A while ago, a popular mass-produced beer had some commercials that revolved around the line, “Why ask why?” While most beer commercials seem on the stupid side to me anyway (one brand’s only selling point seems to be “coldness”), those especially bugged me. Actually, as I recall, the commercials were pretty cute; it was the idea that asking Why? is pointless that bugged me.
I believe that asking Why? is a uniquely human trait. Animals accept existence; humans question it. And while there is a certain important Zen-like quality to accepting existence, I believe the questions are also important.
Science is really nothing more than the process of asking Why?
Computer programmers, and others who work with languages, sometimes use the related terms: semantics & syntax. They are concepts with a specific application to language, but language is communication and there are many forms of communication. For example, when music is viewed as a language one can apply the concepts of syntax and semantics.
This article (in my queue for years) was meant to introduce those two concepts, but my vision for this blog has evolved in ways that largely moot those original intentions. Why write about topics no one is casually interested in, and which are already covered in exhaustive detail elsewhere for those with a serious interest?
Besides,… this one… turned out different…
What’s the word for when you receive new information that alters your way of thinking? In particular, for when you thought things were one way, expected them to be that way, but the new information surprises you.
I used to think it was the word frisson, but that word (from the French, “to be cold”) refers to the pleasant thrill shiver you experience at the awards ceremony just before they open the envelope that might contain your name. Or when you watch a horror movie (assuming you like watching horror movies).
That’s not quite what I mean. There is—at least for me—some thrill shiver associated with learning a new and surprising thing, but I need a word that focuses more on the sense of realignment that occurs to your worldview.