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Really Really Big Questions Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Feb 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Kingfisher; Unabridged edition (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753431076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753431078
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 0.6 x 27.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 627,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

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.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a great book to give as a gift to a kid aged 7-9 if you want to flatter his or her parents by suggesting that you think their kid is bright. Whether the kid will like it or not is open to little bit of debate.

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.
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By Tony Floyd VINE VOICE on 19 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As any parent of small children knows, kids have an alarming ability to catch you out with unanticipated questions at the most inopportune moment. I have had to cope with "Why don't girls have willies?", "What does the tooth fairy want my teeth for?" and "Why do you smell of potatoes?" These tend to be fired at you just after you have been woken out of a deep sleep at half past no civilised hour in the morning by a jab in the ribs, ie times when your brain is not at its sharpest. Of course these moments are chosen so that the kids can then justifiably call you an idiot for not being able to answer such a simple enquiry. I therefore decided to arm myself with this book in order to be ready when they start coming out with the heavy duty stuff. Aimed at key stages 2 and 3 (and don't ask me what this means, I would like a grown ups version of the book that answers this sort of thing, and others like What do management consultants actually do for all that money?), Really Really Big Questions addresses many of those deep thought issues that you used to grapple with when you were teenager but then you discovered beer/sex/box sets of interminable TV series to take your mind off such things.

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?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fabulous book for inquisitive children. I knew my 7 year old son would love it and I was right. The minute he opened it, he was reading everything. He loves picking out the questions and reading the text. The pictures are eye-catching and the pages colourful and appealing. He particularly likes the magical puzzles and brain teasers. It's a really interesting way of getting children into thinking about the world around them and science and difficult questions. My son likes to take this book to bed with him for late night reading and it even went on holiday with us. I think it's great that he can read it himself now but this would also be nice to read together and ask questions together about life, the universe and everything! Great book for all little budding philosophers out there!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The unconsidered life is not worth living. Sometime between the cradle and finishing education, one hopes that people will start to reflect on the meaning of life, the universe and everything. There's little evidence to show that books such as Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy and If Minds Had Toes have a substantial impact on the thoughtfulness of people - but perhaps at least for those children who read them, it provides some reassurance that the questions they are asking are significant, and their consideration is healthy.

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!
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