A philosophy competition is asking the public to submit their most controversial, puzzling questions

You don’t have to be a formal philosopher to be a thinker.
You don’t have to be a formal philosopher to be a thinker.
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It’s all very well getting the right answer, but if the question you’re responding to is 2+2, nobody’s going to be very impressed. Choosing the question to focus on can be a far more important task than is often realized. To that end, a philosophy competition is asking members of the public to submit their proposals for the greatest philosophical question.

The Great American Think-Off, a philosophy competition sponsored by the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in Minnesota, has asked the public to choose the question for the 25th annual edition of the competition. Proposals must be submitted by December 1, reports the Minnesota Daily Journal, and the philosophical question of 2017 will be announced on the first day of the new year. Once the question is decided, the public will have a chance to submit their philosophical answer.

Past questions have included:

  • Does technology free us or trap us?
  • Which is more ethical: sticking to principle or being willing to compromise?
  • The Nature of Humankind: Inherently good or inherently evil?
  • Does poetry matter?
  • Does life have meaning?

A great philosophical question will never have a clear-cut answer, and should be highly relevant to contemporary concerns. After all, as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy showed, the answer to “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” is of little use if that question is, in fact,  ”What do you get when you multiply six by nine?”