On System Thinking World, this question was posed: “What is the best way to handle a problem that has no solution ? Example: The lifeboat problem (a small boat in the sea with a lot of people in the water). Which we are experiencing worldwide with respect to survivability of civilisation and resources etc.” . Here is my – slighty editted – answer.
Life is how this universe solves “unsolvable problems”, and creates some more. First of all, a problem, any problem depends on your perspective. A problem, I’ve been taught, is a difference between my/your expectation (or intention, vision, ..) and the actual situation (current reality) coupled with my/your negative feeling. Technically, a positive feeling with this difference should also constitute a “problem”, but isn’t judged to be one. So, I’ll answer this question from a human perspective (the boat or sharks may have a different approach).
1. We live – or, are thrown into life, or find ourselves living – and run into trouble, problems. As: we wake up in a boat on a sea.
2. We solve problems in a rational way (action – reaction). In these cases we analyse the problems, create a model, system or theory and try to reduce the impact. Testing and designing, designing and testing. Consequence of this are – in many cases – symptoms. Kurieren am Symptom. We start to apply rational solutions to symptoms of rational problem solving. We’ve done this very successfully and now all solvable problems have a solution – although for various reasons we don’t implement them all. (Mainly, I think, because we blame the victim; this is a side effect of the system archetype sucess-to-the-successful ). Example: first we admit people to our boat, then we start to make war. When we’ve reduced numbers, we take in people. Repeat.
3. When we encounter an unsolvable problem, usually symptoms of solutions, we use a creative way. We seek for inventions, new designs, creative problem solving. This drives innovation. In stead of action – reaction, we use creativity: ” what is our current situation and what our fundamental choice?” Any designed solution will be turned into 2: apply it rationally. (There is nothing ” wrong” with an analytical and rational approach, mind you). What we – human beings – call creativity, we call “an error” or ” mutation” with other beings; that is from our perspective. Example: we start building rafts from floating materials – and many of the inventive solutions mentioned here.
4. Some problems are unsolvable, even with using creativity. These are the fundamental elements of life. Life is paradoxical, as it doesn’t solve anything nor does it seem to be a problem. Problem solving itself is paradoxical: all problems are created by solutions (to different problems) and not solving problems (i.e. having no choice, or being death) doesn’t solve this problem. Life – also in terms of meaning – seems to me to be the net result of “nature solving natural problems” (please note the Spinozist turn of God being “naturing nature”) . These kind of problems tell us something about the meaning of life, of living. The example: your boat example. In my opinion it is on how we (e)valu(at)e life. From there it is only a small step to the evolution of life.
What is the best way to handle an unsolvable problem? #staying alive, staying alive#