We want answers. Actually, we want an answer—THE answer. The one and only answer.
Thus, on the one hand, we have all those true believers who are convinced that they, and they alone, worship The One True God. They, and they alone, subscribe to the One True Religion.
On the yonder side of the great epistemological and cultural divide, we have those scientists (mostly physicists, some cyberneticists, and others, too) who, despite all the conundrums and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, still cling to their unshakable faith in someday achieving a Final Theory of Everything; a theory that will Explain It All, from the Big Bang to the Great Whimper, from subatomic particles to black holes, Once and For All.
Oneness. Clarity. Certainty. Closure. Finality. Absolute Knowledge.
What is true at the rarefied levels of religious dogma and scientific theory is likewise true of most of us ordinary folk on the ground, living the mess of our ordinary, everyday lives. More on this next time.
But in the meantime, consider this: What if this drive, this need, this desire, is an expression of a deep epistemological pathology? What if this aspiration–what I have elsewhere referred to as “Answerism”–is actually the chief obstacle to the understanding we seek, rather than the pathway to it?