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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 3, 2016

Symposium on Themes from Work of Ilhan Inan

İrem Günhan Altiparmak
Pages 361-380

The Concept of Curiosity in the Practice of Philosophy for Children

Philosophy for Children is, at its core, an educational movement that started in the 1970s and it is currently practiced in over 60 countries. Rather than teaching children philosophy, it aims to develop thinking, inquiry and reasoning skills by means of intellectual interaction and by questioning both with the facilitator and amongst themselves. Thus it creates a community of inquiry. This movement has created a sound literature within philosophy of education which indirectly relates to issues in meta-philosophy, epistemology and philosophy of childhood. Despite the fact that Philosophy for Children is a movement which is predominantly based on questioning and inquiry, there is little emphasis on curiosity within its literature. This is not surprising because even in philosophy literature the concept of curiosity was ignored until quite recently. Producing the first book-length treatment of curiosity within philosophy literature, İnan provides a philosophical framework on how human curiosity is possible and how it finds expression. The notion of inostensible conceptualization, which İnan has developed and central to his theory of curiosity, could be utilized in order to demonstrate the significance of curiosity within Philosophy for Children. Philosophy for Children sessions are usually centered around a philosophical concept such as fairness, egoism, and identity. In this paper I argue that the in-class discussions in Philosophy for Children practice enable children to realize that the concept in question is inostensible for them. That is, they do not have all the knowledge about this specific concept. In order to explain the concept of curiosity in P4C sessions, I have developed two notions: the first notion is curiosity-arouser, which I utilize to explain how the community of inquiry could better concentrate on and discuss the inostensible concept. The second notion is joint curiosity, which I have developed in analogy to the trans-disciplinary notion of joint attention. Similar to the positive impact of joint attention on child development, I argue that joint curiosity has positive outcomes for children’s inquiry and questioning. I explain these notions in detail by providing examples of Philosophy for Children sessions. My overall aim is to emphasize the importance of curiosity in order for this practice to reach its fundamental aims. The practitioners and those who prepare materials have to take into consideration the concept of curiosity and must equip themselves with an understanding of it.

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