Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Unanswered Question(s)


Charles Ives’ pithy philosophical musical construction, The Unanswered Question, sums up mankind’s existential predicament.

Ives does, in six minutes or so, what Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger, Sartre, Einstein, Bohr, Sutton, Smolin, Dawkins, et alii have not done: explain the human condition as it simply is – man is mysteriously marooned on Earth with no map telling him where he really is, where he is going, and why (or why not).


The questions posed by humans go unanswered, by the gods (as Ives intimates) and unanswered by the sages of our time and those of the past.

What is the purpose of being?

What is consciousness?


Does man have immortality, in some form?

What is the nature of the Universe?

Is there a God?


Is there no God?

What are the ultimate components of reality?

(Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?)

What are strings? And do they matter?


Speaking of matter, what is Dark Matter?

What is Dark Energy?

What causes Black Holes? (We mean what really causes Black Holes?)

Where’s the Missing Link?

(What happened to Amelia Earhart?)


(What happened to Ambrose Bierce?)


(Judge Crater?)

Where does the Universe End, “geographically”?

When does the Universe end, time-wise?

Why are quantum particles (or waves) uncertain?

Did the Big Bang occur or not?


Well, the questions go on and on, as Ives’ little opus harmonically states.

And there have been and are no answers, none readily available anyway. But the scientific and philosophical poseurs continue to seek them, and for that we are grateful, are we not?