135 Great Philosophical Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves
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For those moments when you want to discuss life, the universe, and everything, we bring you this list of philosophical questions.
May they lead to countless deep, engaging, and enjoyable conversations.
Whether you’re feeling pensive, flirty, mischievous, or just bored with your daily routine, you’ll find philosophical questions in this list that are perfect for the occasion.
And once you start asking them and thoughtfully considering the answers you receive, your life will never be the same.
What are philosophical questions?
Philosophical questions are those you can’t answer using science but rather help you think about what you know or believe to be true.
You’ve probably thought of a few such questions when you were in pain or when you just made an uncomfortable realization.
The best philosophical questions get right to the heart of our existence and challenge our unquestioned beliefs. Consider the following examples:
- What is truth — and is it true for everyone?
- What’s so great about humanity?
- Does an answer count as an answer if it’s another question?
These are not random “Who are you?” questions or “Should we have a second date?” questions — though you’re welcome to use them as such.
Just don’t ask them unless you’re open to starting a long, thoughtful discussion.
Why is philosophy an important discipline?
Asking philosophical questions is critical to your continued growth and development.
If you never stop to consider the meaning and purpose in your life or to question your beliefs, your vision can only include what is within your comfort zone.
And that zone has a way of shrinking when you never step outside of it.
Deep and honest philosophical questions require you to look inward as well as outside your sphere of immediate experience.
And they may lead you down a rabbit hole to a completely different world from the one you grew up in.
Here’s to jumping in with both feet.
Common/Classic Philosophical Questions
Why not start with these classic examples of philosophical questions?
1. How do you know if something does or does not qualify as art?
2. Do we really have free will, or is it just an illusion?
3. Does a person’s name influence the person they become?
4. Would it be better to be immortal or to live multiple lives?
5. Would you kill one person to save ten? Or ten to save one?
6. Is there such a thing as luck?
7. Are there universal human rights? What are they?
8. Do animals have universal rights? What are they?
9. Is it worse to fail at something or to never make the attempt?
10. Does nature or nature shape our personalities more?
11. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?
12. What does it mean to be educated?
13. Is war ever just?
14. Is there such a thing as a moral absolute? Or is morality relative?
15. Why do we strive for perfection when we consistently fall short of it?
16. Would the world be better or worse off without religion?
17. Are we humans the biggest threat to humanity?
Philosophical Questions about Human Existence
Ask any of these to philosophical questions explore the reality, meaning, and purpose of human existence?
18. Can money buy happiness? Or can you be happy without money?
19. Is it better to be poor doing work you love or be rich with a job you dislike?
20. Is it fair or possible to do a cost-benefit analysis of religion?
21. Is suicide ever justified?
22. Are people more likely to change because of threats or because of incentives?
23. If someone you don’t know offered you a “free hug,” would you accept it?
24. Is torture ever justified?
25. Is it more important to be respected or liked?
26. What is self-esteem, and where does it come from?
27. Have we evolved as humans, or has human nature remained the same?
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28. Is it ever okay to call someone’s mental health challenge into question?
29. Should anyone be allowed to hoard wealth while so many go without basic necessities?
30. What does it mean to live a good life?
31. Do you shape your own destiny, or does fate determine everything?
32. Will religion in general ever become obsolete?
33. Do dogs need people, or is the need mutual?
34. If magic was in your blood, how would you want to manifest it?
35. Is it possible for music to activate the person you want to be?
36. Is it structure or incentive that helps us get things done?
37. Is suffering a necessary part of the human experience?
Philosophical Questions about the Cosmos
Ask these philosophical questions to explore the cosmos and your place in it.
38. Does intelligent life exist elsewhere in the universe?
39. Is the cosmos conscious and aware of our existence?
40. Could we be one of the least developed civilizations in the universe?
41. Is it likely that our origins lie somewhere else in the universe?
42. If our bodies are essentially made of stardust, what is starlight made of?
43. Will we ever be able to travel through space as easily as taking a bus?
44. Is it possible that part of us lives elsewhere in the cosmos?
45. Is the cosmos a thing, a person, or a universal consciousness?
46. Do the constellations and planets influence us?
47. Will our continued existence on this planet depend on our use of its resources?
48. Is it possible some of our music came from elsewhere in the universe?
49. Are there parallel universes or parallel realities?
50. Did anything or anyone exist before the universe?
51. What would you do if you learned your friend was an extraterrestrial?
52. Is it ever okay to exploit a less tech-savvy civilization to benefit our own?
Hard Philosophical Questions
Some philosophical questions are hard or even impossible to answer. Use one of these if you want an extra challenge.
53. Should it ever be illegal to have children?
54. Is it worse to have an abortion or to abandon (or abuse) the mother of your child?
55. Who is more valuable — the unborn or those who die in U.S detention camps?
56. Why do we honor dead veterans but not the ones who live on the streets?
57. Is cannibalism ever okay?
58. If a more advanced alien race wanted to eat us, would it be wrong of them to do so?
59. Does the end ever justify a means you consider morally wrong?
60. Can a person ever be 100% irredeemably evil?
61. Does it make sense for someone’s eternity to depend on one earthly life?
62. Is it possible to change human nature — and if so, should we?
63. Is there a good side to jealousy, or is it a purely negative emotion?
64. Which of your beliefs are most likely to be wrong?
65. Why are humans so inclined to hold onto beliefs that can’t be proven?
66. Why do we feel the need to escape the present?
67. Do wealthier people have a moral obligation to help poorer ones?
68. Is poverty inevitable? And does that excuse us from working to alleviate it?
69. Could societies exist without currency?
70. Should the voting age be lowered to 16 (for example)?
71. What is the most important right our government supports?
72. How would society change if both men and women could become pregnant?
Deep Philosophical Questions
When you want to go deep and really understand someone (or yourself), ask any of the following philosophical questions:
73. What are dreams? And can we influence them?
74. Is evidence absolutely essential to know the truth?
75. Is it better to focus on doing things or on developing our intuition?
76. Will humanity last another 1,000 years?
77. Can those who, through ignorance, voted for a monster ever be forgiven?
78. What does it mean to be free?
79. Who is freer — a human or a wild animal?
80. Would you want to know how or when you were going to die?
81. Where is the line between creativity and madness?
82. How do you know your perceptions are real?
83. Is there such a thing as a meaningless coincidence?
84. Is it better to suffer for a crime you did commit or for one you did not?
85. Why do humans strive for enlightenment?
86. Can we change a thing by observing it?
87. Can there be a universal morality without a universal god?
88. Is intelligence or wisdom more useful?
89. Do humans have a soul? Do animals?
90. What is the number one goal every person should have?
91. Is rational thought possible without language?
92. How do you when a statement is objectively true?
93. If language influences our perception of color, what other perceptions might it influence?
Philosophical Questions about Happiness
Asking philosophical questions like these is the best way to explore the nature of happiness as well as what makes you truly happy.
94. What is the best way for a person to attain happiness?
95. Is happiness possible without experiencing sorrow or suffering?
96. Can music truly make people happier than they can be without it?
97. Is it easier or more difficult to be happy with black-and-white thinking?
98. Is it possible to be truly happy without contributing to society?
99. Is it better to feel happy or to feel an absence of pain?
100. Is feeling happy more about brain chemicals or about how we think or what we do?
101. Is it possible to be happy when you hurt others?
102. Are people happier when they’re leading or when they’re following?
103. Are we happier when we feel understood or when we feel valued?
104. Is physical or mental exercise essential to happiness?
105. Is it possible to feel happy if you can’t feel remorse for hurting others?
106. If you could have your genes edited, would you edit out depression or anxiety?
107. If you could use virtual reality to step into someone else’s life, would it change you?
108. What is beauty, and why does it attract us and influence our moods?
Philosophical Questions for Kids
It’s never too early to get your kids thinking about philosophical questions. If you can, try to keep a record of their most surprising answers.
109. Is it better to stand up for someone or to help them when no one else is looking?
110. What colors make you feel happier, and why?
111. Does it feel better to save money or to give it away?
112. If you had to choose, would you rather be rich or to make the world better?
113. How do you know when someone really cares about people?
114. What s a better way to learn — through stories or through experiments?
115. When are you happiest, and why?
116. How do you know when someone is your friend?
117. If you could send a message to someone with your mind, what message would you send?
118. Is it ever okay to tell a secret?
119. Is helping a sick friend worth the risk of getting sick yourself?
120. How should we treat animals, and why?
121. What’s the difference between grown-ups and kids?
122. What do you look forward to when you wake up?
123. If you could do anything right now, what would you do?
Fun Philosophical Questions
Great philosophical questions don’t have to be serious or confrontational. Try any of the following when you want to keep things light.
124. If Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly, why did it fall off?
125. Why is there Braille on the number pads of drive-through bank (ATM) machines?
126. Why doesn’t cheese and lunch meat come shaped like bread slices?
127. Why do they nail the lid down on a coffin?
128. Do our pets make up names for us?
129. Why are plump babies considered healthy but plump women are considered overweight?
130. What color is a mirror?
131. Why do people refer to the most delicious foods as “sinful”?
132. If Eve doomed the human race for a piece of fruit, what would she do for a Klondike bar?
133. If a picture is worth more than 1,000 words, why is the book always better than the movie?
134. Does forgiving someone make you a quitter?
135. If a cockroach can survive a nuclear holocaust, what the h*** do they put in Raid?
Which philosophical questions spoke to you?
Now that you have 135 philosophical questions with which to start some deep (or at least entertaining) conversations, which ones stick in your memory?
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If you’re wondering how best to use these or keep them handy, try one of the following:
- Use index cards to create a philosophical question card game.
- Create mugs with your favorite philosophical questions and give them as gifts.
- Have a t-shirt made with a favorite question on the back.
The more questions you ask, the more you get to thinking about possible answers. And the better you understand your own beliefs and those of others who answer them.
What will you learn today?