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Problems of idealism; Is there such a thing as an unnecessary question?

As the old age sentiment goes, "Dear student, there is no such thing as a dumb question."

I think most of us would agree that in fact there most definitely is. Throughout the average day we might come across a few of these redundant, repetitive, or intentionally idiot,/misleading (yes, some people ask obvious questions for reasons other than actually wanting to know the answer) ramblings spouted by our coworkers, students, peers, etc. For example, there is always the individual in a meeting or classroom that, for some reason, always seems to miss the direction or content of every other sentence.

These instances aside, though, could there possibly be this sort of phenomena occurring in philosophical discourse?

The types of questions I am referring to merit the labeling of "philosophical mind games." We can look to the instances of most of our first encounters with "philosophical thinking" for examples of what I'm speaking about; "Whoa bro, what would happen if I took a picture, of a picture, of a picture?, or "What if we're all dreaming right now and when we think we're having dreams, we're having dreams within dreams?". These youthful utterances are usually followed by the phrase "That's deep."

Admittedly, the first encounters with infinite regressions spark the intellectual engines and we have ridden into more sophisticated scopes of inquiry. I must also note that the philosophical spirit of questioning is very valuable and I in no way am arguing for the lack of this or diminishment of creativity.

But I find these sorts of questions quite dangerous when used for the foundation of philosophical paradigms. Solipsism, for eg., by exploiting perceptive limitation, comes to the ridiculous conclusion that there is nothing outside of ourselves. This similarly occurs with argument for idealism.

Could we not entertain these ideas as students of philosophy and critical thinkers without taking them any more seriously than a critical thinking exercise?


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    Sep 7 2013: Rhetoric, Logic's high-strung sibling, is replete with examples of redundant, verbose, extraneous, surreptitiously manipulative applications of language. Most assuredly there are unnecessary questions. I propose this example of an unnecessary (rhetorical) question: "If there were no unnecessary questions then all questions would, by definition, be necessary. Thus no subject could be epistemologically validated because it is not possible to know every question which could be asked. So, isn't Solopsism validated by the irrationality of the existence of unnecessary questions?"
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      Sep 7 2013: "So, isn't Solopsism validated by the irrationality of the existence of unnecessary questions?"

      I would say that Solipsism is a way for idealist and (some) contemplatives to cling on to the value of subjectivity in the face of objectivity. As Bertrand Russell mentioned, there is really no reason to believe that things external to your subjectivity do not exist.

      I'm with Shawn on this one, I think there can be some philosophical questions that are great to get the mind thinking but really serves no purpose to philosophy (or the world). Such questions are great for critical thinking but I don't think it should be taken seriously outside the classroom.
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        Sep 7 2013: I posed the question about Solopsism as an example of an unnecessary question, not as an argument for what I believe.
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      Sep 7 2013: Edward,

      1) I find your insight quite on the nature of language and logic quite compelling, but I must admit that I didn't expect anyone to take too seriously the beginning part of my post.
      To ask you a question though; would it be sound to assert that a multiplicity of outcomes, or at least the possibility of multiple answers-one right? and many wrong-for questions concerning the natural world for example, be necessary? At least in conventional epistemology. And does the necessity of possibilities in epistemology necessitate the existence or possibility naturally, physically, or metaphysically?

      2) As for the discussion I was expecting to have on this topic, I was pressing the issue of questioning physicality. This is very common in debates on modern mysticism and idealism that I'm sure you're aware of. Do we have any reason, other than by merit of necessarily assuming that antitheses exist, for doubting physicality?
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        Sep 7 2013: I fail to see how the question, "Is there such a thing as an unnecessary question?" invites comments on physicality. I misinterpreted the topic. I am outta here! Sorry for the distraction.
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          Sep 7 2013: I'm asserting that questioning materialism is an unnecessary question. Therefore physicality is in question.
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        Sep 8 2013: RE: "I'm asserting that. . .". OK, I lied, I'm not outta here. Do you agree it would clarify this debate to rephrase your question to something like: "Is Materialism Unassailable?". I think you would get more succinct repsponses. Do you believe Materialism is unassailable?
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          Sep 8 2013: I agree, as I replied to Fritzie above, that the question should have been asked differently. I explained that this was a reposted question that was previously on my blog and which was written for a very different audience.

          No. It clearly is. What i'm asserting Is that after taking materialism into thorough consideration and understanding our perceptual shortcomings, we can then entertain solipsism, idealism, mysticism, etc. and immediately realize that we've gone far off track,
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        Sep 8 2013: RE: "I agree. . . ". Sorry to make you repeat yourself. I should read all the responses, but I don't always. Aha! The Holy Grail of Epistemology-- "...after taking materialism into thorough consideration and understanding our perceptual shortcomings...". When will I ever fathom my perceptual shortcomings? When will I perform a thorough consideration of anything? Someday perhaps. For now I see through a glass darkly. How far off-track I am at any moment is no easier to learn than the necessary answers I seek. This is a debate and my argument is that consistent application of information I accept as Justified True Belief supports the conclusion that consciousness is linked to the Material, and the assertions of opposing arguments are categorically irrational.
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          Sep 8 2013: I think I can agree that some position of optimal awareness is unlikely, but do we need this in order to rule out the possibility of Idealism?

          I'm afraid i'm in the dark when it comes to your system of thought. Seems like you have your own approach to knowledge. Could you elaborate?
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        Sep 8 2013: RE: "I think I can agree. . . ". Well, if you are in the dark then we may not be that far apart! I have no system of thought. My go-to reference for philosophy debates and conversations is http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/linguistics-and-philosophy/24-00-problems-in-philosophy-fall-2010/lecture-notes/
        AND http://plato.stanford.edu/

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