I’m returning today to the idea of perennial questions: questions that recur throughout the history of philosophy, where both sides of a debate keep getting articulated in many different places. The key feature of these perennial questions, to my mind, is that they are large: they cannot be narrowed down to a single precisely defined question within a single philosophical subfield, of the sort that analytic philosophers aim to ask, but extend their ramifications across multiple fields of theoretical and practical inquiry.
So far I’ve explored two major perennial questions: ascent versus descent and intimacy versus integrity. I have taken these as two different axes along which philosophies can be classified – in their ethics and soteriology as well as their metaphysics and epistemology.
But why should we treat these as exhausting the perennial questions? Continue reading