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What Does Why Mean?

March 5, 2021

The search for “Why” is the quest for meaning. One person heard that smelt fish smell like wonderfully fragrant cucumbers and asked why? But what sort of answer might be possible? When one or two things existed whether side by side, whether wrapped and wound together or recently separated, what difference does the “Why” make? Curiosity is the mark of a mind that cares about more than mere survival and comfort, but that craves elegance, patterns, beauty and story lines.

In a sense the quest for “Why” is meaningless, endless, unfulfilling and unattainable. But yet the spirit, energy and curiosity promoting the “Why” may well spur us to explore context, patterns, unique possibilities and so much more. Watson and Crick discovered the Double Helix DNA molecule because of their unflappable curiosity. That quest may impel us to do great things and the results spell out what it can mean to be human.

“Why,” in a sense, evidences the desire to learn and conquer all with understanding i.e. to ascertain the precursors, the expectations, predictions and how our predictions will both fail and be proven accurate.

How did even the most primitive single cellular live come into being with the earliest versions of the DNA molecule such that nature taught itself to repeat success? But the fact that it took billions of years to advance from single celled organisms to worms, cephalopods and arthropods and finally in the last few million years into chordates, including fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

Whenever we ask “why” we are attempting to go beyond what we is there and that we might find or plant purpose and meaning i.e. as if things cannot just be—but that there must exist reason and explanations.