Wednesday, September 24

Asking Why?

As a bit of a footnote to the last post I wanted to consider this idea of asking why something is correct in order to ensure that it is. Specifically I think that it's something that can be applied to opinions, belief and discourse as well as mathematics.

Under scrutiny, we're forced to acknowledge the assumptions and reasonings we used to reach a conclusion, no matter how obvious that conclusion may be (or appear to be). This mindset is something that was instilled in me during my Computing studies; whether it was supposed to spill out of the classroom or not I'm not sure, but it has helped loads in establishing confidence in some of the things I believe to be obvious. And now I end up asking "why?" almost out of habit, even over the most trivial of things, much to the annoyance to most of those around me. The thing is, when contested, a lot of these things aren't that trivial after all.

It's different out of the realm of mathematics though, since most stuff in real life can't really be proven. But it's a good process to go through since it allows one to realise exactly how much can't be proven, as opposed to the stance most people take when automatically assuming fact. It's actually a topic that I've written about a lot here, whether it was while recently commenting on the subjective reasoning we use to establish facts, or how there's ultimately no proof of God.

So the next time you make a statement, try asking yourself honestly why you hold that statement to be true. If you initially answer "because it is", try again, and this time try harder. I'm not saying that you need to have an answer, but just that there could be value in realising that you don't actually have one after all.

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