University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Field of Philosophy: Metaphysics

Plot Summary: In this story of a stuffed rabbit and his relationship with the young boy who owns him, the little Rabbit ponders the question of what he is and whether he is real. His friend the Skin Horse tells him: “Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” The little Rabbit eventually becomes Real in this way, but then discovers other rabbits (ones with hind legs, that move on their own) who deride the little Rabbit as not being a real rabbit. The levels of reality in the story—toys that are not real, toys that become real as a result of being loved, and real things in the world that can move and act on their own—resemble in many ways the tiers of reality Plato discusses in The Republic.

Some Discussion Questions:


What does it mean to be real?
List some things you know are real? How do you know they are real?
How do you know something is real?
Is real how you are made, or is it something that happens to you?
Can loving something make it real?
If you can touch something, is it real? Give an example.
If you can see something, is it real? Give an example.
If you can smell something, is it real? Give an example.
If you can hear something, is it real? Give an example.
If you can taste something, is it real? Give an example.
If you dream about something, is it real? Give an example.
If you read about something, is it real? Give an example.

Are colors real?
Is there anything in the world that isn’t real in some way?
Are some things more real than others?