Philosophers are people who love wisdom. Philosophy and conversation are skills of elegance, nuance and creative execution. In this game—which isn’t really a game because nobody keeps score—participants are given a philosophical question to talk about and then, they talk about it until conversation is exhausted and then they move to another philosophical question.
The author E.M. Forster said, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” And Confucius said, “The perfecting of one’s self is the fundamental base of all progress and all moral development.” In this game you find out what you think when you say it and maybe even change your mind as you’re saying it! There is no better way to help the world than by perfecting yourself.
Those who strive to be pure-hearted and who develop habits of a calm, wise and seeing mind have beautiful lives. This game is designed to help you and your friends to take a step in that direction.
Imagine that you and your friends are philosophers (which you are). Each person takes a turn as the Philosopher at the Table. The Philosopher at the Table selects a question from the list below, reads the question out loud and tries to keep the conversation going deeper and deeper by pressing participants like a devil’s advocate to think from multiple perspectives. At some point the Philosopher at the Table draws the conversation to a close and passes to the next Philosopher at the Table who repeats this process.
What follows is a list of “life” questions without set answers. The Philosopher at the Table selects a question and gets the ball rolling. (Sources are identified at the bottom of this page.)
1. Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?
2. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
3. To what extent do you shape your own destiny, and how much is down to fate?
4. Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture?
5. Should people care more about doing the right thing, or doing things right?
6. What one piece of advice would you offer to a newborn infant?
7. Where is the line between insanity and creativity?
8. What is true happiness?
9. What things hold you back from doing the things that you really want to?
10. What makes you, you?
11. What is the truth?
12. What is reality?
13. Do you make your own decisions, or let others make them for you?
14. What makes a good friend?
15. Why do people fear losing things that they do not even have yet?
16. Who defines good and evil?
17. What is the difference between living and being alive?
18. Is a “wrong” act okay if nobody ever knows about it?
19. Who decides what morality is?
20. How do you know that your experience of consciousness is the same as other people’s experience of consciousness?
21. What is true strength?
22. What is true love?
23. Is a family still relevant in the modern world?
24. What role does honour play in today’s society?
25. If money cannot buy happiness, can you ever be truly happy with no money?
26. How do you know your perceptions are real?
27. How much control do you have over your life?
28. What is freedom?
29. Isn’t one person’s terrorist another person’s freedom fighter?
30. What happens after we die?
31. What defines you?
32. What do people strive for after enlightenment?
33. Do we have a soul?
34. What is intelligence?
35. How should people live their lives?
36. If lying is wrong, are white lies okay?
37. Is trust more important than love?
38. Is it easier to love or be loved?
39. Is it better to love and lose or never to love?
40. Do aliens exist?
41. The structure of DNA appears to be intelligently designed, what are the implications?
42. If everything evolved from amoebas, how does the world still have amoebas?
43. Is life all a dream?
44. When does consciousness begin?
45. What are numbers?
46. Can we have happiness without sadness?
47. How did the universe begin?
48. Is there a supreme power?
49. What is education?
50. What will happen at the end of the world?
51. Is there a reason to life?
52. Where does the soul live?
53. Is it more important to be liked or respected?
54. Does sound happen if nothing is present to hear it?
55. What is infinity?
56. Where does the universe end?
57. Does observation alter an event?
58. Does the Law of Attraction exist?
59. How does gravity work?
60. Where were people before they were born?
61. What is beauty?
62. Where do thoughts come from?
63. Is mind or matter more real?
64. What is time?
65. How can people believe in truths without evidence?
66. Why is there something rather than nothing?
67. Is our universe real?
68. Do we have free will?
69. Does God exist?
70. Is there life after death?
71. Can you really experience anything objectively?
72. What is the best moral system?
73. What are numbers?
74. What is Good? (Ethics)
75. What is Evil? (Ethics)
76. How can we tell what is Good and Evil?
77. Why should I be moral at all?
78. Are humans just physical entities or do they have an immaterial self?
79. Do humans have an essential nature?
80. Do humans have free-will?
81. Are humans morally responsible for the things they think, do, intend, etc.?
82. Does the personal identity of a human persist through change?
83. What are the anthropological implications of determinism?
84. If we can prod the brain and produce a physical or even a mental effect, what implications follow?
85. What is time?
86. Is time a physical entity or a metaphysical entity?
87. Is science compatible with religious belief?
88. What is science?
89. Is there only one scientific method?
90. Do the findings of science imply naturalism or materialism?
91. Which fields of study count as science?
92. What is Truth?
93. How can only one religion be true?
94. How can one effectively compare different religions or views to see which one is true?
95. Are miracles possible?
96. Can we know certain truths without evidence?
97. What role do “supernatural experiences” or “mystical experiences” have to play?
98. Do abstract objects exist (i.e. does the number 2 exist)?
99. Do universals exist?
100. Is the mind the same as the brain, or do we have souls?
101. Can computers think, or fall in love?
102. Can computers be creative?
103. What is consciousness?
104. Can we really know what it feels like to be a bat?
105. When you have a toothache, is the pain in your mouth or in your brain?
106. What is an emotion?
107. Is love just a feeling?
108. How is love different from passion or sexual desire?
109. Are emotions irrational?
110. Which would you rather be – an unhappy human being or a happy dog?
111. What is the meaning of life?
112. Is happiness the most important purpose in life?
113. Is it always better to have more choices?
114. Does freewill really exist?
115. If there is no freewill, should we punish people at all?
116. If God exists, why is there so much evil in the world?
117. Is morality relative?
118. What is wrong with incest?
119. What is friendship and why do we need it?
120. What is art?
121. Is there progress in art?
122. Can food be art?
123. Is it wrong to spend money on expensive food when people are dying of hunger?
124. If someone is drowning and you refuse to help, are you responsible for his death?
125. Why do we punish people?
126. Is it alright to torture terrorists to extract information?
127. When is it ok, if ever, to disobey the law?
128. Is it the main purpose of law to promote morality?
129. Should governments penalize people for unhealthy lifestyles?
130. Why ban drugs and not alcohol or trans-fat?
131. Should prostitution be legal?
132. How much freedom should people have?
133. Are people free to sell themselves into slavery?
134. Why think there are universal human rights?
135. Is democracy the same as decision by the majority?
135. Should people who pay more taxes get more votes?
136. Is democracy suitable for all countries?
137. When should governments intervene in the market?
138. Is there a difference between free trade and fair trade?
139. What is wrong, if anything, about protectionism?
140. Is patriotism irrational?
141. Can wars ever be just?
142. Is the preservation of culture a good reason to limit immigration?
143. Is race a biological category or a social construct?
144. Are you the same person you were ten years ago?
145. What is a person? Is it the mind, or the body?
145. Do we think with language or pictures?
146. Why do we dream?
147. Can animals reason?
148. Do animals have rights?
149. Should we let people commit suicide when they are terminally ill?
150. Should we fear death?
151. Is life meaningless if we can live forever?
152. Does every event have a cause?
153. “This sentence is false.” Is it true or false?
154. “It will rain a week later.” Is it true or false or neither?
155. Is truth relative, or a matter of opinion?
156. How do you know you are not dreaming right now?
157. If we live in a computer simulation, does it make a difference to the meaning of life
158. Would you choose to live in a computer simulation if it will make you a lot happier?
159. Can we be certain of anything?
160. Why believe in electrons and blackholes if we can’t see them?
161. What’s your philosophy of life?
162. Do you live to eat or eat to live?
163. How should we live?
164. What’s more important, the individual or society?
If you have more questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources of questions:
1-65: 65 Deep Philosophical Questions Operation Meditation
100-160: 101 Philosophical Questions