An Education for “Practical” Conceptual Analysis in the Practice of “Philosophy for Children”

  • Arthur Wolf
  • Susan T. Gardner


Introduction: Thinking about and inventing concepts is the hallmark of the philosophical endeavor. Concepts like fairness, beauty, friendship and knowledge are some of those with a long philosophical lineage that start with questions like ‘What is …?’, ‘Why?’, ‘How is it different from …?’ and ‘Does it then follow that…?’ These questions are crucial, as they set up a relationship between concepts and conceptualizers such that practical concept-utilization can be done in better or worse ways. In daily life we are constantly confronted with situations that call for inquiries into these big topics. Thus, for instance, if I wonder if I should tell him that his new hair-style looks great, while I actually think it doesn't, that requires that I work through the concepts of friendship and beauty, as well as the concepts of truth and lying. "Should I tell her I think her marriage has taken a wrong turn?" "Should I tell him that his breath smells?" Several concepts play a role here even though we may not be sure which ones take precedence. Practical engagement with concepts through questions, in other words, matters.