Are all questions philosophical?

Charity asked:

Are all questions philosophical?

Answer by Peter Jones

Hi Charity,

I would say yes. This is for reasons given by Russell. He notes that all our sentences take the form ‘There is an x such that…’ In other words, our sentences require the reification of their subjects. Any such reification is a metaphysical conjecture. It is very difficult to avoid such a reification and it may be impossible. Is London the capital of England? Only if Solipsism is false or we are not being tricked by a demon.

It is the inevitability of the philosophical claims made by even our most prosaic statements that allows Lao Tsu to state ‘True words seem paradoxical’ without the addition of provisos. None are needed, since every statement would be a philosophical claim when analysed in depth.

Many of our questions are not supposed to be philosophical, and in the spirit that they are asked perhaps they are not. But our intention in asking them would not be the point. A philosopher will always be able to be read any question as pertaining to philosophy. Indeed, this is quite often what people find so annoying about them.


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