If you want to give your gray matter a serious workout, or start a long and interesting conversation with someone, you’ve come to the right place.
All you need is something to spark the mind into action, and what better way than by asking a few of the most thought-provoking questions there are.
For many of these, there is no right or wrong answer, just an opportunity to stretch your mental legs and see where your mind takes you.
They can be sources of contemplation and introspection, or topics to debate with friends late into the night when the moon is up and the rest of the world is asleep.
Try to remain open-minded, and if your views differ from those of others, be willing to accept that this is part of what makes life so interesting and exciting.
Deep questions like these make fantastic portals inward and allow you to explore your true thoughts and feelings.
Don’t worry if you can’t give a definitive answer; just know that by thinking about such interesting, philosophical problems, you are growing in both mind and spirit.
So let’s jump in with the seriously thought-provoking questions (our favorites in each section are highlighted).
Philosophical Questions That Make You Think
1. Can anything ever really be considered ‘true’ or is everything subjective?
2. Does a belief in free will make you more or less happy?
3. Given the ripple effect of our actions across time and space, how can we ever be sure that we’re doing the ‘right’ thing?
4. If you do a good deed in order to feel good about it, is it kindness or business? Does it matter either way?
5. If a perfect clone of you were created, right down to the tiniest cellular detail, would it BE you or would it somehow still be missing something?
6. If consciousness is a purely human trait, are we better off for it or does it simply lead to greater problems?
7. Is suffering an important part of being human?
8. Is there such a thing as knowledge if everything we know is subject to debate?
9. Is there such a thing as your real self or does your self change as time passes and given the circumstances you are in?
10. Where do thoughts come from?
11. Does a person have a soul? If so, where is it?
12. Can anything exist in complete isolation or is everything defined by its relation and connection to other things? Is a chair only a chair if someone is sitting in it?
13. If an afterlife does exist, what is it like?
14. Given that a person does not choose to be born, is free will simply an illusion?
15. Does life require a purpose?
16. By refusing to hold a position on something, do you, by default, accept all positions or reject all positions?
Thought-Provoking Moral Questions
17. Should prisoners with full life sentences be given the chance to end their life rather than live out their days locked up?
18. If you knew there was an 80% chance that someone was going to commit murder in their lifetime, but a 20% chance that they would not, would you imprison them before they had the opportunity? What if it were 50-50?
19. If the most effective way to help the greatest number of people out of poverty was to stop helping a small percentage of the population altogether, would it be a reasonable choice to make?
20. Does scientific and technological progress require an unequal distribution of wealth? Is it worth it if the only people who benefit are the rich?
21. Why are we humans so good at passing the buck of responsibility onto other people or entities?
22. If you knew that sacrificing your life would have a huge benefit to thousands of people, would you do it?
23. Would you run into a burning building to save your partner? What about your child?
24. Is a person ever truly evil? If so, are they born that way?
25. Does a banker really deserve to get paid more than a street cleaner?
26. Do you judge yourself by the same standards that you judge others? If not, are you harsher or more lenient?
27. Is surveillance ever a bad thing if you have nothing to hide?
28. Would full denuclearisation make the world more or less safe?
29. Would it be right for western governments to impose relative poverty on their citizens in order to save the planet? Would developing countries be more inclined to limit their consumption of resources if developed nations did too?
30. Is it ever morally acceptable to limit the number of children a person can have if the consequences of overpopulation are that everybody suffers?
31. When does a child stop being innocent and start being responsible?
32. What is justice?
33. Would it ever be ethical to read someone’s mind or is that the only true form of privacy?
34. Since morals change over time, what are some things we do now as a society that will be deemed unacceptable 100 years from now?
Questions To Make You Think About Life
35. Which is a scarier thought: that the human race is the most advanced form of life in the universe, or that we are mere amoeba compared to other life forms?
36. If you fear death, why?
37. How do we know that we’re not living in a computer simulation?
38. Imagine you’re 65. Would you rather live another 10 years in good health with full mobility or another 40 years in deteriorating health with limited mobility?
39. How should we measure our lives? In years? In moments? In accomplishments? Something else?
40. What is something that you could realistically do today that would benefit the rest of your life? What’s stopping you?
41. Is there such a thing as an ‘ordinary’ life? If so, what does it look like?
42. Does modern life give us more freedom or less freedom than in the past?
43. Would you wish to live a 1000 years in your 25 year old body if you had the choice?
44. If you could find out the date you will die, would you do it? Would knowing the date change how you live your life?
45. Would you really want to live a life that is free from challenges or obstacles?
46. Have you wasted your potential or lived up to it?
47. At what point does striving for a better life turn from healthy to unhealthy?
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Interesting Questions To Really Get You Thinking
48. Will there ever be a time when robots, for want of a better word, are treated as equals with humans?
49. If humans still exist in 10,000 years time, what will civilization look like?
50. If intelligent extra-terrestrial life was discovered, how do you think humanity would react?
51. Can humanity ever come together around a common cause or are we all too selfish as individuals?
52. Would you prepared to live through a year of extreme hardship and trauma if it subsequently meant a lifetime of peace and happiness?
53. Does instant connectivity and communication bring people together or push them apart?
54. Would you prefer to lose all the memories you have now or never be able to make any new memories?
55. What is the single most important thing in making a relationship work?
56. What is the most significant historical event to have happened in your lifetime?
57. Which 3 people – past or present – would you invite to a dinner party?
58. If you won the lottery, do you think you’d be happier for it?
59. If nobody remembered you after you died, would it matter since you’d be dead?
60. Does higher academic intelligence make you more or less happy?
61. What do you think your last thoughts will be before you die?
62. If you were the leader of your country, what would your policies be?
63. Would the world be better or worse off without religion?
64. Is patriotism a good thing or does it lead to mistrust and dislike of foreigners?
65. Is a minimum income a good idea? What about a maximum income?
66. How do you define a community? Are you a part of one? Does where you live feel like one?
67. Would a perfect democracy – where each citizen got a vote on all matters of government – lead to a better or worse society?
68. Are science and religion compatible?
69. If past lives are real, why is the human population increasing? Or are our past lives sometimes as other creatures?
70. Would the world be a better place if all leaders were women?
71. If you can have too much of a good thing, can you ever have not enough of a bad thing?
72. Will true artificial intelligence ever exist, and if so, will it be good or bad for humanity?
73. Given that our memories change all the time, how can we ever be sure of what we experienced in the past?
74. Whose responsibility should it be to care for the sick, elderly, or infirm?
Deep Questions That Make You Think Hard
75. What is consciousness? If it is a purely human trait, at which point did it first emerge? Did one person suddenly become conscious?
76. Is it easier to hate or to love? Why?
77. Is there any real significance to numbers such as 11:11 or do we just give them meaning that doesn’t exist?
78. Are personal boundaries necessary or do they restrict the full expression of love?
79. Why do bad things happen to good people?
80. Are any of our views truly our own or do we simply inherit them from the environments and societies we live our lives in?
81. Can any love be truly unconditional when we can’t ever be sure how we might feel in a future set of circumstances?
82. Are we the source of our own problems? Do we create problems in our minds to give us something to focus on?
83. Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized the person staring back?
84. Is there actually a present moment if that moment passes in an instant?
85. How old do you feel on the inside?
86. A day can seem to drag or a day can go by quickly. So is time real?
87. Is there a ‘before’ the universe? If so, what did it look like?
88. How does carrying a child for 9 months and subsequently giving birth to it change a mother’s way of thinking?
89. Is a mother-child bond automatically stronger than a father-child bond?
90. What is infinity?
91. Is it ever possible to ‘create’ something new, or is it just discovering that thing?
92. Is there ever a point at which greater knowledge becomes detrimental to a person rather than beneficial? How about for society as a whole?
93. Why do we do things in our dreams that we would never do when awake?
94. Why do we like what we like and dislike what we dislike?
95. Can a thought alone ever influence the physical world?
96. Is trust something that is offered by the giver or earned by the receiver? When you meet someone new, do you start by trusting or mistrusting them?
97. Is it possible to think about yourself when you are yourself? Are there different levels of you, where a higher level can think about a lower level, but not vice versa?
98. Can any aspect of any ‘thing’ ever be perfect or is perfection an illusion?
99. Why are humans so good at doing things that are bad for them?
100. Are some questions best left unanswered?
101. Does asking questions such as the 100 above actually do you any good? Could it even do you harm?