Mr. MacKnight, your argument seems rationed. However, in my perspective of the topic and the questions it raised, I see areas where your ideas become incomplete and are unsupported by pertinent explanations.
You claim art does not exhibit responses to the question “What does it mean?”, instead it contains “wise” knowledge: who are we?, where are we?, what are we doing?/what should we be doing? However, what is the difference between these two “knowledges”? Is it not wise to try and find meanings in art? Don’t those meanings contribute to answer, if not allow us to ask in the first place, the questions that encompass all other questions?
I believe all questions are the same, however we have divided them into a hierarchy. First are the literal questions, e.g.; Where am I? In Victoria, of course. Then we can take a cultural and geopolitical scale of the question. The answer could be: Victoria in Western culture Canada, where I coexist with different ethnic groups, first nations, and live in a democratic country enabled by great thinkers before me who enlightened and shifted society to where it exists today. One more step out, we ask; What events created this world and what justification there is for them? Some people believe they are superior to others, however other people believe we are all born equal. The injustice calls activists to find passion in changing the world to fit their ideals, making the world “a better place”. The unreplicable beauty of nature, sensation, and the elusive nature of time, cause artists and philosophers to either express, or rationalize the world. Plato talked about the experiences of the world as characters that define it and those that create experience, like goodness, beauty, sameness, and so on. He believed people’s minds are separate from the world, and we have free will. Modern science does not exactly corroborate this idea, and what turns out to be the ‘experiences’ of the world are merely figments of imagination. Moreover, beauty is something we feel, but beautiful things are composed of the same material as ugly things, they just appear beautiful. Goodness is arbitrary, and morals are something abstract created by humans to keep society alive. But we feel these things, regardless. We enter a hypocritical world of truth versus reality, where many people believe the world was made for different reasons. Be it Genesis, the emergence of Gaia from Chaos, or the Big Bang Theory. Therefore, being part of this realm, shouldn’t we ponder whether all questions have significant implications in the world? Why should we strive to dig deep into big questions, when truth falls apart? When I wrote about the idea of truth versus reality, aren’t all questions addressing reality? Therefore we should question if the person who is asking them, is reflecting on the world in their own form of inquiry?
Can we justify that the Big Questions raised are more introspective, and revealing about the world? Within the Big Question itself lies another, and although I believe there is delight and humour to be had investigating it, I doubt any pertinent explanation exists. I believe people ask questions on a level that applies, and aligns with their idea of existence. Although I cannot back up my theory, it is more inclusive of the different ways other people think of the world. On the top level of question hierarchy, aren’t answers more tangible, applicable, and able of giving a clear idea or description of the world? Where would fiction be without it, sci-fi, and fantasy? Don’t people spend their whole lives writing fantasy, and sci-fi? Big Questions, although universal, are the dead end of thought, where above it are the unlimited combinations of creative ideas.
What is so important about big questions? If it is analyzed, and used to apply toward your worldly perspective, then yes, there are many iterations of Big Questions. Art, as a part of this world, (inherently, if not expressly) demonstrates them. However, can’t we appreciate art for the value of stimulation, and how we react to it? Can we appreciate “merely” looking at art, choosing not to assess how and why it makes us feel a certain way? If we have assessed art enough times, can’t we predict how it will make us feel? Can we reach the “dead end” of thought asking: in that way, why do we feel?