Let’s add some flesh to the saying “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”.
I suppose this is because a question, or, what qualifies as a question, is rooted in what I’ll call “a real concern”. On the offensive here, I’m suggesting that just because a sentence has punctuation or inflection does not denote the presence of a question. The classic example of a pseudo-question takes the form of “putting someone on”. This saying describes the framing of a luring statement in the guise of a question for ulterior motives. The real concern is not present in the pseudo-question, instead the disguise is something else, perhaps a baiting tactic, maybe even a “question-like” statement for the sake of questioning.
This is important to understand because as obvious as it might seem, it tends to be distorted and is damaging to people, to social relations.
I am faced with many questions, and to take on the belief that a stupid question exist is to take on a derogatory view of my fellow human beings. This is evident, I think, to anyone that has had a genuine question which was blown-off or trivialized. That is, in some manner or the other the questioner themselves is considered “stupid”. This happens and we tend to feel somewhat ashamed. Ashamed for being ignorant, or in need of clarification, or in an alternate mode of thought, -it’s a feeling we might call “being disrespected”.
I see this as terribly damaging to people.
The damage that happens is severe. When the real concern of the questioner is trivialized, the question receiver is debased.
It stands that even a question that might seem trivial on it’s face, if it is a real question, if it has a “germ of real concern”, and thus, it is not stupid. To feel otherwise it to take up an elitist attitude.
A real concern is something important to the questioner that should be addressed, respectfully, by the question receiver. The receiver, in order that they not debase themselves and shame their fellow beings, must see through (or make an real effort to see through) to the germ of real concern that the questioner elicits.
So often I watch a lecture, listen through to the q&a and low an behold, some person asks what SEEMS like a trivial/stupid question. The audience’s natural reaction is to slump in discontent, the question reciever might even act shocked or upset.
The greatest of the question receivers that I have encountered have the capacity to listen, remembering that the questioner is a being with a real concern, and every effort is made to see through to the germ and address the questioner on a human ground.
A capacity to respect other gets washed out of our lives when we allow ourselves to assume that some questions are stupid.
A real question is teeming with concern, a real concern. And however nebulous, these ought to be respected.
That’s a world I want to live in.