The reason why certain people turn to philosophy – why I became a philosopher – was that, since I was a little boy, I always felt that existence as such was weird. I mean, here we are – isn’t that odd? Of course it’s odd. What do you mean by odd? Well, it’s what’s different from even. I mean, what’s odd stands out. What’s even lies flat. But you can’t see the outstanding without the flat background.
You know, here’s this thing, standing out. It’s odd. Each one of you is odd. Strange, unique, particular, different. How do we know what we mean by that, except against the background of something even that is not differentiated? Like space. And so you get this philosophical itch. You begin to scratch your head and think about why is that so?
Well, after a while you realize that’s a meaningless question. And then you ask how is it so? Well that leads you into science and other investigations. So you want to know what is it? I mean this happening, this thing called existence. What is it? You ask that question long enough and it suddenly hits you that if you could answer it, you wouldn’t know what terms to put the answer in.
I mean, when we investigate the properties of nature, and we do get some answers, all the answers are in terms of particular structures, forms, patterns. And these can be measured, and their behavior can be predicted. But when I want to ask the question what are the forms made of; I mean, what is it really? We can’t think of any way in which we could answer the question.
Because we would have to have a class of all classes. When you ask the question, what? it’s like saying ‘Is you is or is you ain’t? Is you animal? Is you vegetable? Is you mineral? Are you a Republican or a Democrat? Are you male or female? Are you a Christian, or a Jew, or a Hindu, or what have you?’ We classify, always, to give an answer to the question what is it? And when you classify, you distinguish an inside group from an outside group.
Alright, so what we want to know is, what is the group of all groups? Well, we can’t imagine what the outside would be. So we can’t answer the question: What is it?