A philosophical wobble about ‘Inside Out’

I have recently discovered the ‘philosophical wobble’ as part of my philosophical inquiry (PI) training, which is a point of contention in your mind where there are no clear answers to questions but instead raise more questions. Yesterday, Talon (Mr 8) and family went to see the new Pixar animated film, Inside Out.   It definitely left me with a few wobbles. I found it to be highly entertaining, but I left the theatre feeling torn because there were missed opportunities.

Inside Out is specifically about a young girl, Riley, who is struggling after her family moves from one city to another. The inner workings of her mind are illustrated through characters representing her emotions: Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness. These emotions staff a control room of her mind. Normally Joy (voiced by the amazing Amy Poehler) is in charge of the happy, pre-adolescent Riley’s brain, but the move causes a big upset in the balance of her psyche, which is the focus of the movie.  

This two minute trailer will give you a great snap-shot, if you haven’t seen it yet.


Two of the emotions get lost in the darkest corners of her mind. This leaves three emotions in control and they need to work together to maintain a balance in Riley’s life. They don’t succeed. They try a variety of different methods but alas, nothing they do works and ultimately, the entire control centre shuts down. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, then give up because anything else you do is pointless’ seemed to be the underpinning message of this aspect of the movie.

Inside Out provided plenty of fertile ground for PI–style open-ended dialogue with Mr 8. We were able to talk about the different emotions and what it means to have control. We also discussed how everyone is unique and how we all handle situations differently. One amazing thing about open-ended dialogue with a small person is the realisation that they can have an excellent grasp of what we traditionally consider ‘grown-up’ concepts. 

At the end of the movie there was a three-minute segment through the credits, which showed the control centres within various characters. It was brilliant. I really enjoyed the movie and recommend that you watch it with a small person, so that you can have a philosophical conversation.