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?
When you make a plan, the hope is that it turns out to be memorable. If, for example, you go on a vacation, you might plan a trip to a museum, or a zoo, or to go to a charming cafe. The hope is that you will make a memory that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
However, in reality, you can’t manufacture memorable moments. If you think back to those times in your life that mean the most to you, those moments you recall are often unexpected. They might be good or they might be bad, but the times that stick with you are things you didn’t expect.
For example, for many people a wedding day is a memorable time in their lives. And while the wedding itself is planned and organized, the instances that often are most memorable are unplanned: something that went wrong, or something someone said to you, or a funny spontaneous moment.
But being unplanned is not enough to make something memorable. I might stub my toe walking around my home, but that isn’t a memorable event even though it was unexpected. It also needs to be unusual or noteworthy in some way.
So what are the elements that make an occurrence memorable? While you can’t plan spontaneity, are there things you can do to make a memory more likely to happen? Can you discern a pattern from examining your most significant memories?
What makes something memorable?
Related questions: What is your favorite experience? Are memories more likely to be bad than good? What makes you the happiest? How many of your memories are false? What was the best time in your life?
Is it a life milestone? A fleeting moment? Or an experience shared with someone else?
Share why if you wish.
Emotion can be good; emotion can be bad.
Being emotional is what makes life worth living. The happiness you feel in the presence of a loved one. The satisfaction of a job well done. The beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring stars on a clear night.
All of these experiences are dependent on emotion. You can be inspired, feel joy, suffer from heartache. Without feelings, life would be dull and uninteresting.
And yet, emotion can also lead us astray. Being passionate can blind you to a necessary choice. Grief can overcome you and lead to depression. Extreme feelings can make you easier to manipulate.
It’s not about “good” feelings, like love and joy, vs “bad” feelings, like anger and fear. You will experience negative emotions over the course of your life. It is not practical to pretend they don’t exist. Negative or bad emotions are just as much of a fully-realized emotional life as positive ones are.
No, the real trade-off is between emotion and logic. Logic might help make better decisions, but feelings give flavor to existence. There must be a middle ground. It is important to balance some emotion with some reason.
But how can you find the right balance? How can you make the most of your feelings and fully live your life, but also make rational decisions and think analytically?
What is the right amount of emotion? How can you tell if you have too much? What mechanisms allow you to increase or decrease the emotion you feel every day?
Related questions: Why does music evoke emotion? What is necessary to change your mind? What do you do that you shouldn’t? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?
On the PBS show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, host Fred Rogers regularly looked into the camera and spoke directly to the viewer. “You are special,” he would affirm.
This was a powerful message to the audience of children, who were most likely not used to hearing such a thing from an adult, particularly one on television.
The underlying idea, that each individual is special and important, is also useful for adults. Too often, it is easy to be a cog in a machine at work, or overwhelmed as a spouse or as a parent at home. Sometimes, we need a simple reminder of our own specialness.
Give it some thought. What can you do better than anything else? What sets you apart from those around you? In what ways are you important? How are you special?
Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? Why do we feel the need to belong? What makes you you? How can we build confidence? Why is love important?