What Is Unknowable?

Knowledge is ever increasing, and often it seems to increase by leaps and bounds. We know more today than we have ever known, and we add to that store of information every day.

The universe, our own genetics, manipulation of materials, the building blocks of matter — all are areas where we are learning more all the time. Sometimes it seems that we will be able to keep on learning and growing what we know indefinitely.

But even if we continue to accumulate knowledge, some things may be beyond our grasp.

It may be that some problems are just too large. For example, the number of ways an ordinary deck of player cards can be arranged is greater than the number of atoms on the earth. Writing them all out can’t be done.

However, some things just might be impossible to know. What is it like to live in five-dimensional space?

What is unknowable? How might we classify unknowable things? Which Intellectual Roundtable questions have unknowable answers?

Related questions: How do we know what we don’t know? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned?

How Much Is Enough?

Does envy have you trying to “keep up with the Joneses?” Do you have a closet or segment of your home dedicated to barely-used items that now just take up space? Many Americans do a pretty good job at thinking of wants as needs. For instance, many sources note that while the United States holds less than 5% of the world’s population, we consume around a quarter of energy and other resources.

You’d think that with all the extra stuff and the money we use to buy it we must be happier, right? Not according to the World Economic Forum. According to a measure known as the Happiness Index (six significant factors which contribute to happiness), “although the US ranks highly for per capita income, it is only ranked 18th out of 156 countries, substantially below most comparably wealthy nations.”

Of course, per capita income stats are deceiving. Disparity runs deep in America. Millions of people live in deep poverty, not only lacking in material needs, but also the basics of adequate shelter and healthy food. While necessary, charitable responses can only go so far. Some would argue that structural changes are needed to reduce the suffering of the have-nots (e.g. changes to economic assistance, housing, and tax policy).  In other words, more must be asked of the rest of us.

So, how much is enough? This is not simply an economic question. It’s environmental as well.

Humanity is currently consuming resources at a pace faster than the Earth’s ecological systems can renew them. Collectively, we have significantly passed the planet’s regeneration line.

That brings up a couple of important questions for America and Americans: Should there be limits to how much a person, a community, or our country can have or consume? And, if so, should it be up to the individual, our government, or some independent standard to measure if we’ve reached the point of adequate consumption and/or possession?

How much is enough?

Related questions:  How Can We Appreciate Life More?What Material Possession Means The Most To You?What Makes You The Happiest?What Are Our Responsibilities To Others?