I’m obsessed with big questions. What is life? Why are we here? How did we get here? Why do we experience time the way we do? Why haven’t we seen another planet teeming with life? What is mathematics? What is currency? Why does learning work the way it does? How do we come to understand each other or anything at all? Is there free will? How should we live? If not democracy, then what? and so on!
We all start our intellectual life focused on the big questions. As children we’re unconditioned to censor our questioning of how and why things work. We are also natural experimenters of theories and are able to quickly absorb new views/ideas.
We’re such good learners as kids that it doesn’t take too many years before the process of turning kids into responsible adults destroys most of our original questioning and critical thinking ability. Instead of taking advantage of the amazing sponge like years, we teach our children not to think, not to question, not to risk. We teach them to follow rules, not think and write their own rules. Our culture is so adept at squashing original, inquisitive thinking that many of us then need 4 years+ in higher education to “learn how to think.”
It happens moment by moment. From TV, movies, books, our schools, our homes, our politics, the things we say, the way we are. (Ever caught yourself telling your child, “That’s just the way it is. You ask why a lot.” …
It happens because we get tired. and having dogma and previously used answers keeps it simple and saves energy, in the short term.
Big Questions take energy. Lots of energy. And kids have a lot of that. Adults don’t, in general. Adult life seeks order. Keep the disturbance to a minimum.
If you stop asking the big questions your actions become small, orderly, understandable. but! the engine of progress is mutation. Exploring strange intellectual places. and, I believe, those strange places can only be reached in ones lifetime by never ceasing to ask and attempt to answer the big questions through thought and deeds.
Kids make big strides quickly for many many reasons, and I believe fearlessly asking big questions and not looking for intellectual order is one of the bigger reasons.