Here are superbly imaginative treatments of logical principles, the uses and meanings of words, the functions of names, the perplexities connected with time and space, the problem of personal identity, the status of substance in relation to its qualities, the mindbody problem . . . .
This passage is taken from Roger W. Holmes’s “The Philosopher’s Alice in Wonderland. Holmes discusses a number of philosophical problems, which appear in a variety of forms in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He delights in the pedagogical potential of Lewis Carroll’s work: “Most often Carroll uses the absurd hilarity of Wonderland to bring difficult concepts into sharp focus; and for this gift teachers of logic and philosophy have unmeasured admiration and gratitude.” Writing in 1959, Holmes might well have been able to expect that many, and perhaps even most, students would have read one or both stories before arriving at university. Drawing upon the fantastic comical examples from Carroll’s books, a teacher of philosophy and literature might both instruct and delight students, drawing them into a deeper discussion of questions and ideas, and initiating the journey that is liberal education.
A professor today teaching first-year students cannot realistically expect them to have read Carroll’s books. In fact, it would be difficult to name any particular book students could be expected to have read. And yet a shared set of images…