Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The perils of precocity

Last night at dinner my 4 year old daughter asked me about death.

"Do all princesses grow old?" she asked.

"But I don't want to die!" she said, knowing, it seems, full well what that meant.

"We might go on to something else after we die," I offered.

"Oh." She thought about that for a while.

My son doesn't seem concerned about any of this, although he does occasionally ask me what the biggest number is. (He also wants to know about the biggest dinosaur and the fastest rocket.) I usually ask him to name the largest number he can think of, and then point out that I can always add one to that to get an even larger number.

When I was a kid I spent a lot of nights pondering life and death and infinity. I still do.


Tom V said...

Nice post

Thank you for sharing it.

Unknown said...

Nice pic too !!

Max said...

Infinity is interesting .Death imho is much less so. Death of a system is basically reverting back toward entropy state, unorganized chaos

In a case with humans "you" is a really a sum of your neural circuits forming your memory and information processing network.

Julianne said...

My favorite part is her certainty that she is a princess :)

Ian Smith said...

Yet you've wasted your ability on trivia.

You would have gone into mol bio had you been moral.

Unknown said...

I told my daughter that being a princess is all about watching and waiting for other people to do things. She lost interest, and took up doing things herself instead.

anon said...

SENS escape velocity + cryonic suspension backup = your princess might never have to grow old.

Shining Wit said...

Thinking about existence, death, and purpose is a perennial trap for the precocious. Being able to obtain a heightened level of abstraction can be dangerously enervating. I'd venture a guess that much unused cognitive potential is squandered due to bright minds unable to emerge from ennui.

Anonymous said...

Process descriptions ("add 1 to number x") are always finite. Infinity only comes into play when a mathematician begins waving his hands and making oneself self-important through jargon.

Perhaps kids should be told early on that a mathematician's (and theologian's) concept of "existence" often does not match anything that can be perceived in the "empirical world".

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