Does every problem have a solution?

topic posted Wed, March 23, 2005 - 4:00 PM by  Dasha

As Douglas Adams, a British humorist and science fiction novelist, once expressed in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, “There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” Hypothetically, not all problems have a solution. This is especially because not all problems have been found and realized yet. Furthermore, humans will only be able to comprehend a small quantity of known “problems” that exist because of our limited perception and senses.

While it is believed that every problem might encompass a solution, as a society, we simply might not be prepared nor inclined to obtain that particular solution. It is also true that scientists find solutions to problems, but problem solving does not drive all science. Much of it is driven by curiosity and the desire to learn more about the world we live in. Furthermore, many discoveries do not go towards solving specific problems, or at least not immediately.

First, it is essential to characterize and define what a problem is. A problem may be seen as a question to be considered, solved or answered. There are many problems every day around us. Everything we ponder, ask about or try to recover new ways for can be viewed as a problem. For instance, mathematicians, analysts and scientists spend innumerable hours on solving some problems and it is unclear if those people will ever establish the solution they are seeking. In addition, there are problems that we think about as a society such as hunger, poverty, diseases among others and it is unclear what we are supposed to do. In spite of this, many still go out and try to unearth solutions. Additionally, there are numerous questions about the planet we live on and the outer cosmos. How far does our space reach out? What will happen when the sun will fade? What will happen when our earth runs out of space for all to live in some sort of harmony? However, some could also debate that questions can be similar to a gaseous substance, with nothing to grasp hold of. Nevertheless, the correct container can capture it for analysis and lead to answers once the questions are close enough to individual's understandings to have some sense.

Consecutively, it is essential to delineate what a solution might be. A solution may perhaps be seen as the answer to or the disposition of a problem. It might also be seen as an explanation, a clarification or a resolution. For a quantity of problems, it seems as if we continually find better and better solutions in a continuous cycle, which flows never seeming to stop. Limitless solutions, on the other hand, that seem easy and genuine at first, later transpire even easier. For instance, in the past, when someone had to go through an operation, they felt everything that was happening. Later, alcohol was introduced, then narcotics and now anesthesia.

For a long time, philosophy and science have been tools to solve humanity's substantial dilemmas. The simple fact is that we constantly wonder about everything around us. It is not enough that we live, hunt, gather and reproduce such as other animals. We also have the ability to think, learn, remember and ponder. Instead of acting on instinct and learned response behavior, our brains have grown to such a capacity that we have transcended these things.

In chemistry, it is possible to discover a solution to a problem by the process of a scientific method. Conversely, one might pose a question… Two people might be working on the same question with two absolutely different hypotheses. Thus, they use two utterly different procedures. Hence, is one accurate over another or vice versa? It becomes extremely intricate to see who has the suitable solution.

Equally, not every problem has to do with science and cannot be simply quantified or qualified. For example, there are no formulas or methods for solving humanistic problems. Moreover, it becomes harder to define solutions and what each of them represents. There are problems such as "What is a soul?” "Does god(s) exist?” etc. that we will never find the “perfect” solution for. Even though there are some explanations, certainly they are not accepted by the scientific community. Their variety of answers is possibly an indication that we will never solve the problem.

As long as human minds keep expanding and time keeps continuing, it seems that we will never reach a complete and perfect solution to any problem. There will always be a pitfall or a hidden flaw or numerous other variables that will prevent the solution from being perfect.

In order to solve a problem, one must take exclusive, as well as inclusive, control over the situation at hand. In effect, if that were the case, there would not be a problem in the first place. In fact, many believe that even though we would all such as to be, we can never be in complete control of all situations we stumble upon.

Furthermore, one can philosophize and speculate that not every problem has a solution, which we can actually instigate and implement. For instance, the abacus was in use thousands of years ago. In spite of this, nobody had any clue that one day we would have computers. It has been a very valuable solution, yet not a solution that could be developed at that time. Consecutively, one might pose a question, is there such thing as a “closing solution?” Additionally, if there is a solution, does that mean that the problem is solved? The abacus was a beneficial invention. In contrast, people, at that time, could never realize what functional solutions could come, such as computers.

In terms of everyday life, humans have great competence when it comes to finding solutions to problems that threaten survival and solutions that just make life easier. However, many problems have solutions, which, crucially, will produce more problems. This is not to say that as a society, we should not attempt to solve problems. It is merely that there is an issue with realizing the genuine solution. For a while, cars have been seen as effective inventions. Nevertheless, nowadays, many people might look at cars and see one main problem with them, air pollution. This problem came out of an expedient invention, a solution to transportation difficulties.

As a result, there are many immense inventions happening every day at constant rate including advanced computers, new cell phones, new ways of transportation, etc. On the other hand, just because there are practical inventions, they might not be the best solutions. However, some believe that practicality no longer seems to be an issue, when convenience and ease are. Therefore, one may perhaps also see that many problems have very constructive solutions, but those solutions might not be the ultimate answers. Additionally, there are some problems, which do not have solutions, but instead several different possible courses of action, none of, which are perfect, and one is obliged to choose, which possesses the least disadvantages.
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New Hampshire
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    Re: Does every problem have a solution?

    Fri, June 3, 2005 - 4:41 PM
    "As long as human minds keep expanding and time keeps continuing, it seems that we will never reach a complete and perfect solution to any problem. There will always be a pitfall or a hidden flaw or numerous other variables that will prevent the solution from being perfect. "

    Oh Dasha,
    I could pick your brain for hours looking for a solution and as you say I would never find one that was good enough; perfect. However, it seems that my mistake is not with my seeking for a perfect answer within you, but more so my definition of perfect.

    When discussing the relevance of a pansophical being or thought itself, we have just made another serious mistake… as for God and the omniscient being or perfect answer, call ‘It’ what or whom you will, but know this…
    It does not love or hate. It does not care if something lives or dies. If It is truly holy and just, then It is indifferent and impartial. It has no conceivable notion of anyone’s secular existence. It does not ponder a singular being or a being’s thoughts. It does not care what fears hide in the shadows of your mind. It cannot know. - Not the way we may think It knows.

    And remember, “all the lotus blossoms are perfect, every single one.”

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