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The Big Questions Reside in Our Unconscious, Yet are Rarely Answered

ErinDoppelheuer's picture

What is the meaning of life, why are we here and why does Earth exist.  These are three of the big questions lingering in the world of philosophy and no one can answer them.  However, when we begin to question our own existence, we try to answer them through our unconscious minds.

Philosophy was once described to me as “the science of unanswerable questions”, but as people begin to question philosophy and the big questions they begin to answer them unconsciously; “In asking philosophical questions, we use a reason shaped by the body, a cognitive unconscious to which we have no direct access, and metaphorical thought of which we are largely unaware.”  Most of the time, when thinking about these particular questions of life, we never express our thoughts out loud; they are mostly subdued and reside in the back of our minds for a rainy day.  On a quiet reflective day, questions such as “Why am I here, what is my purpose, and what is the point to human life on Earth?” come to mind.  Gazing out the window contemplating my own existence I now begin to realize how insignificant we really are.  If you look at what is important to the majority of people in the world, it will probably show you how self indulgent and self focused we truly are.   

Why are we placed in this world that we call home and why is Earth significant?  Earth is only one planet out of eight in our solar system, which is one of millions of galaxies in the entire Universe.  Why did God, if there even is a God, place human life on Earth?  What made Earth so special that He/She decided to place us here?  The one thing I find fascinating is of all the galaxies, why the Milky Way and if God knows everything, why did He/She place us in a galaxy with a star that supports our planet, yet will eventually blow up and either kill us all or force us to move to another planet or galaxy.  This topic of God, Earth and the Universe are important to me because they hold the answers to life.  Knowing that the Universe can and will most likely collapse on itself is a terrifying and shocking phenomena.  These events are forecast to occur approximately 14 million years from now, so it is hard to appreciate them in our everyday life.  The topic of the eventual demise of the world, the theme of creation, existence and role of a God or deity are controversial issues that reside in the unconscious.  These issues have creating issues since the beginning of time.  For example, more wars have been fought regarding religion and divine purpose than any other controversial issue. 

The reason we don’t like to concentrate on these questions is because there are no definite answers and it clearly makes us feel uncomfortable and insignificant.  No one wants to feel this way so we tend to dwell on questions that we can answer and ones that make us feel as if we add value to our lives and lives of others.  Most people need to feel as if they contribute to society in some way, yet if there is a strong feeling of Armageddon, people would lose hope, interest in morality and would become unwilling to contribute to society.  Therefore the world would spiral into chaos.  Typically we concentrate on questions we think we can answer and we tend to focus on societal issues where we feel as if we can make a difference, such as education and parent hood.  The bigger questions of “why are we here, what is our purpose, and the reason for Earth?” are shoved into the far recesses of our mind to allow us to function on a daily level.  Every once in a while, these questions leap to the front of our mind and we begin to question our very existence.  For most people this is only a fleeting moment of thought and then is shoved back quickly to the depths of our unconscious mind for another rainy day. 


Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. “Introduction: Who Are We? How Cognitive Science

Reopens Central Philosophical Questions.”  Philosophy in The Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought.  New York: Basic Books, 1999.