Thursday, November 27, 2008


JSH: Problem Solving 101

All human beings do things from emotion. Emotion is what drives you, without it, you do nothing. Emotion demands a goal to satisfy the emotion so you can have a new one, to be driven to do something else. Understanding what drives you is the first step in figuring out how you get what you want, and why you do what you do.

If social approbation is a goal then there are many ways to gain it. One may seem to be problem solving, except that social approbation is about belief, of others. So as a goal of an emotion, it is satisfiable by the perception that you solved the problem, whether you really did or not.

Then how does the problem solver find motivation? What is the emotion that drives?

The answers there will determine how successful you can be and may decide what other answers you can or cannot find, in the lifelong quest where you never arrive.

For every problem you solve, another will present. For every answer you find, another will be waiting out of your reach for the moment, until it's found and yet another awaits.

So then is it futile? Like the mythical Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill only to have it fall down the other side?

Why, ask why?

For those who pursue mathematical problems one of the wonders is the ability to get absolute answers. To pursue perfect answers. To be absolutely right.

To know that the problem was solved, and in being solved, is forever solved.

So mathematical problem solvers are a special breed because they pursue absolute perfection.

We are driven by emotion. But mathematics is not about human needs or wants. The mathematical problem has no concerns with satisfying an emotion. The problems do not accept you, like you, or care about you, and ultimately they do not in any way depend on you. They just are.

So the first problem to solve for the wouldbe discoverer is, why bother?

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