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scotthershovitz41 karma

One reason I love talking about philosophy with kids is because it undermines the standard hierarchical relationship between parents and kids. When you talk philosophy, chances are you don't know the answer either, so you can have genuinely collaborative conversations.

Some of my best conversations I've had with my older son, Rex, were about skepticism -- and the possibility that he's dreaming his entire life. For a long time, we played a game where he would try to prove he wasn't dreaming, and I would try to find a way to undermine his proof. That's an example of a way you can work together to figure things out.

scotthershovitz32 karma

When he was four, Rex asked whether God was real. "What do you think?" I asked. He said, "For real God is pretend, and for pretend, God is real." I was stunned, and I asked what he meant. "God isn't real, he said, but when we pretend, he is."

That totally upended the way I think of religion and the role it plays in my life. I participate in lots of religious rituals. But I don't think of myself as a believer, so I always wondered why. Rex helped me understand -- it's a form of pretend play that enriches my life.

There's a longer explanation here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/02/opinion/god-evil-problem.html

scotthershovitz24 karma

I think it's important to let kids know what's happening in the world and to field their questions about about it. You don't need to overwhelm them with information -- or images. But they can handle more than we think, and they are often hearing about events on their own anyway, so if you don't talk to them about them, you're leaving their questions unanswered.

And I think the ancients have lots of wisdom. We're not trying to raise Stoics. But we do try to encourage our kids to recognize what they can and can't control about the world -- and to worry more about the former than the latter.

scotthershovitz16 karma

I think there are many reasons, but the most important may be that they can be threatening. If you've built your life around a picture of the world -- and a set of values -- the possibility that your picture is wrong or your values misguided calls into question the way you are living your life and the choices you've made. That's disconcerting.

One of the advantages of doing philosophy with kids is that it helps them get used questioning what they believe and thinking through other possibilities.

scotthershovitz14 karma

I do think there's value in studying religious texts, but more as philosophy or literature than for their theological content.

We celebrate Jewish holidays, attend services with some inconsistency, and mark major life events with religious rituals. I was more engaged when I was younger -- in fact, I once finished in the top 20 in a national bible contest.