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Mar 15, 2023

Aristotle thought that Philosophy begins in wonder.  Wonder is some thing children do quite well.  It comes natural to them.  Unfortunately as a lot of us grow older we stop wondering and stop questioning and stop attempting to look at things in new ways or non-traditional ways.  We are rewarded for our acceptance and conformity to what is accepted by most people, for our adoption of whatever is popular.  Some of us stop wondering altogether.

 Consider two “Stories”

 One night a young mother brought her son (age 7) to class at the college where I was teaching an evening class.  Her babysitter was not able to be with her son that night.  Well I entered the room and he was sitting in a desk next to his mom and was looking in a book and later was coloring in coloring books.  At the time I was about the same age as his mom.  We sat around in a rectangular arrangement in the room so that everyone could see everyone’s face.  I sat at a student desk in the midst of all the others.  We started in on the topic for that evening class.  After about 20 minutes, the little fellow said: ”Hey, when is the teacher going to get here?” to his mom.  She explained that the teacher was there and that the teacher was myself.  He was a bit surprised because I wasn’t at the front of the room and using the blackboard.  He settled back in and the class went on to its conclusion.   After class his mom and I were talking about something pertaining to the course.  We were standing outside in the evening air and her son was standing beside his mom with his head down and after looking at the dirt around the hedges that were around the sides of the building he started to kick at the dirt lightly with the tip of one of his shoes.  I noticed he was doing this while I was speaking to his mom.  I asked her how her son was doing in school and she told me he was doing fine and that he was an average student.  I stopped speaking to her and inquired of the young boy: “What are you doing there?”  “Nothing.” He replied.  Most likely he thought that he was doing something wrong.  “No, you were doing something.”, I said.  “What was it?”  “Nothing, “ came his response again.  “I saw you kicking in the dirt.  Weren’t you kicking the dirt?” I asked. “Yes” he admitted. “Well, why were you doing that?” I asked further.  “No reason” he answered.  “You must have had some reason.” I responded. “No!” was his next response tome.  “What were you thinking while you were kicking in the dirt?” I pressed on with my questions.  “Nothing.” He answered. “You must have been thinking something.  We all think something all the time.” I answered and then I got what I was hoping for.  “I was just wondering about the dirt.” He said. “Wondering what?” I asked. “Well, where did it come from?” he responded.  “You mean the dirt?” I asked.  “Yeah” he said.  “Well it has always been her as part of the earth.” I answered.  Then he said. “No, I mean where did it come from before it was part of the earth?”  I was surprised by his question.  “You mean where was it before it was here?”  He answered with, “How would you even know where here was if there were no earth, if there was nothing at all?”

 Now I turned to his mother who thought that her son was only an average and well behaved little man and said to her, “Did you know that your son is wondering about the sort of questions that got Einstein thinking about matters that led him to the theory of relativity.  Your son is thinking about matters or relativity versus absolute space and time and location!”

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