Philosophy involves the study of fundamental problems regarding reality, existence, reason, mind, etc., in order to gain a deeper understanding about the world we live in. This gives rise to a multitude of questions, some of which are easily answered, some have no definite answers, while a few give rise to further questions.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
In a way, philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge, undertaken in order to evolve intellectually. The knowledge being pursued could belong to any field, no matter how trivial or profound. It provides a platform to speculate about everything that can be observed and perceived, ranging from metaphysics to morality. Many of these queries can be solved by logical reasoning; however, the answers to a few others remain elusive.
While such philosophical investigations expand our horizons in terms of wisdom, those few elusive areas either give puzzling answers or give rise to further questions. These questions, whose answers lie beyond our scope of comprehension, arise due to the complex nature of the Universe we inhabit. This complexity, in turn, is reflected in the way we perceive and understand ourselves and our environment. A few of such thought provoking questions about society are listed below.
Philosophical Questions About Society
Is stealing ethical, if carried out in order to feed a starving family?
Why are some belief systems called “mythologies”, while others “religions”?
If the standard of living of a population steadily improves, does the wide gap between the rich and poor still matter?
We live in society according to logical, theological, and cultural norms and rules. Can we still claim that we have free will?
What is happiness in reality? And why must we strive and struggle in order to achieve it?
If a day is spent doing enjoyable activities instead of working, is it a day well spent or a day wasted?
Some behavioral traits can be condemned by a certain community, while being perfectly acceptable by a different society. Hence, what dictates and decides acceptable behavior in a society?
In a culture that teaches its people to respect their elders, must one still show respect in a case where the elder is unworthy of being respected?
Since every person has more or less a unique world-view, the way they perceive objects in situations is also unique. Therefore, how does one know for sure if what they perceive is true or an illusion?
Would you be better or worse off if you knew your future? And does the mere act of knowing your future instantly change your actual future?
Does success compensate for value or morality?
What makes us human and what is our purpose in life, other than that of propagating our species?
Does the physical world really exist or is it just a virtual reality created by our brains?
What is death and in what form do we exist, if we exist at all, after death?
Does God or a God-like higher power exist?
Is failing at something worse than not attempting it in the first place?
How do we decide to be something or someone, without ever trying to be anything else first?
Why are people sometimes hesitant in pursuing what they desire the most?
What makes each human unique?
Is it alright to do something wrong, if no one knows or finds out about it?
Does the end always justify the means?
Can wrong actions be excused and accepted if the outcome is for the greater good of the society?
“Money can’t buy happiness“, but can one ever truly be happy without money?
Do we have a soul? What happens to it after the physical body dies?
What is intelligence? Is it defined by prowess over academic knowledge or by the way one carries out their day-to-day affairs?
Is it easier to love or be loved?
Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?
Why must all individuals conform to the gender roles described by society?
Does extraterrestrial life exist?
Where and how do thoughts originate?
What is the relationship between the mind and the body?
Who decides what the society perceives to be right and wrong?
Does it matter if a person is moral or not, if he/she is truly happy?
Is time a physical entity or a metaphysical entity?
Is it better to die fighting for your beliefs or to sit patiently waiting for an opportunity to induce change?
Is it better to be a dysfunctional person in a functional society, or to be one of the people running a profoundly dysfunctional society?
How much money would it take for you to kill or harm another human being?
Is it better to let someone be exploited and live with the guilt of having done nothing? Or is it better to intervene and sacrifice yourself, causing the survivor to feel guilty for the loss of your life?
If telling lies is frowned upon, why do we as a society condone the use of white lies?
Who are we, apart from the names, nationalities, and other social attributes? At the core, who are we and what defines who we are?
It is healthy for individuals to retrospect and meditate on the philosophical aspects of life as they allow them to evolve and become better people. This is perfectly captured in the words of Leo Babauta, an advocate of the Zen school of thought:
“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.”