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What Is a question?

  1. Apr 23, 2004 #1
    What is a question? Why do people ask questions? What do questions do?
    Would it be better to ask one's own questions or buy a book of carefully crafted questions by a leading philosophical questioner?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2004 #2
    why do you ask???
  4. Apr 23, 2004 #3
    hmmm... It is better not to copy other people....

    definition: a sentence of inquiry that asks for a reply; "he asked a direct question"; "he had trouble phrasing his interrogations"
  5. May 18, 2004 #4
    Wouldn't a question be a statement of ignorance?
  6. May 18, 2004 #5
    not neccesarily a statement of ignorance...that is, depending on what type of question. A rhetorical question does not depict the speaker's ingnorance.
  7. May 21, 2004 #6
    Careful now... You shouldn't be using "asks" in any definition of a question. :wink:

    I think the most important thing to decide upon is whether a question necessarily requires an answer to have sense. Does the answer not need to be apparent, is it enough that it is conceivable that the question is able to be answered?

    Is there a distinction between a question and a statement of uncertainty or doubt?
  8. May 21, 2004 #7
    People ask questions, to know, what might be known already.

    Have you ever known a question that someone did not have an answer to?

    Questions come up when you have the need for them to be answered.

    Do you think your questions are less important than a leading philosophical questioner?
  9. May 21, 2004 #8
    who?what?when?where?how?hoo?boo? cha-cha-cha! choo-choo!!
  10. May 21, 2004 #9
    Rhetorical questions don't need an answer.
  11. May 21, 2004 #10
    good question.

    Here is a list of the types of questions.]

    "1. Factual - Soliciting reasonably simple, straight forward answers based on obvious facts or awareness. These are usually at the lowest level of cognitive or affective processes and answers are frequently either right or wrong.

    Example: Name the Shakespeare play about the Prince of Denmark?

    2. Convergent - Answers to these types of questions are usually within a very finite range of acceptable accuracy. These may be at several different levels of cognition -- comprehension, application, analysis, or ones where the answerer makes inferences or conjectures based on personal awareness, or on material read, presented or known.

    Example: On reflecting over the entirety of the play Hamlet, what were the main reasons why Ophelia went mad? ( This is not specifically stated in one direct statement in the text of Hamlet. Here the reader must make simple inferences as to why she committed suicide.)

    3. Divergent - These questions allow students to explore different avenues and create many different variations and alternative answers or scenarios. Correctness may be based on logical projections, may be contextual, or arrived at through basic knowledge, conjecture, inference, projection, creation, intuition, or imagination. These types of questions often require students to analyze, synthesize or evaluate a knowledge base and then project or predict different outcomes. Answering these types of questions may be aided by higher levels of affective functions. Answers to these types of questions generally fall into a wide array of acceptability. Often correctness is determined subjectively based on the possibility or probability. Often the intent of these types of questions is to stimulate imaginative and creative thought, or investigate cause and effect relationships.

    Example: In the love relationship of Hamlet and Ophelia, what might have happened to their relationship and their lives if Hamlet had not been so obsessed with the revenge of his father's death? -

    4. Evaluative - These types of questions usually require sophisticated levels of cognitive and/or emotional judgment. In attempting to answer these types of questions, students may be combining multiple cognitive and/or affective processes, levels frequently in comparative frameworks. Often an answer is analyzed at multiple levels and from different perspectives before the answerer arrives at newly synthesized information or conclusions.


    a. Compare and contrast the death of Ophelia with that of Juliet?

    b. What are the similarities and differences between Roman gladiatorial games and modern football?

    c. Why and how might the concept of Piagetian schema be related to the concepts presented in Jungian personality theory, and why might this be important to consider in teaching and learning?

    5. Combinations - These are questions that blend any combination of the above."

    And of course rhetorical (my favorite) questions.
  12. May 21, 2004 #11
    Is that the impression you have of me? Did it ever occur to you that it might not be that way, it might be only your interpretation of the question.
  13. May 21, 2004 #12
    Rhetorical questions do have an answer. It is the nature of a rhetorical question that the answer is implied in the way the question is formulated.

    I wouldn't classify a rhetorical question as a question, since it is not actually an inquiry into anything. It is a rhetorical device.
  14. May 23, 2004 #13
    Questions and answers are relative phenomena like up and down, left and right. Together they describe a single dimension we call thought. One person might believe a question sincere while another believes it to be rhetorical. Sometimes, apparently, we ourselves cannot determine whether our own questions and answers are sincere, that is, whether or not they really are questions or answers.

    The way to really determine the difference is to be accepting of whatever comes to us.
  15. May 23, 2004 #14


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    Since when is this a linguistics forum?
  16. May 24, 2004 #15
    You might want to study Wittgenstein and modern philosophy if you are completely ignorant of the importance of linguistics.
  17. May 24, 2004 #16


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    I'm not ignorant of why Wittgenstein thought it was important, but I do think he badly overstates his case. Besides, if he is correct, there is really no point in these attempts at dialogue. I would like to think he is not correct.
  18. May 24, 2004 #17
    Oh contraire, if he is correct there is a point to such dialogues, but it is more spiritual and psychological than rational. More personal. It is through our attachments and attractions to certain points of view that our personalities express their individuality. Through the surrender of such things that we find inner peace and acceptance of what is.
  19. May 24, 2004 #18


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    You're going to be hard pressed to explain how that has anything to do with this thread.
  20. May 25, 2004 #19
    What relationship does a question have with reality? I think that is how early Wittgenstein would put it.
  21. May 25, 2004 #20
    I have already explained how it is pertinent. Genuine questions are a form of surrender, an attitude we adopt, rather than merely a set of external characteristics.

    Am I being sarcastic? You can either just decide for yourself or ask me a question. Am I being honest about my sincerity? Again, there is no way to tell. For all I know, I am lying to myself, lost in denial. Again, asking genuine questions without any demands or anticipations is one of the few ways of resolving such issues.

    Is the world flat? No matter how much evidence I accumulate, if I really am not open to the answer it remains a rhetorical question (ie a statement) and I need not ever accept the reality that the world is round.
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