Table of Contents
A Desire and a Means
To understand what a problem is, we must discuss what problems are not.
Problems in and of themselves only exist when a entity desires to change something in their environment. Un-living entities affected only by the laws of physics do not suffer problems. Problems only exist within the context of entities that exert counter force against the pressure of the laws of physics (or leverage the laws of physics sometimes too).
In Oxford, a problem is defined as:
a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome
While I agree that problems in and of themselves are generally “unwelcome”, I think a more apt description of a problem is the desire from an entity to be in a different state/change the state of the world around them. If you have a bucket of messy clothes in a heap after drying them, that is not the preferred state you desire to leave them in. So you hang them up or put them in a dresser. The clothes themselves are still the same fabric, you still have the same number of socks (assuming the dryer didn’t eat a few of them). A problem can really only exist if there is someone (or something) that desires for the state to be different than it is.
When water is held back by a dam, it attempts to move further downhill because a much stronger force (gravity) compels it to. The dam serves both as prevention for the water moving downhill and as a new object that the body of water interacts with changing the state that the body of water exists in. At no point does the dam or the water feel slighted or perturbed by the other parties inclination. In fact, if both were teleported into the vacuum of space, their relationship would be very different because the force of gravity would be driven to zero. Instead of holding the water back, any water molecules that come into contact with the dam will be struck away with extra velocity.
Something with zero solutions is also not a problem. Since a problem entails a state change being possible, if one is stuck with zero potential states to jump to, it ceases being a problem. This claim necessarily includes creativity, as there are some things in the universe (like the speed of light for example) which cannot be overcome, despite any creativity applied directly to the issue (at least with our current understanding of special relativity). Creativity is in and of itself a universal tool as we defined in 202306202156 (The Universal Tool), but even a universal tool is subject to the laws of the universe by virtue of being a physical object. This means that anything outside of the realm of physical and mental creativity cannot be a problem that an entity can solve.
So a problem isn’t:
1. a problem is not possible for non-living or more specifically, non-desiring objects in the universe. There must be a concerted effort on the part of the desirer to change the state of the problem to a more favorable position or state.
2. a problem does not have zero solutions after creativity is involved, I.e. there must be a state to jump to from the state you are currently in. If there are zero jumps available, it is not a problem.
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