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Review: Adventures in Philosophy: Stories & Quests for Thinking Heroes, by Brendan O’Donoghue and illustrated by Paula McGloin

I think that Adventures in Philosophy – Stories & Quests for Thinking Heroes is a brilliant book. If you are a curious person who loves short stories then this is the book for you, and you learn all about philosophy and philosophers without even realising it.

The book is divided into three sections: Part 1: Step into the Unknown, Part 2: Discover New Trails of Thought, and Part 3: Return Home to Begin Again. Then the three sections are divided into smaller sections which include a beautiful illustration, then a mythical story, then a conclusion to the story with a couple of questions to make you wonder, and after there are the thoughts of lots of famous philosophers on the subject. The illustrations are amazing and make me almost want this book to be a picture book, almost. I hope you enjoy this book immensely if you read it, and have great adventures in philosophy.

Part 1: Step into the Unknown says it all in the title, as the heroes set off into the unknown, on the start of their adventure. The introduction to it is very touching and really makes you feel confident. The heroes are all different but are all courageous and confident in their own way. I really liked stories 6. Plato’s Cave which is all about reality and 7. The Brain in the tank.

Part 2: Discover New Trails of Thought is the part when you’re really starting to ponder on all these questions. The stories that I love lots are 1. A different kind of Hero: Theseus and the Minotuar, which is a very confusing story but very enjoyable all the same, and 6. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Opening Pandora’s Box which really makes me wonder whether humans are doing the right thing or not. I really like this part because it is very questioning and amazing.

Part 3: Return Home to Begin Again… is when the heroes come back to their homes. My favourite stories are 8. The Animals Return: The Coming of the Buffalo Dance because it’s all about animals but it’s sort of a sad story too and of course 9. Adventuring Home to Earth. I think this story is actually my favourite one out of all of them because it’s linked with the very first mythical story in the book The Frog in the Well but I won’t spoil it for you!

This book made me think of a lot of questions such as:

  • What life is there after death?
  • What is death?
  • What is good and bad? And how can we live a good life?
  • And what is art and why do we make art?
  • What should we do about the planet and the environment?

Finally, the question came up a few times – should we eat animals? Is there a respectful way to live with animals but still eat animals without being greedy? Such as the way it is discussed in some of the stories such as “The Animals Depart: The Hunter and the Fox-woman” or “The Animals Return: the Coming of the Buffalo Dance”. And do these questions help with today’s problems with the environment?

These are hard questions and there is probably no right or wrong answer. We need to think about questions like these and I think that philosophy can help us. Some of the stories even show us how to be in harmony with nature and the environment which is really important nowadays with climate change and environmental disasters. Philosophy can seem a bit strange and useless on its own, as we’re not used to thinking like that, but this book shows us how to use philosophy to look at everyday problems.

I hope you enjoy this book and have a great adventure in the forest of your mind. I loved this book and I hope you will too.

Lena Muzellec is eleven years old, and in sixth class in her primary school in Dublin. Her favourite hobbies include playing camogie and chickens, reading and hanging out with friends.

Did you know that Cassandra Voices has just published a print annual containing our best articles, stories, poems and photography from 2018? It’s a big book! To find out where you can purchase it, or order it, email admin@cassandravoices.com

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