The Asking Mystery

A Philosophical Inquiry

By (author) Michael Gelven

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 April 2001

Length of book:

176 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271019864

How do we ask the great questions? What does it mean to ask so profoundly? What does it mean for us to ask at all? Michael Gelven confronts these questions as he explores humans as self-reflecting thinkers. He recognizes two central phenomena as fundamental: the recognition of our own possibility lying within our existence and the realization of our suspension between total ignorance and complete knowledge.

Using concrete analyses, Gelven investigates the questions we ask that may seem initially unanswerable but are ultimately confronted through our own self-realization. Asking becomes fundamental when we shift from relying on projected schemes, such as clocks and calendars that enable answers to ordinary questions about time, to an ongoing, nonschematic reflection on our own existence. Not only are Platonic, Kantian, Nietzschean, and Heideggerian analyses considered, but so are David’s psalms, Auden’s poetry, and Shakespeare’s plays. Gelven asserts that fundamental asking is essential to our being: we must ask greatly first, for the great explains the lesser; the small does not account for the large.

“Philosophers have been inclined to see the proposition, the theory, the system as isomorphic to reality—hence substance metaphysics. Michael Gelven argues that propositions are answers to questions and that asking is more primordial than answering and has a worth independent of an answer conceived as a true proposition. This fundamental inversion makes possible many other thoughtful inversions that make the argument as it unfolds constantly challenging and continually stimulating.”

—Donald Livingston, Emory University