Is this a phenomena in philosophy, that the more you study the more tricky basic questions are to understand, not just answer? I'm not sure.

Can imagine it in science, if not math.

Coding is probably a good example of a skill-set in which one forgets things and this extends to even working out what's going on. Or, perhaps, esoteric religion (what do my students even want from me?)

I mean, oddly, both these seem to fall under 'function' or 'purpose', not the essence of understanding.

  • is there a word for it? – user38026 Mar 29 '19 at 19:23
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    If I understand this correctly, then no, basic questions are not getting trickier to understand, since the most subtle philosophy is about the most basic questions. Either way, why do you think this question is on topic here on meta? – Philip Klöcking Mar 29 '19 at 20:40
  • cos many people seem to misunderstand my questions, here on philosophy.stack, and i don't think i've made a mistake in framing them, syntactical or otherwise @PhilipKlöcking – user38026 Mar 29 '19 at 20:55
  • You have posted five questions. All of them do not count as "basic" in my book since they do - as stated - use or imply very general philosophical conceptions which do only make sense with a lot of context, which often is not made explicit. I suggest entangling your thought and breaking it down to very specific issues in the context of specific texts. If you send your spirit flying you will have to take the reader the whole way, not ask them where to go. – Philip Klöcking Mar 29 '19 at 22:33
  • but they are essentially naive questions, one that someone with no familiarity with philosophical issues might well ask (just not couched in terminology like that) @PhilipKlöcking – user38026 Mar 29 '19 at 22:35
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    Moral universalism, absolutes, and relativism are very specific philosophical terms that refer to extensive traditions, asking for Marxist context implies familiarity with the traditional, linking Wittgenstein to so specific a tradition...do I really have to go on for showing that this is far from "naive"? I know that this is born out of intuitive impulses, but it is this kind of questions that are answered by original research mostly. You seem to expect that "philosophy" follows your intuitive superficial grasps, which it does not: Philosophy begins there and becomes hard work then. – Philip Klöcking Mar 29 '19 at 22:41
  • In other words: Your questions are neither basic nor simple to answer, since they emerge in the context of your personal history of learning, living, and reading. Basic questions, for me, are questions that children ask. They are sometimes the best philosophers since they make us question what we think to be given. – Philip Klöcking Mar 29 '19 at 22:47
  • "You seem to expect that "philosophy" follows your intuitive superficial grasps, which it does not: Philosophy begins there and becomes hard work then" so what is the difference between simplicity and superficial? i don't get what you mean @PhilipKlöcking ! like i suggested, either a question is syntactically deformed or misinformed, surely? what else? i am told i don't read enough to ask, that this is a "style" issue, etc.. surely 'naivety' then is the right word?? – user38026 Mar 29 '19 at 23:05
  • One may say "naive" in the sense of "not able to understand how complex the question really is". So yes, one may say that these questions tend to make use of a superficial, "naive" understanding of what they really are asking about and the concepts used, but they are in no sense "basic". Perhaps the dissonance between being well put syntactically and suggesting a good understanding of what is going on and that they are quite hard to answer contentwise and require either more narrow a context or several thousand words to be answered is what produces the ambiguous reception of your questions. – Philip Klöcking Mar 31 '19 at 14:06

Let's consider the question:

Is this a phenomena in philosophy, that the more you study the more tricky basic questions are to understand, not just answer?

Assuming that's true what should you do about that especially as you participate in a question and answer site such as this one?

One thing you could do is always stay close to references when asking or answering questions. If a reader then doesn't understand what you wrote, they can also go to the references for more information. Having these references become a sort of boat you can use to navigate your own study of the tricky basic questions.

So, always quote something specific and cite the quotation in any question or answer. Then practice using your communication skills to make the question or answer helpful and interesting to others by focusing on that quote. Make the question or answer not what you think, but what the philosopher you have chosen to quote thought.

What you are mainly doing is presenting that philosopher's ideas in order to understand them better in the process of communicating them. Hopefully that helps navigate those basic questions.


Perhaps even questions that are not in any way at all equivocally phrased can be ambiguous in another sense once we've learnt more, e.g. a new concept, even without forgetting anything.

Like when the child asks "is that a cat on the mat" and we don't understand the question because we don't know where our cat has gone. The child is just asking what is on the mat, but we're unsure if they want to know where our cat is, if they know it may have been run over, etc..

I'm not sure if that's an example of an unclear question or just not being able to take things at face value.

I think, bringing it back to this stackechange, that would be an example of a bad fit. Not, I think, against site rules. But not fit for learning philosophy, either.

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