Thursday, March 4, 2010

Philosophical Problems I

   In an earlier post on interpretation I wrote about the essential problems uncovered by philosophical interpretation.  The nature of these problems was left unclear and there was some wonder as to what these essential problems might be.  I hope to address some of that here. 
   (I have found in trying to work this question into a single post that it would be either too glib in its presentation, or would employ far too much dense terminology without explanation; this being the case I have decided to break it up into a number of parts.)

The Word 'Problem': 
   A critical distance should be assumed in my selection of ‘problem’.  I was not very particular about my word choice in ‘problem’ when I wrote it in my first post here on interpretation; the word simply presented itself as ready for use. There is nothing essential about this word to what I mean by it here, I could have easily chosen among anxiety, concern, matter and many others.  However, to remain consistent I will continue with 'problem' since it is no less essential than any other term I may select.  At any rate, ‘problem’ does have a certain ring to it.
   ‘Problem’ may evoke the sense of something being wrong, but we can have the problem of deciding what cake we want to eat, or the problem of what shirt to wear, so it is not that problems all must have a negative connotation, but it is handy to have a word that at least brings some weight with it.

Problems in General:
   We have problems, yet when we seek to resolve them we are unable to share them; the problem here is treated not as a thing but a mood or a state of our mind.  What we share anent problems are formulations of them – typically questions.  In the end, a problem is whatever leads us into thought.  The solution of the problem is a determination of some sort that puts an end to that need to think, or possibly brings a new issue to be thought about.  Problems can beget problems.
   If we treat philosophy as seeking to parse what is essential, our dealing with ‘problems’ philosophically has two paths of inquiry open to it.  First is the possibility of any problem – what concepts are thought in common, or essentially, in all problems; second are problems that are possible for all beings considered as possessing the same faculties.  By this later essential determination of problems we will be saying something about our own constitution that produces something that is problematic (thought provoking).
   In my next installment I will address the essential in any problem.