University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer

Field of Philosophy: Epistemology; Metaphysics

Plot Summary: The “obstinate pen” is a pen with a mind of its own. Each adult who ends up with the pen finds that it won't write what the adult intends, but instead writes what seem to be the pen's own thoughts and observations, which are often insulting and consistently hilarious. For example, Uncle Flood wants to write his first sentence with his new pen: The following story is all true. The pen instead writes: You have a big nose! However, when Horace finds and admires the pen, it lets him draw what he wants.

Some discussion questions:

Where do thoughts come from?
Do we always do what we intend?
What is the relationship between what we intend and our actions?
Do we have control over our thoughts? Over our actions?
What is the mind?
What kinds of things have minds?
Can a pen have a mind? A table? A plant? An ant? An infant?
Do we express ourselves differently in drawing than in words? If yes, how?
Why do you think the pen let Horace draw what he wanted to draw?