Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Metacognition? Or Just Thinking?

“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

What analysis or new insight can you add to this blog regarding this quotation? What does it challenge you to think? Comment about a portion of the quotation or all of the quotation. Use direct quotations to support your claims. Please respond.

32 comments:

TWilson465 said...

"or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans can know."
A similar question was the topic of a socratic we had in my english lit class except it asked if there should be a limit to human knowledge. the first thing i thought of was whether or not there is a limit to knowledge and if so, what is the limit? all the "childish questions" beg for answers beyond any age group and challenge advanced theoretical thoughts. this statement is one that disregards your intelligence or comprehensive ability and will probably never allow anyone to fully wrap their head around and obtain solid answers from.

lisa s said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." This can be used to decribe most of societly. In the world today, sunlight, gravity, and other workings of the world are taken for granted. Most people just accept the fact that they are there, they don't necessarily know why or how. This point of view is different for the ancient Greeks. They used myths to attempt to figure out the "whys" of the world, instead of simply accepting it.

rsinn_butnotfire said...

Sometimes it seems better to be ignorant of your life and surroundings. In regards to the Greeks certain aspects of their lives were unexplainable. Therefore stories...myths were created to explain them, but the good thing about these myths, although we know today that they are false almost every myth has a moral or point behind it to better the society. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

A_Querry said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." This makes me wonder, what does he mean by almost nothing of the world. Does that mean when we get in the car in the morning, what happens when we turn the key to start the engine? Or does it mean something scientific like energy or mass? I think we all think of this, but after a while we stop thinking about it because it hurts our heads. And we have other thinks to think about like reading a Greek Mythology book. How far does the Universe go? Is there something after that? That is what I always ponder in my mind about.

kbachel said...

This entire quotation is something that I value and think about constantly. These are things that are of great interest to me, and i am eager to learn more about. To sit and realise just how everything works and how complex life is, is astonishing to me. "A few of us wonder why nature is the way it is," The idea of how Mother Nature works and the balance that she always seems to have is something I have found to truely value and recognis for its importance.

MalloryM said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world."
I found this quote very relatable to myself. I often question many things, like where the cosmos came from and why things are the way things are, and what seems to disturb me the most is that I may never know. This quote helps explain how humans think we know so much, when really we know so little. Overall, the entire quotation really gets me thinking even more about why things are the way they are.

kaitlinb said...

I couldn't agree more that the world is an entire mystery to us and that for most of our lives we understand "nothing of the world" and this is all of our homes; to add more to the quotation we not only don't try to understand our world we also don't take care of it. The world is a mystery and that is half the excitement, but like children who "spend much time wondering why nature is the way it is;" we can never stop wondering and discovering because knowing what is around us might better help us know each other and ourselves. Just in case the world will "one day flow backward" I hope the future sees that in our time as people who took care of nature and cared about what was around us.

brian h. said...

"if time will one day flow backward and effects precede causes". First I don't think this will ever happen because we haven't even figured out time yet. Time is one of those unexplainable things because it is relative. You can view time as a matter of hours, days, months, years, etc... It all depends on your view. But we do know that time exists and that it continues to travel forward. I think if effects started to proceed causes, we would just rename them and switch so that it made sense.

MollyK said...

Its very interesting that he says we know "almost nothing of the world". To me, he is almost challenging us to further explore our earth, as if there is so much to learn and to understand. In a way, he is calling us ungrateful and maybe ignorant, since so many of us do not truly appreciate our world for what it is. However, I mostly think that he wants to see how far people will be pushed to learn more, to discover more, to remember more abour our world. He wants people to realize how much we can gain from our world and how much more there is for each and every one of us to learn from it.

bvon1301 said...

This entire quote is something I think about all the time. What causes everything natural? The wind, weather, gravity. Alot of us think about these things everyday but they've been around so long that we just accept that they're there and forget about it. The thing that disturbs me the most is that people may never know where they come from or what causes it.

Matt D. said...

), 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
I disagree with this because I think that people wonder about why stuff is the way it is, but most just think about it and dont say anything about it. I always wonder about how things work and why stuff is the way it is and i think most other people do too.

BrittneyW said...

"Except for children, 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..." I think this is a wonderful quote because I agree with his statement. Children are curious about the world and are fascinated by its beauty. They strive to learn all they can, to challenge what they think, and to ask tons of questions. This seems to die when children grow up, they lose intrest in the wonder of the world and they become englufed in other things and the busyness of life. This is sad, for when we lose the motivation to keep searching for answers, we accept what is only known and do not quesiton and strive to learn more.

Leah_H-o.O said...

The quote as a whole, makes me wonder things outside of my life; things that I have no control over, havn't thought of much before, and if I think i have the anwser, then I will likely be wrong or change my anwser later in life. I can't help but ask myself if it's really necessary to think of those things? Sure they're interesting things to think about, but ultimately what does it change? On the other hand, what does it mean to not care about the origins and patterns of nature and the universe? It seems to me, that asking those questions is more important than attempting to anwser them.

MadisonF said...

"if time will one day flow backward and effects precede causes; or whether there are ultimate limits to what humans can know."
I dont think that time will ever go backwards, I dont think its possible. But I do think that there are ultimate limits in life. Every person experiences their own limits. Also I think that it is out human nature to explore and to figure out how things are the way they are today. Just because we dont think about it all the time doesn't mean that there are people out there thinking about why things/ life the way it is.

JennW said...

Most of us go through life day by day not even paying attention to the things that make life work. We don't wonder what makes the sun shine or why the sky is blue. I admit that there are times when I become like this because I become so busy with my life that I just don't stop to think about these questions. Then, I go to work and my life slows down and the questions come back to me. I work at a day care and the kids there constantly ask questions. The kids remind me that every once in a while you just need to slow down and stop to think about the world. Children amaze me because they have the greatest questions and they don't care if they sound stupid asking them. Us adults are at a point in our lives where we feel silly asking questions about how things work. I disagree with the statement ignorance is bliss but I believe just the opposite. Children are ignorant and look how happy they are, we think we know everything and we can never be as happy as a child.

nathana said...

What Brian said was interesting. He says if “effects preceded causes” we would rename them and switch them so that it made sense. I think we do this of all things in the universe. We mold it in our minds and create order from the anarchy. I learned in psychology that the images our eyes see are filled with holes, covered in blood vessels, and upside-down. Our mind reflexively turns the image into something clear and logical, automatically flipping it around. Sometimes our minds will block unpleasant memories or refuse to let go of a reality which has been disproven because it is part of the universe we have constructed for ourselves. Our brains are designed to make sense from the blur of sense and chaotic sensations. We make the world simple and mundane instead of realizing we are erratically hurling through the universe hanging onto a crumbling solar system by the mystical gravity we don’t even understand. Light and energy and matter are all the same in the end as energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. We create a system of numbers which mathematicians have deemed relative as conclusions depends on the set of conditions we place on our math system. Our perception is our reality as far as we are concerned so reality is a construct of the mind. “We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world.”

cadyd said...

People often are only concerned with their immediate situation and don't think about how all the pieces of their lives fit together. People do what they are told without questioning why. Simple curiosity fades with age as we grow and become weary of our everyday lives of continual recurrence. Children, who still have much to learn and experience understand that and only want to learn more through curiosity.

MarissaM said...

I think this quote challanges you to think about the unimaginable, the things in life that will never fully be explained. When you are a child you think all your questions can be answered and then when you get older you realize that not everything in life really has an answer. You think and think and think some more but you will never really know.All people have there thoughts and religons of how this world began but it is all out of discovery and finding your true self. "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" This comment really got me because I think about it all the time in my head but never get anywhere with it. It is true why is nature the way it is and where did the cosmos come from? Guess we will never truly know...

JOSH P said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." I agree with this quote, so many of us just go about our lives not knowing how the world realy works. Common used things such as the internet, how does that work? I dont know where to begin with that. A more broad topic like whats th purpose of life? Why are me and you here? I have no idea how to answer that. Everyone has questions and dont always have answers. i believe there will always be questions that cant be answered, and its questions like that i am always thinking about.

Cjones said...

Carl Sagan's critique on humanity, I believe, is probably one of the most relevant observations of the human race I've ever seen. However, what I'm kind of at odds with is the idea that no one is thinking up any of the big questions. My response to that is how would we be where we are today if no one was asking those important questions. There's always got to be someone thinking, otherwise how would the human race ever advance? I don't necessarily think that no one wonders anything about the world, it's just not the average person who does so. And even if the average person is asked the question, they generally have at least some kind of answer to those questions. So, in short, I don't think that nobody's thinking. I simply think that people are enjoying themselves more than watching the wonders around them.

THeinle said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." This quote does include most of society. We learn how the world works in school and then take it as fact. We accept the world works because other people in history figured out how the world works. By accepting the knowlage of the scientists and philosophers of history the world becomes a very understandable fact. We don’t talk or really think about it because its been with us our whole life.

PatriciaC said...

I think that too much thinking is not healthy, at least not for me. It makes me frustrated, because you automatically get to questions without answers. I'm sure there are lots of people that think about the world everyday. But i personally decided that it's better not to ask too many questions and rather try to DO things, instead of THINKING too much about things. There's a saying that goes kind of like this: The more you know, the more you realize how few you actually know.

DerekW said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." I couldnt agree more with this statement. As children our minds our like sponges absorbing every little thing they hear and see asking questions along the way. Do we really know all the answers to the questions they ask? We may think we do but there is so much that still cannot be explained. Every day I think about how we got here and why certian things are the way they are. We take many things for granted though we may not always know how they work.

jenniferc said...

Having read "A Brief History of Time", I did not remember this quotation. That baffels me, because this quote makes so much sense to me. We as people learning at a higher level dont stop to think about such impossible things like how the Earth orbiting around the sun manages to stay in place. "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..." Children not knowing, they question so much beacuse they want to know and want to learn, they may not understand it but they thrive to know. Myself personaly i question everything that may confuse or intrest me, that is just the way I process things.

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

The part of the quote that says or weather there are ultimate limits to what humans can know. This makes me think because humans know very little about the world and its very intresting to learn about are world. My question is will the human race ever discover the world we dont know? People will just continue there lives and never care to understand the world.

Kayla's Blog said...

“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." This quote to me says that we can focus on things that are not as important to us then wondering how people actually act around each other. When do not focus on themselves they may actually be able to focus on things way beyond themselves and to focus on their surroundings. WHen pyou are aware of your surroundings you will know if you are in danger or not.

ianm said...

the world could go much better if we had people thinking more. "We give little thought". When it comes down to it this is all that matters. We do not put enough effort into thinking. Thinking outside of the box is what started this country and definatly should not be the end of it for not thinking.

raleigh j. said...

“We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." This really got me thinking about how little we know about our selfes and the world.
In our adult world we are not challanged to think or ask questions, we are told what to think and what to belive. thats why we don't have any modern day myths we can't imagin the unknown. Steven Hawking is right we don't think about the unknown.

jer said...

"We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world" This makes me think because its true that most people even me dont understand the rest of our world. Whats under the ocean, whats is past our our solor system is it endless or does it stop. There are many things yet to be discovered and the human knowledge is not great enough to figure out the rest of our world because we need to find a way to be smarter in the world. People will go about there lives because most of the world dosent care about understanding key elements of our world.

Mr.E said...

I think as we get older, we lose sight of what fascinates us and focus on the little tasks of our everyday lives. We quit questioning why things happen and we just accept it, wether we agree or not. As children, you know very little, and a child's thirst for knowledge is unparalleled. If more people were to question things that they didn't agree with, such as social norms and whatnot, the world would be a much more diversified place. No longer would things just be accepted, but rather they would be challenged, and this would lead to much more sound ideas and standards for us to live under. We all need to rediscover that child inside us who asked the question that no one else would.

Harry said...

the problem is, is that this quote is taken out of context and is no fully realized. for you lucky few when have an original copy it has the full introduction of Carl Sagean. The whole theam of the book is to understand the mind of god (i.e Physics) what Sagean (and very much Hawkin) concludes in the introduction is that even if there is a god he could have made the world evolve in a completely arbitrary way, and therefore in the current (and yes! for the past billion years or so) God would have nothing to do