I’ve taken essay topics from 2008 onwards and grouped them by theme. Here they are:
Individual vs. Group
- Is real success achieved only by people who accomplish goals and solve problems on their own?
- Is it better for people to learn from others than to learn on their own?
- Do the demands of others tend to make people more productive than they would be without such pressure?
- Should all people’s opinions be valued equally, or should only informed opinions be taken seriously?
- Do people succeed by emphasizing their differences from other people?
- Should originality always be more highly praised than conformity?
- Are people better off if they do not listen to criticism?
- Does every individual have an obligation to think seriously about important matters, even when doing so may be difficult?
- Is there any value for people to belong only to a group or groups with which they have something in common?
- Is it always better to be original than to imitate or use the ideas of others?
Decision-Making and Consequences
- Should people change their decisions when circumstances change, or is it best for them to stick with their original decisions?
- Are decisions made quickly just as good as decisions made slowly and carefully?
- Should people let their feelings guide them when they make important decisions?
- Do small decisions often have major consequences?
- Do incidents from the past continue to influence the present?
- Is compromise always the best way to resolve a conflict?
- Do people put too much importance on getting every detail right on a project or task?
- Is it a disadvantage to pay attention to details?
- Do people have to pay attention to mistakes in order to make progress?
- Do people make the greatest discoveries by exploring what is unfamiliar to them or by paying close attention to what seems familiar?
The Cost of Progress & Technology
- Are there benefits to be gained from avoiding the use of modern technology, even when using it would make life easier?
- Does improvement or progress usually involve a significant drawback or problem of some kind?
- Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult for us to understand the world around us?
- Is it wrong or harmful to motivate people to learn or achieve something by offering them rewards?
- Do highly accomplished people achieve more than others mainly because they expect more of themselves?
- Are people’s actions motivated primarily by a desire for power over others?
- Does planning interfere with creativity?
- If people worked less, would they be more creative and active during their free time?
- Is it absolutely necessary for people to study the creative arts?
- Are people overly influenced by unrealistic claims and misleading images?
- Is it wise to be suspicious of the motives or honesty of other people, even those who appear to be trustworthy?
Dealing with Hardship
- Should people accept unfairness and find ways to make the best of it?
- Is striving to achieve a goal always the best course of action, or should people give up if they are not making progress?
Journey vs. Destination
- Does the process of doing something matter more than the outcome?
- Is the effort involved in pursuing any goal valuable, even if the goal is not reached?
- Should people be treated according to what they are capable of achieving instead of what they have actually done?
- Are people best defined by what they do?
Realism vs. Idealism
- Should books portray the world as it is or as it should be?
- Is an idealistic approach less valuable than a practical approach?
- Do rules and limitations contribute to a person’s happiness?
Past vs. Present
- Should people always prefer new things, ideas, or values, to those of the past?
- Should we pay more attention to people who are older and more experienced than we are?
- Is it better for people to act on their feelings than to talk about them?
- Does money lead to selfishness?
- Do advertisements contribute to unhappiness and dissatisfaction?
- Do people need discipline to achieve freedom?
- Is talking the most effective and satisfying way of communicating with others?
- Should the government be responsible for making sure that people lead healthy lives?
- Is it important for people to spend time outdoors and to learn to appreciate their natural environment?