Within my grade at school, certain people seek out (I'm not sure if they do it consciously or unconsciously) the negative aspects of other people in the grade, without seeing any of their good qualities (which I believe they, like everyone, have). I was wondering why people do this, not only at school but in society in general? Why must so many people spend so much time (and I mean A LOT of time) focusing on such insignificant and often superficial aspects of people?

Not all "why" questions are philosophical and I think yours isn't really. It's more a question about human psychology. That said, you seem to run "negative" qualities of people together with "insignificant" ones. They're not the same of course: some negative attributes are very significant. But either way, we can ask why people tend not to focus on the deeper, positive values of others. Well, often they do! Why don't they always do it? Oh, I don't know if you'll find just one or two reasons. But here's one that functions sometimes: when you find something deeply positive about someone, you can't help but feel connected or attached to that person. Any such connection makes you vulnerable to pain, to loss. People try to protect themselves from painful emotions. And so they tend, at least at first, to keep some distance by keeping the superficial or perhaps even the negative in full view.

My name is Michael V. and this might be somewhat of a strange question. I have been interested in philosophy for about three years now and have done some reading specifically in existentialism. When I came across a book called "Nausea," by Sartre, I was blown away. The "nausea of the hands" he began talking about opened up so many perceptual doors to me. And even though he explained it well enough in the book, I can't help but notice that this "nausea" has become a curse. I know I am prone to anxiety from living my own life and stuff, so I guess I would like to have some knowledge dropped on me as to what exactly is the difference between plain neurosis and this "nausea"? mike.

I was also very moved reading La Nausée , but it didn't ignite anenduring interest in Sartre's philosophy so I'm unable to say whatconnection he thought there was between Roquentin's experience and his views in, say, Being and Nothingness . In general, I think the question of the relation between one's psychological make-up and one's philosophical outlook, interests, and style is an interesting one. You can read more about Sartre and existentialism in two entries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .

Why bother living? Life is utterly pointless, meaningless, and futile. It's just an endlessly turning cycle of boredom and pain punctuated by brief moments of joy. What is the point of it all? Why bother?

It's not uncommon to work one's way into the perspective your questions suggest. It can be difficult sometimes to work one's way out of it. Usually, nothing anyone can say will be relevant. One's entire orientation on life has to shift and that's not something that can be brought about by being given any kind of argument — which is just what philosophers are well-trained to offer. So perhaps you might consider looking elsewhere, to art or literature for instance; to your local homeless shelter; or to a nearby park. The response to Question 390 might also be relevant.

How do you know the answers to all of these (what seems to me) difficult questions? Is there some sort of book you can read to learn about the questions asked on this site?

Do we have "the answers" to these questions? I don't think so. Seems rather like philosophers have many responses to them, most more or less tentative. For some suggested reading, you might look at the responses to Question 363 .

Other than the fact that it is your job, why do you practice philosophy now? Bob West

I wouldn't say I "practice" philosophy. It's not a religion, or a regimen, or a set exercises. I pursued my interests in philosophy because I loved the questions, the answers, and the arguments. The questions seemed fundamental, ones on which the intelligibility or proper interpretation of other disciplines turned and yet ones which other disciplines wouldn't touch. Nothing was off limits in philosophy, including the nature of philosophy itself, and I liked that. And I loved the answers that people gave -- not because I thought they were right, but because they were ingenious, comprehensive, perverse, frightening, beautiful. And finally, one didn't have to respect a view because of its popularity or its pedigree or what-have-you: all that counted were the arguments in its favor. Philosophy's playing field is as level as they come -- and I liked that too. But that's just me: please the response to Question 755 .

Hello. I have just read the introduction to this site and was interested in the "paradox" you mention -- that everyone confronts philosophical issues but not everyone has the opportunity to learn philosophy. In my ears, this statement has a twinge of arrogance about it, and my question is whether you think philosophy must, almost necessarily, make its practitioners arrogant. In the first place, regarding the claim itself: it seems that far from everyone confronts philosophical issues in their lives. Many people are confronted with practical issues, like how to get themselves out of poverty, or save their daughter from leukemia. Philosophy has nothing to offer here, it seems. Secondly, still regarding the claim that everyone confronts philosophical issues: while it may be true that many people (though probably mostly wealthy people, no?) confront SOME philosophical issues, there seem to be a great many philosophical issues that would never occur to people to be interested in. Issues in the...

Your first point in your third paragraph appears confused. You say that many problems in everyday life are not philosophical. Agreed. Thus, the claim that all problems in everyday life are philosophical is refuted. But that wasn't the claim you set out to refute. You initially disagreed with the claim that many people confront philosophical problems throughout their lives. That might be true even though not all problems they confront are philosophical. In your fourth paragraph, you argue that many philosophical questions occur to no one in everyday life. Actually, I disagree with many of your examples, but let's accept the claim. (Go to a museum and you'll overhear people engaged in disputes about aesthetics, for instance. Or, more simply, just browse through this website's questions in Mind, History, etc., and you'll find plenty of questions from folks who clearly have no background in philosophy but who have philosophical questions in those just areas you claim people untutored in...

Do you think it is ethical to have romantic desires for people with good looks? I know the obvious (pop culture) answer is yes. One may even assert further that it is natural to do so. However, my point then is that some desires, albeit natural, are unethical. (If I don't have money on me and I am hungry, I may feel the urge to steal some food.) And even though most people may feel that it is okay, the general public may be very often wrong. My reasoning is: (1) We should evaluate people only on their choices and not on conditions they haven't achieved by making choices. (2) People don't choose to look good or bad. Conclusion: Therefore, it is unethical to grant people ANY advantage based on their looks. A friend of mine, against this argument, tells me that for instance, a mathematician has not chosen to be born with her talent, so we shouldn't also value her mathematical works. This seems like an inextricable tangle! Thanks.

Where "looks" aren't relevant, then it seems foolish or wrong to take them into account. Deciding to hire people on account of their attractiveness to you, rather than on account of their ability to satisfy the demands of the job, seems counter-productive at best, unethical at worst. But you began rather with a question about whether "looks" are relevant in a romantic context . And now why shouldn't they be? Deciding with whom to hang out romantically isn't the same as deciding who's going to get the job of washing your car; a date is not a job interview. Attraction (of all different kinds) is the name of the game in romance. A romance without attraction (to how a person looks, laughs, talks, thinks, etc. -- all features over which a person has little control) is like Hamlet without the Prince.

Will good things happen to a person if they do good? Does karma exist? So in other words: If one share with the world everything they have without expecting good to happen to them in return, will great things happen for them anyways?

Are you asking whether, if one does good, then the world will always insome way reward one? I would think the answer is No. You may berecognized for the good you do and that recognition might bring yousome reward. But as often as not, I would think, one's good deeds arenot recognized or rewarded. If we shift our attention away from theworld, though, perhaps the answer's different. For perhaps doingsomething good is, in itself, healthy for one's soul -- just as doingsomething bad is corrupting of one's soul, regardless of whether theworld catches us out and punishes us. (For some related remarks, see Question 2 .)