At some point in your life, you may have asked difficult questions though perhaps you never discussed them to anyone. The fifth question in the entry point is a good example of such questions. To think about it is to engage in a philosophical reflection because it compels us to look at a particular experience from a wider perspective. It is not an ordinary question, but a truly difficult one.
The thing is, no amount of research would be able to provide a definite and conclusive answer to some questions that puzzle us. Yet they are the kind of questions that endure. We ask them every now and then. Sometimes, we think we have found the answer, only to find ourselves asking the question again. At other times, we get distracted and evade the question until some situations bring us back to asking it again. Unless we deal with such kind of questions by engaging in reflection, the problem such questions raise will not go away.
Difficult questions that do not have definite answers like the ones we have been describing are significant. They are questions that matter to us for they reflect our desire to understand or at least make sense of our experiences. The answers we find directly affect the way we go through life. These sort of questions are called philosophical. When we ponder on a philosophical question, we are engaged in a philosophical reflection. Philosophy allows us the freedom to ask even those questions that others believe to already have a definite answer. Movies, songs, and literatures are examples of creative ways of asking a philosophical question. For instance, “What is love?” is often asked implicitly or explicitly in various art forms. Philosophy, on the other hand, does not dictate conclusive or final answers to philosophical questions. As you perhaps already know, love is not something that can be exhausted with a definition.
When we ask a philosophical question, we do not simply inquire about a specific question that is triggered by certain situations. A philosophical question always contains a bigger problem. For example, in asking the question “Why am I here?” (which is not to be interpreted as ignorance of human biology or of physics), the person that is inquiring is actually concerned with the bigger or universal problem of human existence. It is similar to asking “Why do I exist?” and “What am I here for?” which express a search for meaning. Such questions are not only personally significant; they are also all-encompassing. The answer one finds will determine his/her choices in life.
Not to ask a philosophical question is to go through life confused and lost. There are things we encounter in this world that are simply puzzling and unsettling. Perhaps you can relate with some of these questions as examples of questions that keep us wondering.
We may ask the following questions:
- Why does man work at the expense of health?
- Why is love complicated?
- Why do people have to die?
- Why can’t my parents understand me?
- Why do people say that ‘forever’ is not altogether real in love and relationships?
The only solution to such philosophical questions is to ask them. The search for answers only begins the moment we ask a philosophical question.