Really Really Big Questions Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Feb 2012
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An unusual and fun introduction to philosophy.
About the Author
Dr Stephen Lawis a senior philosophy lecturer at Heythrop College in London and the editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s journal THINK, which aims to introduce philosophy and its merits to a wide audience. Stephen has written numerous academic papers as well as books for both adults and children including the hugely popular The Philosophy Files.
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Top Customer Reviews
First off, I think the design is meant to appeal to parents in their forties rather than kids. It has a very retro look - a lot of the books that I had as a kid had been printed in the 60s and early 70s and looked like this. I'm not sure it will appeal to today's CGI-reared generation. The cover has a distressed look as if the book is old and well loved. I suspect that some kids will think they've been given a second hand book when they see it. Also, some of the text is printed in black against a very dark colour - you need to read this in a well lit room. The star I've knocked off is for the design that, in my limited sample size, didn't really appeal to its target market.
So, what of the content? The book is designed to get kids thinking for themselves so it often answers questions with another question. Generally speaking this works well as it encourages children to think critically and develop their powers of deduction and reasoning. At times I found its tendency to be non-judgemental annoying - but them I'm a grumpy 43 year old who made his mind up a long time ago on things like astrology and intelligent design. In many cases my instinct would be to say "No of course not" - but then that wouldn't be as powerful as nudging the child in the right direction and allowing them to make up their own mind. As an aside, this book has been great in reminding me to frame answers to my daughter's questions in a more open way where appropriate.Read more ›
The book is split into four themed sections, as follows:
The Great Big Universe Puzzle
(14 questions on the meaning of life, origins of universe, God, eg Where did everything come from? What is evolution? What is the meaning of life?)
Mysterious Minds and Robots that Think
(7 questions on problems of consciousness, perception, AI, psychic powers, eg Is my mind my brain? Could a robot think? Could you bend a spoon with your mind?)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
(8 questions on ethics, moral issues, right and wrong, eg What makes stealing wrong?Read more ›
This book pitches at a younger audience - bright children at the top of primary school, or early in secondary school - although the general tone of the discussion would actually make it a useful starting point for any reasonably bold person who wanted a thought-provoking discussion over a meal table.
The range of philosophical subjects is covered - ethics ("Is it OK to eat animals?"), epistemology ("Can I make something true by believing it?"), metaphysics ("Did someone design the universe?") - as a series of questions and discussions. Not really answers - the lack of definite answers is likely to irritate both those religious who have never seriously reflected on their beliefs and those of a philosophical naturalist persuasion (under the influence of Dawkins, for example).
Some lines are drawn - for example, alien abduction and astrology both receive shrift that is at the short end of the spectrum. And if the book even manages to get a few young people to apply critical thought to such matters, then in my opinion, that would justify its existence!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What more than putting things into perspective, this book is philosophy for children. It puts the questions that will intrigue there minds at an early age. Read morePublished on 19 Mar. 2012 by R. Patel
Love the format and the illustration style. Text is clear and well written in a fun and jaunty way.
But the answers to these big question are definitely from a materialist... Read more
A brilliant, simple introduction to life, the universe and everything. This is a book that asks questions rather than provide answers; why are we here? what are we? who made us? Read morePublished on 22 April 2010 by Johnentwistlespout
I loved the retro design of this book; it really reminded me of the way books looked to me back in the '70s. Read morePublished on 28 Jan. 2010 by Shady Tree
My 11-year-old and I looked at this together and found its true value was as a conversation starter. Read morePublished on 9 Jan. 2010 by Ray Blake
My 9 year old loves this ... it has greatly helped her to start asking challenging questions.
Its friendly, down to earth and does not come across in school-teacher... Read more
The overall impression of this book is good - it's a decent sized hardback, isn't too heavy. The pages are all different colours, the titles are big and eye catching, and there are... Read morePublished on 17 Dec. 2009 by Michelle Moore
I've been through this book several times and I'm frustrated at how little space each topic gets, in so much as it starts off well and then the author gets bored and just finishes... Read morePublished on 3 Dec. 2009 by Road Apple
Big Questions shows little fear at attempting to answer, without bias, some of those really difficult to answer questions that younger children will ask. Read morePublished on 28 Nov. 2009 by SonicQuack