Does the fact that we question everything make us human?

Philosopher's reply

Dear Kris,

Thank you for your postcard. It’s a great question. Our ability to think and think critically about the world is certainly, at least, a very important part of what we are. But your question suggests something more: can we put anything in question, even claims that have seemed unshakeable foundations – that the world is comprehensible, that other people exist, even that I exist. (In a sense, our ability to put things in question makes us all philosophers). This ability makes us (so far) unlike machines and programs which always have some built-in assumptions or limit + how they operate. A final thought for you – one might think that it’s our ability to place ourselves in question that makes us particularly human – we can change who we are, and aspire to think far beyond where we find ourselves – this is an aspect of ourselves that Iris Murdoch was very much attuned to.

Good wishes,

Alison Fernandes, Trinity College Dublin

Philosopher's profile

Alison Fernandes

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

I value Iris Murdoch’s philosophy for how it asks us to attend to our moral lives, both the inner and the outer. It presents our moral experiences as something always complex- and I find that to be a valuable acknowledgement and true to how we live our lives.

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