LEARNING PHILOSOPHY FROM MY 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER


Synopsis of the book (20 lessons on 222 pages):  

LESSONS IN LIFE dispels the illusion that philosophy is an activity reserved only for individuals with unique knowledge who are far removed from the day-to-day affairs of a community. It shows that the philosophical quest is an integral element of human imagination that is exercised in our day-to-day encounters. This is made possible by looking at the philosophical questions raised by children. As part of understanding the world they live in, children develop philosophical questions that are rationally oriented in their nature. This reflection is pre-theoretical and rudimentary, and is part of how children understand the world that they live in. This is the philosophical form of thinking that we have lost today, since we are immersed in a consumerist culture. Based on the assumption that children raise deep philosophical questions aimed at problematizing the nature of reality, knowledge, and human values. In my book, I detail the proto-philosophical ideas and questions that my seven-year-old daughter Amara has raised. These ideas are not established in a well-developed philosophical theory, but they are my daughter's attempts to make sense of the world she is living in through reason and rationality. I wrote down these ideas to show that even children are philosophers, as they make meaning. Someone once said that the life of parents is the book that children read. For me, it is Amara's life that I wanted to wrap into a book for all of us, to help us learn more about the world we inhabit. The 17 essays in LESSONS IN LIFE show that children can raise some important philosophical questions. Based on this, we can gain insights into the developmental inquiries of children, and also examine and reflect on the purpose of philosophy as it pertains to our everyday existence. 

Do we need another self-help-philosophy book? 

We live in a world where the nature of knowledge is only being understood in instrumental forms. As a result of this, it is wrongly assumed that the task of education is simply to acquire technical knowledge that can allow us to control the world in which we are living. My book is important because it demonstrates that there is a dimension of human knowledge that has been completely neglected; it is the pre-theoretical and rudimentary knowledge. As adults, we are not able to access such knowledge because we have left it behind as we have become influenced and, in many ways, obsessed with the values of consumerism and materialism. The book is great in terms of showing how within the questions and ideas raised by children, there is a philosophical criticism that gives us a profound awareness about the world. It is important for fostering a better understanding between parents and children. Rather than taking the questions that are raised by their children as being simple and nonsensical, parents need to engage in a dialogue with their children. This book is relevant for fostering a better understanding between parents and children, encouraging intergenerational dialogue, and improving interpersonal relationships within families. LESSONS IN LIFE is timely because we are at a crucial time in human history; people are searching, and in fact, craving for new ways of understanding their lives in the greater context of the ever-changing world around them, seeking new perceptions, new approaches to philosophy in the world, and ultimately, deeper levels of personal meaning. This book offers the opportunity for readers to reflect on how they came to view the world from the perceptions and observations of a child.

What is the purpose of the book? 

LESSONS IN LIFE is developed in the form of an interdisciplinary analysis that looks at the philosophical questions raised by children from different angles. The book deals with both the perennial and existential problems in the history of philosophy. It deals with the questions of reality, meaning, knowledge, and human values, and deals with a range of issues that have significance in the social sciences and humanities as well as the areas of education and the behavioral sciences. The book helps us to look at the world from the eyes of children and see how they raise philosophical concerns as part of their efforts to make meaning in the social and natural worlds. At the same time, the ideas that are developed by my daughter Amara in this book have significance to the larger debates in philosophy as they deal with the areas of the study into human values, knowledge, and the diverging concept of reality. These themes contribute to meeting the needs expressed above as a matter of historical significance; the book examines multi-layered and intergenerational approaches to philosophy, allowing the reader to reflect on his or her own sense of philosophy, the shifts in ideas and perceptions from childhood into adulthood, in light of the modern necessity to redefine the frameworks we rely on to find context and meaning in human existence. 

What do I want to achieve with my book? 

The major goal that I wanted to achieve with "Lessons in Life" is to gain insights into how children use philosophical questions and thoughts to understand the world that they live in. This need is grounded on two major aspirations: The first one is that of getting a better understanding of the questions that my daughter finds interest in. This is a personal quest and a matter of establishing better relationships with and for my daughter. If I can see how she looks at the world, then she and I can better interact and communicate with one another. The second goal is that of making connections between the proto-philosophical questions raised by children and the history of ideas in which the greatest questions about the nature of human knowledge, reality, and human values have been raised. The book gives overall a better understanding of the mind of children and will thus help parents to understand the value of the questions that are raised by their children.

Who is the audience for the book?  

LESSONS IN LIFE primarily appeals to parents who want to have a better understanding of their children. It will help them develop a philosophical attitude towards the different questions that their children are interested in. This book will help them to see that philosophy is animated by wonder and that it is out of curiosity to understand the world that children raise some of the most important philosophical questions. Rather than being an outside observer, parents will get to participate in the world of their children as parents in dialogue. Besides this, LESSONS IN LIFE appeals to psychologists, pedagogues, teachers, and youth and social workers who have an interest in understanding the conceptual field within which children's thoughts and ideas are situated. The secondary audience addressed by the book is related to anybody that has an interest in the inner world of children. The book does not impose any theoretical perspective on the world of children and follows an approach that reconstructs the philosophical thoughts of children. To this extent, it is of interest for any individual that has an interest in understanding the importance of philosophical questions in the minds of children. Thirdly, my book appeals to readers who are interested in the interplay between philosophy and psychology, how pre-theoretical knowledge can be just as, if not more important than recognized, developed, academic philosophical theories. Reflecting on the philosophical thinking of children allows us to reexamine our own philosophies, within the contexts of human development, consumerism, and the continual shifts of global realities and philosophical constructs.



 "A marvelous indication of man's innate disposition to philosophy is to be found in the questions asked by children. It is not uncommon to hear from the mouths of children words which penetrate to the very depths of philosophy."

-Karl Jaspers