The Basics


Does philosophy only deal with the big questions about life and the universe?

Not all philosophical work is about important questions. Some of it may seem absurd to non-philosophers. For example, how is the mind connected to the body? Most of us know that if we want to raise our right arm and we are not paralyzed, it is the easiest thing in the world to do—we just decide to do it and the arm goes up. But ever since the work of the seventeenth-century philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650), philosophers have argued passionately among themselves about the right way to describe the connection between the mind and the body.

As children, we often ask lots of questions of our elders about the nature of our world and the universe. Many of us seem to lose that interest as adults, but these are still central questions about the meaning of our lives that philosophers strive to answer (iStock).

This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App