What sorts of questions do you think are worth studying even if we can never know the answers to them?Introduction to Philosophy

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is fun.  I mean, I think that this is going to be quite enjoyable.  Some questions that are worth studying, regardless of answers:

*  Who am I?

*  What shall I do?

*  How do I know I am real?  How do I know my world is real?

*  How do I know that there is a higher power?

*  Why does evil exist?

*  Why do human beings, armed with reason, cause deliberate hurt to one another?

*  What is justice?

*  What is truth?

*  What defines love?

*  Which sociological characteristic carries more "weight?"  Race, class, gender, sexual identity, physical capacity?

*  What happens after death?

*  Is there a soul?

*  How do I know if thoughts are mine?  What is "mine?"

*  How do I come to know what I know?

These are just a sampling.  Along with the other questions posed, I think that these are the types of questions that might not necessarily result in direct answers.  It is the questions that drive us, that animate us, and that generate our thoughts.  I think that these are types of questions worthy of studying, even if answers are never going to be gained.  In these questions' cases, the journey is more important than the destination.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So many novels are written on questions that cannot be answered.  For, part of the human condition is to wonder and to seek the answers to such existential questions as why man feels alienated, why, as Thomas Hardy wondered, is there some force that seems to direct life [He named it the Imminent], why does meaning depend upon sharing, why is life meaningless, how can man make his life have meaning, is man intrinsically evil, how can man live in harmony with his universe, and so on.

Some of the greatest thinkers of this country sought to answer questions that had not been yet answered.  Thomas Paine, for instance, gave answers to the questions of what are man's rights.   Benjamin Franklin, too, sought to answer how a person can improve him/herself.  And, although not all answers are found, there is much profited in the asking:  With the questioning, comes good thought that produces other knowledge, establishing a sharing for meaning in one's life.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From my own field of study, I think that it is important to ask why nations are not able to keep from going to war with one another.  This is a question that is valuable to ask even though we can never know for sure.

The question of motivations is impossible to answer.  We cannot know if nations fight because people are inherently evil or if they do so because resources are limited or whether they do so because they do not properly understand one another.

However, it is still important to ask this question.  Although we can never answer it, we may be able to understand MORE about this question.  If we understand more about it (even if we do not answer it for certain) we will have a better chance at preventing wars.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question is very philosophical in itself. There are many questions that we can ask ourselves and never really know the true answer to it. The answer may also vary from individual to individual.

For example, some questions that philosophers may inquire about are the origins of the universe. There are many theories related to this but really there is not one single person who knows a great deal about the universe in its entirety. I believe that it is good to ask ourselves questions like this because it stimulates the mind.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Sincere and serious study of any question leads to some development of understanding and knowledge, even when there is no clarity developed on answer to the question. For example the initial development of science of chemistry can be attributed to attempts to convert base metals such as iron in precious metals such as gold, and for developing some kind of elixir of life which can make people immortal. So far, even after attempts of over hundreds, or even thousands, of years no progress has been made in these directions. But the efforts for finding these led to development of a vast body of knowledge about chemical processes and chemical properties of different substances that formed the foundation of the science of chemistry.

Thus I believe asking of any sort of sincere questions which are backed by efforts to find answers are worth asking. The actual worth of the question is known only by the worth of the knowledge and understanding gained. And what this knowledge and understanding is known only when efforts are made to answer the question.