Do You Know You Have Hands?

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Area: Other Areas
Grade Level: High School & Beyond, Middle School, Preschool, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: Epistemology
Estimated Time Necessary: 20-30 minutes

Lesson Plan

Questioning what is taken for granted and introduce epistemology.
To help students practice questioning what is normally taken for granted and to introduce them to epistemology.

Philosophers question what others take for granted. Asking young people whether they know they have hands (or feet, eyes, or ears) can be a wonderful way to have fun while practicing careful thinking.

Start by asking “Do you know you have hands?” If the child responds, “Of course I know I have hands!” you can ask them why. They might reply that they can see them. Now  is your time to get creative about things we see that are not always real. For example, I see Mt. Rainier from a window, and it looks like it is six inches tall. Might my eyes be wrong about that? If they are wrong about that, then couldn’t they be wrong about us having hands?

We can cast the same kind of doubt on all our senses. See if you and the children manage to convince yourselves you do know you have hands or if you decide you may never know whether you have hands!