5 Philosophical Questions Life Forces You to Answer

Like it or not, life makes philosophers of us all. You may hate philosophy, but you can’t escape it. You can — as many people do — outsource how you answer these questions, but that still requires a decision.

5.) How do I know a thing is true?  Sometimes the answer is self-evident, but, more often then people acknowledge, it’s not. This is exacerbated by the confusion of subjective truth (a personal “truth”) with objective truth (the universally true.)

Some people relinquish decision to an authority — be it a teacher, a scripture, or the scientific consensus. Some people only believe what said person’s personal experience tells them.

There is a related question of how tightly should one hold onto whatever beliefs one acts as if are true. The scientific approach suggests one should be ready to abandon something one believes is true in light of new information (assuming the new information is sound and can be validated.) Religions tend to prefer that the truths that have been handed down should be grasped firmly no matter what one sees, hears, or learns. One’s philosophical stance may take either approach, or one in between.

4.) [Who] am I?  As the brackets suggest, this is actually two questions. The full question, “Who am I?” presumes that there is a self (an I.) Some philosophies, e.g. Buddhism, reject this presumption, hence the more fundamental question of “Is there an I?”

3.) What constitutes a virtuous or moral life? Of course, some philosophies would reject the ingrained presumption that one should care, but that’s a fringe position. Maybe the more general question of “What constitutes a good life?” is a better one.

2.) What does it mean for something to be real? Some will say, “Come on. I know what’s real. I don’t need to philosophize about that?” Really? Because the best minds in the world are constantly debating this and have reached no consensus on the subject. It’s certainly possible to get through life behaving as though reality is “x,” whether or not “x” turns out to be true. But that’s very different from knowing what is true.

1.) Is there free will, and — if so — in what sense?  It feels like we have complete free will, but there are a couple of grounds on which this has been questioned. For the religious, reconciling an omnipotent god and free will takes some mental gymnastics. (If one can act completely freely, how can a god also?)

But more recently, free will has been challenged by science as well. Benjamin Libet’s work showed that “decisions” take place before people become conscious of them, and — therefore — aren’t decisions in the sense we usually understand that word (i.e. the product of conscious deliberation.) Of course, while some have argued that the repeated validation of Libet’s work shows free will is purely an illusion, there remain many who argue there are still possible ways in which some form of free will exists. (Including, apparently, Libet who believed we at least have “free won’t” even if we don’t have free will — i.e. we can consciously veto deterministic “decisions.”)

Best of luck picking — or building — your own life philosophy.

2 thoughts on “5 Philosophical Questions Life Forces You to Answer

  1. “Freedom” is what I term to be “innocence”. It’s probably a brief second, or perhaps even the smallest increment of time, before one will either discover “belonging”, or once more, become a slave.

    I once wrote this:

    “A slave has two options, and only two options, upon the time that they discover freedom. They will either discover comfort within a home, or they will discover discomfort within the workforce, and once again, be under the command of a master, a boss, or in today’s time, a ‘manager’.”

    That is, once within freedom, a person has to find shelter, and must work to survive. A person finds comfort in shelter, and discomfort in work.

    Now, a person may enjoy their job, though I’ll also view “comfort” and “discomfort” as two separating points. As one steers further into comfort, one becomes lazy. As one steers further into discomfort, one becomes burned out.

    Also, each “decision” will most certainly become a “comforting” decision, should all a society ever promote are “options” or “choices”, themselves. Without ever promoting a society to make “risky choices”, inevitably people will turn to “choices of comfort”. That is because “options” and a promotion of “options” alone, will almost always turn people into making “the same decision”. That is because it is rare that people will ever push past their own selfishness, which is a comfort of its own.

    The greatest risk in the world is to love, and to be loved, because one becomes vulnerable in such a regard. Love cannot be one-sided, though people, in today’s world, will desire “respect” more-so than love. Once again, we have “decision-making” that resonates more-so with “comfort”. Respect is a “comfort” of its own, because it poses no risk, to be respected, or to be feared, over being loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To add…

      I’ve noticed that people will state that they have not ever “improved” in their lives, and that their life, over time, has simply “changed”.

      People always seem to discuss “differences”, or “changes”, though never “improvements”, and I’ve noticed this, analyzed this, and I’ve discovered something…

      A “change” will refer more to the past, versus an “improvement” that will refer more to the future. That is, hatred is something that focuses on the past, such as vengeance, while love focuses on the future, what with forgiveness settling the past in terms of peace.

      Are people simply “changing” out of dissatisfaction, and that, alone? I believe so, and that would mean that whatever is promoting “change” and “difference” is really promoting hatred.

      Though, people don’t seem to see this.

      Liked by 1 person

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