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Council of the Whys

Emergent wisdom through configuration of why-question dynamics (Part #1)

[See also website of Union of the Whys (2007)]

Council of the Whys
Why-question dysfunctionality vs Why-question aversion
Whys as collectively associated with a form of Prima Materia
Re-distribution of significance through various sets of categories -- metaphorically framed
Two-fold metaphorical framing of meaning
Conformality of WH-questions to elementary catastrophes
Four-fold metaphor: rock / water / air / fire
Complementarity within the set of metaphors
Inadequacy of particular metaphoric frames
Metaphorical framing of the future: challenge of strategic apprehension
Metaphorical permutations and combinations
Psychological engagement with four-fold metaphors
Integrative and transdisciplinary operacy
Duality and its transcendence through memetic reproduction
Transcending dualities: other approaches
Quest for questions "beyond why" or "prior to why"?
The "end of questing"?

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This exploration responds to an increasing sense of the multiplicity of perspectives perceived as relevant to understanding and navigating the world -- whether as an individual, a group or in terms of governance of the world itself. The challenge is exemplified by:

  • the exploding range of books in libraries and bookshops, now supplemented by the vast resources of the web
  • the knowledge and insight implied by this range of information, however its quality may be judged
  • the numerous philosophies and belief systems inspired by such knowledge, whether recognized or unrecognized
  • the multitude of answers associated with such philosophies, notably as formulated by those considered wise
  • the many questions engendered by these phenomena and the dynamics between them

The challenge can of course be understood as how to unify such matters within a coherently ordered framework, duly discarding that which is judged irrelevant or of inferior quality. The approach here is however to explore how those sensitive to this variety, whatever its quality -- and the complex dynamics associated with it -- might understand their relationship to each other and to any coherence emerging from such appreciation. The focus is therefore on avoiding premature closure on particular patterns of order in response to any particular sense of urgency.

As a methodological device, the challenge is framed in terms of the dynamics amongst the "whys" -- as questions -- rather than amongst the "wise" imbued by such questions in order to provide "answers" and closure. Hence a concern with the dynamics of a hypothetical Council of the Whys rather than of a Council of the Wise. In a sense the wise may then be understood as driven or ridden by questions such as "why" -- however these are understood as related to other classical questions such as "what", "where", "when", "which", "who" (including "whom" and "whose"), or "how", collectively studied as "WH-questions" (cf Engaging with Questions of Higher Order: cognitive vigilance required for higher degrees of twistedness, 2004; Functional Complementarity of Higher Order Questions: psycho-social sustainability modelled by coordinated movement, 2004 ). Such questions are notably of significance in the design of information search engines.

The assumption in what follows is that "why" questions are fruitfully considered as more fundamental than other WH-questions -- or than the answers which they may engender for reframing individual or collective strategy. The issue is the contrast between question-based dialogue and answer-based dialogue -- and the proportion of time devoted to questions and their improvement, as opposed to that devoted to answering questions that are essentially inadequate to the challenge.

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