When I was in middle school one of the well liked students (by teachers and students!), said in passing, “You know Mr. M, the shortest complete statement in the English is, I am.” The science teacher, Mr. M. engaged with this student and listened as he explained that in the sentence, “I” was the subject, and (being) “am” was the action.
Something about his statement didn’t site well with my thirteen year old self, and I think, after nineteen years, I can finally put a finger on what bothered me. To exemplify my explanation, and keep it brief: context. The word context is my complete answer and it is a reasonable one, if you have nineteen years to ponder this situation. A more concise answer is that “I Am.” Whether technically complete or not, is a meaningless phrase with no definition without context. WHAT AM I?
Further, in using just those two words and a period are we not making existence finite? “I am.” in an isolated position, is so permanent, and gives me a feeling of inflexibility. Inflexibility, tied to the lack of context dehumanizes a skill that, so far as research has taught me, is uniquely human. Language. (not to be confused with communication) I may be reading too much Noam Chomsky, and yet I prefer to ask open ended questions like why.
Yes, why my only be answerable some of the time, and it’s flexibility opens those involved up to division. (E.G. Why should there be/not be pet brought into the family?) but in this question there is opportunity for change and a defense of justifiable continuity. The same desire for a sense of definition that can be found in “I am.” is also the reason we have why. We want to know, and is order to to know, we often quash the curiosity of children as a rite of adulthood, but WHY?