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Reconceiving Inquiry: Againstness and Non-Foundationalism

Paul Grobstein's picture

Paul Grobstein
Evolving Systems Core Group
22 September 2009
Notes for session

(see here for background, session summary and continuing conversation)

"being" is an unstable state, it is provisional and experimental ... Mark Lord

Observations ...

Reflections, stories ...

What we see is not what's "out there" ... Give up "mirror of nature" presumption for inquiry

What we see we see for reasons we don't understand ... Accept "in here" as much as "out there" as mystery, subject for inquiry

What we see is different for different people ... Accept "subjectivity" as a central element of inquiry

What we see can change ... Give up "glassy mirror" presumption of inquiry

There is no "indubitability" ... Give up certainty aspiration for inquiry

Redefine "objective" as that which is common to multiple subjectivities, both within and between people

Redefine task of inquiry as the ongoing extension of observations and elaboration and critique of new individual and shared stories

Value the "lusciousness of minds" (individual and collective); treat it as a feature rather than a bug

Use method/interpretation/thinking insofar as they contribute to achieving the "ongoing extension ... elaboration ... critique," abandon them when they detract from it

Appreciative non-foundationalism: openings or problems (or both)?

  • "when the class was trying to select a common definition for "life", it was so difficult because one could always question or deconstruct the hypothesis of another. Although it was exciting to always ask questions, it was also so frustrating and even a bit of a deterrent because no one could ever find or think of a set foundation for the definition of "life". In each try, one was always a little wrong and I wondered how I would ever get through such a class if I could not even conceive basic concepts such as life. I really liked the idea of being "less wrong" in the beginning, but now I wonder if I will ever learn anything that might be a "little right" in this class" ... Intro Bio student
  • mutual interdependence of "normal" and "revolutionary" inquiry, as of disciplines and interdisciplinary inquiry, as of cognitive unconscious and story telling, as of individual and group stories, all instances of generative "againstness"
  • role/significance of "harmonic association", "resonance"?