After posting a question akin to "Why do we live?" in the r/AskPhilosophy subreddit its moderators got it removed, providing as motivation "All questions must be about philosophy".

Fascinated by the steep philophosical road they decided to embark on, I asked them for clarifications. They provided two arguments:

  • It's an empirical question, and that's the domain of scientists, not philosophers. Whatever scientists say the answer is might inform something related to existential philosophy, but there's nothing philosophical about the question itself.
  • There might be theological answers to both questions ("Why do we reproduce", my original question, and "Why do we live", which I brought as a similar example, ndr), but theology isn't philosophy either.

What do you think on the issue?

  • "The oak tree in the garden."
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 20, 2023 at 10:22
  • it's a nice way of phrasing these sorts of questions
    – user66760
    Jul 20, 2023 at 12:36
  • I guess Reddit folks are not into Plato, which means, going by one paid-to-philosophize dude, whatever it is that they're doing it's definitely not philosophy. Oooh, the horror! Jul 20, 2023 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Unequivocally yes. It is a philosophical question. There are different types of philosophical questions, however. Once category is the questions that philosophers ask, and the other are technical questions about philosophy.

For instance, questions that philosophers ask:

  • How does one achieve eudaimonia?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is a meaningful philosophical question?

Note that these questions are philosophical in that they don't have pat technical answers, but rather depend on one's metaphysics. They are what might be called metaphysically speculative questions, and have been asked by world-famous philosophers and theologians. For instance, the Ancient Greeks were preoccupied with eudaimonia. The question of the meaning of life has been tackled more recently by existentialists and the absurdist Camus. And the currently emerging field of metaphilosophy is preoccupied with answering the last question. Thus, these are philosophical questions beyond any doubt.

But there is a second set of questions about what might be termed the philosophical canon. For instance:

  • What was Rene Descartes saying about introspection in Meditations*?
  • What were Carnap's views on ontology?
  • How does Lewis justify modal realism in his book on the subject?

These questions are factual and not metaphysically speculative in nature. On our site, we differentiate between questions that philosophers ask, and questions about philosophers and their philosophy. A meta post on this site purports to restrict discourse to the latter category here. (Given the mechanisms in place to regulate content, it is not strictly observed.)

I would suggest that the ██████ channel observes a similar dichotomy (and may do a better job at regulating than we do here). So, it's not a question of whether your question is "philosophical enough", but more a question of is your question a factual question about the philosophical canon, or is it speculative and doing philosophy rather than merely discussing it?

Hence, don't be put out if you were rejected based on such a criterion. It helps to sort out intelligent discussion from philosophy to metaphysical speculation by people untrained in philosophy, and that is likely the policy of the site in question.

  • 1
    And obviously, only someone not very sophisticated would suggest that theology and science don't have philosophical dimensions, so don't be surprised if "someone on the Internet" posts something that comes to a rather stupid conclusion. There's a low barrier to entry in public fora such as these.
    – J D
    Jul 20, 2023 at 23:23
  • These bars on entry are often for very prosaic but pressing reasons. Eg on CS stackexchange, a programming question will typically get closed very fast. Seriously?! In computer science, programming is off topic?!?! Well the reasons are quite simple but have little ro do with prog. or CS: SO has a hundred fold the volume aa CS-SE. They cannot afford to allow that flow to be diverted. Something similar here methinks: Depression anxiety confusion are rampant nowadays. If ppl start asking personal self-help questions then it would be hard to stop
    – Rushi
    Jul 21, 2023 at 11:00

Theology can be philosophical, like the proofs of god, or Socrates Plato & Aristotle's discussions of theological matters, like the Euthyphro Dilemma.

'Why do we live?' is a bit loose in language, the meaning is open to interpretation. 'What is the meaning of life/living?' is a classic philosophical question par excellence.

If you posted your question here, it might be considered too broad. I suggest you find a way to narrow or contextualise it. I mean, why would there even be only one answer, for everyone?

So you might ask about: reasons to stay alive in different philosophies, or highest purpose of life according to different thinkers, or how did we come to be in this situation biologically, or even why is there something rather than nothing.

Why stay alive: If everything ends one day why don't we end it today?

Meaning of living for non-theists: What are some philosophical works that explore constructing meaning in life from an agnostic or atheist view?

How did we get here? How can nature without self-awareness and intelligence create living beings with self-awareness and intelligence?

Something vs nothing: What is "Nothing"?

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