How to make a good philosophical question.

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Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:25 pm
How do you make a good philosophical question?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:44 pm
@astrotheological,
We often don't question ourselves or ask others questions. But to make a post that states something, well, you 'think' it and then you 'write' it.
 
iconoclast
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 03:03 pm
@Holiday20310401,
astrotheological,

First, find a question that's impossible to answer and then get out your thesaurus, and translate it into the most arcane language you can find. If arcane language is insufficiently obscure, make up words for things as you go along. Write lots. It doesn't matter so much what you say, but that you are a) obscure, and b) verbose - where a is in this sense a multifactoral regularized conditional of b, if a is taken in the literal sense, and b in the intersubjective present tense particular of the non-conjunctive verb. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot, learn condescension, and soak every sentance in it. Use lots of 'obviously's' and 'of course's' - and if you can work in some algebra, super, that always helps.

iconoclast.
 
astrotheological
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 03:05 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
We often don't question ourselves or ask others questions. But to make a post that states something, well, you 'think' it and then you 'write' it.


Thats why I put it on the young philosophers forum.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 08:47 am
@astrotheological,
Plato makes, in one of the early dialogues, Sokrates ask of his friends, "well, what IS justice?" Each of them proposes a definition, but they find none of them adequate, and the dialogue ends inconclusively (aporia). Yet the discussion clarifies and deepens our understanding of the problem.
Heidegger often titles his shorter works with a question (What is Called Thinking?) or begins his writing with one ("Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" in his Introduction of Metaphysics) and allows his meditations to unfold.
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason asks the question, are synthetic a priori judgements possible?
Nietzsche begins Beyond Good and Evil with the question, "Suppose truth to be a woman, what then?" And Wittgenstein, in Philosphical Investigations, asks in all seriousness whether a philosophy could not consist in nothing but a series of questions, and his own favorite punction mark is the "?".

Both Plato (Theaetetus,155c-d) and Aristotle (Metaphysics 982b) agree that the origin of philosophy begins in "wonder" or "uncertainty" or "puzzlement." The latter writes that men were first led to study philosophy by wonder and this perplexity led to the belief they were ignorant, and consequently took to philosophy to escape ignorance.


"How do you make a good philosophical question?" seems on the face of it both simple and naive--- but it is the opposite, at once profound and in its questioning, is a question about what philosophy is.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 10:03 am
@iconoclast,
iconoclast wrote:
First, find a question that's impossible to answer and then get out your thesaurus, and translate it into the most arcane language you can find. If arcane language is insufficiently obscure, make up words for things as you go along. Write lots. It doesn't matter so much what you say, but that you are a) obscure, and b) verbose - where a is in this sense a multifactoral regularized conditional of b, if a is taken in the literal sense, and b in the intersubjective present tense particular of the non-conjunctive verb. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot, learn condescension, and soak every sentance in it. Use lots of 'obviously's' and 'of course's' - and if you can work in some algebra, super, that always helps.


Oh... this is precious. I about fell out laughing. It seems a good number of folks I've seen here have followed this to the letter. Haha... awesome
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 04:10 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Oh... this is precious. I about fell out laughing. It seems a good number of folks I've seen here have followed this to the letter. Haha... awesome

Guilty as charged..
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 11:59 pm
@Arjen,
I would say I am guilty as well, but I only use a thesaurus when I keep repeating a bland word over and over again. Typically I find myself using a dictionary so I know I am using words in the context I desire. On the other hand, I probably am guilty of using obscure language due to studying and examining vocabulary and its usage, and thus, some seems rather obscure to someone with limited vocabulary. There is a major difference between being too wordy and not making a point, and coming across as being wordy and making a point.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 07:28 am
@Theaetetus,
In the beginning, we are told, was the word. The earliest philosophers, who bridged the difference between cosmology and poetry on the one hand, and philosophical accounts on the other, attempted to express their positions with common words. One may take the four elements as an example or Heraclitus's maxim that the soul is "fire."
But it is with Plato and Aristotle that thinking took a great leap forward. First, Socrates and Plato understood the dialectic inquiry to be about the clarification of words and concepts, and asked such questions as "what is justice?" The dialogue used words and was about words and their distinctions in meaning. Plato's use of Forms (or, Ideas) was an attempt to take a common word and give it a philosophical meaning. A second great leap, one perhaps decisive for philosophical thinking, was Aristotle's providing philosophy with its own specialised vocabulary. [Just as science and technology have found the need to employ specialised meanings for common words, so too has philosophy.]

A philosopher attempts to explain the common world in an uncommon way and his explanation cannot be a mere repetition or description of opinion, because it begins in questioning the obvious. Could it explain the obvious only remaining in the language of the obvious? Not without the greatest confusion.

Like poetry, it too is a making of a world by using words in special meanings or with unique significance, but unlike---perhaps just the opposite---poetry, philosophy wants to clarify, to make itself distinct. Both demand of their readers an effort, a thoughtful engagement with the writer's words, and a rethinking of the obvious.
 
Billy phil
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 06:00 am
@jgweed,
a scientific question is one which can be answered by conducting an experiment or other empirical means.

philosophical questions have adequate and inadequate answers, but no final answer.
 
William
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 10:49 am
@iconoclast,
iconoclast wrote:
astrotheological,

First, find a question that's impossible to answer and then get out your thesaurus, and translate it into the most arcane language you can find. If arcane language is insufficiently obscure, make up words for things as you go along. Write lots. It doesn't matter so much what you say, but that you are a) obscure, and b) verbose - where a is in this sense a multifactoral regularized conditional of b, if a is taken in the literal sense, and b in the intersubjective present tense particular of the non-conjunctive verb. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot, learn condescension, and soak every sentance in it. Use lots of 'obviously's' and 'of course's' - and if you can work in some algebra, super, that always helps.

iconoclast.


Of course it can only be assumed by offering such an opinion you have researched the the esoteric rhetoric of those whose knowledge is self evident that leads them to assume offering their mind boggling hypotheses will be beyond reproach, and will surely, inasmuch as it will never be fully understood stand as an axiom of truth until a more articulate mind ventures to rebutt it making it more confusing. Eh, what was the question?
:perplexed:
William

P.S. Why do I feel so damn guilty? My stuff makes sense to me.
 
madel
 
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 02:36 pm
@William,
*Hearts iconoclast already*

This is actually a really good question, and I have to admit that I'm drawing on my paper-writing/journalism experience to answer it, because forming a good philosophical question is, to my mind, just the same as forming a good question of any other sort.

(Oh, iconoclast, you forgot to add that we have to add plenty of caveats, on the 'off' chance we're wrong about something... Wink ).

So I suppose it depends on from angle one is coming from. I'll assume that we're 'advising' someone who has a vague idea that they have a question about something philosophical, but nothing much more than that.

I'd say the process goes something like this:
1) Inkling that something is not as one had presumed.
2) meditate on said inkling, determining what its nature is.
3) Pin down what happened/what one heard that caused one to question one's position (helps in the information gathering process).
4) Ask oneself, "What is it that I'm confused/concerned about?" and answer using as many precise words as possible
5) At this point it's a matter of turning it around making the question as precise as one can for one's purposes. For example, it's one thing to ask "Is there a God?" (unanswerable and not much of a conversation starter, really...to vague) and quite another to ask "If there is a God, and that god is an omnipotent, benevolent being, what would have to be true about the world and that being?" (gives plenty of parameters for discussion and gives us something firm to work with with regards to actually finding some answers. Maybe not the answer to life, the world and everything, but maybe we'll have a better idea at the end of the discussion when a benevolent, omnipotent being is a being we ourselves can believe may exist).

To summarize, I guess, the goal in forming a philosophical question is to make it as precise as possible, giving it parameters to work within and something firm to discuss.
 
Ennui phil
 
Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2008 09:19 pm
@astrotheological,
astrotheological wrote:
How do you make a good philosophical question?
It all depends on your power of philosophizing and reading.If you are with tenacity then you would be gallant enough to philosophizize.Smile
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2008 08:21 am
@Ennui phil,
Madel's fifth point is well worth thinking about. There is first the questioning (Is there a God), and then the framing of the question so that it can be answered.
Both in our own thinking about the general question, and then in our posing it, we may follow Descartes' advice to break it down into smaller, and more easily handled, questions. These help clarify the general question and allow us to consider it from different perspectives or viewpoints. Very often, the first in the series of questions attempts to clarify "what do we mean by..." or "what have been the historical viewpoints about..."
 
 

 
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