Whence the desire to "know how things really are"?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wynn, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    From another discussion:

    So: Whence the desire to "know how things really are"?

    If this desire is merely a whim, an illusion - then why do we have it?

    If we classify this desire as a mere "whim" or "illusion" - then how can we still live with ourselves and think ourselves sane?
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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Understanding "how" improves survivability chances... it is therefore most likely an evolutionary trait.
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  5. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    If you're speaing from a scientific point of view, carry on

    If philosophical, I'm afraid that this desire to kow how things "really are" isn't actually that.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    When one wants to improve the way things are going if they aren't going the way they should be.

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  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Wanting to know "how things really are" is just one aspect of curiosity. And curiosity is just one aspect of intelligence. Just look at the animal kingdom: curiosity correlates very highly with intelligence. The ursids, corvids, pinnipeds, rodents, psittacines, cetaceans, and of course the primates... we all exhibit great curiosity and we are all highly intelligent.

    We are the most intelligent species on this planet, and we are so curious that we have made entire professions out of wondering how both life itself and the universe itself work. Before we developed the sciences that organized these endeavors into structured processes, we just made up mythologies, because we simply had to have answers!
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    And on top, "knowledge" (e.g. answers) was/is power... and if you don't have true knowledge then make some up and convince everyone you know more than them... and then use that made-up knowledge to rule them.

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    One issue with such a question in the OP with regard philosophical responses is that the basis of philosophy is from the human way i.e. it only really relates to humanity (e.g. ancient civilisations and after).

    The OP addresses a time before humanity and is thus one that philosophy can not, in my view, handle... unless you are capable of understanding the mind of other creatures? And then it is surely guesswork and anthropomorphisation?

    The desire to "know how things really are" is, I think we all agree, part of what makes us human.
    To know where this desire comes from thus puts the origin before humanity, and thus, in my view, outside the scope of philosophy for any meaning.
  10. 420Joey SF's Incontestable Pimp Valued Senior Member

    Impossible quest= Everything, every possibility is in existance. Nothing is limited but the scope of the observer.
  11. Fall Caesar Registered Member

    It was Aristotle that said it first: "All men have a desire to know."

    I'd agree with most things already stated:

    1) it's an evolutionary adaptation necessary to improve chances of survival
    2) it's in our self-interest to know, due to the possible threats posed by the unknown
    3) with knowledge comes influence, and everything's a battle of influence

    I'd agree as well that curiosity leads to intelligence, but I believe there's a fine line between us and animals when it comes to the complexity of the mind, which makes the original statement even more true.
  12. Leto Atreides Registered Member

    This desire to peer beyond the manifest is, in my opinion, a trait that has been apparent in every organized society, especially in the upper echeleons. I don't think an "urge to "know how things really are"" is a universal trait at all.

    "It was Aristotle that said it first: "All men have a desire to know.""

    Aristotle was an aristocrat by association in Macedonia. And then he moved to what was probably the most cultured and organized city of that era: Athens. Thales was a well-to-do agriculturist in Miletus; Wittgenstein from a wealthy Viennese family. You can see where I'm going with this.

    Ask an Untouchable in Mughal-era India what his thoughts might be regarding the innermost secrets of the Universe, and I think you'd get a very different response. Food before Philosophy and all that...

    What I'm saying is that metaphysics is a natural product of having fulfilled all our baser needs (ie.the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy: physiological, security etc.) Turning our attentions and efforts to self-actualization, we have stimulated a need within ourselves to rationalize the manifest, by superimposing whatever framework it is wee subscribe to, onto the world as it is apparent to us.

    The Untouchable may indeed have a need to know the inner workings of the Universe, but that doesn't come out too strongly because he's got other things on his mind.
  13. Big Chiller Registered Senior Member

    I am being concise here but a line from Morpheus in The Matrix says it all "How do we define real"...?
  14. Emil Valued Senior Member

    I think curiosity is an animal instinct, so and the human.
    In my opinion, human id ( the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends) closely resembles the animal.
    What differentiates us from animals is the quality of ego (the organised, realistic mind).Some may argue that animals have no ego.
    Another component of the mind, which differentiates us from animals is the super-ego (plays the critical and moralising role), what animals have not. Some may argue that the animals have super-ego.
    So we have the same instinct of curiosity like animals.
    The difference between us and animals is how we react to this instinct.How we react is given by the ego and super-ego.

    This instinct is subordinated to the instinct of survival.Knowing more than others, is more apt for survival.
    When an animal is usually a prey instinct of curiosity is inhibited by the instinct of survival and cause to fear any unknown.This behavior can be observed and in some people.
    If the animal is a top predator and is not afraid of almost anything, then we see the instinct of curiosity.For example, think of sharks.But if there are orcs then the instinct of survival inhibit the instinct of curiosity.

    So, in my opinion, the difference between us and animals is how we react to "curiosity" and not "curiosity" itself.
    In humans, the instinct of survival not inhibit but encourages curiosity.
    We can see the curiosity for the sake of curiosity, to few people.
    Usually the people's curiosity is positively influenced by the instinct of survival.
  15. dbnp48 Q.E.D. Registered Senior Member

  16. Emil Valued Senior Member


    If you say so.
    If I use "conscious", "unconscious", and "preconscious", is that correct?

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