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July 17th, 2019
Any genuine question seeks to explore something that is truly unknown. This can be distinguished from requestsfor information that have already been discovered by someone else. Notice also the root similarity between quest-ion and re-quest.
A genuine question delves a little further into the chaotic unknown with the aim of creating a little more understandable order.
The old caution ‘be careful what you wish for…’comes to mind.
If we genuinely delve into the unknown, then we cannot be sure what we are going to find, and we may not like what we find.
We need only remind ourselves of Oppenheimer’s change of heart after he spearheaded the creation of nuclear weapons at the end of WWII. After being rigorously engaged with work that he found interesting, he quite literally found something he came to regard as monstrous. Granted he found exactly what he was looking for.
Perhaps this was a sort of morbid curiosity. Or perhaps his zoom got stuck on the minutia of curiosity and he could not Zoom Out to the big picture to see what he would eventually come to regret. While humans have - amazingly- been able to continue the project of civilization with nuclear weapons in hand for many decades, we can imagine a similar sort of circumstance in the future.
What other slumbering monsters might we poke at out of naivety and curiosity.
This is inevitably one cost of dancing with the unknown.
But the art of the question can aid us on this difficult quest as we blindly try to map the unknown.
Questions are like lures that we cast out into the unknown.
We need only test out questions, by fielding them with a meta-set of questions. Such as: am I baiting a monster with this question?
Or is this question designed to lure something wonderful out of the unknown?
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