The answer is unanswerable

You need answers. The solution, you may think, is to look for answers. After all, you need them.

Or do you?

An ‘answer’ is like finding a solution, or developing a set of guaranteed instructions. Your search for the answer is usually a search for step by step detail to get from one place to another.

However, it’s hard to find answers when there are only possibilities. A to B is hardly ever restricted to a single route. Worse still, the route is constantly changing.

photo by Crystal Writer
photo by Crystal Writer

When nothing simple presents itself, the search is often intensified. But you’re just spending more time on a fruitless exercise. Rather than attempt to beat the game, expand your vision beyond objectives. With trillions of ever-moving variables, it’s easier to temper chaos, rather than control it.

For too long, qualifications have been seen as the route to bigger and better things. But it should only be one aspect of a wider aim:

“…anything less than top grades has become tantamount to failure. This leaves little room for experimentation, creativity, or mistakes. Inquisitive learning that is driven by an interest in knowledge and learning for its own sake is squeezed out by consumer-driven demand for acquisitive learning. It involves learning what is necessary to pass examinations or motivated by a need to impress employers with one’s range of extracurricular activities and achievements. It is based on a model of individual rational calculation where the wider purpose of learning has been lost.” [p145 – The Global Auction]

You shouldn’t simply stop studying. I’ve mentioned before that qualifications are still a useful part of the bigger picture when you know why you’re working toward them. I’ve also explained why it’s crucial to make mistakes.

But you’ll never get true, unarguable answers.

Searching for progress and new discoveries should still be undertaken. The search should never stop.

Forget answers. Your search should be a more open-ended type of enquiry. It’s okay to be vague. Not everything requires an absolute, drilled-down focus to the last speck of detail.

You do need a basic plan of some kind (but it’s flexible), you do need awareness of the general direction you’re trying to take (but it’s bound to change), and you do need conviction in what you’re doing (but that doesn’t mean you’re unmovable & stubborn).

This works for smaller goals, not just grand plans. Writing an essay, for instance, usually involves a search for different views and arguments, proving that there’s no absolute answer. Yet you reach your own conclusion and demonstrate your own results.

If certainty and clear answers ruled the world, higher learning wouldn’t be as important as it is today. Learning can solve problems, but only when it sets out to improve and discover, not when it sets out to staunchly answer.