C-35. Ask yourself

It may well seem paradoxical, perhaps even nonsensical, to ask questions of oneself if one is in need of information. (Although the non-responsiveness, and sometimes the resistance, of others to being questioned can dissuade one from seeking information from them.) However there is nothing paradoxical or nonsensical about addressing questions to our self – if one doesn’t equate that with only asking questions about oneself. (Note the ambiguity of “Know thyself.” Know for oneself? Know by oneself? Know about oneself?)

In our condition of incomplete instruction, because partial order is in the Nature of Things (III), being informed is only one resource (and that subject to the risk of misinformation and/or misunderstanding). Self-informing is crucial, most notably for the composing we might do to achieve compositional, rather than just circumstantial change (II). We may talk of this in terms of curiosity and imagination, as we have been (C-33, C-34), but the crux of the matter is the needed capability, the capability that can be employed productively whether asking self or someone else a question.

This becomes salient educationally when we consider the worse-than-ironic relationship between trying to engage student curiosity and not doing very much to develop it. Elementary and secondary schools’ instruction-heavy regime (XI: learning/knowing > l) needs help to get and hold attention to instruction. But are they knocking at a door they themselves leave closed?

As noted before (App. IV), that which is elementary and needed for life and work in our communities is not all that basic. (Too much adopt and adapt, not enough adept.) The capability to inform oneself as well as to be informed is very basic. It is what the combined strength of cognition and communication (App.III) has laid the groundwork for. But cognition and communication need nurturing and exercise. They need more technological help than they have been getting.

Pointed questioning (X) offers such a technology. Based on cognition and communication capabilities, it gets us into the composing mode, prepared to build by adding something, by specifying the cognitive components – i.e., relating and relations, things and thingks as elements – that go into producing relationships. When developed, this capability not only enhances our inventive and creative efforts. It also improves our understanding of relationships already produced or discovered (newly discovered or not). It is both a path into the future and a guide into the past.

Asking yourself questions and developing the capability to better do so get directly at the behavioral problem (I:Pbeh), preparing us not just for the situations we encounter but also for situations of our own making. Our collective experience in solving situational problems has not paid enough attention to the behavioral problem – ex post facto lamenting of inadequacies excepted. (The dysfunctionality of that lamenting has been made greater by ascriptions then to responsibility instead of capability [XI].)

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter