General Question

Hobbes's avatar

Why do we ask big questions?

Asked by Hobbes (7365points) August 12th, 2008

We, as a species, are (as far as we can tell), unique in that we wonder about our relationship to the universe, about the meaning of death and life, about truth and language. Why do we do this? I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear what the collective thinks.

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20 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

We have the intellect to pose these questions. It’s understandable to want to understand your origin. This is how religion has evolved.

cage's avatar

Because we have extreme conscious thoughts. Moral and ethical values.
We’re able to interact best with those around us in multiple ways. We can express ourselves in a huge variety of ways.

We are the dominant species on our planet.

It’s nice for us to think and discover because we can.

frigate1985's avatar

I suppose it got small->big. You know, what is this plant? Is this animal alive? And then, U suddenly think am I alive? How did I came to be? Where the (HE*L) is this place?and so on. I think it kinda got linked to small questions. You know how when you think about something u think about other things too right? Thats how they asked big questions I suppose

wundayatta's avatar

Because having problem-solving brains has significant survival value. There is in interesting cyclical relationship between solving increasingly complex problems, and improving our problem-solving ability.

Most of our problem-solving; perhaps even all of it; is aimed at solving problems that will help us survive more effectively. We never know where a solution will come from that can have an enormous benefit to humanity. So why not go after the things that interest us? All we have at stake is the lives of every human.

wildflower's avatar

People like patterns, order, logic and so on. Random, unknown and unexpected things scare us (generally speaking, of course some more than others).
We want to recognise and understand things so much that we see patterns when they aren’t even there…....clouds aren’t really shaped like countries, objects or animals – but we pretend they are. All in the search for a recognisable pattern.
And why is that? Because if it’s a pattern we know and know how to handle, we won’t be scared…So, I suppose we ask these questions to eliminate the unknown in an attempt to escape fear.

wundayatta's avatar

Mmmmm, wildflower. Pattern recognition. My vocation as well as avocation. It means I can play solitaire on the computer and still claim to be training my mind for my job.

I kind of love spoofing my mind, and making it seek patterns where they don’t exist or are ever changing. I’m not so bad that I watch static on the TV, but I can stare at running water for days. Man, do I love solving a problem. I’ve been working for years on some.

wildflower's avatar

Wow, you’re good. I can only watch running water for a short while…....then I have to go…

wundayatta's avatar

So what’s your pattern of choice, wildflower?

wildflower's avatar

I have yet to detect much of a pattern in the breaking of waves against rocks, but I’ll keep looking….

wundayatta's avatar

Oh, I could tell you a story about understanding breaking wave patterns against a beach. It’s not my story though. A friend of mine was in Hawaii on a beach, alone. He was watching the waves for hours, I guess. Finally (alone), he went in. He judged the waves just right, and managed to get a swim, and then delivered back to shore properly.

Later he found out that many swimmers had gotten in trouble at that beach, because if you don’t enter the waves just right, you’ll be in trouble.

This brings up an interesting point about where pattern recognition occurs in our brains. In my friends case, this was an unconcious thing that was understood physically in his body. Many patterns we seek to recognize can put us into trancelike states. To me, this suggests a different part of our brain—a non-linguistic part of our brain—is responsible for much of pattern recognition activities.

Knotmyday's avatar

Because we have big, fat, beautiful empty brains, and we long to fill them. Nature abhors a vacuum.

nikipedia's avatar

Are you asking why do we do this, or why don’t other species do this? (The second one is easier to answer than the first!)

I think the first question is part of a larger question: what drives us to do anything we do? And how far can you keep reducing the answers to that question before you’re satisfied? Have you ever had the infinite “why” conversation with a 4 year old? E.g.:

4 year old: Why do we ask big questions?
nikipedia: Because we are curious about ourselves.
4yo: Why are we curious about ourselves?
nikipedia: Because we’re all fundamentally solipsists.
4yo: Why are we all fundamentally solipsists?
nikipedia: Because introspection feels good.
4yo: Why does introspection feel good?

And so on. At what point do we ask enough “why“s to get a satisfactory answer? Does a satisfactory answer exist? Have I completely overanalyzed your question without providing an actual answer? :)

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Because according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s about that time.

Once our needs to: eat, breath, drink, excrete, have sex, be safe, have friends and intimacy, and respect ourselves have been met, we basically “get bored” and need something else to worry about. That’s when we get to “self-actualization” and we need to “solve problems” “seek truth” and “create”.

dino's avatar

“Why do we ask big questions? ”

For the love of wisdom; and wisdom is the knowledge produced by answering big questions…...


nina's avatar

We want to get BIG answers!

ninjaxmarc's avatar

for big results.

pathfinder's avatar

To uncover the answers witch another people hideing or atleast describe that stuff in deep mode.I thing that the fluther get wised about quicker then another persone.

introv's avatar

We ask big questions because we seek the truth

edelweiss's avatar

All of us has a hunger for the Truth. God created us that way. In the Bible He says He created us in His image, so naturally we are going to ask big questions.

Zen's avatar

Short: Because we can. Like sex.

Long: I want to think a bit more and get some sleep before answering. Lurve for GQ.

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