The value of questions and seeking human answers



Core Decorum







What is the point of asking a question that cannot be answered? Some might say that there is no such thing — that every conceivable question has a logical, discernable answer. These people, however, have the evidence of human history and life experience with which to contend. The simple truth of the matter is that time and time again, humanity asks itself questions that they cannot possibly answer within their limited understanding. Certainly, in some areas, questions have pushed people to test and expand our understanding; people like Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, and many, many more. Others however, have raised questions that only seem to muddle our already murky understanding of how the universe operates — I am looking at you Socrates, Descartes, Lenin, Nietzsche, etc. The questions these people raise have as many different answers as there are people in existence, and there is no apparent definitive answer to which all of humanity must concede, as is the case with scientific breakthroughs. A large number of people could all agree on very specific answers and create something like a philosophy or a religion, but the fact of the matter is that humanity can never, will never, agree upon answers to these questions. It seems an immensely frustrating and downright depressing endeavor. It is like trying to take a test to which the answer key has been lost for so long that people begin to doubt it ever existed, or like trying to write an essay on a work of which all that remains is the title. We can hypothesize all we want, but we can never truly know.   Our insistence in continuing to ask these questions can only be explained by human nature. Humans are questioning creatures. We live in order to be curious, where other animals are curious in order to live. Animals are capable of some level of reason necessary to their survival. Many have been seen to possess problem-solving abilities; for instance, dogs can apply a sort of rationale in performing tricks when offered a treat. The human being is the only creature that initiates a logical process with no discernable end or immediate practical application. Take the case of non-human primates who have learned sign language. By all accounts, they seem fairly capable of grasping the language. They can answer or respond to most things put to them, and can even initiate demands. However no primate to this day has ever asked a human being a question. One might think that they would be brimming with questions concerning their strange hairless captors once they had the ability to communicate with them — a human certainly would be. (think alien abduction). Apparently, however, gorillas do not care about the things they do not understand, things that are not related to their immediate survival. Any old monkey can give you an answer — it takes a human being to ask a question. With this in mind, the next time you are struggling through Aristotle, or re-reading the same passage of Aquinas over and over again, or cursing your thesis and the damnable lack of evidence to support it, remember that despite your irritation, weariness and frustration, you are, in fact, a participant in the most human of human affairs. You are a questioner, a truth-seeker, a philosopher. You are being who you were meant to be.

Perhaps, at some point, you will trust the answers to a higher authority.


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