Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Extended Thinking? Are You Certain?

“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 hearing and reading your peer's reactions during Thursday's class about the listed quotation, what new insight can you add to this quotation analysis? Please respond.

31 comments:

C to tha OLE Ken said...

I wasnt there for the discussion of this quotation, but I think this quote makes you realize how large the world is. While reading the quote I realized that I never do think about the principles of life. I think about school, football and the social aspect but the scientific aspect never crosses my mind. It made me realize that I am just a spec in a world full of other specs. Each and every person/ animal/ plant leads there own life that makes the world go round.

Levi said...

I agree with most of what Carl said. For the most part we don't think of how the world works or how nature came to be. This has a lot to do with mythology though because myths are created solely for the purpose of explaining the unknown. We're just so used to the way we do things that we don't think about what we are so dependant on and myths are there to give us a feeling of knowledge about what's available to us.

Connor said...

I actually read Hawking's book. It deals alot with the question," How did it all begin?" That relates quite alot to mythology, since myths try to explain how everything was created. Greeks created gods to help explain how it began, while Hawking used science to explain it. However, I dislike how Sagan says that people don't think about how everything works. We actually do. Alot.

danielb2010 said...

I guess it really isn't a matter of how much we think about it but really why we think about what this is saying. We think about it all the time like Connor said, we just don't think about it as deeply as we could. We can always think more about the scientific processes of what this is describing but like Levi said we pertain this to the myths because of how we use the myths to explain it.

matthewg said...

I often think of the very things that Carl Sagan said that "We give little thought to". Perhaps that is true for him, but also begs the question of why he is writing an introduction for a book by a man that does almost nothing but think about the workings of the universe.

However, I like his assertion that things we think are concrete, like the flow of time, can be variables. Like the Greeks, we are still learning about the universe we live in, and are probably no closer to fully understanding it than they were.

ShelbyG said...

I think the most truthful statement is "we go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world." We are all in a way ignorant to the world. We just want to make it to the next day. "There are ultimate limits to what humans can know," reminded me of how the greek gods will never understand what it's like to be human, humans will not understand what it's like to be gods. But just because we may not understand doesn't mean we don't think about it. The Greeks made many myths about the world and especially how the world was created. They believed it came from chaos, so of course, there were people who questioned that tale.

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

Ok, Segan slightly annoyed me, as he did others, with his statement that "We give little thought" to life. Who would read the book, if no one thought about it? Even in Fahrenheit 451, when no one thinks, Montag thinks.

However, I do kind of see his point. The majority of my time is figuring out homework, school, and I have any time for life other than those two items. It takes a cross between an undeveloped society and an (don't get mad at me) overdeveloped society to ponder the meaning of life and WHY. Underdeveloped societies spend their energy focused on survival. Overdeveloped societies focus on lists and "what's next?" rather than "Why is?"

Going to the comment that children ask the important questions...It reminds me of the 3 year olds that I watch over the summer. They constantly ask the question "why." It gets really annoying after the fifth "Why?" response to your answer. Is it because by then they have gotten to the level of "Why?" that we, as their primary source of knowledge, don't know? And therefore feel like failures/idiots for not knowing/not asking the question ourselves?

JR_Hanson said...

I would have to agree with what Carl Sagan is saying in his quote. Everyday people are use to just doing the same things they do everyday and thinking about the same things. He is also saying that people often think about the thinks in life that dont matter, when we could be thinking about things that matter like why nature is the way that it is.

alex_a said...

The Greek people tried to explain all of these things through their myths, so people have thought about these things, but for the most part I believe that this quote is true. I believe that through all of the things that we've learned, we've lost our curiosity for such ideas. As we grow up I think that we are taught not to question these things because we learn about them very scientifically and matter-of-factly, so I think that this quotation is true.

HayleyG said...

I disagree with this quotation, I think about how big our universe is and how us, and the world came to be every single day. It drives me crazy that I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think that's the way it was intended. I don't think humans are supposed to know everything about everything, some things are just for your own thinking and reasoning.

Tabitha M said...

The quote shows the lack of curiousity a lot of people have. I believe that dreamers and people with large imaginations are always curious about the world and how it all came together. I know in certain states of mind I too think of the trees, animals and the universe questioning how it all came to be.

Tyler M said...

After reading this quotation, it has made me seen a whole new and different side. Because before I read this I never thought about life and it's principles.The things I think about are school, and where I'll end up in life, these aspects never have come across my mind. It made me realize that we are all just spects in the universe. We lead our own lives.

ChristinaC said...

This quote is telling me that we take things for granted. "We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible...", I think that as we wake up and do our daily things, we never once give a thought about how things came to be. Such as a flick of a switch and you have light, turning the faucet on and you have warm water, these things are just there that we hardly notice. We wake up expecting those things to continuously work. I think the younger minds tend to ask the questions where as the older you get, you dont.

Tasha P said...

I wasn't there on Thursday for the discussion; I think that for the most part, people don't really think about how the world works, so I agree with Sagan there. But I think that when people read the works of people like Sagan and Hawking, then they start to wonder about it all and say that they think about it a lot. I think that at this point in time, since we know some of how the world works (or at least we know the theories), people just dismiss it as just something else you have to learn (since most people don't like the mathematic/scientific aspects of it). I don't think that people really are able to wonder about it for longer because nowadays people have short attention spans. Back in ancient times, people didn't have any explanations for anything about anything. With no answers, it just makes sense to spend lots of time wondering about it. So that's where myths came from.

BryceR said...

Carl has some good points in this quote. He explains our lack of knowledge of what has become us. Even though i believe that not everyone must know everything we've created, knowledge is always good. Myths attempt to explain how they came to knowledge, therefore, they knew what nature started, and what man could do. Some points in the quote I do not agree with, but he has a good perspective of what man is and how we don't understand much.

MeganOD said...

"We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible..."

Day after day humans observe the sun rising, traveling across the sky, and setting again, with pondering neither the complexity nor the necessity of the sun in aiding life. It is sad to think that such a vital part of human existence on Earth is given little thought. Our society stresses the importance of now and taking time to understand the surrounding world is often pushed aside by daily commitments. The fact that the Greeks wrote numerous stories and poems that made an attempt to explain nature, man, and God shows the significant difference in the values of today’s society as compared to the ancient Greek’s values.

In saying this, I do believe that people in today’s society are curious about the world, but those curiosities are more easily brushed aside by the importance of now.

TrevorRo said...

"Except for children (who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions)"

So if adults ask this does it mean that they are immature or not as smart because they don't know enough? , or is the rest of the human race that doesn't think about this ignorant? I can't tell for sure, but i'm sure some people think about that kind of stuff all the time. I know I do. I've always wondered what we don't have proof for like death, how far beyond does space go, etc. The part about us not understanding the world makes us curious, in my opinion.

MikeW. said...

Carl Sagan's point of view on the thoughts of man really suprises me. I believe everyone thinks about where we came from and why God made us on this tiny planet in this colossal universe. The very thought of what lies beyond our world is hard to imagine because there are an unlimited amount of ideas; but what I personally believe our purpose in life is to explore for new ideas, life and beliefs.

Egeise said...

I find this quote to be semi-offending. I personally think about what something is composed of or "why nature is the way it is" a lot of the time. It is my personal belief that every person looks for answers in different ways. Every experience we go through adds to our knowledge of how the universe works. Perhaps the "ultimate limits to what humans can know" have already been reached, but we are too stubborn to give up searching, hoping, and inventing. Perhaps we weren't designed to understand such complex concepts; or simplistic for that matter. Perhaps we simply overlook things. If we did have all the answers to the universe, what would we wonder about on those snowy days, or the clear nights when you can see the stars? What would we live for if we had all the answers? Nothing would be challenging, and there would be nothing to spice up our world. The fact that we don't wonder all the time may be a good thing after all.

Richard M said...

I believe that Stephen Hawking is making a broad generalization about all people, and he does not take into account that there are some people out there who are always questioning machinery, nature, the universe and everything in-between. I am one of those people who constantly questions everything and what its purpose in life is. The Greeks tried to explain, with the only way that they could, by creating myths, for what scientists today have discovered. This does not only partially disprove Hawking’s theory of how "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." but it shows the depth of thought of the Greeks had compared to everybody else.

Dalton said...

i agree with some parts of this quotation. it is true that people dont wonder as much about how thing are created. but i also thing that our government keeps some enformation away from us for some reason. i beleive that the world was created by God. but the world is huge and there is a lot to think about i think about how things came to be the way they are. most teenagers just care if their phones work or comuter or tv work and hey dont really care how nature came to be.

LauraM said...

I think that most of us understand enough to know the basics of how the world works, otherwise what else are we going to school for? What we do know may be a small amount in comparison to everything out there that there is to know, but that doesn’t mean people don’t think about it and wonder from time to time. They just might not share every thought or question they have about the world or nature with everyone around them. When Sagan says no one gives much thought except for children who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions, is he implying that as you get older you are supposed to not ask. And if so why should we stop asking? Perhaps people think that such topics would be considered taboo to talk about because everyone has a different interpretation and no universal answer exists? However if we would not be afraid to keep asking questions and wondering like a child does can you imagine the exponential amount of information would become available to us?

SkinnyMiniaveri♥ said...

I think this quote really makes you think. Why are we here? Is there really a god that created all things, or are we just billions and billions of atoms combined since the beginning of time? No one knoes. But this I think these are good things to think about because if we didnt ask questions there would never be any answers.

kaytlinr said...

I agree with the quote and what Shelby said, because people are more interested in what it going on in their own personal world than what is going on in the world around them.

CamilleH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NatalieJ said...

I think that the main reason why people don't question their environments is because of our egos. No one wants to admit that they don't know the answer to something because that would mean that we are not all knowing beings. Humans have spent centuries making themselves seem like they are all knowing, all powerful beings. We are the top of the food chain. In reality, not many could win in a fight against a lion, and there are many other scenarios where nature would conquer humans. Despite all of this, humans create this image for themselves that they cannot be defeated and can conquer all. Questioning the universe would display an obvious lack of knowledge and thus be a sign of weakness.

Andrewg said...

I think that Carl Sagan is wrong. I often think about the important questions in life, such as why we are here, how the universe came to be. It is human nature to ask these questions. That is why mythology came to be. The Greeks often asked these questions, and although they were often wrong, they fulfilled a need in their minds to make sense of the world around them. I think all people are born with this need to know, and that Carl Sagan is wrong.

mattw said...

I think the man who claimed this had a very inconsequential point. Even if we do think about how the world around us works, we can't do anything to change it, so why should it matter to us? I admit that I don't think about gravity, or other similar things so much, and that I probably do take them for granted, but this is because I have other important things to concern myself with. Maybe they aren't universal concerns, but they are more relevant to me.

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