Cover: The Philosophy of Childhood, from Harvard University PressCover: The Philosophy of Childhood in PAPERBACK

The Philosophy of Childhood

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$15.00 • £12.95 • €13.50

ISBN 9780674664814

Publication Date: 10/01/1996


136 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


Matthews’ guided dialogues with children show that they consistently and happily develop philosophical trains of thought, evaluate those of others, and try to think things through, often reaching solutions that are essentially the ones propounded by the big people who are lucky enough to be paid for doing it… With careful listening and without distorting preconceptions about what children might or might not be capable of doing, Mr. Matthews has unearthed a seam of would-be wisdom. His open-minded attention to the way children’s minds work has also yielded a new concept of childhood intelligence that may bear on the question of children’s rights, children’s art and the status of literature for children. He argues that the philosophy of childhood should be a respectable branch of philosophy, like the philosophy of science or the philosophy of law. This strikes me as too modest a goal. Mr. Matthews’ incisive investigations into the relations between the world of children and the world of adults are too thought-provoking to be confined to one branch of one academic subject… He subjects Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development to simple and searching criticisms that make his book essential reading for anybody interested in early childhood education.—Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review

A stimulating work, worthy of attention.—Nicholas Tucker, The Times Educational Supplement

The mind of the child…concerns Gareth Matthews’ eloquent and thoughtful essays in The Philosophy of Childhood… In this book he raises a question… Do the philosophical sensibilities of children have any serious value? Or are they of no value because they come from immature minds? Matthews’ view is that children’s philosophical interests are not only valuable and profound but also are sadly perishable… [He] writes that adults who would do philosophy have much to learn from children.—David Mehegan, The Boston Globe

This is a very interesting book written in a clear and straightforward style suitable for the layman and beginner as well as the professional philosopher… It is essentially about human rights, and insofar as it addresses the issue of the childlike nature of engaging in philosophy itself, it will surely contain something of interest for all philosophers.The Philosopher

The Philosophy of Childhood is an attractive and thought-provoking work which also opens up territory which has seldom, if ever, been explored, for example, on childhood amnesia and childhood and death… [T]he work merits the serious study of both philosophers and students in such more practical professional fields as education and child psychology.—David Carr, Philosophical Quarterly

[Matthews] illustrates his thesis with poignant and incisive vignettes. His is a compelling argument for establishing the philosophy of childhood as an academic area of inquiry in which to explore how children think, listen, and reason. This interesting, readable book should appeal to anyone who works with children.—John J. DeFrancesco, Ph.D., Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health

As overriding themes, he voices his clear opinion that both the study of children’s philosophical thinking and the philosophy of childhood should be legitimate not only to our understanding of children, but also to our own ways of thinking… Matthews’ book serves as a compelling reminder of the humanity of our co-participants in the study of human development.—Lucien T. Winegar, Theory and Psychology

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