What is common to all of the cases mentioned below? Here is what I notice: They are all questions. (with the exception of the second “problem of evil” which was stated as a thesis)
So in response to the question “Put what forward?”: We’re putting forth questions.
Why not then call it”The question of evil,” “the question of knowledge” and all the rest?
“Because,” you will say, “‘Problem’ and ‘solve’ have just come to mean ‘question’ and ‘answer.’ It doesn’t just mean a ‘thing thrown before you.’ We are in the process of re-defining ‘problem’ to mean a specific kind of thing, namely, a question.”
OK. First of all, why go through all the effort bending a word to mean question when we already have a word that means question? (Namely, “question”)
Secondly, there is something we gain from using “question” that we lose when using “problem. I will contend that there is only one means to “solving” “problems” of the sort mentioned below. That is conversation between human beings. The only way to answer “What is knowledge” is to go about the tedious business of talking about it. “I think knowledge is justified true belief.”
“I think you’re wrong! What about when I think a clock is right, and I’m right, but it’s not?” “Huh?”
and so on…
Question derives from “quest” – to seek, to search. From the start of the conversation we are seeking, rather than solving.
The use of “problem” stunts discussion. If I am right that conversation is the only way to go, then it slows, if only a little, the single available means for “solving” the problem.
If I am right then “problem” is… Inexpedient. That’s all I’m saying. The problem with “Problem” is that it is not as good as “question.” It is not wrong, or horrible, just… Unhelpful.
Let’s call these difficult things what they are, questions that plague us deeply. Questions we ask ourselves at night in bed, that give us pause, that make us nervous when we dwell on them. Yes, it is uncomfortable to sit in one’s own ignorance, but is there any other way?
What is knowledge? Why does God allow evil? God, what are you thinking?