The Meta Questions

“It all depends on how you answer the meta questions,”  I explained to my friend.

“What are the meta questions?,” he replied

“That’s one of the first things you have to agree on.”

I have to tell you right up front that Dude is smart.   All of my close friends always are.    If I’m smarter than you and we are friendly,  I may be genuinely attracted to something about you.    More likely,   if you at some point fail two or three smart tests,   I might just re-evaluate the relationship and focus instead on manipulating you into doing something for me.   Or just ignore for awhile if you have nothing I want today.     I fear that I have too much ethics and long range thinking to ever actually con someone out of money or to be greedy.    I did set my huzband up to fall in love with me.   Though I only actually stayed with him because I found that I loved him too.     Just because I may have resorted to manipulating people   (not that I would ever call it that.    Any Southern lawyer worth his salt knows the basics of how to manipulate people.   And honestly,   I’m a lot smarter than many of the lawyers I have met.

I have been for these years learning to socialize without manipulating people.   And I do feel that I learned a great deal in the just over a year that I have been on Empire Avenue.      I tried so hard to always be ethical and honest in all of my dealings with people.   And in my heart I know that I have.   I hope if you have come to know and trust me in the past few years,  that you will continue to visit and read and maybe leave a comment from time to time,   kind of like writing Kilroy Was Here.   Which once might have been a legitimately informative comment.   And today would be a good cultural reference,  perhaps used as a motto.   I know so many words.    I’ve studied 4 years of Latin,   7 years of French and 3 years of Spanish.    I am not fluent in any of those languages.   But I do remember lots of stray words,   particularly words from those languages that can be changed just slightly and used in English.

If a doctor or lawyer doesn’t convince me that he or she is smarter than I am.   I am likely on insisting on knowing all of the details of the diagnosis and treatment plan.   My medical consultant was a registered nurse who work in the ER and the ICU at many hospitals.    I always ask kitty’s opinion,  and I almost always trust his judgments.    Kitty knows more about the human body and how to fix it than I could learn in a life time of reading books.    One of my survival skills is to mostly surround myself with smart people whom I can’t readily manipulate.    Those are my peers.   Those are my friends.

It was a long, long chat,  from about 6 in the morning til about noon or so.     We talked About dozens,  or perhaps hundreds of different topics, issues, ideas and themes.    We always did the back and forth,  responding to and building upon each other’s  statements.   And at the end,  I said,  as I walked out of his house,  “And once again,  what you just said,  all boils down to how you answer the meta questions.   I was a librarian in another life 🙂


28 comments on “The Meta Questions

  1. What humanity urgently needs are brand new questions. There is hardly a question that has not been already asked in the human history​​. Some of them still have not get a satisfactory answer and they keep people permanently busy generations for generations. 🙂

    Love and regards from Switzerland.

    Maybe you like an old post I wrote some time ago.

    • Tedora, I definitely agree that asking the right new questions can be just the thing to dramatically turn around any situation from a dilemma over a simple relationship issue to a moment that can radically change thousands of lives. The trick is asking the right questions at the right time. Anyone can spout positive thinking, and clever folks can come up with great slogans time and time again and promote them relentlessly. The true talent lies in telling them just exactly the right five words at the moment it will completely change first their thinking and then in turn their lives 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply. I am not very much for changing. I think that people allways behave instinctive in the right way they need currently for themself and their personaly progress. If they change anything through others, this will never stay permanetly. If we can achive that we can be all together in harmony with our different ways of acting and being, this would be a succesful begin.

        We all (without exeption) try to manipulate in many instance. It is currently not that important to discuss about, if we do it consciously or unconsciously, but we should accept this realty. . First we must learn to accept our own desire to manipulate. This will make us much more easy to accept others without trying to change them.We all try to manipulate in many instance. It is currently not that important to discuss about if consciously or unconsciously manipulate, but we should accept this realty. . First we must learn to accept our own desire to manipulate. This will make us much more easy to accept others without trying to change them.

  2. I agree Alan, My wife and I used to live in an industrial town, the Education level was not that good. My wife got very sick over a long period of time. I came across a book called “Read and Grow Rich” Talking about growing rich in knowledge etc not just money. When i realised she was on her last legs and decided to do some thing about it we had moved closer to a capital city near Adelaide.

    I stopped work Full time for 3 months and part time for another 3 months after that. this was 2002. I went to the library and read every book on woman’s health etc I could find download two reams of print of the internet and read it all.

    What this did was give me enough knowledge to ask enough questions to lead us to the right Doctors and avoid the “nutty” ones that had not done the extra study or meta study if you like. I learned to look on every professionals bookshelf and if they could not discuss anything other from their training, other science other disciplines I knew to move on. I learn’t that they could not meta discuss as you put it.

    Thank your for sharing, and My wife is alive and well, thanks I suppose to that book that told me to “Read and Grow Rich” and then doing it and learning to Meta discuss, not just take the”professionals” in this case opinion

    Thank you

    • Mmmm. Sounds like we might become friends, Barry. I never ever ever rank my true friends with each other. And in my heart of hearts I know….if you’re a close friend you’re definitely in the top 1% of everyone I’vv ever met in intelligence because I very rarely invest much time or energy in getting to know anyone who is not smart enough to hang with me. Glad to meet you, Barry.

      • Mate what a reply, do you know what that means to me to have that said to me. No because you could not walk in my shoe and I in yours not. Thank you. Why? Because when I left school. I doubt if I had read one book. Now people talk to me & like talking to me (at my church etc) as I can demonstrate a tiny bit of knowledge. Compared to you though, you would be getting A+’s and I still be in the “F” category! LOL Thank once again Alan. chat soon.

  3. The true meta questions have baffled everyday people and philosophers for millennia. The questions include “Why am I here?”, “What is the purpose and meaning of life?”, “Are we alone in the universe?”, “Does God exist?”, “How do we live a good and virtuous life?”, and so on. With just these few of many meta questions, we can spend the entirety of our lives in their contemplation and questioning. Perhaps the true meaning is that we are to question and continue to ask those fundamental questions as the real meta question of life.

    • Wayne, one of the theories we explored was my expostulation that each individual must ultimately decide for himself both what the meta questions ARE and then ALSO decide how they answer them, as a pre-condition to being able to answer without evading any other question. (If you paid attention to how many clauses were in that sentence, you may be way ahead of most of the class 🙂

      • Libdrone, I hope you enjoy it and remember me sometimes, when you talk about in the future. So sorry, that my english is not at that level I would love to express my thoughts. But I am doing my best. Regards.

      • Tedora, I always enjoy it very much when anyone leaves a thoughtful comment on one of my posts. I am not trying to claim to have THE answers. Only to chat with my friends about the questions 🙂 I will log into admin and delete the two comments you said. Thanks so much for sharing your opinions and ideas today.

  4. Now that I have read this post I understand that I have asked and been asked plenty of A Meta Questions.

    Some Meta Questions:

    Are you Happy?
    What is your definition of happy?

    Do you consider yourself successful?
    What do you consider Successful?

    Do you think you have been a good parent?
    What is your perception of a good parent?

    Meta questions need to be asked since there are so many perceptions of the following examples :

    Good Parenting

    Successful to one person could be making a million dollars verses someone else losing 100 lbs and winning a marathon. Its all in the question asked after “the question”

    I have enjoyed this mission and very thought provoking.

    Thanks Alan 🙂

    • I think you are certainly right, that any of those questions could be and could be adddressed as meta questions. As I mentioned, my own argument was that you have to figure out what the questions are AND answer the questions before you can answer anything else 🙂

  5. I come from a family that is very good at manipulation and as such so am I. However, like you, I have ethical boundaries that won’t allow me to really use the diabolical skill set. However, I do sometimes have to be careful as it can begin to creep out especially when I am dealing with easily manipulable people who are not seeing my point of view.

    • I know exactly what you mean with “…it can begin to creep out, especially when I am dealing with easily manipulatable people…” My problem is I most of the time work on instinct. I rarely think things through as they are happening– though I am likely to remember, rehash, replay and go over any conversation many times. But in the moment, I just say what I say and see what happens then say something else. What I hate about getting manic like I am today, is that most of my controls are awol and if I get into a conversation, I might manipulate someone rather cruelly, without ever stop to think about it or Decide to do it. I really am kind of dangerous when I get like this 🙂

  6. The Monty Python troop were very good at meta questions – the meaning of life, the life of brian, the flying circus, but so are we all, some more than others occupied with understanding and answering the meta (and forgive me Alan I read mega when I first read it) questions. I don’t have the answers I’m still formulating my questions in order to resolve myself. What a conundrum! Thanks

    • I loved Monty Python and when I was a teenager and they were popular I was definitely a fan. I don’t have that much talent for comedy. I can be witty. I can amuse people and get them to laugh. But I don’t really do comedy. And the lottery people have gotten me used to thinking of mega as another word for Really Big. And these question do sometimes seem Huge to me. So I really liked what you said 🙂

    • I definitely agree with you that surrounded yourself with smart people and learning to ask them the right questions can be a very effective path to success in most endeavors.

  7. meta questions are questions about questions in the same way that meta data is data about data, if we ask questions about asking questions we are fundamentally questioning our methods of questioning or are we?

    • Thanks so much for commenting, John. I did know the definition you gave. This was more of just a thought piece. I don’t know what the meta questions are. But I do believe that for any two people agreeing what questions they are asking… a hugely important first part of any good conversation 🙂

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