I recently saw this list in a YouTube video and wanted to take a crack at these supposed philosophical questions that we will never solve. Of course, that idea right there, that we simply can never come up with a solution to these ideas is problematic to begin with, it is an admission of failure for which people are not even going to attempt to recover from. We can point to all kinds of ideas that people have assumed could never be solved, yet eventually were, such as Fermat’s Last Theorem.
We also find in a lot of these questions, the kind of navel-noodling philosophical masturbation that I think marks modern philosophical thought. It is asking questions that really have no application and are of no import, but they sound kind of intellectual and philosophers want to get paid so they throw this absurd bullshit out there and scratch their chins thoughtfully. It’s like asking what is the sound of one hand clapping, when by definition, clapping requires two hands and without two hands, the concept has no application whatsoever. It’s a game by people who think that thinking for the sake of thinking ought to get them paid. Maybe these people need to learn to be useful.
So here’s the list and seriously, none of them are really worthwhile to the thoughtful, rational and critical thinking individual. Let’s get started.
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
I’m sure that you learned when you were young that there are five kinds of questions: What, where, how, when and why. Of those, only “why” has potential irrational, emotional implications because it assumes, often incorrectly, that there is a reason for a thing to happen. It doesn’t ask for a time or a place or a mechanism, it demands a reason and sometimes, there just are no reasons that things happen, they simply do. It seeks to answer an emotional need for purpose instead of an intellectual need for explanation. It doesn’t mean that there are never good answers, it depends on the question being asked. Why did person A kill person B? There are probably reasons that can be provided. Why is there something rather than nothing? It’s ultimately a nonsensical question to ask because so far as we can tell, it just is. There is no reason for it. Stop pondering irrational imponderables.
2. Is our universe real?
As opposed to what? Being the Matrix? While we don’t know the absolute state of the actual universe around us, at some point in time we have to simply accept what we collectively experience or there’s no point to doing anything else. It’s function over form. It’s interesting to note that people who claim that the universe isn’t real, who follow some sort of solipsistic beliefs, they still act in every regard like the universe is real. They don’t go around shooting people at random because they’re not real. They still look both ways before crossing the street, even though they claim the cars are part of the illusion. They make elaborate excuses for why they speak one way and act another. That’s hypocrisy.
3. Do we have free will?
That all depends on what you mean by free will. In virtually all debates I see on the existence of free will, the two sides are talking past each other, each having a completely different definition of the term and refusing to acknowledge the fundamental disconnect between the two sides. Personally, I think it’s a rather pointless question because whether we have ultimate free will or not, we certainly have functional free will. I suppose that if there were some way to know everything about everything in the universe all the time, we could predict what people are going to do with an amazingly high degree of accuracy, but since we can’t and almost certainly never will, it’s a pointless conundrum. I have the ability to make choices in the real world. I’m going to call that free will. If you want to sit at the top of a mountain and ponder the idea, feel free.
4. Does God exist?
There’s no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim, therefore it is asinine to believe that it is true. The people who believe it are acting out of emotion, not intellect and while we will probably not be able to answer the question to any degree of absolute certainty, we don’t actually operate with absolute certainty in the real world. It’s an unrealistic expectation. I can’t say for absolutely certain that there are or are not gods, any more than I can say for absolutely certain that there are or are not unicorns. However, I can reject belief in said entities until someone can both define them coherently and produce objective evidence that they actually do exist. It hasn’t been done yet, therefore I do not believe.
5. Is there life after death?
Not as far as we can tell and we can only operate on the information that we have right now. If some better evidence suggesting an afterlife comes along, we can evaluate that evidence and perhaps change our minds. The only reason anyone believes in an afterlife now is because they are terrified of death. An emotional reaction to demonstrable reality is not a good starting point for a valid belief. This is another case where believers need to actually back up their claims in order to make it reasonable to take those claims seriously. They have not done so.
6. Can you really experience anything objectively?
No, probably not because all of reality is filtered through our sensory organs and we know that our sensory organs are neither perfectly accurate, nor especially wide in scope. We only see in a narrow band. We only hear in a narrow band. Our sense of touch is only so fine. We may not even know our limitations because our ability to see beyond our limitations is by definition limited. It’s like having a color blind person living on an island of other color blind people, being unable to tell that color exists because they have no experience with it and can only compare their observations to others with the same affliction. Yes, eventually they might create a machine that can differentiate between colors that might lead them to the truth, but while they are lacking that technology, does that mean colors don’t really exist? That doesn’t make anything that we do useless because again, we are not shooting for absolute certainty or absolute perfection, we are doing the best we can with what we have at the moment and continually refining our knowledge as time goes on.
7. What is the best moral system?
Who says there is one? All morality is subjective, it is based on the wishes and desires of the particular society or community involved. We know that morals and ethics change and shift over time, there is no best system because all systems require axioms and assumptions that are inherently subjective to begin with.
8. What are numbers?
Numbers are subjective conceptual representations of groups of objects. Humans came up with mathematics as a means of representing observations made about reality. They aren’t a thing. They are an idea. Numbers, like colors and many other definitive concepts, have no real world existence but exist to describe the characteristics of the real world. Of course, plenty of philosophers want to navel gaze and pretend to be intellectual, but it’s a pretty pointless question to ask.
So there you go, these are good examples of why I don’t take a lot of modern philosophy seriously, they fail for the same reason the religious fail, because they’d rather drift through the abyss scratching their heads than actually do something useful for society. Does anyone have any more philosophical questions they want an answer to? Send them my way.