The picture book Why, written by Lindsay Camp and illustrated by Tony Ross, is one of those books that illuminates in many ways the whole point of doing philosophy with children. The story is about Lily, who, in response to virtually anything that happens, asks the question, “Why?” Her dad tries to respond to her questioning, but sometimes, “when he was a bit tired or too busy,” he’d say only, “It just does, Lily. It just does.”
One day a giant spaceship lands and the aliens that emerge from the ship announce that their mission is to destroy the planet. Terrified, no one responds, except Lily, who asks, of course, “Why?” After a series of “why” questions, the aliens realize that they don’t know why, and they leave.
Can questions save the planet? Asking “why” all the time can be really irritating, but not asking it can be dangerous.