Philosophy
Lovers!
Click Here

WHEREFORE: for what reason or purpose (as in “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”)

It seems to me that Gordon Lightfoot’s song “Wherefore and Why” tries to convey the mood or quality of happiness in the strict sense, not the common lesser kind of happiness that the dictionary defines as: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

Consider these two lines from the song:

“Then all at once it came to me, I saw the wherefore, and you can see it if you try
It’s in the sun above, it’s in the one you love, you’ll never know the reason why”

What came to him? He obviously can’t say or explain—“you’ll never know the reason why.” But he does imply that the ineffable quality or mood that sometimes accompanies and blends with any form of enjoyment—and occasionally even with negative experiences—somehow constitutes an answer to the question of the meaning of life, albeit a mystical answer.

One of the many irrational tendencies in human nature is to depreciate and grow sceptical or cynical about certain highly desirable experiences because they are exceptional, in this case only occupying a small fraction of one percent of most people’s lives. It’s a very unscientific attitude. If a thing exists, it exists. So why spend more than half a century trying to create a machine with true human intelligence while neglecting a challenge that must be at least two to three orders of magnitude easier, namely, producing or stimulating in existing intelligent creatures those incomparable mental states which we value above all else. As a bonus, such an achievement wouldn’t present an array of apparently insoluble practical and ethical problems—as would robots with human consciousness or minds downloaded to memory chips? It seems that sometimes the very hopelessness of certain ambitions is the secret of their appeal.

Here’s the song accompanied by evocative images (the lyrics are below):

Wherefore And Why by Gordon Lightfoot


When I woke this mornin,’ something inside of me told me this would be my day
I heard the morning train, I felt the wind change, too many times I’m on my way
Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain

And then I saw the sunrise above the cotton sky like a candycane delight
I saw the milkman, I saw the business man, I saw the only road in sight
Then I got to thinkin’ what makes you want to go, to know the wherefore and the why
So many times now, oh Lord I can’t remember if it’s September or July

Then all at once it came to me, I saw the wherefore, and you can see it if you try
It’s in the sun above, it’s in the one you love, you’ll never know the reason why

Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain
So much to lose, so much to gain . . .

Click HERE to reach the associated topic for this webpage.
For more topics click HERE.