Tiger-Tiger, is it True?
By Byron Katie and Hans Wilhelm
When Tiger-Tiger has a bad day, he starts thinking that nobody likes him or cares about him. But when wise Turtle shows-up and asks him how he knows these things to be true, Tiger-Tiger discovers that it is only his own thoughts that are making him unhappy.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
Tiger-Tiger, is it True? raises a lot of ideas about the nature of our thoughts and feelings. It is the story of a little tiger who believes that no one likes him or cares about him, and continues to find evidence to prove the truth of this thought throughout the course of his day, until his belief is brought into question. It turns out that when he takes a step back from the frightening thought, he can find plenty of evidence to disprove it as well.
The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge and thought, and how we know what we know, is called epistemology. The well-known philosopher Rene Descartes sought systematically to doubt everything, and thus find some certainty, something that he could not doubt, and construct a “theory of knowledge” from there.
Tiger-Tiger takes a different epistemological approach to constructing his own “theory of knowledge”. He learns to disprove his upsetting thoughts by finding evidence that they are untrue. When Tiger-Tiger tells Turtle, “nobody cares about me”, Turtle helps Tiger-Tiger to see that he doesn’t have good evidence for this belief, for his parents do things that show that they do love him.
How can we know whether any of our thoughts are true? The purpose of this philosophical discussion is to get the children thinking about thoughts and feelings, and/or how they find good evidence for their beliefs. They might veer off in an entirely different direction, wanting to discuss the way that Tiger-Tiger was left-out on the playground, or times that they have felt sad and lonely. That is okay too, follow their lead, and try to help them deepen their discussion and eventually come to talking about ideas rather than events.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
Tiger-Tiger realized it wasn’t true that nobody liked him or cared about him.
Tiger-Tiger thought that no one liked him or cared about him.
Tiger-Tiger felt upset when he thought that no one liked him or cared about him.