[Hershovitz] seems to me needlessly insulting to his children ... Despite the dust jacket’s claim that the book is 'hilarious', humour does not seem to me Hershovitz’s forte. What he does, chapter by chapter, is to question the boys so as to bring out the meaning of a selection of philosophical topics — truth, revenge, punishment, the mind, authority, infinity, God, and so on, and this is where the book gets interesting ... He is not as good when he ceases to reason with his children and scoots off on his own ... There are moments when it seems Hershovitz despairs of reasoning with his children, though it is what he does best throughout the book ... This is an enormously rich and mind-expanding book, which anyone will gain from reading, especially parents.
You’ll certainly learn much, or be reminded of much ... Yet one frets for Hershovitz, having not yet encountered in his parenting journey (yes, he calls this book a 'journey') the hardest problem of all: adolescence, when the family’s 'epistemic bubble' is rudely burst and communication is sometimes reduced to grunts ... How will Hank feel in a few years to have a published account of his ultrasound result, in a chapter on sex and gender ... 'If you haven’t written something worth criticizing, you haven’t written something worthwhile,' Hershovitz writes, so he surely won’t mind being asked: What will your sequel be, when the kids are nasty, brutish, taller than you and pinging around on Discord? Tell me another case, my daddy.
Ultimately, Hershovitz's approach, in betting on his children's endless capacity to ask trenchant questions, has a bittersweet aspect — it's at once like faith and doubt. Rex and Hank's childhood years are finite. The portal to their seemingly infinite aptitude for wonder may close once they reach adulthood. Nevertheless, Hershovitz reminds parents to embrace our children's 'strangeness' as long as we can, and maybe in the process find our way back to the questing child-philosopher within us.
Hershovitz’s book helps place this normal part of the developmental process in a philosophical context, highlighting the ways your kids’ sometimes awesome and sometimes annoying questions make them tiny versions of Socrates and Sartre ... The point of this book, though, is not to provide a code for living morally. Instead, it’s about the process of thinking philosophically—doing philosophy, as he puts it—which, one could argue, is its own kind of moral code in which careful contemplation is central. Hershovitz doesn’t want his kids to agree with him. But he does want them to become better listeners, question their priors, and understand that to challenge is to love, philosophically speaking. An agile mind is far more admirable than a steadfast one; the only wrong answer is to stubbornly cling to an idea and resent having it subject to scrutiny. In this moral universe, self-doubt is a virtue ... Throughout the book, Hershovitz uses the thinking of esteemed philosophers to explain both his moments of doubt and his moments of epiphany. But we don’t hear much about how his philosophical conversations with his kids substantially provoked or challenged him, or whether they ever profoundly changed his mind. This is where I break with Hershovitz. Parenting is more than an occasion to dig into big ideas with the help of my children; it also pushes me to dig into myself and realize my many delusions and moral failings ... Hershovitz’s book has already enhanced my philosophical conversations with my children.
Hershovitz mixes wit and wisdom in this thoroughly enjoyable philosophical tour ... Fun anecdotes abound, and Hershovitz demonstrates how to engage children by taking them seriously, teaching them to ask questions, and encouraging them to explore the world—things adults can learn from, as well. This sincere and smart account puts to rest the idea that philosophy belongs in academia’s ivory tower.
The around-the-house scenes and conversations he presents are equal parts hilarious and profound ... When the author is discussing Rex or Hank, good things happen, but Hershovitz’s real goal is to encourage adult readers to maintain their innate ability to philosophize. So, when one of his kids wonders, for example, if he’s dreaming, it leads to an exposition on epistemology. This is where the book falls a bit flat. There’s nothing wrong with the way Hershovitz presents philosophy; his exposition is clear and lively. But the material consists of the same vogue ideas found in most introductory works of philosophy or, these days, on any podcast with a philosophical bent. If you are already familiar with the trolley problem, philosophical zombies, and the simulation argument, you won’t find anything new in their treatment here. In reading about them, you’ll long for Rex and Hank to return. A philosophical conversation with a child is among life’s great pleasures. If you don’t already know this, Hershovitz’s book will be of assistance ... A playful yet serious introduction to philosophy.