Exploring the Innate Philosophical Minds of Children: An Interview with Scott Hershovitz

Saga Foss

August 30, 2023

Exploring the Innate Philosophical Minds of Children: An Interview

Philosophical Minds, often considered an intellectual pursuit reserved for erudite scholars and deep thinkers, might find its most insightful proponents in an unexpected demographic: children. The unfiltered curiosity, relentless questioning, and unassuming perspectives of young minds have the power to unveil profound insights into the complexities of life. To delve into this intriguing phenomenon, we had the privilege of sitting down with Scott Hershovitz, a renowned philosopher and moral and legal philosophy expert. This interview explores the captivating concept of why children make great philosophers.

The Uninhibited Curiosity

According to Hershovitz, one of the fundamental reasons why children make great philosophers is their uninhibited curiosity. Children possess an unparalleled ability to question everything around them, often posing inquiries that challenge conventional wisdom and open new avenues of thought. Hershovitz emphasizes that this curiosity is the bedrock of philosophical inquiry, as it is the driving force behind seeking deeper meanings and understanding the world on a more profound level.

Hershovitz states, “Children aren’t confined by the boundaries of what is ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable’ to ask. They approach the world with fresh eyes, unafraid to ask the big questions that adults might dismiss as naïve or unanswerable.” This fearlessness in seeking knowledge allows children to explore concepts that might elude even the most seasoned philosophers, leading to innovative perspectives and insights.

Questioning Assumptions

Children’s uncanny ability to question assumptions and challenge societal norms is another aspect that makes them exceptional philosophers. As Hershovitz points out, philosophy often involves scrutinizing commonly held beliefs and interrogating the foundations of our understanding. Children, by their very nature, are naturally inclined to do just that.

“Children haven’t yet internalized many of the biases and assumptions that adults hold,” Dershowitz explains. “Their fresh perspectives can shed light on issues that we, as adults, might take for granted.” The simplicity of a child’s questions can expose the complexity of concepts that have become mundane to adults, prompting us to reevaluate our assumptions and consider alternative viewpoints.

Exploring Moral Intuition

Hershovitz’s moral and legal philosophy work has led him to another remarkable trait of children: their keen moral intuition. Children often display an innate sense of right and wrong, unburdened by the societal conditioning and moral complexities that adults grapple with. This untainted moral compass can offer profound insights into the essence of ethical dilemmas.

“In their honesty and simplicity, children can cut through the ethical fog that often clouds adult judgments,” Dershowitz notes. By observing children’s reactions to moral scenarios, philosophers can better understand the universal principles that underlie our moral judgments.

Embracing Uncertainty

While adults often strive for certainty and definitive answers, children are comfortable embracing uncertainty—an attitude that aligns closely with the heart of philosophical inquiry. Hershovitz elaborates, “Children are open to the idea that not everything has a straightforward answer. They’re content exploring multiple possibilities and dwelling in the unknown realm.”

This willingness to engage with ambiguity allows children to ponder philosophical questions without the pressure to arrive at conclusive answers. It encourages a continuous search for understanding, a hallmark of philosophical thinking that often fades as people grow older. And become more focused on finding definitive solutions.

Children’s untamed minds might be the key to unlocking profound philosophical insights in a world dominated by rationality and expertise. Scott Hershovitz’s perspective sheds light on the extraordinary qualities that make children exceptional. Philosophers—unfiltered curiosity, unassuming perspectives, and innate moral intuition. As we engage with children’s questions and observations, we might find ourselves peering into the heart of philosophical inquiry. An exploration unburdened by biases, assumptions, and the need for immediate answers.

As Hershovitz aptly summarizes, “Philosophy is about questioning, wondering, and challenging the status quo. Children embody these qualities effortlessly. To truly understand the nature of our existence, we must embrace the philosophy that comes naturally to them.” In a world that often undervalues children’s philosophical potential. It’s time to recognize and celebrate their unique capacity to illuminate the most intricate aspects of our lives.