Welcome to Wondering Aloud -- a blog about introducing philosophy to pre-college students. I'm the director of the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children, and I started this blog to create another way to communicate about doing philosophy with young people.

The blog includes posts about some of my philosophy classes with pre-college students, thoughts about doing philosophy with young people, and ideas for how to introduce philosophy in K-12 classrooms and with your own children! Also check out our website,
http://www.philosophyforchildren.org/, for more resources and ideas.

My hope is that this blog will help further the online community of those interested in pre-college philosophy, and will illustrate the vitality and joy of talking about philosophy with young people.

Jana -- September 2008

Friday, February 21, 2014

Let's Do Nothing!


Let's Do Nothing by Toby Fucile illustrates the perplexity of the concept of nothing. The book tells the story of two boys who, after concluding that they have "done it all," decide to do nothing.



The trouble is that doing nothing is not easy. If you blink, you're not doing nothing. If you open your eyes, you're not doing nothing, but if you close them, you're not doing nothing. Finally the boys conclude, "There is no way to do nothing."

What do we mean when we say we are doing nothing? What would it mean to do nothing? Is it impossible to do nothing if you're alive?What exactly is nothing?  Can "nothing" exist?

3 comments:

Joshua Ginzler said...

I have recently become aware of your program & blog. I would love to have you visit John Stanford Int School near UW, where I'm a father and PTSA pres.
But for this blog post, I actually have a comment. This gets at what I consider my favorite Poohism. Here is the pertinent excerpt.

“..."But what I like doing best is Nothing." "How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. "Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it." "Oh, I see," said Pooh. "This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing right now." "Oh, I see," said Pooh again. "It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear and not bothering." "Oh!" said Pooh.”

Ultimately, they are calling "nothing" what many neuroscientists call the "default mode." I don't know, perhaps they are actually meditating, actively even. To the point though, there is a lot that can be considered nothing, but doing nothing, truly nothing, from a neuro/phisio perspective is nearly impossible. I'd be intrigued to hear how you would address this with young children.

Jana said...

Hi Joshua,
I believe our Program Director, Sara Goering, is a parent at John Stanford too!
The excerpt from Winnie the Pooh that you reference is a great passage for examining the nature of nothing! I'll have to use that. I love Winnie the Pooh.
The question of the connection between the existence or non-existence of nothing, and whether you can do nothing, is an interesting one. Another work I like for this discussion is The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell.

Renelle Vann Mamauag said...

"Doing nothing is the impossible thing to do. Everything we do affect others. It's up to us if we decide to do what is good or bad in order to influenced other people involuntarily. Doing nothing is impossible because it is just a waste of time. It is not how human works.
What a simple post yet interesting."
Renelle