The Stoa

~a place for the discussion of topics philosophical~

Find more discussion topics and mini-discussion guides at the Bosconian Review ~ A Journal of the Rolling Acres School


Sophie's World Discussion Questions

The Garden of Eden
  1. How do we answer the question, who are you? (name, appearance, what?) How does each of these capture something but not all of the answer?
  2. Regarding the two questions of this chapter, when was the last time you asked yourself these questions? Why are they important questions? Do we ever answer these questions?
  3. Consider the theme of seeing the self as an 'other' in this chapter. What are the ramifications of such seeing for self-discovery, maturity, objectivity? 
The Top Hat
  1. What is wonder?
  2. What is the habit that the author speaks of in this chapter?
  3. Is there anything problematic in the author's association of the child and the philosopher?
  4. Is the 'philosopher' of this chapter the same fellow one meets at the local college or university philosophy department? Why or why not, and what is the difference?
  5. Which is better, the question or the answer?
The Myths
  1. Do all myths seem to be attempts to explain something? Is this really what myths were for (explanation)?
  2. How does the author think that the transition from an oral to a written tradition affected myth?
  3. Does it change the way you think about stars to know they are giant floating balls of gas? Or, put another way, does the acceptance of a natural explanation necessitate the denial of a more magical one? Or , yet another, does ‘science’ replace myth? Why or why not?

The Natural Philosophers
  1. Do you suppose that all philosopher’s projects are created equal? Does the name philosopher really apply to everyone who has ever done ‘philosophy’?
  2. Can something come from nothing? Is that a stupid question?
  3. How does the author’s remark, “There had to be ‘something’ that all things came from and return to” (31) indicate an answer to the his question regarding why the natural philosophers sought a basic substance?
  4. Did philosophy liberate itself from religion or emerge along side it?
  5. How does a philosophical explanation differ from a scientific one? Or does it?
  6. What do you think of Anaximander’s argument about the basic element and the “Boundless”?
  7. Why is change problematic? What is the problem of change? How is it related to the question of the basic element? 
  8. Why would we disagree with Parmenides and Heraclitus in turn in regards to their positions on change? Why agree?
  9. Why is Anaxagoras’ positing “nous” as a cause of things an important step forward? 
  1. Why do people quit playing?
  2. Field assignment: Go play with legos.
  3. Does there really have to be a “minimal part” to nature?
  4. Is it meaningful or indicative of some harmony in things that the arguments of reason coincide with the discoveries of the senses (i.e., Democritus was “more or less right” as proven by modern science)?
  5. Reflect for a moment on the ingeniousness of Democritus’ solution to the problem of change. 
  1. Any theories about the philosophy instructor yet?
  2. The author seems to consistently portray an opposition between supernatural and natural explanations. Does this opposition hold?
  1. Does an uneducated person behave naturally?
  2. What are the differences between a philosopher and a sophist?
  3. What is the connection between knowledge and virtue? Can virtue be taught academically?
  4. Was Socrates right to die as he did?
  5. Any theories about Hilde yet? 
  1. What lessons about teaching can we take from Knox’s actions thus far?
  2. Do you have any theories as to the reason for the astounding achievements of the Athenians? Why them and not someone else? Why so much in so short a time?