This question isn't well researched. It's difficult to investigate those realms which have been neglected, as opposed to those rigorously attended.

One of philosophy's great attractions is arguably its promise (perhaps 'promise' is too strong a word) of enabling fearlessly enquiry. The philosopher, it might be claimed, is a person who is unafraid of applying intellect, logic and evidence to any domain; a person who acknowledges that to shun enquiry is to shun knowledge.

Are there any aspects of our existence that we ignore, perhaps because of fear of stigmatisation, for fear of asking the question? Can any such examples be reasonably addressed on a forum that must maintain some adherence to social expectations?

I write this question with no examples in mind. It is a question motivated by what seems an obvious contradiction between the ideals of philosophy and any political climate amidst which it is located. I do not seek either to provoke emotion-laden argument but merely to identify any areas (vague or otherwise) that we are wary of examining, and perhaps also to identify any consequences of such a fear.

  • "enabling fearlessly enquiry." Your question altogether suggests you meant to say "enabling fearless enquiry", that is, to qualify enquiry rather than the approach with which to enable it. Also, you might want to clarify the expression "fear of stigmatisation for fear of asking the question". Sep 2 at 11:08
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    The expression implies that a person's fear of asking the question can have the effect of stigmatizing him. The expression is otherwise unintelligible. If anything, all the asker needs to do is formulate his question trying to conceal his fear of asking that question. That will likely preempt the stigmatization of which he is afraid. Sep 2 at 11:39
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    For a definitve answer, visit: Cognitive Biases. Good luck fellow pilgrim. Sep 2 at 12:12
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    @AgentSmith. A good link. Sooo many to remember though. Sep 2 at 12:16
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    @AgentSmith how would you remember you already partook :)
    – J Kusin
    Sep 2 at 16:00

6 Answers 6


Moral nihilism is the best of examples in my opinion, or really any topic that is very emotionally charged in social or political discourse. Although the topic has been explored by many of course, most have not taken it to its extreme ends.

If moral values don’t exist in any real, objective sense, then one can ask the question “why am I wrong in wanting to kill?” or “why am I wrong in wanting to be selfish and lying or whatever else I need to do for personal gain?”

The truth is that philosophy cannot help you reason against someone like this. Most of the time, the responses to these questions are based on pragmatism or emotional distaste.

  • I feel like Platonic dialogues often circle around deconstructing the “immoralist” case for self-interestedness (Thrasymachus, Callicles)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Sep 2 at 11:37
  • I fail to grasp how this answers the OP. A philosophical approach to matters that authorities and/or the vast majority in a society consider egregious is not uncommon. Sep 2 at 11:51
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    Well, moral nihilism is also a philosophical position, and people do frequently address such questions. Usually it's from theists trying to oppose moral subjectivism ("if God doesn't exist, why is it wrong to kill")... while failing to realise (a) they're just making an appeal to consequences, and they too have a subjective position (the subjectivity of God and/or their own subjectivity for whether to God's rules). But yes, a significant amount of that opposition is "emotional distaste" rather than reasoned arguments
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 2 at 11:56
  • i would say most of your questions. but i'm not entirely sure they are good questions
    – user67521
    Sep 3 at 2:16

Just how much the pictures we draw of the world can change. How our images (manifest, scientific) change before our eyes. What can we hold onto and will it be through will, categories, or direct experience?

Dan Dennett is heavily criticized for his belief we can heavily reduce our image. But I see it surviving on the same vein as Sellars’s or van Fraassen’s recognition of our images changing readily.

Still, I don’t see much in this area for how much of a part of us it is or how philosophy has changed post Kant. Kant said much of it won’t change, earlier philosophers said we had direct access (doesn’t explain manifest image). And now I find a lacking outside a few isolated cases for how much we’ve been “freed”. I can’t help but attach a bit timidness in the face of Sellars and others, because other reasons for the lacking seem insufficient.


The philosophical imagination displays a preference for certain questions over others. Another way to put it, arguably (as every claim tendered can be countered), is that it manifests a predilection for intellectual activity.

Some philosophers, most notably Nietzsche, have asked whether this intellectual pursuit is purely for its own sake or for the sake for something else. His answer, in a nutshell, was that all human activity seeks to assert the individual in the world, in other words, is an expression of the 'will to power'. While the latter notion has been misinterpreted, the idea is that philosophical activity is not exempt from the pursuit of power but rather that the pursuit of knowledge is a certain facet of power.

His particular view, furthermore, was that intellectual activity was an inverted manifestation of the power-game. In other words, there is something pathological about it. It is pathological, he thought, because the kind of being that acts out in the world and exerts worldly power would not be prone to devising elaborate theories that, in one way or another, privilege the realm of ideas over the concrete, immediate, and material realm.

So to answer your question, you can psychologize, as Nietzsche did, the philosophical disposition. Yet, at the same time, you can argue with perfect utility that this very psychoanalysis (I use the term broadly) falls within the province of philosophy. You can argue, also with perfect utility, that the philosophical disposition is merely, albeit an acute and perhaps extreme version, of the in-built pattern-recognition disposition in humans.

The final answer, therefore, is no -- there are no areas upon which philosophy as such fears to tread. However, there may be a psychological explanation for the intellectual preferences that philosophers have exhibited across history, namely having to do with a certain personality type that gravitates toward philosophy to begin with or the individual idiosyncrasies of philosophers that endowed them with certain blind spots. Noticing these, other philosophers have come along to fill in the gaps. And whatever gaps these will leave, others will try to fill.


Sex is the number one abandoned topic in Philosophy because it is both intentionally overlooked as well as very important. It is looked down on because of being seen as base and animalistic. Or it is glorified as something with which to be successful. Whereas it is fundamental to our nature. Where do we come from? Where are we going? The Philosophy of Sex can answer these kind of questions. For example...

It is the study of fission and fusion of: consciousnesses and bodies, essentially. We tend to think of it only as fusion of genetic material, and resultant fission of bodies. There are biological terms but this is the general idea. So much could be explained if we knew where this consciousness we have, came from. We are not our parents. We are not our children. So...

Dialectic Synthesis. A fusion of opposites (a thesis and antithesis) creates a synthesis, something entirely new. this is an explanation for consciousness being unique from parents' consciousness. male and female opposites bring forth a child. Why not its also possible to perform fission: A consciousness (with body, presumably) diverges into two of a kind! That would be some kind of advancement. Also, plain fusion would be two consciousnesses / bodies becoming one! I'm sure its possible to come up with plenty of combinations like this.

How? that's another story.

  • hahah i was thinking of saying this, though there is a sep article on sexuality iirc
    – user67521
    Sep 3 at 7:40
  • As far as I can tell, sex is only "abandoned" (if it is indeed abandoned) by philosophy, because studying that has been taken over by science. A male and female human is required for reproduction, and that's due to human biology, which came about as a result of evolution. Philosophy in the absence of science has never produced any insights into what consciousness is, how it comes about, where it comes from or where it goes, beyond idle speculation. Science, on the other hand, indicates that it's emergent.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 3 at 8:21
  • @NotThatGuy I think it is abandoned by Philosophers (study of love...). How Ironic. But really Psychology and Biology are very much separate disciplines from Philosophy. Philosophy has come up with consciousness explanations one is "cogito, ergo sum" which is to say, consciousness is emergent! Sep 3 at 22:02
  • @JordanCote Science emerged from philosophy. It's a separate discipline, sure, but the point is that today we understand that sex and love are biological and mental processes. If philosophers continue to try to study it, they'd either become de facto biologists or psychologists, or they'd be philosophising about topics outside their field of expertise while ignoring data and ignoring the best tools for the job. Also, "cogito, ergo sum" doesn't mean consciousness is emergent; it merely means you exist in some form, as a logical consequence of you being able to have thoughts.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 4 at 7:20
  • What is it like to be a bat?
  • What does God say?
  • What is the meaning of Being?
  • How can we change the world?

There are other examples, perhaps better ones, and these are kinda answered in a way (Heidegger was able to ask - if not really answer - the third question, and Marx said that the point of dialectics - presumably including philosophy - is to change the world


Humans and so-called lower mammals are biologically adapted to avoid the dramatic experience that we might call "abandonment trauma". I call this the "race fear" because it would be biologically and psychologically natural for any helpless mammal to fear enduring such abandonment trauma.

Tarzan - Lord of the Jungle (Cartoon - 1976);


The Jungle. Here I was born. And here my parents died when I was but an infant. I would have soon perished too had I not been found by a kindly she-ape named Kala who adopted me as her own and taught me the ways of the wild.

In Questions to a Zen Master there is the expression of this dramatic pattern - In Buddhism there is no fear of hell. When we have to go to hell, we go! But you must not fall! You must learn to swim!

The Red Cross Lifesaving program was founded on a motto - Every person a swimmer. Every swimmer a lifeguard. In Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, which I would watch around age 12, I did not comprehend that Baby Tarzan would go to hell in the absence of a parent or external caregiver who teaches him how to survive in the wilderness. Mammals in the wilderness and Civilization are inherently parent-seeking animals. Jesus made this insight into his public mission.

Because we would die in the absence of parents we even idealize and want to become like the relatively sadistic parents that we experience early in life.

An effective male baboon begins life as a helpless mammal and learns to fight off hungry lions - he battles them tooth and claw! In the dark cave that is how I battle God-and-Satan! In the light of reason, like Job, I ignore Satan, and wish to reason with God!

Jesus provides remedies for the race fear. This is why he appeals to so many people as The Lord! Sigmund Freud incorporates the ordinary and normal sadism of society into his professional attitudes toward others. This is because his chosen profession was an identification with the adult moral authorities and a defense against the regressive emergence of his own infantile fear. In short the philosophers do not go where angels fear to tread!

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    You've said a lot, and you've concluded with "philosophers do not go where angels fear to tread", but you haven't seemed to define where that actually is. That's little more than an expression which means places you shouldn't go, but which places are those? (Unless you mean it literally, but that raises a whole lot more questions.) You seemed to just have presented how growth works (e.g. "an effective male baboon begins life as a helpless mammal and learns to fight off hungry lions"), and I can't link that to the question of some philosophical pursuits being off limits.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 3 at 2:37
  • @NotThatGuy - "You ... just have presented how growth works." But I refer the loss of social intercourse, necessary for growth, to hell; and to what those who cannot empathize with hell might clinically describe as "abandonment trauma". I call this the "race fear" because it would be biologically and psychologically natural for any helpless mammal to fear enduring such abandonment trauma. Philosophers are afraid to go to hell for reasons that are wired into biological mammals. Instead they dodge the issue of empathy with the suffering mammal and focus on "Just ... growth". Sep 8 at 17:07

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