If you take away everything we have, we are left with our thoughts. It would certainly seem like they form the very core of who we are, or our individuality. If I don’t own my thoughts, what else could I possibly own?
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘How much is enough?’
And yet great efforts are made to try and control how we think. A movie can make you cry, an ad campaign can make you buy a product, a politician can earn your vote. Manipulating someone’s thoughts to make them do something is incredibly powerful.
I want to believe that what I think is somehow up to me and me alone, but I know that isn’t true. Hence the question: How much of our thoughts are our own?
Related questions: How can we determine how we have been manipulated? What makes you you? Why do we like what we like?
Fiction is all around us — in the movies we watch, the books we read, the stores we tell each other. We all consume fiction every day, and telling made-up stories has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of man.
But why should we care? Fiction must serve some purpose in our lives, or it wouldn’t matter so much to us. What are the benefits of fiction?
Related questions: What is the difference between lying and fiction? How can we strengthen our imagination? How important is the artist to art?
Money. We all use it, want it, dream about it, worry about it, spend it, save it, and trade portions of our life for it. We judge our place in society on how much we have, and rank our country based on how much each member possesses.
But how often do we actually think about what it is for, and why it is so important in our lives? What is the purpose of money?
Related questions: How are money and value related? How should we compare each other? Why are we greedy?
People love music. The exact type of music might change from person to person, but it seems like the interest in making music and listening to music is baked in to our DNA.
Music can have a powerful effect on people. It can make people laugh, provoke fear, bring them to tears, or make you tap your foot. Hearing a particular song can instantly bring back a memory from long ago.
But why? What is it about music that speaks to us as a species? Why does music make us feel anything at all?
Related questions: How is music like a language? How does learning music change the way we think? How can music be bad or harmful?
We all have intuitive feelings about things. Sometimes these intuitions can be right, and sometimes they can be wrong. In some cases we need to overrule these feelings with logic, but in some cases it seems that our intuition adds value to our lives.
How can we determine which is which? How important is intuition?
Related questions: How can we improve our intuition? How does our intuition change as we age?