Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Extened Thinking II

“We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world. We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible, to the gravity that glues us to an Earth that would otherwise send us spinning off into space, or to the atoms of which we are made and on whose stability we fundamentally depend. Except for children (who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions), few of us spend much time wondering why nature is the way it is; where the cosmos came from, or whether it is always here; if time will one day flow backward and effects precede causes; or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans can know.”
-Carl Sagan From an introduction to A Brief History of Time By Stephen Hawking

After reading your peer's writing responses during Tuesday's class about the listed quotation, what new insight can you add to this quotation analysis? Please respond.

26 comments:

n. blu said...

One comment I read that stuck with me was about high school students and how ironic it is that the more we learn the less interested we are in learning. I agree for the most part because we spend all day learning about concepts and equations that are supposed to help us further along in life, but how many of us truely care about what we're learning? Or are we just so overloaded with information that we lose interest? This also reminded me of the saying: the more we learn the less we know, and if that is true, are we deterred from wanting to understand the world if we really don't know that much?

tyleeragsdale said...

I really liked reading some of the other students outlooks to this quote. One that stuck out to me was, someone stated they thought that Sagan thought he was better than everyone else. I didn't think of the quote that way. I can see how someone thought that now that they said it. I found the quote every interesting and true for most people. I know I love being oustide and in nature, but I don't even think about gravity necessarily. I really liked the statement as a whole.

kspring said...

From reading the classes comments about this Sagan quote, I found more insight into what they were thinking. I don’t think we could know how everything works or why everything is the way it is, but I think that we should try to keep learning and questioning things. Some things I think are meant to be questioned but some things are meant just to be accepted.

ianp said...

i think that carl sagan definately has the right idea on things. i also think that he underestimates what a lot of people question though. i know that i think about the simple things that keep me alive and i am thankful that god has blessed me witha great life and i was born in such a great country. i was very interested in what other students had to say. i also observeed that some students responses were very different than mine was and they must of viewed carl sagans statment very different than i did.

capnhawaii said...
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capnhawaii said...
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Erin G said...

Reading through the responses, it seems that most everyone agreed that people do not question their surroundings enough. I agree with this as well and I think questioning is a part of life that makes us uniquely human. This causes me to wonder; if there were an ultimate limit to all of the knowledge that humans can behold, then how would we respond when we reached that limit? How could humans live with not having anything to question?

mtsuji said...

While reading my classmates responses, I noticed that for the most part all agreed with Sagan said yet all focused on different parts of his writing. One of the papers that stood out to me was on the irony of how the more we learn, the less we want to learn. I find this to be an unexpected, yet unfortunately true statement. Why is this? Is it because the thirst for knowledge is quenched? Or as a person sees more of the world, they simply care less and less for how it works and simply accept things to be the way they are?
Unfortunately, the more and more I see of the world the more inclined I am to agree with the later. The thirst for knowledge is not quenched, it simply dies without ever being completely satisfied. When a person goes against society’s norm and continues to yearn for more knowledge throughout life they retain an almost childlike zeal that is lusted after by those who no longer question.

DanniB. said...

After reading some responses to Sagan's quote I had noticed that most of the papers I had read had the same ideas just worded differently. I think this it is interesting how 6 of the 6 papers I read basically said the same thing about how as children learn more they become less interested in learning.Because this is for the most part true, it just really stood out to me.

alysons said...

As I strolled around the classroom scanning the responses to Carl Sagan’s quote, I found that there were not any truly different responses. Yes, I admit that most used different diction and syntax, while some focused more intently on comparative sentences, but in the end they all came back to this bland conclusion; Carl Sagan is correct when he states that we need to question the workings of the world. Yet as I stumbled out of the room I realized that I had indeed followed the trend in what to think and say. Each paragraph, mine included, explained the importance of questioning all that was occurring, noticing the true complexity of it all, and then be on our merry way appreciating what we had just read, believing we expanded on our small sighted minds. Although, I recognized that as I had said I would further question and think of our existence on this miniscule earth within the massive universe in which it resides, I did not do any thinking of the sort, what so ever. Therefore I have changed my view into a clique statement: think outside of the box. Carl Sagan wants people to experience the delight in asking an absurd question to which no one knows the answer. He wants people to ask questions for the sake of expanding the thought process and wondering about something completely ironic and new. Carl Sagan’s statement is alluding to the highly abused quote of simply “Think outside the box, be different”.

apepe said...

I really enjoyed reading the other classmates responses to this quote. I noticed that one person said that Sagan thought he had a better point of view on life and thought he was smarter than everyone else. I disagreed with that, i think he is just pointing out things that maybe we should think about in life and learn to appreciate things. There is no possible way for these questions to be answered to we just have to accept it in our lives as a normal thing

rachelf said...

When I read the other students reactions I noticed that everyone seemed to agree that people tend to take things for granted and that we should question our surroundings and the way things are the way they are. Only children question things because Sagan says they don’t know enough not to. Is it that when we learn things we just accept them even if we don’t agree, are they even real? After all someone had to come up with them so how do we know they were right? Also there were varying responses on whether human knowledge has a limit, which I found interesting. Someone said if there was a limit what would happen if we reached it, this sparked my curiosity. Maybe there is a limit or maybe there isn’t, maybe we are just too lazy to test it.

David B. said...

After reading some of the peer's responses it made me think that Sagan has a lot of shared beliefs as this class. Most people felt that we don't tend to understand things, instead we just temporarily learn things and never think of them outside what is needed. People don't look deeper into things and find their true meaning. They only learn what they have to learn to survive. Also, I agree with the comment that people don't pay attention to their surroundings. They just look for what effects them directly instead of the more general "big" picture. In the most part I agree with Sagan and the comments of other students.

Chris A said...

I disagree with the author of this quote. I still desire to learn and the purpose of college is to teach us more. We all have desired to learn since we were little. When you see something new you simply must know what it is. This curiosity builds in us and compels us to learn by its force.

Hannah said...

For the most part, the essay's that I read had all the same ideas and said all the same things. However, a statement I read that I really liked, was that maybe we are not supposed to know everything, for some reason or another. The author of this particular essay is, I'm assuming, rather religious and therefore argued that God did not want us to know. I, however, am not very religious, but I agree with the idea that maybe, we're not supposed to know. As human beings we see ourselves as the most intelligent animal around, but what if, perhaps, our intelligence and curiosity is what leads to our demise? Why would we want to know everything anyhow? If a person, who knew everything about everything, were to exist,where would be the fun in that? Nothing would ever shock or surprise you, life would be boring. So maybe what we should be doing is finding what interests us now and study that, and not worry about the things that we will never truly know.

kylew said...

I really liked the idea that Sagan proposes. He thinks that it is human nature not to question the things that make life work. Instead we are constantly thinking and questioning the things that we do in life itself. Could this be why our society is so materialistic? If people concentrated on life outside of our own, we would have a much better understanding of all the natural things that would go on with or without human beings.

Apollo Taren said...

D. Tetley
In response to Hannah's response to the paper about Humans not being meant to know everything, I have to disagree. We'll look at it from a religious point of view first, for the sake of organizing things. My thought process when I read that paper was that, if we weren't supposed to know everything, why is that we can find out about how things work? Why wouldn't God (we'll use God for the sake of simplicity, although feel free to substitute any other diety) create things so that we either couldn't figure everything out, or so that there wasn't much to figure out?, if He doesn't want us to do so? He created Humanty the way we are; curious, thoughtful, and with a free will. If He hadn't wanted us to find out about everything, why wouldn't He have created us differently? I believe that, if there is a Supreme Being, He/She/It wanted us to find out about everything. Maybe, once we do, we will find something that simply cannot be explained, thus leading us to the conclusion that there is a Supreme Being. It actually reminds me of a joke a friend of mine told me, which does relate to this:
"At some point in the future, Humans have advanced far enough that they can create anything out of dirt. So, a team of scientists talks with God, and explains to him that they don't need him any more because they can create anything out of dirt. God thinks for a second, then says, 'Show me.' One of the scientists reached to the ground to pick up some dirt, and God shakes his head, saying, 'No, get your own dirt.'"

Anyway, on to looking at it from a more scientific point of view, I think there is almost definitely a limit to what a single human can know. A brain can only hold so much. Because of this, there will always be more for a single Human to learn. As a race, however, we can always continue to grow. And, if, in the end, we figure out everything scientifically there is to know about the universe, Humanity will have more time to focus on forms of Art, which are subject to human individual creativity, and there really is no limit to creativity.

So, in conclusion, and tieing this back to Sagan's original quote, I agree completely with him. I think that Humans, as a race and as individuals, should be more questioning, should always be looking for new things, better ways to accomplish tasks, and anything else they can to do improve life.

Lauren L said...
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Lauren L said...

After reading some of the other students papers I realized people took the quote in so many ways and no one had the same idea as I did. People interpreted the text as being, we need to learn more about nature and why things are the way things are, where I thought it was saying we shouldnt take life for granted and that sometimes its nice to use the things Earth provides for us. The quote overall was a pretty good one.

kcolmenero said...

I thought that this exercise not only attempted to open our eyes to philosophy and the world around us but also gave me insight to my peers. To me the most memorable segment was the bit about children not knowing enough to not ask the important questions this stuck with me because its so true we are trained to "Stay in line," "Do as we're told," "Don't ask questions" but when your young thats the only way we learn like babies who just pop it in their mouthes and decide what we like and what we don't until you reach that special age when your told what to like and to grow up and be mature join the work force thats when we lose the sense of aahw and wonder that would fill our lives daily and color it with a different pallet if we just let it... but I'm not bitter

kelcey r. said...

A lot of people agreed with the quote and said that people dont pay any mind to the little things. I agree with my peers and think that people in the world often just float through life and dont challenge anything. It is clear that no one person can know everything in the world; but they should still ask and try to know as much as possible.

Amy B. said...

I mostly agree with this opinion but one thing that I disagree with is his lack of respect for the questioning of children. To me, they ask the most important questions sometimes. They may be obvious and basic, but the simplest ones are most of the time the most important ones. I basically agree with the other elements of the quote, except for this specific part.

capnhawaii said...

Dan Camit

Of the responses I read, I found that most had a common theme: why don't we question why things are the way they are? The papers I read did address this and verified that the authors did take time to contemplate their existence. Many of them cited moments of reflection while in an outdoor setting which, I too feel, inspires a sense of granduer. Ironically, we seem to take more time pondering the question "why things are the way they are" than pursuing an answer. Some feel that the answer is beyond mortal comprehension or explanation; others, perhaps, that they do not have enough time to seek an answer or simply do not expect to find one. To me, the papers I read could have been much more engaging if they had addressed what they believed was fundamental to existence and reality rather than settling to reaffirm they indeed questioned it.

Ryan f said...

I heard some contrasting opinions towards this quote, and though they are well founded I still agree with the quote. We question some things but the simple things we tend to ignore. We do not take time to notice the small but beautiful things in our world. We tend to ignore the things that we found fascinating as children and the dreams we once had are often abandoned.

emilyf said...

A lot of my classmates wrote about how we should learn everything there is to know about the world and how it works. i on the other hand believe that somethings are meant to remain a mystery. Somethings are so complex that God never intended us to know. MAybe becuase they can't be explainied by science but are exlpained only through the power of a greater being. I don't take thinigs in this world for granted but i dont intend to learn everything there is to know about the world and how it works. However i also think that finding essential things about the health people is essential to keeping the human race alive. We should learn somethings about the world and how it works but some of it should remain a mystery like God intended.

TomB said...

The impression i had about what everyone thought was that people don't try to think great thoughts any more. in more ancient times, people pondered the gods of their respective cultures, wondering about the fact of their existance. but nowadays people dont even look at the stars and see something wonderfully great, just a million balls of chemical reactions. people have no wonder left for this universe