Sunday, February 8, 2015

Presuppositions


When we ask such questions as "What is time?" or “What is being?” or “What is the relation between mind and matter?” what kinds of presuppositions are we making?
      Are we already presupposing the answers we hope to provide to such questions? Are we presupposing that there are indeed answers to such questions? Are we presupposing that such questions can be explored metaphysically, analytically, empirically, or scientifically?
      When we ask such questions as “Is lying always wrong?” or "Is there life after death?" or “Is there such a thing as a ‘good war’?” are we presupposing, first of all, that it is indeed possible to ask such questions? That is to say, are we presupposing that such questions make sense or have meaning? Are we presupposing our own ability to articulate and meaningfully investigate such questions? Are we presupposing that such questions have not already been answered?
      When we ask such questions as "What is fairness?" or “What is justice?” or "How can fairness and justice best be achieved in society?" are we also presupposing the existence of counter-questions to such questions? Are we presupposing the existence of counter-answers to whatever answers we might try to provide?
       And when we ask such questions as “What is the relation between language and thought?” or "Is there a language of thought?" or ”Are the limits of language the same as the limits of thought?” what might be our motives for asking such questions? Do we suppose that we may actually be able to answer such questions? Do we actually want answers or are we more concerned with the questioning itself? Are the questions themselves more important to us than being able to find the answers?
     Are we also presupposing that the questions we are asking are the right ones or are better than other questions we might ask?
      When we ask such questions as “Is predestination compatible with free will?” or “Why does God allow evil to exist?” or “Is faith compatible with reason?” are we already presupposing that such questions are relevant to our own situation at this particular time or moment in history? Are we presupposing that such questions have not already been asked by other individuals or have not already been examined by individuals better qualified than ourselves to fully evaluate them?
      And what kinds of presuppositions are we making by describing such questions as "philosophical questions"? What is it precisely that makes such questions "philosophical"? Are we perhaps unfairly presupposing what philosophy is and what kinds of questions it should be concerned with?
      Are we also presupposing that there is someone other than ourselves to whom our questions may be addressed? Are we presupposing that there is someone other than ourselves to whom, or for whom, our questions may have some relevance or meaning? Someone willing to listen to the answers we are trying to provide? Someone who has not already fully explored and investigated the questions we are asking? Someone who may in fact be able to provide her own answers to those questions?
      

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