Why do we refer to things as “problems”? You may say I’m picky, but I think word choice is the most important thing… Plus the name you give a thing influences how in what way we’ll approach it. If we are naming things incorrectly, we will not approach them correctly, and given the kinds of things that currently earn the name “Problem” (“the problem of evil,” “the problem of unity and diversity,” “the problem of knowledge,” “the problem of particulars”), it is really, really important to me to approach to them correctly.

Let’s flesh this out. The “problem of evil”, correct me if I’m wrong, when stated, runs something like this: “How can a loving, good God exist if there is such horrendous suffering and evil in the world?” or maybe, ” A loving, good God cannot exist in a world of such horrific evil.”

The problem of unity and diversity is phrased: “Are the thing(s) that exist many, or one?” “Is the universe one thing or many things?”

The problem of knowledge: “What is knowledge? What are the conditions for knowledge?”

These are big nuts we’ve been cracking for millenia. Whatever they are (surely not “nuts”), they have not been referred to as problems but for a few centuries at most (does anyone have any insight onto the history of the term?).

The problem with “problem” is that the word literally just means, “a thing.” The Greek is proballein – to throw before, put forward.

To put what forward?

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Posted by Keith E. Buhler

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