Why do we ask Why?  

Posted by Plato Greybeard

     Certainly, it is easy to see that asking "why" is essential to progress in any field of endeavor. There would be no advances by individuals or society without asking that vital question. It takes a certain level of intelligence and motivation to ask "why", and those who do not do so will remain stagnant.

    Why do we ask why? There are several possibilities. We may be seeking the answer to a puzzling question or problem, or we may want to understand how or why something works the way it does, or we may simply be nosy about someone or something, running the risk of invading another's privacy.

    It is deeply unsatisfying to not know the answer to something that puzzles us. This is an example of fear of the unknown. In these circumstances, we may make up an answer that seems reasonable just to escape the anxiety of not knowing. In the days when we lived in caves, we had to know the reason for thunder and lightning. What do you think the answer was that they came up with? Later, we had to account for the daily rising of the sun in the east and setting in the west, and we all know how that was handled for many centuries. The point here is that it is counterproductive and perhaps dangerous to answer the question carelessly or ignorantly.

    When we seek answers, how can we judge the quality of the solution that we come up with or is suggested to us? Is the answer based on demonstrable facts or does its validity rest on the testimony of others? Since we cannot know everything about anything, we must rely on others to answer our "why" questions. This can be a risky proposition.

    Why do we find it so difficult to accept an answer that is contrary to our current understanding?

    What is the most important "why" question that can be asked?
    When asked "why", it is not unusual for someone to offer the first response that comes into their head when they actually do not know the answer. Why is that?

    "Why?" can be the most aggressive word in English language. The one posing the question can be seen as demanding an explanation that can make the recipient decidedly uncomfortable. He/she is likely to fabricate an answer just to escape the torment of being questioned.

This entry was posted on April 5, 2011 at Tuesday, April 05, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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