I'm thinking over a sentence from Gandhi "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced", but who seems to be as well from Soren Kierkegaard. And I tried to problematize over it.

As my question has been classified as unclear here is a definition of a philosophical problem by the French Association of professors of philosophy of public education:

What is a philosophical problem? Vast question, that it would be right to problematize. Can we answer it without philosophizing, and can we philosophize universally? In other words, is there a single definition of the philosophical problem? Does the way in which problematization is conceived in philosophy imply a particular philosophy? If this were not the case, one would expect to almost agree, because this definition would come under the observation. Now it is precisely a fact that philosophers do not agree on the nature of the philosophical problem. But if the conception of the philosophical problem is philosophical, there are as many as philosophies. This risks degrading the philosophical problem into a false problem, because its formulation would already contain its "solution" (implied by the particular philosophical framework within which it is formulated). A problem which, in its formulation, engages a certain philosophy, would be less a problem than a similar problem, an appearance of a problem. But the opposite would also be embarrassing, because a problem that would not lead to any solution would not it be rather aporia, the observation of a blind spot of thought, the statement of the limits of philosophical reflection? - from appep.net consulted 5-7-2019

Another good article for those who have rather cartesian tastes on how to problematize, i.e. create a philosophical problem, has been written here by the French Institute for Research and Studies on Trade Unionism and Social Movements.

Finding, building a philosophical problem is at the very basis of French education in Philosophy, at least a few years after it has been employed in philosophy from 1949 by French philosophers Bachelard and Ricœur, and enters general and specialized dictionaries 25 years later as one can read here. The reason of the of problematization, why it is considered fundamental in Philosophy can be read here.

Therefore my question is whether my problematization over Gandhi's quote is strong enough to build a philosophical problem or not, that is to say, if it leads to a fake problem.


On the one hand life is a mystery, as one can see from the fact as life is mysteriously only present on one planet in the Universe, as it is a complex scheme, the problem to solve is rather death, through medicine, murders through investigations. Yet, life creates problems for some, as one can see from unemployment, suicide. On the other hand, if one consider life as only made of problem solvings, like finding a job, a husband... one can miss out on his life by forgetting to take time to savor the moment, to love while rather trying to marry off...

As a result, my problematization ended to: is trying to find a meaning to one's life a first world problem?


I used "first world problem" to be a bit provocative. I use the definition of the Oxford Dictionaries :

A relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world)

I wanted to know if my problematization was solid and not a fake problem, i.e. one that isn't actually a problem, for which we can respond by yes or no straightforward, without doubt.

What seem to make my problem building, my problematization, strong are:

  • That it seems to have references in other people thoughts. At least it is supported by Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Self actualization is something that comes at the very end of the other needs. That is to say "physiological", "safety", "belonging and love", "social needs" or "esteem". Therefore trying to find a meaning to one's life would be a first world problem, one for those that would already have filled their other needs.
  • If the answer to my problem question is yes then the problem I plant would plant another problem. I don't know if it makes my philosophical problem more solid but it certainly makes it more interesting: it it were true that trying to find a meaning to one's life is a first world problem would this search results from a loss of purpose in one's life when one's condition becomes okay?

What may be the weaknesses of my problem building, my problematization:

  • Maybe I miss the problem : if it is a problem of age rather than disposition. Probably recent graduate ask themselves what rather than older people (I have no stats).
  • In the same extent, Maslow theory has been criticized. One could see a difference of needs between societies where the appartenance to the group is more important than fulfilling individual needs, or filling an ideal rather than personal motives.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Frank Hubeny, Bread, curiousdannii, Jishin Noben, Eliran May 3 at 16:48

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    @FrankHubeny a first world is a "relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration" compared "with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world" using Oxford Dictionaries definition. In my French speaking mind I first thought about a "problème de riches" – ThePassenger May 2 at 11:24
  • 2
    "First world problem" is basically street slang, not really philosophical terminology. I don't believe it is suitable for philosophical discussions. I think it is more appropriate for Politics SE. – Bread May 2 at 21:22
  • 1
    philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/53283/… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies#Red_herring_fallacies I don't understand how something as important and personal as seeking meaning for one's life can be characterized as something fallacious. – Bread May 2 at 21:29
  • 1
    The term "first world problem" fallaciously casts all problems encountered by "first world" people as somehow trivial. So how can seeking meaning in life be at all trivial? This also presupposes that people in developing societies might not engage in such intellectual processes. – Bread May 2 at 21:34
  • 4
    I just don't think that fallacious and stereotypical slang terminology is a good basis for philosophical reasoning. It allows for too much prejudice and over-generalization. You've listed several variables in your comment above which could apply to anyone anywhere. The question would have been clearer had you given us a simple definition for what "first world" specifically means to you, relevant to your question. At this point it's quite unclear what you're asking, and certainly "provocative", which makes it seem more political than rational or philosophical. – Bread May 3 at 9:56

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.