Going Deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
This is really interesting. At its heart it’s about learning and its associated flexibility. It’s about growth, discovery, education, the whole practice of science, which is fundamentally about this. And part of what is tricky with this pattern is that each one of these – clarity, inquiry, mystery – is compelling in itself. And unless you hold them all, you don’t see that they are clearly linked to each other.
Clarity is associated with the emotion of certainty. Certainty is an emotion; it is not really a cognitive state. You go “Oh! THIS is what’s going on! THIS is what it means. THIS is how it hangs together! Huh!!” – and that connects to your experience or to your previous knowledge in a way that’s very compelling and useful for you, for whatever reasons you want to use it.
So particularly when – as the pattern heart says – there’s chaos, confusion or misdirection, it’s really useful to get clear on things. But what clarity and certainty don’t tell you is what you’re missing. They act as if they’re the whole thing. You go “aha!!” and your cognitive system relaxes. You don’t have to do any more work. You’ve arrived.
Part of the wise democracy worldview – the cognitive, personal, lived attitude that is embodied in the wise democracy pattern language – is that you don’t settle down on ANY of these. So there’s chaos, confusion, and misdirection. These things may just be there – or perhaps they’re being consciously manipulated at a mass level or at a personal level. And so it’s really good to name it: “This is what’s going on!” and to feel some clarity, like “I have a place to stand!” But if you get stuck there, that’s a problem.
Often a scientific hypothesis will come from an intuitive sense that “This is what’s going on; this is how this works. Now, because I’m in science, I need to test it and see how it works in real life. So now I have to design my experiment (or whatever) to do that…” Now, that’s an inquiry. An experiment is an inquiry. Not only is the experiment going to happen, but I’m gonna be reporting on it and other people are going to look at it and try to replicate it and try to critique it and to falsify it.
“Falsify…” That’s such a great word in science. “It’s all fine and good to appreciate your theory or experiment, but we’re here to see if we can find a hole in it.” So the scientific inquiry is there to punch holes in clarity and move things to a different level of clarity. Very often there’s a dance between inquiry and clarity where you find the holes in your previous clarity – or somebody else’s previous clarity, their beliefs, their worldview, their sense of things. There’s something that doesn’t feel right about it to you, and you do your inquiry – whether that’s asking questions, talking to friends, consulting the Internet, doing a scientific experiment, whatever. You are checking it out and you may come up with more chaos and confusion or you may come up with new clarity. So that’s the dance between clarity and inquiry.