the child, literature and philosophy


  • edwige chirouter Université de Nantes. France. Chaire UNESCO sur la philosophie avec les enfants.


enfance, philosophie pour enfants, curriculum


Raising philosophical issues is not an adult's prerogative. At a very young age, children wondering at the world around them start asking questions about life, death and human relations. To use G. Deleuze's word, a child is the "idiot" par excellence, the one who asks about the reason for, and essence of, all things with the utmost naiveté and intensity. Over the past twenty years in Europe the practice of philosophical thinking with children has been developed in schools. Such a practice corresponds to the necessary democratization of a discipline which is often deemed cryptic and elitist. Simultaneously, it seems that children's books are also taking into account the import of metaphysical interrogations. The national literary syllabus for elementary schools insists on that particular dimension of the literary works it proposes and invites teachers to organize philosophical debates. Following the encouragement provided by such recommendations, the teachers who support the initiation of children into philosophy at an early age have begun organizing philosophical sessions in their classes. Today, the world of the child could thus be the link allowing to bridge the gap between disciplines whose history has been marked by the signs of reciprocal competition and mistrust for too long. This way, they could recover their former alliance: beyond the specific forms they keep up with language, both are “discourses” aiming at giving a full meaning as well as intelligibility to our lives. Conflicting disciplines for a too long time, couldn’t literature and philosophy find a new complementarity thanks to the joint development of their didactics with children?

Author Biography

edwige chirouter, Université de Nantes. France. Chaire UNESCO sur la philosophie avec les enfants.

Maitre de conférences en philosophie et sciences de l'éducation. Coordinatrice de la Chaire UNESCO sur la "Pratique de la philosophie avec les enfants : une base éducative pour le dialogue interculturel et la transformation sociale"



How to Cite

chirouter, edwige. (2015). the child, literature and philosophy. Childhood & Philosophy, 11(22), 377–393. Retrieved from