The role of stimuli when doing philosophy with children and adults

  • Sofia Nikolidaki

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Different stimuli have been used for doing philosophy with children (P4C/PwC), either specially designed for this reason, such as Matthew Lipman's novels or not, such as picture-books and works of art. Nevertheless, there is a gap in justifying philosophically the role of stimuli with in the context of the theory and practice of a philosophical community of inquiry. This gap is the subject of my conceptual research which aims at constructing a theory of what a stimulus is and its particular role within a philosophical inquiry.

    In this thesis, philosophy is viewed as a way of life that contains both, generative and evaluative aspects and it is explored how it links with the epistemological presuppositions of philosophy with children. The nature of the stimulus is explained in a more pragmatic framework and it is fully distinguished from behavioristical use. It is argued that a stimulus is suitable for doing philosophy with children if the engagement of individuals with it generates catalepsy (a sense of grasping) and moments of epiphany, that can lead to Eros for further inquiry. It is claimed that this is possible when the narrative structure of the stimuli matches with the narrative understanding of the individual when engaging with the stimulus.

    Zymotic thinking, a new term introduced in this thesis which refers to a mixture of critical, creative and emotional thinking that matures through a fermentative process in time is a way to explain how stimuli are linked with philosophy as a way of life with generative and evaluative aspects. Consequences of zymotic thinking such as mapping of individuals' experiences, activating self-corrective thinking and adopting diatheses of openness and alertness are introduced as ways that explain how stimuli are linked with philosophy are also used to explain the connection between the stimuli and philosophy.

    The philosophical points of this thesis are illustrated and supported further by: a) empirical examples of philosophical inquiries with children and adults, b) the reflective analysis of existing stimuli for doing philosophy with children and stimuli that came from children's experiences, and c) the offering of a sample of the author's stories that could be used as stimuli for doing philosophy with children.
    Date of AwardJun 2011
    Original languageEnglish


    • philosophy with childen
    • philosophical inquiry
    • kids

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