A Timeline Of Philosophical Questions: Content Request


In “The Intellectual Achievement of Creating Questions,” I explained why I thought it would be a good idea for the profession to have a timeline of the creation of philosophical questions.

Ultimately, the timeline should be accurate, comprehensive, searchable, zoomable, and graphically attractive, with entries linked to a variety of helpful resources elsewhere, and useful to philosophers, to those in other disciplines researching aspects of the history of philosophy, and to the non-expert public.

But the first thing we will need to get things off the ground is our data: the questions themselves, the rough dates we have of their emergence, the philosophers associated with their earliest discussion. Please supply whatever information you can in the comments. Even just identifying the questions is helpful here.

Keep in mind the varieties of ways we can understand the creation of a question. As I mentioned in the companion post to this one, here are four.

  • Reinvention – bringing attention to a forgotten or neglected question by asking it in a new way.
  • Application – reformulating a version of a known philosophical question so as to apply it to a new domain and in doing so bringing new considerations into play.
  • Specification – showing that a known philosophical question is ambiguous or incomplete by making relevant distinctions and articulating the other questions whose answers are needed in order to clarify or complete the first one.
  • Inauguration – asking a question that creates a new area of philosophical inquiry

There are probably other ways to create questions, or to map the terrain of question-creation, so suggestions on that front are welcome, too.

This is a collective endeavor that will require the input and efforts of many people in order to come to fruition. Please take some time—even just a few minutes when you have them—to contribute to it. Thank you.

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