Sunday 30 September 2007

Mysticism versus rationalism: a tale of two sisters

Is it possible that each of us is genetically predisposed to either mysticism or rationalism? As a case in point, here’s a conversation I recently overheard between my two daughters (aged 3 and 5) – a clear case of unflinchingly nihilistic rationalism versus unwaveringly optimistic mysticism:

Younger sister: I would love to see a shooting star.
Older sister: Why?
Younger sister: So I could make a wish.
Older sister: What would you wish for?
Younger sister: A pony!
Older sister: But, you know, there aren’t any real shooting stars.
Younger sister: Yes there are!
Older sister: No, there aren’t. We call them shooting stars, but they’re just little pieces of space-rock coming through the atmosphere. [Gleefully] Just ugly pieces of rock.
Younger sister: Oh. [Long pause] Well, I will wish for a shooting star then.


Anonymous said...

"Disenchantment" at five. O tempora, O mores!

Anonymous said...

This is what Derrida would call the "infinite deferral of the wish".

David W. Congdon said...


I see you've been feeding your older daughter Bultmann! She's already using science to demythologize children's wishful dreams.

Though I have to ask: is this a redacted account or did your daughter really talk about "little pieces of space rock?" If so, impressive!

derek said...

"A redacted account"

-That is hilarious!

Ben Myers said...

"A redacted account" -- yeah, that's a typical rationalist thing to say....


Guy Davies said...

Reminds me of an exchange between my son and his little sister a while back.

Big bro: Anyway, Father Christmas doesn't exist!

Lil' sis: Yeah, but Santa Claus does!

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