In Ratatouille, Chef Gusteau claims, “Anyone can cook.”
I claim, “Anyone can philosophize.” And everyone should.
No, not the pretentious, impenetrable stuff in academia that all too often is passed off as philosophizing, when little, alas, could be further from the truth.
Philosophizing does something to you, to me, to the world — and always holds out the potential for transformation, for pushing out boundaries, even effacing them.
No one should leave unscathed from a meaningful inquiry of the philosophical kind.
Philosophizing features a method (not to be confused with mere logic, as many academics do), and an ethos, and a question well worth investigating that is of a timely and timeless nature.
It should be rigorous but accessible, exploratory rather than argumentative, revelatory of an open-ended sort rather than one that leads to a dead-end search for Truth.
I had the pleasure and privilege of engaging in a philosophical inquiry in a pretty pueblo in Mexico while on vacation, and serendipitously, with Juan Carlos, a young child selling packets of chicles (chewing gum) who has no chance to attend school. He joined me and my family in an impromptu inquiry on difference and sameness.
Hopefully get a taste from this of what philosophizing can be, when we all put ourselves at the same level, as fellow human beings, each with gifts and insights to offer. We think and reason and empathize in different ways at different ages and stages — and that is all to the good, especially when we join forces with one another to philosophize.
As many of you know, I am firmly opposed to traditional ‘gifted and talented programs,’ which aim to weed out kids, with unimaginative criteria devised by adults. All kids should be allowed to be part of gifted and talented programs, and the aim should be to discover, develop and cultivate the unique gifts and talents of each precious child.
And a critical component of this, if the aim of such a program is to be fulfilled, is philosophical inquiry.
This is no feel-good progressive claim on my part. The world is a better place when we philosophize early and often with anyone and everyone, but especially the young, and especially the most marginalized among our young.
Try it yourself. Dare to be human, all too human, and put yourself not a centimeter above or below the poorest child — and inquire with him or her, as an equal.
Your world will never be the same. Neither will ours.