Quora answer: If you could know the answer to any one question, what question would it be?

Feb 18 2014

Is there such a thing as an absolute answer? And if so what is it?

My guess is that there is no such thing as an absolute answer. Questions and Answers to not lend themselves to the absolute. Questions and answers happen in language which is itself relative in all respects (see McWhorter on Language and how every aspect of it changes completely over time). It is just amazing that language changes slow enough that we don’t lose grasp of it during our lifetimes. Absolutes are normally thought of as universals that are changeless and in fact there can only be one absolute. But we construe many different ultimates that we act as if are the absolute. An absolute answer presupposes the split between question and answer, and that split itself militates against it being absolute because that is a difference. It is really difficult to see how any answer formulated in language could be absolute. But if it were possible to convey something about the absolute by language then it would be interesting to know what it was. For instance Om! is supposedly something in language that points to the absolute. We might expect something like that in language but not an answer from a guru on top of a mountain who says some ultimately meaningful thing like “47” in answer to our query about Life, the Universe and Everything. it is a joke because concerning the absolute there can only be silence, and any absolute answer would be no answer. This is why the godhead is seen as being like a desert with no distinguishing or characteristic marks.

The ultimate question is “Why is there something rather than nothing.” An absolute answer to that would be good. But of course the tricky word there is “IS”. Being and Nothing are the roots of the Logic of Hegel. if there were an absolute it would be beyond this distinction.

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