On The Need to Solve Problems

July 15, 2017

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” - Soren Kierkegaard

As the old saying goes, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Well as human beings we’ve been given the most wonderous and powerful hammer of them all in what we collectively call our brain and consciousness.

So powerful this hammer is, that it can smash away the problems of science, dominate the problems of engineering and conquest over the savage wilderness and nature. This almighty tool is so stupendous that not only can it solve any problem it finds, but it can also deem problems unsolvable as we see in Mathematics and computer science.

And yet, despite the proverbial need to wack away at every problem in sight, when the mad carpenter armed with his unstoppable hammer finally reaches the immovable nail he finally sees the impossibility of it all.

That is to say, the mind has an insatiable desire to solve the problem; and it doesn’t matter how many problems it solves up until this point, it is still hungers for answer to the question:

Why does it all exist?

It referencing to the outer world and the capacity for life, but on a deeper and perhaps unrealized level, the question is more pointed at the self and better formulated as,

How do I exist?

But this question isn’t meant to be interpreted as a superficial prompt wherein the scientist steps in shaking his head to say,

My dear you exist because of the evolution. We all started as incompetent bacteria which eventually evolved into tadpoles, who swam until gave rise to .. [and on, and on, and on]

Rather the prompt is targeted at describing the intractable experience of consciousness contemplating itself. To paraphrase the great Alan Watts’,

“When you ‘watch’ your thoughts, who is the thinker of the thoughts? Which thought is that? Can you watch that thought too?”

The reason we need to solve this or that particular problem is really the cloak to the dagger which is this problem.

It is the great conflict which drives the plot of the narrative.

The omega question we are seeking to answer.

It is the crank to the insatiable internal fire of the human need to solve problems in the first place.

But what is the answer?