Why Children Make Great Philosophers: Interview with Scott Hershovitz


May 29, 2023


Philosophy, often considered an abstract and complex field, is not typically associated with children. However, their innate curiosity, ability to question everything, and unencumbered approach to exploring the world make them natural philosophers. In this exclusive interview with Scott Hershovitz, a renowned philosopher and professor, we delve into the fascinating world of child philosophers and discover the valuable insights they bring to the table.

Question: What sparked your interest in exploring the philosophical potential of children?

Scott Hershovitz: Throughout my career as a philosophers, I’ve always been fascinated by the underlying thought processes and inquiries that drive our philosophical investigations. One day, while observing my young daughter engaging with the world, I noticed her persistent questioning and genuine wonderment. It dawned on me that children possess a remarkable capacity for philosophical thinking. I became captivated by the idea of uncovering the profound insights that can arise from their untainted perspectives.

Question: How do children exhibit philosophical thinking?

Scott Hershovitz: Children have an uncanny ability to question the fundamental aspects of reality, often revealing deep philosophical concepts. They inquire about the nature of existence, morality, and truth and even ponder the meaning of life itself. Their inquiries are driven by a genuine thirst for understanding and an eagerness to make sense of the world around them.

Additionally, children often challenge societal norms and conventions, which is a vital aspect of philosophical thinking. They are not afraid to question authority, challenge assumptions, or propose alternative viewpoints. This willingness to explore unconventional ideas is a hallmark of philosophical inquiry.

Question: Can you provide an example of how children can approach philosophical questions differently from adults?

Scott Hershovitz: Certainly. Let’s take the classic philosophical question “What is the nature of reality?” Adults tend to approach this question from a metaphysical or epistemological standpoint, discussing abstract concepts such as substance dualism or empiricism. Children, on the other hand, may approach it with a fresh and imaginative perspective.

For a child, the question of reality might involve pondering the existence of imaginary friends or the nature of dreams. They might ask why some things seem real while others are merely imagined. By exploring these seemingly simple yet profound questions, children offer alternative perspectives that challenge our preconceived notions.

Question: How can engaging with children’s philosophical inquiries benefit adults?

Scott Hershovitz: Engaging with children’s philosophical inquiries offers adults a chance to reexamine their own beliefs and assumptions. By actively listening to children’s questions and engaging in thoughtful dialogue, adults can uncover their own biases and preconceptions. This process of introspection and reflection is crucial for personal growth and intellectual development.

Moreover, children’s philosophical inquiries can inspire creativity and critical thinking. Their fresh perspectives often lead to innovative ideas and solutions that may not have been considered within traditional adult frameworks. By embracing the philosophical potential of children, we open doors to new possibilities and broaden our understanding of the world.

Question: How can parents and educators encourage children’s philosophical thinking?

Scott Hershovitz: Encouraging children’s philosophical thinking starts with creating an environment that fosters curiosity, open-mindedness, and critical thinking. Parents and educators can engage in meaningful conversations, actively listen to children’s questions, and treat their inquiries with respect and seriousness.

Providing opportunities for children to explore philosophical concepts through storytelling, thought experiments and playful discussions can also be incredibly beneficial. Additionally, exposing children to age-appropriate philosophical literature and engaging in philosophical games or activities can further nurture their intellectual development.


Children possess an innate philosophical curiosity that, when nurtured and encouraged, can lead to profound insights and innovative thinking. By recognizing and engaging with their philosophical potential, we can gain fresh perspectives, challenge our own beliefs, and promote intellectual growth. Embracing the philosophical inquiries of children not only benefits them but also enriches our collective understanding of the world we live in. As adults, let us actively listen, encourage, and learn from the young philosophers among us, for they hold the keys to unlocking new realms of knowledge and understanding.