My PhD homework for today involves gathering images that invoke thoughts about philosophy. After “reading” Sophie’s world in preparation for this class I cannot help but think of a white rabbit in a black hat. Is that too obvious? I will never look at rabbits the same.
A Rabbit With Yellow Glasses
In my classes about research philosophy, the analogy of coloured glasses helps students understand the difference between positivism and constructivism. The analogy of glasses mentioned in the book resonated with me because it was both familiar and clear. Based on some additional reading, it seems that Kant used the metaphor of different coloured glasses to help people grasp the impact of perspective on our worldview. Or at least other people have often applied this metaphor to his philosophy. Either way, the picture below of a white rabbit wearing yellow glasses against a yellow background reminds me of both philosophical metaphors. Our worldview is shaped by our point of view and by how far we choose to climb up the fine hairs of the rabbit’s fur.
My Son the Philosopher
The wonder that children, in particular babies, show was a theme throughout the book. Somehow over time we lose the amazement and curiosity that children are born with. Well, some people do. Philosophers purposefully work to try and maintain this sense of wonder.
I rather enjoyed listening to the Audible version of Sophie’s World … and much to my surprise so did my 6-year-old. He didn’t get to listen to the entire book because I had to listen without him sometimes, but he asks to listen to “the story” from time to time. Michael is quite the budding philosopher; he has the faculty of wonder. My husband and I have purposefully tried to encourage his curiosity. On a daily basis he asks many questions about how the world works. It can be quite exhausting as parents to manage all the questions, but the book reinforced how important it is to encourage a faculty of wonder. Thus, the pictures below of Michael remind me of philosophy. He somehow knows how to ask deep questions.
The more I study the less I feel I know. At several conferences and again in Sophie’s World I am comforted by being told that is actually a good thing.
“A philosopher knows that in reality he [or she] knows very little.”– Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World
I wonder how my teacher will react to a picture of nothing for my homework … it is probably fine as long as I can explain it. Just in case it doesn’t go well I will have a backup plan.
Another question that I have wrestled with is – do we have any truly original thoughts? I wondered about this as in the book they talked about history being one long chain of reflections. Hegel talked about a dialectical pattern of thought … maybe he wasn’t actually talking about a lack of original thoughts but the patterns he described had me thinking about if one can actually come up with new thoughts, and more importantly if those thoughts can happen in isolation. My experience in innovation would support Hegel’s theory and the thesis that collaboration leads to a progression in reason.
“Anyone studying history in depth will observe that a thought is usually proposed on the basis of other, previously proposed thoughts. But as soon as one thought is proposed, it will be contradicted by another. A tension arises between these two opposite ways of thinking. But the tension is resolved by the proposal of a third thought which accommodates the best of both points of view. Hegel calls this a dialectic process”– Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World
Reason is Like a River
“The history of thought or reason is like a river … You can therefore never claim that any particular thought is correct for ever and ever. But the thought can be correct from where you stand.”– Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World
There are a lot of good metaphors and quotes in the book. I look forward to discussing them with my peers tomorrow. This post is but a small drop in the river of reason.