Philosophical Questions

Philosophy is often thought of as an attempt to answer 'big questions' in life, such as 'Who am I?', 'What is the right thing to do?', 'Is there purpose behind the universe?', and it is good, of course, to seek answers to such questions from time to time. If adults never asked big questions - for example, about their work or their lives in general – they would probably struggle to have a strong sense of purpose or satisfaction.

P4C encourages children to engage in such enquiries, too, but not necessarily using the particular questions above, which are rather stylised forms. (The question, 'Who am I?', for example, is not likely to come up in ‘normal’ talk – except, perhaps, as a question about which role 'I' might be taking in a play!) There are, in fact, many other questions which relate to the big question of identity, 'Who am I?', and which children can easily engage with: for example, 'What does a name (not) tell you about a person?' or 'How well do your family know you?'

Here are some examples of philosophical questions asked by children:

How do you know someone is really your friend?

Is it possible to hold a fair race?

What’s the difference between telling a lie and keeping a secret?

Is it ever ok to steal?

When did you start to think?

Do we have to be sad sometimes to be happy at other times?

If you had a different name would you be a different person?

Do we all have the same rights?

What is imagination?

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