By Revival Ojedapo.
Sequel to last week’s edition, we continue with five more questions, taken from the 205 “philosophical questions about human nature and the human condition” posted on https://conversationstartersworld.com/philosophical-questions/
6. Does fate exist? If so, do we have free will?
Fate requires the predetermination of an outcome, totally out of a person’s control. That is, we do what we do and end up where we do because that’s the only path we could have taken. An open poll on debate.org suggests that 53% believe that fate exists while 47% believe otherwise. However, you’ll get the true depth of the debate, only when you start reading people’s experiences, and the examples they use to justify their stance.
When we begin to figure personal experiences, we discover that there’s really no reconciliation between the opposite sides. People make decisions in life that may or may not reflect in their futures. There are also situations where one’s own destination may be influenced by the decisions of others. However, if regardless of all these influences, there is already a destiny awaiting each person, then that’s fate. Even when we’ve made conscious decisions to direct our own lives, it would all be conforming with an already laid out plan.
So, what would it matter to discuss about fate when life presents us with countless choices, day after day? Sometimes, we find ourselves powerless in the face of certain challenges; even then, it requires a conscious effort from us to accept or not to accept the changes it brings into our lives.
If human beings have freewill, and God has already determined the end from the beginning, it is needless to ask the question of fate, but more importantly is to seek where we stand in the light of unfolding events.
7. What does it mean to live a good life?
It means to live everyday, every moment, with good intentions. It is true that there are several derivatives to the question, like the subjectivity or objectivity of what a good life is. Emrys Wastacott expounds on the question by classifying the several thoughts that have attempted to explain it away. A good life, he posits, could be based on either or a combination of the following: “moral approval”, Epicureanism, fulfilment, meaning, and the consideration of a finished life. (https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-good-life-4038226).
8. Why do we dream?
This question fits well into philosophy as it is one phenomenon common to all of mankind. Science might have made headways revealing the processes that engineer dreams, but the purpose of dreams remains a subject for debate. There are many theories that try to explain why it is that we really dream.
These theories range from the suggestion that dreams enhance memory to the belief that dreams help us cope with the challenges of wakeful reality. It is expected that dreams should have an effect on our normal life, just as our normal life has effects on our dreams.
Anxiety and depression are causes of sleep disorders, which can also affect dreams. Also, nightmares can be caused by traumas. But, how exactly do dreams affect our lives in return. Since it occurs mostly at a time when we take rest from daily hustling, it won’t be farfetched to say dream is also a regenerative agent, as our needed sleep is.
One important factor is the fact that we usually ponder on dreams we find particularly fantastic or poignant. Yes, while some dreams may come as meaningless, there are some which are thought-provoking. In some ways, this mirrors our waking state. There are certain events that we count more important than others. Several works of art from artists like Edgar Allan Poe, John Lennon, Stephen King, etc., are said to be inspired by dreams. As posited by Edgar Cayce, “dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions”. So, it is left to us to ask the questions that our dreams require of us, if we’re to get any meaning from them.
9. Where does your self-worth come from?
According to Collins dictionary, “self-worth is the feeling that you have good qualities and have achieved good things”. Often interchanged with self-esteem, it can be seen as an activity of the conscience, rewarding you for an achievement. However, it is not always a straightforward experience. There are many people who think they don’t deserve appreciation or respect, even when they’ve done something remarkable.
In such cases, other people can help sway this negative feeling into one of self-worth. Because of past deeds, sometimes, we are left with a guilty feeling that can deprive us of self-esteem. Thus, it could take some mental healing to start to feel good about oneself again.
Most times, the feeling we have about ourselves comes from other people’s opinions. This also can be deceiving, as people tend to be bias. Whatever it is that spawns our self-worth, it is intricately woven to our purposes in life, and this we can achieve by coming to terms with the meaning that is attached to life (check question 3.)
10. How will humans as a species go extinct?
There’s a list of 11 likely ways humans could go extinct (on thrillist.com) which includes overpopulation, alien invasion, global pandemic, black hole and others. Some are more plausible than others, but one can never remove the veracity of unexpectedness, especially when dealing with humans.
Fossil records show that several species have met their doom, and a sixth great extinction is said to be on the horizon. It is true that humans are a peculiar species, having an intelligent awareness of their world and that we have great adaptability skills. However, with all our endowment, we could be at serious risk of decimation if the rest of the world is in danger of extinction.
Humans do not only depend on humans, but are also woven into the web of ecology. Thus, the survival of our world, is our survival. For example, we’ve discovered what great roles are played by bees in pollination of food crops. Thus, it is more important for us to care for the world we live in, if we’re to survive for a long time.
It is a possibility that we end up being the architect of our own doom. And we’re never short of such ideas, are we, seeing how close we’ve come in the past century?