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Naive philosophizing in the life of a child

Борисов Сергей Валентинович

доктор философских наук

заведующий, Южно-Уральский государственный гуманитарно-педагогический университет; профессор, Южно-Уральский государственный университет (Национальный исследовательский университет)

454080, Россия, Челябинская область, г. Челябинск, пр. Ленина, 69, каб. 444

Borisov Sergey Valentinovich

Doctor of Philosophy

Head of the Philosophical Departmet at Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University 

454080, Russia, Chelyabinskaya oblast', g. Chelyabinsk, pr. Lenina, 69, kab. 444

borisovsv69@mail.ru
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 

DOI:

10.7256/2306-0174.2013.11.9329

Дата направления статьи в редакцию:

18-10-2013


Дата публикации:

1-11-2013


Аннотация: What is naive philosophizing of childhood and what is its particularity? Synthesizing concepts “naivety” and “philosophizing” we come to the concept of “naive philosophizing”. This philosophizing is not the kind overstepping the bounds of ordinary-practical knowledge and, moreover, rooting in mythical consciousness, but the one comprising reflective, existential and critical components. As a matter of fact it is a self-reflection of a myth done by all possible intellectual means, where the myth remains a symbol of unity, pleasure, knowledge and belief. Beginning with such conceptual affects as surprise, doubt, experience of existential conditions, naive philosophizing finds direct continuation in the intellectual game as the form of communication. We consider communication as a necessary condition of realization of naive philosophizing; therefore the best way of its realization is the live conversation in the form of a dialogue or a polylogue provoked by spontaneous asking. Naive philosophizing acts as an attempt of rational comprehension of a myth; however the myth remains the principal means of perception of the world and world-view.


Ключевые слова: naivety, philosophizing, childhood, knowledge, mythical consciousness, existential conditions, asking, thinking, life experience, world-view

УДК:

101.9

Abstract: What is naive philosophizing of childhood and what is its particularity? Synthesizing concepts “naivety” and “philosophizing” the authors of the article come to the concept of “naive philosophizing”. This philosophizing is not the kind overstepping the bounds of ordinary-practical knowledge and, moreover, rooting in mythical consciousness, but the one comprising reflective, existential and critical components. As a matter of fact it is a self-reflection of a myth done by all possible intellectual means, where the myth remains a symbol of unity, pleasure, knowledge and belief. Beginning with such conceptual affects as surprise, doubt, experience of existential conditions, naive philosophizing finds direct continuation in the intellectual game as the form of communication. We consider communication as a necessary condition of realization of naive philosophizing; therefore the best way of its realization is the live conversation in the form of a dialogue or a polylogue provoked by spontaneous asking. Naive philosophizing acts as an attempt of rational comprehension of a myth; however the myth remains the principal means of perception of the world and world-view.



Keywords:

naivety, philosophizing, childhood, knowledge, mythical consciousness, existential conditions, asking, thinking, life experience, world-view

What is the naive philosophizing of childhood and what is its particularity? In general naivety is naturalness (in the counterbalance of artificiality), a spontaneity, and “childishness”. According to Immanuel Kant, naivety is the revolt of originally natural sincerity of mankind against the art of pretence that has become the second human nature. Naivety is “a body of literality”; there is no place for intermediaries in it. In this plan naivety can be understood as the critic of pure reason that is mostly subject to simulation. Simulation is the skill of knowing, thus not thinking, not caring about getting some knowledge by means of mobilization of one’s own available cognitive resources.

Uniqueness of philosophical knowledge is connected with display of existential character of the answer to philosophical problems, therefore knowledge in the form of philosophizing is always “finding of the reality in a situation in which at any moment there is a person” (K. Jaspers). While philosophizing a person defines oneself by means of the realization. Philosophizing is something through what a person becomes what he/she is, while getting implicated with the reality.

Synthesizing concepts “naivety” and “philosophizing”, we come to the concept of “naive philosophizing”. This philosophizing is not the kind overstepping the bounds of ordinary-practical knowledge and, moreover, rooting in mythical consciousness, but comprising reflective, existential and critical components. As a matter of fact it is a self-reflection of a myth by all possible intellectual means, where the myth remains a symbol of unity, pleasure, knowledge and belief. Beginning with such conceptual affects as surprise , doubt , experience of existential conditions , naive philosophizing finds direct continuation in the intellectual game as the form of communication . We consider communication as a necessary condition of realization of naive philosophizing; therefore the optimum way of its realization is the live conversation in the form of a dialogue or a polylogue provoked by spontaneous asking . Naive philosophizing acts as an attempt of rational comprehension of a myth; however the myth remains the principal means of perception of the world and world-view.

The most important stage of actualization of naive philosophizing is the period of childhood with a child’s judgment on ordinary-practical knowledge, mainly in the form of a myth, and his/her life experience by means of arising spontaneous philosophical reflection. In anyone’s personal biography the period of childhood is the universal center of all the bases. It is quite reasonable to believe that naive philosophizing will turn up more brightly, evidently, contrastively, rather during childhood than other age periods.

Mythical representations form a certain “blanket” of the vital world of the child. They are an essential condition of its sincere and intellectual comfort, the solution of riddles connected with “boundary situations”, translation of emotional intensity into the healing space of a symbolic game. The given symbolic game carries the child away. For the child not only a plot is important, but also the process of “playing out” of this plot which is carried out either in the form of a monologue, or in the form of a dialogue (imagined or with a peer or an adult).

As examples of naive philosophizing we shall analyse the typical children's statements collected by K.I.Chukovsky in the book “From two to five”. “Mum who was born earlier: you or I?”[1] Asking this question, a child tries to comprehend the borders of its own Ego. Being in “a boundary condition” a child is sincerely perplexed at the existence of the world “itself” and also tries to define its own place in this world. It awakes a child to the drastic need for cardinal changes in its world-view and carrying out “a reflective output” from habitual primary Ego. While primary Ego of a child is not subject to doubt “a reflective output” can look as performance: “When a two-year-old Ale takes offence, he speaks threateningly, “Now I will make it dark!” He also closes his eyes, convinced that owing to it the whole world has plunged into darkness”.[2]However the doubtfulness of similar actions becomes obvious for the child soon. A reality of the world “without Ego” persistently demands the substantiation.

Naive philosophizing is based on the principle of “open borders” between the ways of philosophizing. The principle of “party interest” has not entered into the philosophical interpretation of a child yet. The play-related nature of naive philosophizing serves a powerful “antidote” against ideological dispute passing into the dispute of “party interests”. Certainly philosophizing as an intellectual game is interesting for a child, but it is more involved with the process itself of philosophizing. The child does not consider itself right initially, it doesn’t “protect” itself. Following “the party interest” makes the mind private and limited, the risk “to lose” in dispute should be reduced to a minimum, however the game interest induces a person to take risks. This risk should not be avoided as it serves the main purpose of intellectual discoveries and turns the mind to wisdom.

Naive philosophizing is organically inherent in the intellectual activity of a child. It is never perceived by it as something imposed from the outside as certain “work” or “study”. While philosophizing a child can play, jump, sing, fight, help parents about the house, be capricious, draw, listen to a fairy tale, i.e. philosophizing never is the routine for a child. This philosophizing is highly unstable, intermittent, and spontaneous. Long concentrated thought is not appropriate for a child. It often happens that, having created this or that “theory” for explanation of an unclear phenomena, a child forgets about it in a minute and then improvises a new one. Eventually it will be completed little by little up to a more comprehensible understanding of reality within the limits of life experience. It is possible for opposite representations peacefully coexist in the mind of a child.

For example, a four-year-old girl declares, “God exists but I certainly do not believe in him”. The grandmother might have tried to impart religious representations to it and parents, on the contrary, involved it in godlessness, and the child, wishing to please both sides, expressed belief, and disbelief in God simultaneously in one thesis, having found out greater tolerance and (in this case) very small care for the truth - “God exists but I certainly do not believe in him”. However, stating two positions mutually excluding each other, the child shows concern about the very God who became the third between the grandmother and parents and whose opinion must be considered in this inconsistent situation. All the more disbelief in “authority” is connected with a deceit in consciousness of the child and that is in every possible way blamed. As a consequence, the child raises a naive question, “And does God know that we do not believe in him ?”

The peculiarity of naive philosophizing is its lively communication with mythical consciousness of a child. Frequently a child starts to reason before something has been thoroughly understood and comprehended; it understands reasoning proceeding from conditions of the living world. For naive philosophizing the sensual component is a prevailing element of mental life. It is managed by spontaneous associations, representations and exciting imagination. Naive philosophizing is shown as philosophical contemplation in a child’s inclination towards assimilating subjects of the world while “animating” them; allocating them with sense and including in a circle of values; finding out their essence and making them attractive or capable to raise cognitive interest. The child’s analytical work with a language is characterized by fixed attention on the design of each word. The recognized contradiction of sense and meaning of concept or judgment is perceived by a child very emotionally. That demonstrates personal interest of a child in search of logic.

The most widespread form of naive philosophizing of a child is asking. Asking is close in meaning to antique dialectics that is to ask and to search of the answer, or, to say it better, the recognition of any knowledge passing through a question. For us it is important to emphasize that query as a form of naive philosophizing is caused not so much by satisfaction of mere curiosity but a personal interest of the enquirer looking for reference points in a new, unusual reality. “An output in opened” has no other choice criteria for research aside from surprise, doubt and will for communication, specific to naive philosophizing. Asking, a child starts to understand. It expands the space of the vital world with a question to contain new knowledge in it. That’s why a child asks questions at lightning speed and with passionate obsession. Burning with impatience, it wishes “to win” reach the top of a new semantic game more quickly. The children's questions redundancy testifies that asking is connected with a reasoning which generates a new question and is stimulated by the old one.

Unfortunately, children as naive philosophers do not meet proper understanding and attention to their raised problems from adults. Bewilderment, irony, various excuses from adults make the given areas of comprehension taboo in a child’s mind.

The cultural tradition paradoxically ignores the importance of naive philosophizing in development of a child. But in that case it is the “culture of keeping the child silent ”. Certainly, “baby talk” is heard everywhere and children actively master the world, wisely trying not to notice that it “is cut out” for an adult and their part is only subordination. The very feeling of inferiority, inspired by culture, drives a child to an “adult” life and generates illusions of wisdom of an adult, its full freedom, independence and autonomy. The adult life is vaguely represented to a child as overcoming its own inferiority. An adult has a lot of what a child hasn’t. However the opposite is also true. It would be ridiculous to state that wisdom and striving for it, desire of happiness and beauty, kindness just increase as a person grows up. We believe that there are no age restrictions for understanding these themes because they are topical for any age. So why does the priority of an “adult” interpretation of the given subjects prevail in culture though it is probably necessary to think something over, comprehend and experience thoroughly in childhood without any shyness, fear or vanity taking into consideration that you may not have enough time to mature? In childhood it is much easier to solve many “children” problems than when you are an adult.

We believe that recognition of the importance of naive philosophizing of childhood in cultural space allows to see the convention of an “adult – child” border viewed as deep philosophical problems. The importance of research of naive philosophizing from the point of view of philosophy of knowledge consists in the opportunity of directly studying specific conditions of intellectual discoveries, everyone experienced them in their childhood, but for some reasons forgot about them when an adult, though the discoveries made, understood and stated at that time have, as a matter, formed their adult life.

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