The Case for More Science and Philosophy Books for Children

If we, as a society, were serious about our children, then children’s education—especially for those beginning “the age of reason”—would be our highest priority.Photograph by Sharon Mollerus / Flickr

During my career as a scientist and a philosopher I have written and edited, thus far, 14 books. Of these, seven are for the general public. Of those, only one (my very first one, as it turns out) was for children. The same picture emerges if one looks at the lifetime production of major science (and philosophy) popularizers, from Richard Dawkins to Stephen Jay Gould in biology, Brian Greene to Janna Levin in physics, Nigel Warburton to Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in philosophy.

You might think aiming at a youthful demographic would be more appealing. Those early years, when curiosity runs high, are intellectually formative—it’s when we, my fellow educators, can hook young minds onto what philosophers call the of the world. Voltaire mischievously attributed to the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola, the saying, “Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.” Voltaire was probably worried about the Church brainwashing the next generation (“Écrasez l’Infâme!”—“crush the infamous”—as he used to sign his letters). But Loyola had a point, if he ever uttered those words. The ancient Greco-Romans talked about “the age of reason,” the period around the age of seven when children begin to use their rational faculties, which they saw as crucial to the moral formation of an individual, an idea that modern developmental psychology .

Estás leyendo una vista previa, regístrate para leer más.

Más de Nautilus

Nautilus8 min. leídos
The Fungal Evangelist Who Would Save the Bees: How mushrooms could solve colony collapse disorder.
If anyone knows about going fungal, it’s Paul Stamets. I have often wondered whether he has been infected with a fungus that fills him with mycological zeal—and an irrepressible urge to persuade humans that fungi are keen to partner with us in new an
Nautilus3 min. leídos
People Are Discovering The Joy Of Actually Talking On A Phone
I’m one of the lucky ones. The onset of this pandemic has put a strain on the sanity of many people forced to isolate themselves from friends and family. If you live alone, or with roommates who you aren’t close with, you’ve likely had a harder time
Nautilus6 min. leídos
Your Guide to the Many Meanings of Quantum Mechanics
Quantum mechanics is more than a century old, but physicists still fight over what it means. Most of the hand wringing and knuckle cracking in their debates goes back to an assumption known as “realism.” This is the idea that science describes someth