Issue #43 — 4.3 minute read
👋 Hey phi-lazy-phers
What questions scare you?
For most of my life, I accepted belief systems, traditions, and societal norms without giving them much thought. I built my entire life around them. Whenever I felt questions or doubts building up around those ideas, I was too afraid to ask.
I feared the answers (or lack of answers) might poke holes in my views, severely fracturing my entire identity.
But if we don’t ask hard questions, how do we learn and grow? What’s the point in believing/doing something without knowing the why or how? Tough questions may change our views, but they can also solidify why we believed something in the first place.
Questions are a fundamental pillar of philosophy and the beginning of wisdom. What have philosophers said about the discipline of questioning? Good question.
Sometimes questions are more important than answers.
Rainer Maria Rilke
…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers.
In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love, and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.
It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.
‘Tis not every question that deserves an answer.
People don’t like to think, if one thinks, one must reach conclusions, and conclusions are not always pleasant.
The first key to wisdom is this - constant and frequent questioning … for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.
Alice Wellington Rollins
The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.
It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.
Yuval Noah Harari
Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.
Kendra and I are working on something exciting for the Lazy Philosophy community (we’ll be announcing it real soon). Before we began working on it, though, she created a quick grounding exercise to provide us with clear direction and motivation. It’s useful whether you’re starting something new or pondering a habit you’ve had for years.
Ask yourself these two simple questions:
Why am I doing X?
What is the goal of X?
That’s it. I’ve started asking myself these questions about a lot of things in my life recently: Why do I run? Why do I write this newsletter? Why am I living in Portland? Why am I starting this new project?
As Viktor Frankl said, “when you have a why, you can bear almost any how.”
Questions are a great way to better understand ourselves and the world around us. They are also a great way to better understand other questions. The best advice I ever received (partly because it’s so easy to implement) is to ask clarifying questions when I’m asked something I don’t fully understand or know the answer to—whether at work or among friends. It helps get to the heart of the question and why it’s being asked.
Lastly, if you’re struggling with a question, it’s okay to ask yourself, “Is this even the right question to be asking?”
✌️ Until next week, happy philosophizing?
Black History & Future
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