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inquiring systems for permaculture designers

As the Paint Dries, We Query: Who Calibrates Your Color Scheme?

Little by little I have been describing my views of Churchman's Inquiring Systems. The story unfolds with 5 different inquirers, each accumulating truth according to its knowledge-gathering design.

We start with the Leibnizian Inquiring System, which looks within itself, finds general truths, and then deduces a grab bag of truths. One of these grab bags, for example, is labeled Mathematics.

Next, we encounter with the Lockean Inquiring System, which observes the outside world and then, using inductive reasoning, offers truths. For example, this inquiring system could observe the world and then know something, say "Males with banjos on hot roofs tend to marry females in big bands out West" and, after carefully collecting data (more observations of the outside world), this truth might carry the day with confidence. Such truths fill up the libraries with scientific journals.

The third inquiring system is the Kantian Inquiring Systems. It embraces the first two inquiring systems and adds moral philosophy to its inquiring system.

I wrote about the Kantian Inquiring Systems in my post called Unintended Consequences. I considered my hobby of writing as one of many possible hobbies that I could embrace. I suggest that the choice of one's hobby is like the choice of the Kantian inquirer, interchange the model that does the knowledge-processing and you change the truths are found. Change the hobby and change one's world. The Kantian Inquiring Systems has interchangeable models, like a fancy camera has interchangeable lenses.

In this post, I reflect on the idea that the Kantian Inquiring System is a combination of the first two inquiring systems. Kantian inquirers are both Leibnizian inquirers and Lockean inquirers.

The combination of Leibnizian and Lockean designs creates a very dynamic inquirer. By fusing internally-inspired truth-making and externally-inspired truth-making, the Kantian Inquiring System appears much more complex. A sign of this complexity is the inquirer within the inquirer. The Kantian Inquiring System dispatches upon the scene an executive, a decision maker within that aids with the truth-finding. The executive judges what data should be input, how that data should be represented, whether the data are appropriate for question being solved, whether a solution has appeared, and whether the whole question should be jettisoned to be replaced by another question.

The Kantian Inquiring System, following the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, recognizes that the inquirer has a knowledge-seeking structure. For example, the mind does indeed have a basic structurer. This structure (internal to the inquirer) impacts the knowledge-seeking. So, long before any inquiry is made, the structure itself can be seen as a kind of knowledge; in the mind a priori knowledge exists, independent of experience and observation. This is reminiscent of the first inquirer, the Leibnizian Inquiring System.

Meanwhile, the Kantian Inquiring System is also like the second inquirer, the Lockean Inquiring System. The Kantian inquirer observes the world like the best of the Lockean Inquiring Systems. The Kantian Inquiring System recognizes space and time; the inquirer is out there making observations, gazing through telescopes, staining cell tissues, and counting the number of wings attached to a butterfly's thorax.

Churchman ponders the executive within the Kantian Inquiring System, and asks how much control does the executive have over the data (the input stream). In differentiating the first three inquiring systems, Churchman gives credit to the inquirer that observes the outside world. The act of observing, requires that an inquirer has an observational mind, a mind designed for observation, one that is capturing the observation. This "observational" part of the inquirer influences the inquiry. Yet, it is not clear how much control the executive has over what is being observed. To consider the executive in total control of the data stream is comforting; however, the executive can only observe how it observes. The next step is to consider if the executive could learn which ways of observing would be beneficial to the inquiry.

So, the Kantian Inquiring System combines these wonderful features of the Leibnizian and Lockean inquiring systems. On center stage, the executive adjusts its observational part (i.e., its models) to evaluate the facts and find truth. However, a questions remains, who designs the Kantian Inquiring System's executive? Which is to say, how does the executive know when to "adjust" the models being used? How does the executive trust the models being used?

Churchman looks for answers with the fourth and fifth inquiring systems: the Helgelian Inquiring System and Singerian Inquiring System respectively.

As the paint dries...