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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Question about questions


It is all about a question about questions

Today’s 19th May 2021Times of India Chennai edition centre page is very interesting because it is imbued with the importance of questions:-

Starting with its Sacredspace quote,

"I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. And perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." Rainer Maria Rilke. Followed by two articles:-



Subsequently, in its global page quote gives a subtle clue as to how the answer can emerge through this quote of Charles Baudelaire, Nothing can be done except little by little”.


We see the evolution of present trend from question-rich and answer poor environment to answer-rich and question poor environment.

Too many seem to be in the mould of Tom Stoppard, “My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers”, than that of James Thurber, “It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers” or think like Richie Norton, “Questions open a space in your mind that allow better answers to breathe”, or as Voltaire, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers”, or as Richard Feynman, “I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned”, or as Claude Levi-Strauss, “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he's one who asks the right questions.”

We need to question this trend as to why? How?

We need to try to answer them. As Susan Greenfield writes, “when you try and find an answer to a question, you are on a quest, a journey with a very clear goal: each step is sequentially linked in a linear path that eventually leads to a specific and different destination...This is how a thought process would differ from raw instantaneous feeling, through the sense of a narrative over time. It is this experience of the goal-directed passage of time that I have suggested gives each of us a unique life story and the events and people within it a unique meaning. As T.S. Eliot so eloquently described it in Little Gidding:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

This last line is the whole point, the original place is actually now somewhere different. The very effort we invest in the journey of discovery, in the time spent joining the dots and making connections across networks of neurons, gives an importance, a significance, to what we learn, so that we see things in a new way….we are in a reverse scenario,……where our brains are saturation bombed with answer but where it is not hard to be distracted not lose sight of what we wanted to know at the outset”.

Nicholas, D., Rowlands, I., Clark, D., & Williams in Google generation II: web behaviour experiments with the BBC. Aslib Proceedings conclude that “the propensity to rush, rely on point-and-click ,first-up-on google answers, along with the growing unwillingness to wrestle with nuances or uncertainties or inability to evaluate information, keeps the young especially struck on the surface of the ‘information’ age, too often sacrificing depth for breadth”.

Neil Postman, “Everything we know has its origins in questions. Questions, we might say, are the principal intellectual instruments available to human beings.”  Besides, as Mehmet Murat Ildan writes, “You don’t have to answer every question that comes to your mind because some questions are like ‘matryoshka’ dolls; once opened, new ones come out!”

The evolution of human answering mechanism has been from faith to fantasies to facts but have any of these helped the questioning mind to have real experience or experiential wisdom that could wipe away all our ignorance?

Phenella writes in “The Unwritten Comedy”,

“To be ignorant of many things is expected
To know you are ignorant of many things is the beginning of wisdom.
To know a category of things of which you are ignorant is the beginning of learning.
To know the details of that category of things of which you are ignorant is to no longer be ignorant.”

Criss Jami, “Doubt is a question mark; faith is an exclamation point. The most compelling, believable, realistic stories have included them both.”-

As Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being writes, “Indeed, the only truly serious questions are ones that even a child can formulate. Only the most naive of questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limit of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.”

Shannon L. Alder, “Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”

As Vera Nazarian writes, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration “It's a fact—everyone is ignorant in some way or another. Ignorance is our deepest secret.  And it is one of the scariest things out there, because those of us who are most ignorant are also the ones who often don't know it or don't want to admit it. Here is a quick test:-
If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant.
Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation. It will do both of you good.”

Everything that has ever existed and continue to exist or anything that has happened or continue to happen quiet often has its own inherent logic, principle, purpose, value, strength etc. In addition they are or act as some pieces to fit into the jigsaw puzzle of life.


These two important factors:-

1] Inherent logic and

2] Being part of the jigsaw puzzle of life which keeps moving in its evolutionary path are attributes of almost everything.  


Unfortunately the whole or complete picture of life is yet unknown to many of us [if we are honest and humble enough to accept] but not unknowable. This unknown mystery is so because of various factors of which the two most glaring are our chronologically limited mortal body frame and the limited abilities and perceptions of our mental frame and this prevents us from simultaneously perceiving many things at both the micro as well as macro level.



But despite the limited existence of our individual body and all the limitations of our mind, we as human beings have explored the unmapped atlas of life enjoying, experiencing and enlightening ourselves in the process. Life as whole has been constantly reciprocating us with both sweet melodies and bitter tragedies in the course of our explorations and experiences.


Life has manifested its splendor through the excellent contributions and developments leading humanity to the zenith of advancements and enhancement of living conditions as well as pushed humanity to the nadir of existence because of some destructive and decadent activities.


The destructive and decadent activities are not only the tangible material ones but also the psychological ones, social ones and so on.


“Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from a lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions” -Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

But asking oneself too many questions may indicate some complex. Miriam Toews says, “Perhaps depression is caused by asking oneself too many unanswerable questions”.

Asking obviously puerile questions connecting irrelevant factors must be avoided because at the outset they sound silly as Edsger Dijkstra gives a classic example, “The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim”.

Question about questions 'Language was inv...- Mind Map (

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