Or at least, certainly not the ones that have so far been submitted to this list, since the questions posted are proof positive that they have not disappeared at all, or at least, not altogether. Sure, some questions have their heyday for a while, and then they may disappear for many a moon. But the great question you posed -- what questions have disappeared? -- shows that they were just waiting for a question like this for someone to be reminded just how much emptier our existence would be without certain questions.
But I also think that some questions certainly have gone by the wayside for a long time, though not necessarily the ones that so far have been posed. We may ask, for instance, questions like, Has history ended?, and then go on to offer up a response of one sort or another. But when is the last time we asked, what *is* history? What different types of history are there? What makes history history, regardless of which type it is?
Or we may ask: Why have certain questions been discarded? But when's the last time anyone has asked, What is a question? What does a question do? What does a question to do us, and what do we do to it?
We may ask: How do people differ in how they think and learn? But do we still ask: What is thinking? What is learning?
Instead, we seem to take for granted that we know what history is, that we know what thinking is, that we know what learning is, when in fact if we delved a little more into these questions, we may well find that none of us hold the same views on what these rich concepts mean and how they function. Which leads me to this perspective: What *has* all but disappeared, I think, is a way of answering questions, regardless of which one is being posed, regardless of how seemingly profound or off-beat or mundane it is. I'm speaking of the kind of rigorous, exhaustive, methodical yet highly imaginative scrutiny of a Socrates or a Plato that challenged all assumptions embedded in a question, and that revealed breathtakingly new vistas and hidden likenesses between seemingly disparate entities.
Who these days takes the time and effort, much less has the critical and creative acumen, to answer questions as those I've already posed, much less such questions as ¨What is human good?¨ or ¨What is a good human?¨in the soul-stirringly visionary yet at the same time down-to-earth way they did? We need a new generation of questioners in the mold of Plato and Sorcrates, people who dare to think a bit outside the lines, who take nothing for granted when a question is posed, and who subject their scrutiny to continual examination and consideration of cogent objections and alternative ways of seeing.
CHRISTOPHER PHILLIPS is the author of ¨Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy¨, and founder-executive director of the nonprofit Society for Philosophical Inquiry.