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Time for some serious thinking

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

The love of wisdom might be a honourable pastime for cerebral old men sitting in dusty offices, but what use is philosophy for the rest of us?

The great names in the subject, from Socrates to Ludwig Wittgenstein, are associated with ideas that often seem removed from the problems of everyday life.

But philosophers celebrating UNESCO's World Philosophy Day want to change all that.

Far from being a subject for academics in their ivory tower, philosophy can of great benefit to everyone - especially school children.

"It really does enable them to think more, to speak and listen more carefully, communicate more confidently, concentrate more," says philosopher AC Grayling.

"They get used to the idea that there are some questions that don't have ready answers so there is a kind of open-endedness and ambiguity."

And while philosophical question may not have straightforward answers, he says, the crash of ideas in mulling them over often has unexpectedly interesting consequences.

"It is a bit like a proton proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider," he says. "If it where to happen, there would be such tremendous an amount of useful debris to come out of it."

THUNK FOR THE DAY

To get you thinking on World Philosophy Day, the Today programme has asked Ian Gilbert, who gives talks to school children to engage them in philosophical questions and is the author of The Book of Thunks , to come up with some philosophical quandaries applicable to ordinary life.

Let us know your most most philosophical answers using the form at the bottom of the page.

  • Is certainty the same as truth?
  • Do all Polos taste the same?
  • Is the Hokey Cokey really what it's all about?
  • Can you photograph a wink?
  • Is my God your God?
  • Is there a difference between an 'exit' and a 'way out'?
  • Could God be an atheist?
  • Is Monday not Tuesday as much as Wednesday isn't?
  • Are two all-you-can-eat breakfasts twice as big as one?
  • Is it OK to let someone in the queue behind you?
  • Does having plans help you become the sort of person you used to want to be?
  • Can you be proud of someone you've never met?
  • Just because we can, should we?
  • Should you trust everyone once?
  • Is a hole a thing?
  • Does your house weigh more when the bath is full?
  • Is saying 'I don't know' better than guessing?
  • Can a good person choose not to go to heaven (should it exist)?
  • Is refusing to be weak the same as being strong?
  • Could a nun disguise herself as a nun?

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Is a hole a thing? - yes, the same as zero is a number.
Ross, Edinburgh, Scotland

Taking 2 of your questions together: Do all Polos taste the same? Is a hole a thing?
Yes they do taste the same, but the holes taste different
David Hamilton, Edinburgh, UK

If God created everything than who created God?
Shaun, Hull

Is the Hokey Cokey really what it's all about? - If it isn't it'll certainly do until the real purpose arrives.
Rob, London

Does your house weigh more when the bath is full? Not necessarily, if you fill your bath from a hot water tank located in the house, you are simply transferring water from one place to the other. Therefore, the house will weigh the same.
Chris Morris, Harrogate, England

Is it OK to let someone in the queue behind you? Try asking the person behind you.
Paul Jay, Bradford, West Yorkshire

There is not always an answer to everything
Paul Grainger, London

"Is my God your God?"? Dave Allen worked that one out many years ago. "May your God go with you.". As a confirmed anti-theist, I haven't found anything to better that simple phrase.
Jaye, Rutland, England

Certainty is what people have or feel - it is subjective, and may not be based on truth. Truth is an objective and absolute state of affairs independent of any human presence or intervention. A hole is a thing as much as any other human construct, a way of identifying the absence of something else, which might be or have been a different entity altogether or might have been a quantity of matter identical with its surroundings but now removed by some force or event. Whether God could be an atheist depends on your definition of terms: if God exists in standard theological and monotheistic terms, It (non-gender-specific) should be able to believe in Itself as much humans do in themselves. By the same token, It might wonder how It came into being and whether therefore there is an even higher being which created It - in which It would have to decide whether or not to believe. Thus we get into infinite regression territory. But whether Adam had a navel is a much more interesting question...
Jeff Lee, Otford UK

Are two all-you-can-eat breakfasts twice as big as one? Depends who's eating!
Is saying 'I don't know' better than guessing? Not necessarily but you could preempt a guess with honesty. "This is a guess, but ...."
Alex, Saffron Walden, UK

Is certainty the same as truth? I'm unsure - does that make me a liar?
Vince Smith, Kendal, UK




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