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Philosophers have long written about childhood, often extensively. Their theories of childhood both express and shape their larger philosophies of ethics, politics, rationality, and human nature. Western philosophies of childhood do not develop in a historical progression; rather, they take diverse forms across different times and places. Likewise, they are informed in many different ways by culture, religion, and history. This entry introduces, in historical order, some of the more influential philosophies of childhood from the dawn of ancient Greek philosophy to the present. It includes both philosophical and theological perspectives, which are not always historically distinct. It focuses particularly on philosophers who not only write at length about childhood but who are also significant philosophers in the historical canon.

Ancient Philosophers

Ancient philosophers, writing from the ...

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