Living the questions I

The answers are not nearly as important as the questions we ask.

Andria Hanim, who seems to have been inspired by my blog, has inspired me to fulfill the tagline of my blog more fully. Every week, I’ve decided, I will post at least three questions, practical or academics-related or whatever, related to what I am thinking on, reading about, and/or discussing that week.

If this gets too inane and navel-gazy, I will stop. But I think that, as The Art of Powerful Questions argues, there is value in being able to ask questions well. Please feel free to respond to any question or to write down your own question(s) in the comments.

• If we are to have international human rights laws, what is the metaphysical basis for those laws (given that not everyone has a shared faith or shared conception of human nature/the good life) and who will enforce them?

• What is progress? Does it exist? What are we progressing toward? Who defines what is progress and what is regression?

• Is it possible to separate the form of an artwork from its content, to appreciate one while ignoring the other? I am thinking of Eminem-type songs which are catchy but ethically dubious. Is it morally wrong to enjoy artwork that glorifies violence? How broadly do we define artwork in this case–are video games artwork? Is distinguishing between artistic form and content even valid? Maybe the “how” of an artwork is just as important as the “what.”

• Why do people use violence to solve conflict? Why do we write our history based on periods of violent conflict? Why do periods of peace, as Hegel said, appear as “blank pages in history”?

• What is the difference between love and infatuation?


2 thoughts on “Living the questions I

  1. Martin Huennekens October 3, 2010 / 5:54 am

    I like the goal. three questions might be too many. this was at least four.
    I can only think about as far as the first two questions. I got that far because they seem related to me. The second question supersedes the first or maybe it just tells you how to answer the first. I say no, there is no such “thing” as progress, at least not a thing that is anything like the definition of the word progress. The political or social word “progress” is the defining issue. This states what we value and how we will determine laws and who gets to enforce them. If a society values the progress of capital you get money as the absolute and growth of material, bourgeois society. It is this philosophical base that tells how the first question is to be answered.
    I wish we were talking about this. I do not feel like I am communicating it well in the comments section.


    • C. Puls October 4, 2010 / 9:37 pm

      I agree. Two questions a week from now on.
      Thanks for trying to get your thoughts out. I think I get what you’re saying and I like the connection you found between the first questions.
      As I see it, progress can only exist within the framework of a given value system/comprehensive doctrine/faith/theory. Capitalism can tell us whether or not we are making progress within the bounds of capitalism, based on the standards of that value system. It cannot tell us whether the move to capitalism from another -ism (mercantilism?) is progress or regression. And indeed this need and inability to adjudicate between value systems poses a (potential) problem for international human rights, or even social justice within a democracy/pluralistic society.


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