The Philosophy Files
Let's Think About It
Anyone who has had much experience with children will know that they love to ask the big, tricky philosophical questions...often leaving us adults temporarily lost for words. Wouldn't it be good if there was a book that they could refer to that would not only present, in a simple way, attempts to answer these questions by the great philosophical thinkers but also stimulate original thought and reflection?
Well there is!The Philosophy Files, by Stephen Law is just such a book. Although primarily designed for older children,[probably around 12 onwards] The Philosophy Files [25 Short Adventures in Thinking] is also a good read for adults interested in venturing into philosophical waters and if read by both parent and child, can spawn a great deal of lively and interesting discussion. There's also a Philosophy Files 2 which contains more philosophical teasers and conundrums for teenagers for anyone who wants to explore further.
For Budding Philosophers
This is a challenging, stimulating as well as humorous book. Each section is self-contained and if you wish, you can just dip into whatever philosophical question takes your fancy. It's all pretty interesting, as Law examines such fascinating puzzles as;
Could a machine think?
Does god exist?
Where did the Universe come from?
Is time travel possible?
What makes things right and wrong?
While the author doesn't necessarily give answers, he does offer various points of view and introduces the reader to key philosophers and their arguments-all in a way that is very easy to read and digest. It's a kind of user-friendly, budding philosophers guide.
Law is an atheist but not a moral relativist. He believes young people should not be passive receptacles of moral codes but rather be encouraged to think, talk and express their own opinions about ethical and moral issues.
Personally I'd like to see a child-friendly version of philosophy introduced into school curriculums as an alternative to religious instruction...thus children could be taught how to think...rather than what to think.
About the Author
Law was a Junior Research Fellow at Queens College, Oxford where he obtained a Doctorate in Philosophy. Interestingly, he was "asked to leave" his sixth form college at Cambridge and went off to become a postman but at 24 he convinced City University [London] to accept him for the Bsc in Philosophy, where he obtained first-class honours, later moving on to Trinity College, Oxford to read for a B. Phil.
He is now editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Journal, Think and a senior lecturer in philosophy at Heythrop College, London. He's written several books dealing with philosophical issues, including The Philosophy Gym, an introduction to philosophy for adults.
Like Alain de Botton, who, among other things, wrote the eminently readable Consolations of Philosophy Law's objective is to make philosophy accessible to the average reader and not keep it isolated from the public in the sherry-drinking comfort of the philosophy professor's lair.