Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash
I feel that you're having trouble with this just because you want to analyze it. . . you want to understand it. . . and that's a good thing. . . but in your analyzing of it, you're lost. . . you're used to things having somewhat definite answers. . . and this question really does have a definitive answer. . . and, conversely, it doesn't have a definintive answer. . .
Okay. Perhaps, from the point of view of Zen Buddhism, I am lost by my insistance that the question requires analysis. To a behaviorist, I think my answer is pretty close to the mark. Since humans exhibit human behavior regardless of philosophical world view, I think my answer is superior to the Zen answer.
The question is "Why is an orange."
Again, if the question is a metaphysical question, a good answer would be "The orange simply is."
But if the heart of the question is why an orange becomes an object of our attention, contemplation, meditation or whatever, I think the basic behavioral model I mentioned above is the better answer:
Stimulus ---> Response ---> Reinforcement
If the orange did not cause some sort of reinforcement (positive or negative), no response would be likely to follow (not a Zen response, not a Western response, not an etymological response, etc.).
Your question cannot be separated from the verbal community and, therefore, cannot be divorced from human behavior. Your answer may be a Zen-like answer to the question but it is still founded on a behavioral model.
The Stimulus is question "Why is an orange" ---> Your Response is your yet-to-be revealed Zen-like answer ---> But why the Response??? ... because responding to the question is Reinforcing to you (positively or negatively).
The model works just as well for those answering cute answers. The Stimulus is the original question ---> A satisfactory answer escapes the questioner who Responds in a comedic manner because ---> Making a joke is more Reinforcing than saying "I don't know" to the answerer in this case.
For those who don't have an answer or don't understand the Stimulus (the original question) ---> their Response is silence which is ---> Reinforcing for any number of reasons, including saving the answerer the embarrassment of answering the original question in a way that may be perceived by some as being the wrong answer.
You may offer your Zen-like answer and it may differ from all of those offered previously. But what underlies your question (assuming it is not a metaphysical question) is why we human beings apprehend an orange and, therefore, I believe the answer lies in an examination of why we entertain an answer to the question in the first place.
Do you disagree?
[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 11-15-2000).]