Cover Image: Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Nasty, Brutish, and Short

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Ignore the title, it's not relevant. *   This is a book that's happy, humane and actually quite long – and the subtitle says it all.   Every word counts, as it should in a book of philosophy.

The adventures begin when two-year-old Hank announces “I nee a philosopher”.   Scott, his patient Dad, says he's a philosopher, but that doesn't cut the mustard.  Why ?  Because, as Hank makes emphatically clear, “DER'S FOMETHING F**K IN MY FEETH”.   A flosser, not Dad's profession, but he's not daunted.   He works from two mantras – first, that “Every kid – every single one – is a philosopher.   They stop when they grow up”, and second that “I want my kids to learn to make decisions, so that I'm not stuck with the job.”

The rest of the book falls into three parts, summarised as making sense of morality, ourselves, and the world, and moves – so gently that you hardly notice the fact – into ever deeper waters.   At the shallow end, there's the kid, told off for being upset at guest children hogging the TV, who asks “Why is it better for three people to be selfish than for one ?”   Chapters later (and a few years later than the flosser incident), discussions with Hank and his older brother Rex start with questions like does “six” exist and how, then go on to whether and in what way, is God real, and in what sense are statements in fiction true.   Idealistic fantasy ?   “If you've got a young kid, you are raising a philosopher, whether you know it or not.”
In the middle of it all, there's an intriguing problem called “Transplant” - a hospital has five people in desperate need of different organ transplants: a sixth patient has a minor injury.   If he were 'accidentally' killed, the other five could live.   Would you kill him ?   Most people (when offered the question as a college test) say “No”.   Next – a runaway train is charging towards points, where a team of engineers are at work on the line, but there is a single man at work on the other line.  Would you switch the points ?   Most people (as above) say “Yes”.   Then there's a variation ~ there's a fat man on a bridge over the line: push him off the bridge and the train will stop, saving all the men.  Would you push him ?   Most people this time say “No”.   But it's the same choice every time: why do the answers differ ?   However you answer the question, you're doing philosophy !

Earlier I mentioned two mantras.  I could add two conclusions from the book - “in philosophy there's no answer key” (and every page carries the unwritten question “what do YOU think ?”) and, his last word - “Don't waste wonder”.
* Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) said that without ordered society, the life of man would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
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Are we all philosophers?

Scott Herskovitz attempts to show how each of us and especially children have philosophy buried in our minds. We all ask questions, such as “Is God real? How does one explain punishment to children? What are the consequences of bad behaviour? He submits that young children are born with a philosophical ability to ask questions and it’s up to us adults to try to find the answer. But can we? Is God real?

I wanted to read the book to gain some insight but found it tedious and far too long-winded.

Elite Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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A very clever book which raised more questions than it answered, for this reader. But then, I guess that is the essence of philosophy. It certainly got me thinking.
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this book.
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I was intrigued by the title,  and concept of explaining philosophy to children beyond the obvious ethics examples.  

I was interested in reading that children are philosophical until late in primary school,  but it makes sense.  All the questions and openness which schooling gradually inhibits is so lovely and refreshing  as the mother of two daughters at university studying maths and philisophy I  can see the logic used in both,  but disagree that they are connected in the way Hershovitz argues. 

Eminently readable and thought provoking, I've bought this for the library.
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Nasty, brutish, and short - Scott Hershovitz

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read, I recommend to anyone. Thank you
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Nasty, Brutish and Short is a fascinating book that looks into philosophy not only through the eyes of the author but of his two young sons.   With the questions they ask each other and the philosophical thoughts and answers both adults and children derive at. The inquisitiveness of children has always intrigued me. 

I unsure what to expect at the start of reading this book, but was pleasantly surprised and certainly got my old grey cells thinking. 

With the many different topics covered from critical thinking to the philosophy of mind and ethics as well other big questions such as existence and crime, it really was a true eye opener into the world of philosophy.

Would recommended this book whether you have an interest in philosophy or not, might even get my teenagers to read it. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for letting me read this book in return for an honest review.
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I loved this book, well written and easy to digest while still dealing with some heavy subjects and making the reader question his/her/their own opinions. The humour and innocence of the children shines through and makes this a very enjoyable read. I’ve been recommending this book to all my family and friends.
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Nasty, Brutish and Short is a fascinating book that delves into the depths of philosophy. The author has two young boys and he talks about their philosophical wonderings and how inquisitive children are fantastic philosophers. 

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but I ended up being very pleasantly surprised. For context, I have always had an interest in philosophy and studied it at university; I also have two young children who ask ALOT of questions. 

There are so many different topics covered here - Critical thinking, philosophy of mind and ethics as well as talk about existence, race, punishment and so much more. I really enjoyed being reminded of my previous studies in reading this book, and it gave me some good ideas for ways that I can have better conversations with my own children. 

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in philosophy who also has children. 

My thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for sending me this ARC in return for an honest review.
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Nasty, Brutish and Short is a good witty read.  It sees the world through the eyes of kids.  A celebrated professor and his two sons journey through classic and contemporary philosophy.  Scott, Rex and Hank explore weighty subjects like sex, gender, race, authority and punishment,  

 Successfully these  discerning thinkers  rekindled my sense of wonder and my love of philosophy, discovery and exploration.    Definitely, book with a difference. .
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This book is structured into three sections with the author looking at the world observed by his two children. As a teacher I know that children naturally ask questions and are very inquisitive of the world. The book wants us to stop squashing their natural ability to question by being more honest and nurturing their thirst for answers. A very thought provoking read.
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I'm gonna start this review in the same way as my other recent books by saying that every book starts off with the maximum 5 stars and a hope that they will all still be stuck firmly in place by the time I finish reading it.

I got the ARC of this book straight from the publisher via Net Galley.

I've always been interested in philosophy and I'm qualified to work with children so I know how pure their thoughts are and also how they ask questions that are hard to answer at times.

It's almost my bed time so I'm intending on reading one chapter tonight and hopefully finish the book and this review tomorrow.

The first section is already blowing my mind with the 5-year-old author asking "what is red?".  I've had that question a few times in my working life and it looks like I'm not the only one.

I'm loving the first 1% of the book... I just hope it doesn't send my head so deep that I can't sleep is all lol

I'm up to 2% now but my body is telling me that it's time for bed so I'm guessing I'll have mind-exploding dreams tonight, but I can't wait to get stuck back into it tomorrow!

It's now the next day and after approximately 3 hours I'm at the end of the first part and at 5% of the way through.  Can I make a suggestion?  You prepare for a looong first few pages by grabbing yourself a drink and couple of snacks before you start 'cos you won't want to stop when you've got started.  The mug of peach tea I made myself immediately before I started reading is now barely tepid and I've only had 2 mouthfuls of it and read 2%.

The percents are whizzing by considerably faster now that I'm past the introduction now.  Gonna go and make myself another hot drink to try and unache my neck.  I'm up to 22% now, so I think it's about time, don't you?  lol

I've guzzled the majority of my mug of peach tea now, and my neck is feeling slightly better, so I'm gonna aim to read up to at least 25%.  If you have an interest in any kind of philosophy and you want to read other people's thoughts on it to expand your knowledge, then I definitely recommend you get this book... it's opened my eyes and made me look at my own thoughts and reasons and critically question them - the addition of the author's sons' thoughts to gently introduce or explain new ideas is fantastic and each of those stars are still very well deserved.

Well that's told me then!  My Kindle has just run out of juice so I think that's its way of enforcing my need for a break for a few hours to process what I've read over the last 26-ish hours.  I just hope I can remember where I had read up to when I start reading again tomorrow.  So far though, this is a must-read book for everyone with an interest in philosophy and a soft spot for the innocent (but often unknowingly deep) questions of little kids.

I've reached the start of "Part II" now, so that seems like a good place to stop for the night.

Back for the third days reading, but considering I didn't start reading until the evening on the first day, let's not count that as a day of reading 'cos it wasn't a full one.

I'm up to 40% now and I've yet to find a reason to knock off a single star.  I got an copy for free in advance of publication from the publisher and I've just checked the release price (1st May 2022 at 10.47am) and it's an absolute steal at only £17.60 for the hardcover version and £10.99 for the Kindle version, for such a hefty tome (359 pages) that's incredible value for money and the quality makes it even better value for money!  This book should be snapped up by anyone with any interest whatsoever in philosophy or parenting (or both) - the author has even caused me to raise a smile or even chuckle to myself on a few occasions, which is pretty much unheard of for me!

Another drinking chocolate sees me up to part III and 47% of the way through... I still maintain that this is a truly fantastic book and those five stars still being firmly in place at almost half way through, is all the proof I need that it's well worth the money and I'm really hoping that they will all still be firmly in place by the time I finish this book.

Up to 60% now and my drinking chocolate is barely tepid again, so I've just drunk three quarters in one go... it takes something absolutely incredible to make me forget to consume chocolate and this book has done that twice so far today - I wish I could give it six stars out of five for that reason alone  ;-)  Gonna read section 10 and hopefully finish it before I have my lunch, then settle in for another absolutely incredible reading session afterwards.  I really am loving and apprectiating this book so much.

Just had my lunch and I'm gonna settle back to read more of this truly incredible book now... I can't wait to see what question it raises next and I've already opened the discussion about one of the questions the book has asked on my blog - I can't recommend this book highly enough right now!

Oh dear, the first star is coming off after the author has used three characters in two well-known computer games - I really hate doing this 'cos it's still a five star book but my sense of fairness to other books that I've reviewed and knocked a star off for exactly the same reason, means that the star is flopping sadly to the ground.




I've just finished the book (the last 20% was acknowledgements and reference material the author has used throughout the book.  I read the acknowledgements but skipped through the references).  I stand by what I thought two days ago (almost to the minute) - it's provided ways to open up more questions and thoughts and reflections which will expand my mind in ways that it hasn't been able to before I read this book.

I so so wanted this to be a 5 star book but the copyright/trademark thing made my sense of fair play win 'cos I've knocked a star off other books for the same reason.

A must-read for everyone with any kind of interest in philosophy at all, especially if you enjoy the pure questioning of younger children.

Get this book and be prepared for your mind to be blown.
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An interesting and informative book. It makes you think about things on many different levels. The sections of the book are great looking at things from different view points. Not a book to devour in one sitting as you need to reflect on what is being said.
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I would struggle to be able to review this book due to issues with the file/download. The issues stopped the flow of the book. The issues are:
- Missing words in the middle of sentences
- Stop/start sentences on different lines
- No clear definition of chapters. 

Not sure if it was a file/download issue but there were lots of gaps, stop/starts which really ruined the flow. I would love the chance to read a better version as the description of the book appeals to me.
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Scott Hershovitz is a University of Michigan professor who suggests here that our young children are born natural philosophers, asking questions adults steer clear of because they are unafraid of looking dumb, where their refreshing naivete holds them in good stead, looking at the world free of assumptions. He explores the fundamentals of philosophy, defined as the art of thinking, by engaging meaningfully with his two young sons, Rex and Hank, who, like all young children, are full of questions and ideas. The title of the book has its origins in Thomas Hobbes's thoughts on what life would be like without any government at all, nasty, brutish and short, which the author sees as an apt description of a house with kids, although obviously they can also be kind, cute, caring and loving too.

There is an introduction by the author, then the book is structured into 3 parts, Making Sense of Morality, Making Sense of Ourselves and Making Sense of the World, drawing on the thinking of ancient and more recent philosophers, whilst highlighting the novel thinking that comes from Rex and Hank, and utilising law and real life scenarios from our contemporary society. Numerous areas are explored, such as rights, obligations and responsibilities, what it takes to override wrongdoing, revenge and punishment. A distinction is drawn between power and authority, is it ever okay to say 'because I say so' to ensure kids follow orders? Questions of identity, sex, race and gender arise, the history of slavery and segregation, and the value of scepticism . The final section focuses on issues such as approaches to knowledge, truth, what is consciousness and whether God exists, given the problematic presence of evil.

This is a fun, entertaining, educationally informative and witty read, with its fascinating child's eye views of Hank and Rex and their thoughts on themselves, their parents, their experiences and society, and Hershovitz does not shy away from some of the complexities and puzzles to be found in philosophy and in our world. It is made clear in the introduction that the author's real agenda here is to get the reader to more actively engage in philosophy and improve their ability to become better, more critical thinkers, challenging the American idea that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and instead become more knowledgeable and adept at defending what they think, and become sufficiently resilient to develop and change if necessary. A delightful read, I loved the word 'floofer doofer' even though it was a term used amongst children as a demeaning insult, it was such a joy to be in the world of kids, as they prove that they are often so much smarter than adults. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
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After working in classrooms for all of my career I really can understand this authors point of view, I just had not found a label to put on the childrens logical questions. Actually the best thing about retirement is not having to answer the questions the children would ask, they usually understood the question better than I did. Maybe we should all have brains (and no cultural constrains ) like children. Loved the book, and so true.
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This was a quick, easy and funny read. I loved getting to know this family through teh pages and their questions and answers as well as learning something along the way. I would highly recommend this book.
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