11 March 2013

Philosophical wrestling with my 2nd grader

Over breakfast one day, Bugey told his Dad the following remark, "Mum is a lot stricter than you, but you are much more scary when you get angry."  And then he went on thinking aloud, "When I become a parent one day, I will not make any rules for my kids. I will let them do whatever they want!" These words were followed by a premise that worried me a bit : "I will let them do whatever they want because I love them." 

And so while walking on our way home one night, I asked him, " So anak, what do you think will your house be like if it had no rules in it? Don't you think it would be more difficult for you if you tell your kids to do whatever they want to, like play all day,  make a big mess, pup anywhere, (then the Dad added in the background hoping to make the 'argument' I was building up more provoking) yeah, do whatever you want like eat your pupu....eeeeuw. " 

And then this boy just blew us away with an answer that made me curse my genes:  But Mum, if I tell them to play all day, make a big mess or pup anywhere, I will be making rules again! (Hint for the clueless: if you don't follow the logic behind this argument, read on the debate between absolutism and relativism - hee! ) 

The Dad then raised his eyebrows and challenged me with, "That's right Mum, so what do you say to that." 

Still recovering from that flabbergasting reply, I thought to myself, So this smart aleck is challenging the philosophy teacher. Hmm. Let's see. 

"Anak, don't you also see that when you say you will not make any rules for your kids, you are already making a rule?" 

Silence. Then heaved a sigh. Till he finally said, " Hmmm. You smarty pants!" 

To that the Dad and I laughed, not triumphantly, but out of wild surprise over how this boy  really  got my argument and saw that one can hardly refute it. For seriously, what would you say to that right? 80% of my junior college students would have left it at that. How much more my second-grader? 

Again I totally underestimated this wonderful child. For it didn't take long before he said, "But Mum, I don't really have to tell them, 'Do whatever you want' like its a rule. They'll just do because they were born that way." 

Now if this argument doesn't knock you spinning down, please look up "the ontological argument on freedom."  

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