In the Way of Inquiry • Obstacles

Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy:

Do not block the way of inquiry.

C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers, CP 1.135–136.
From an unpaginated ms. “F.R.L.”, c. 1899.

The discussion in this Chapter addresses a set of conceptual and methodological obstacles standing in the way of the current inquiry, threatening to undermine a reasonable level of confidence in the viability of its proceeding, all of which problems I think can be overcome.

Often the biggest obstacle to learning more is the need to feel one already knows.  And yet there are some things a person knows, at least, in comparison to other things, and it makes sense to use what one already knows best in order to learn what one needs to know better.  The question is, how does one know which is which?  What test can tell what is known so well it can be trusted in learning what is not?

One way to test a supposed knowledge is to try to formulate it in such a way that it can be taught to other people.  A related test, harder in some ways but easier in others, is to try to formalize it so completely that even a computer could go through the motions that are supposed to be definitive of its practice.

Both ways of testing a supposition of knowledge depend on putting knowledge in forms which can be communicated or transported from one medium or system of interpretation to another. Knowledge already in a concrete form takes no more than a simple reformation or transformation, otherwise it takes a more radical metamorphosis, from a wholly disorganized condition to the first inklings of a portable or sharable form.

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This entry was posted in Animata, C.S. Peirce, Inquiry, Inquiry Driven Systems, Inquiry Into Inquiry, Intelligent Systems, Semiotics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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