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Opinion | When asking the question "why?" goes too far, the unknown may be a beneficial concept

By Anthony Santora
On December 6, 2012

Why? It is a question that has been with human kind since the first thoughts of consciousness pulsated through our veins. It has elevated out of the primal depths of nature and propelled thought and imagination - always a quest to obtain what seems almost unobtainable.

In the search for the ultimate answers to the cosmological everything, it is this simple word that has seemed to come to embody the spirit of humanity. Yet, it is in this spirit that there seems something lacking, an inescapable feeling that seems distant, almost contradictory, to the idea of "why?"

From birth we use "why" as a tool and as a means of gathering knowledge to unravel what seems beyond our grasp. We are taught to question and taught to utilize this word to maximize our own abilities. Even as adults that same mentality is perpetuated throughout our daily lives.

We make decisions every moment of every day that are based upon the question that is always seeking a definable answer. It is a question that questions everything. Yet we have never applied that same principle to the question itself - to question "why" with why.

When we begin to examine this word and the power it has, we begin with the nature of the word itself. "Why" is always seeking a definable answer. If we were to look at its application in any instance, whether our own lives or at the great moment of history, we see that the answers that are generated are always definable and measured.

For instance the sky is blue because of oxygen molecules contained in the ozone that reflect a certain spectrum of sunlight. The grass is green because photosynthesis is taking place within the chlorophyll of the blades of grass that absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen.

In these two simple cases, cases that are often one of the most basic questions asked, the answer is of a distinct measurable, calculated, and scientific response. Science then is an extension of the question; it provides the method for answering and the generator of solutions. Within this science rationality and reason define the parameters of the problem or element in question. Instruments measure its actions and then provide outlets for answers that ultimately become grounded in the same parameters used to establish the element in question. What happens becomes a systematic grounding of the natural world.

However in the grounding of the natural world there is an element that becomes lost amid the subjugation of mystery and unknowing. In the ultimate application of "why" we seem to lose a portion of ourselves every time. Slowly and gradually we wear away the levels of wonderment until all that remains is pure rational thought.

This seems like a reasonable trade off. Through discovering, learning and evolving, rationale is a great asset; it clears the muddiness of that which is indefinable and allows us to maintain a set direction, giving order to thought.

However, humanity is not a purely rational being, meaning that a lot of comprised consciousness deals with elements that are not physical and are often immeasurable. We exist as more than physical creations, but as combinations of physical embodiments of metaphysical distinctions.

For instance the notions of love generated from deep within our core can hardly be explained with pure reason or deduced from scientific study. Even within pychology, which takes a rationale approach to understanding the human mind and to a greater extent consciousness, there are noticeable limits to the depth that understanding is afforded.

We can say that attractiveness plays a portion of a role, so that measurable features of height, eye color, etc. begin to define the parameters of falling in love. This however is not a comprehensive answer and in fact is only applicable to the extent of physical attraction and can only be applied to that physical instance.

Here the use of the question "why" ultimately falls short in distinctly portraying the essence of the human spirit. Such a single sided attempt at order and ultimately the acquisition of the unknown qualities' of the cosmos blind us to the natural wonderment that is indefinable and ultimately unobtainable.

As is part of our nature, curiosity is always with us and cannot be removed. If we attempted to remove it we would grind to a halt the natural evolutionary progress of human culture and society, and "why" is an invaluable asset to that evolution.

We need to blend the question of "why" with one that is not so idiosyncratic. In doing so we may be able to open up new and often unconventional means of thinking to interpret he world around us.

Out of this new interpretation and thinking we will be able to greatly enhance our own place and ultimately better understand the nature of the cosmological everything that haunts our dreams. In searching for the answers it takes more than a single word to fully understand where we are, where we were, and where we are going.


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