Philosophy on the raising of children

Here’s some quotes from the great philosophers on what to do with children.

First, Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic, 4BC to 65AD.

“Mad dogs we knock on the head; the fierce and savage ox, we slay; sickly sheep we put to the knife to keep them from infecting the flock; unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal. It is not anger but reason which separated the harmful from the sound” (On Anger 1.15.2)

Ouch. Total lack of mercy there. Surely the Greek philosophers offer a better way? What about Aristotle?

“Let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared.” (Politics 7.14.10)

Hmm. OK. Plato then? Nope. He said that defective children should be “done away with” (Republic, written 4BC).

Against this backdrop, Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. Mercy is the way in which God deals with the world.


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