The need for why: We can’t just let things happen for no reason

Maybe the simplest and most certain and confident thing that we can say about life and the universe is that things are happening.
Something’s happening.
Things are going on.
And so there it is, my theory of the universe: things are happening.
And that may be the most certain thing we can say.
But you’re probably reacting as wait a minute, that’s just not enough.
We’re not reacting like “OK, that’s good enough for me.
Things are happening.
I get it now.
Now I understand.” We just can’t accept that things just happen.
It’s very difficult to just let things happen for no reason.
Of course we want to know why, this big word why, to explain.
We want to get an explanation.
Now, there can be levels of curiosity.
Some people are curious about almost everything.
Some people are happy to not care about anything, except things that are right in their face.
But even the least curious person, if something bad happens to them, they might want to know why it happened.
We always want to get a why, an explanation for everything that happens.
So I can’t really argue against this view, since myself, I love to look for explanations for things.
I love to know why things are happening.
I like to be curious about almost everything.
But what I’m thinking about now is just that we make this automatic step.
When something happens, we feel like it has to be for a reason.
Maybe we don’t know the reason, but somehow there has to be a reason.
It’s like this need for meaning, a need to find something meaningful in everything that happens.
Because there’s just something uncomfortable about accepting total randomness, total chaos, something happening for no reason.
It’s not satisfying.
And so for some people, we can have beliefs about why things happen.
I mean, when it comes to everyday things, we can look at physics, and scientific causes, medical causes, for things to happen, and we can get explanations in a sort of technical, scientific way.
But then when it comes to all kinds of things, they are not easily explainable by any science.
So why did you fall down when you hit the bump in the street? Well, physics can explain why the falling happened.
Why was there a bump in the street? Well, maybe engineering can explain why there was a bump in the street.
And exactly why did the bone break rather than just a bruise? Well, maybe a medical, physiological explanation can explain that.
Why did you make the mistake of hitting it? Maybe you could look at your gait, the way you’re walking, and analyze why you hit that bump when somebody else might not have.
There’s this hunger for explanations.
But then why were you walking down the street at all? What were you doing there? It starts to become more and more abstract, less and less clear, to explain the why to why something happens.
So we look for these explanations in everything, I think even without even realizing that we’re looking for an explanation, without even realizing that we want there to be some story behind it.
Now, one way to look at it is, well, of course there’s going to be a reason for everything.
If you have a causal view of things, where things cause other things, therefore there’s always some cause, and we want to know what that cause is.
But for simple things, like hitting a bump and then falling over, you can look at simple physical causes.
But when it comes to human decisions, things happening in life – why did you get or not get that job, why did you begin or end that relationship – these kind of things don’t have a simple causal explanation.
But we still want to know the reason.
So we’re trying to find reasons for things that don’t have any clear answer to the reason.
And that brings us to the whole world of how do we apply meaning? In simple things, we can get simple answers.
But whenever there’s not a simple answer, whenever it’s open to interpretation, now we have this power, this ability to define what the meaning is for all these things.
And sometimes I wonder, how much is it we are interpreting meanings, and how much are we simply adding the meaning ourselves, just choosing what the answer is to our own question? So how do we assign meaning to things, and how do we answer that question why, to try to make sense of all the things that are going on?

#needtoknowwhy #needformeaning #meaninglessness

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