Always good with a difficult question, Mr4 surpassed himself yesterday.
“How do you know something is real?” he asked.
Immediately, I was transported back to Philosophy 101 at Sydney University during my much-briefer-than-it-should-have-been flirtation with an Arts degree. A dark, institutional-green room. Cold. Full of mature-age students (I went to uni at 20, after I’d started my cadetship).
I wanted to read the texts, have a quick chat, go home. Everyone else wanted to debate the nature of a chair ad nauseum, working on the theory that if they spoke the loudest, they’d win the argument.
My mind flicked back and forth through remembered snippets of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle. How does ‘I think therefore I am’ relate to reality? Perception versus reality? I remember doing something on beauty. What makes us beautiful? Is something innately beautiful, or do we make it so?
None of this proves helpful. Mr4 is still looking at me, questioning, wondering. I think some more.
He is four.
“If you can touch it, it’s real,” I finally say.
“Oh, okay,” he says, turning back to LazyTown.
Conversation over. And I didn’t even have to bring up Alla Hoo Hoo. If only everything in life were so simple.