive.

This freshness of approach is a strength for philosophers, as it allows them to examine problems with an open mind and a willingness to entertain a variety of possible solutions. This kind of imaginative exploration requires the ability to consider a range of ideas, and children have remarkably strong abilities in these areas.

They’re curious about other people

Scott Hershovitz, a law and philosophy professor at the University of Michigan, believes that kids are natural philosophers. He argues that they’re curious about the world and can use their creativity to answer difficult questions.

He points to children’s questioning about how and why things happen, their interest in arguing for what they think is right, and their curiosity about other people as examples of why they make good philosophers.

Hershovitz’s book, Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy With My Kids, explores the idea that kids are smarter than adults at questioning abstract issues. He cites the late philosopher Gareth Matthews, who found that children can reason in subtle ways between the ages 3 and 7.

Hershovitz’s engaging conversations with his sons Rex and Hank encourage them to consider philosophical questions like revenge, rights, consciousness, the size of the universe, and other daunting mysteries that most grown-ups learn to ignore. These conversations not only make sense of the world but also cement family bonds.