I've been reading questions and answers in this site for a while, and I've come to the idea that philosophical questions arise mainly in a response to a psychological need, like having a cognitive dissonance and seeking consistence, reaching the limit of thought and feeling paradox, or failing to understand a phenomenon that is bothering you.

A couple of examples may help clarify what I'd like help understanding.

The demarcation problem and the scientific method: When people argue about what is scientific and what is not, or about what defines the scientific method, what would answering such questions practically change, except, for example, resolving a inner conflict whether one should be certain about scientific facts, or whether one can feel justified about taking some position regarding science?

Wittgenstein claims to dissolve philosophical problems, considering that they arise when language gets out of the real-world context and "goes on holiday".

From such a perspective, what motivation could one have to philosophize in the first place, instead of "living life"? (To what extent is this even a fair framing of the problem?)

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    Yes: "failing to understand" is the root of asking philosophical questions. About "internal conflicts", we can at least agree that the best way to avoid having doubts ( I prefer this "old" terms to "cognitive dissonance") is to avoid thinking. Jun 5, 2016 at 10:40
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    there's a difference between why someone asks a question on a site and why philosophical problems arise
    – user6917
    Jun 5, 2016 at 13:02
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    I would suggest that an essential part of understanding is knowing the correct questions to ask, and determining the correct questions to ask is a philosophical exercise.
    – nwr
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:00
  • Thanks @Joseph-Weissman for editing the question. I admit that I myself didn't find it was very clear once I posted it. I think that a part of what I intended to say is, in the same way that Wittgenstein dissolved philosophical problems for "language reasons", can we do so by focusing on the psychological motivations behind these questions? Jun 6, 2016 at 3:05

3 Answers 3


This is an incomplete and sort of partial answer. But hopefully it might help provide an orientation around some texts that would answer your question more substantially.

D+G emphasize in What is Philosophy? that we should not consider philosophy as a "higher" sort of activity than its cultural "rival" disciplines, science and art.

Philosophy is not more or less difficult than art or science. It cannot even be said to think more, since artists undoubtedly think but in a different fashion altogether, through a different medium (e.g., colors in composition), and scientists and mathematicians surely think as well (even if through variables assembled into functional relationships.)

A philosophical concept is no different in principle, no harder or easier to understand than an artistic composition or a mathematical function.

At the very least: the same creative operations of reference, consistency and resonance are at work in philosophy as in art and science.

Why do philosophical problems come about?

An encounter with the outside "splits" the subject and compels thought. Problems result from external relations, being open to the aleatory encounter which demands thinking: being equal to the Event. The event for philosophy is certainly not the same as a great historical event, and indeed sometimes they are nearly imperceptible (or indeed incorporeal.) But it is exactly here where a ruthlessly lucid empiricism is needed...


I'm almost certain that it emerges from the differences perpectives, althrough it seems superficial, somethings are more simples than others, this is the main reason, logically it have many others, but generally that's it. I for example, have curtiosity to understand the way to see thigs from the neurotypicals, because, they are too firmed into the social element of things, being the most cause and finallity to they thinking and behavior, to fit into a social society.


Philosophical questions always arise because people were led to an intellectual rut by the superficially apparent state of things, which upon closer inspection turns out to be untenable. Some (random) examples include (1) geocentrism; (2) the doctrine that lice and other tiny creatures are generated by dust and/or sweat; (3) infinity is intectually untenable; (4) objects fall with velocity proportional to their weight; (5) flat earth, etc. In each case, a rigorous philosophical analysis was required to break out of the rut.

For further examples see this answer, including Herbart's success in overcoming Kantian ideas of absolute space.

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