In the Way of Inquiry

Skip to first unread message

Jon Awbrey

Jan 6, 2023, 9:18:46 AMJan 6
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG, Systems Thinking Ontario
Cf: In the Way of Inquiry • Recircus

“I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”

— W.B. Yeats


I was never on Twitter but many people whose writings I follow
here and there on the web often reshared their posts from there.
So when a horde of them began migrating to Fediverse locales like
Mastodon and especially Mathstodon (where they have LaTeX) I took
a chance on tagging along. I don't know whether micro-blooging is
really my medium yet but the diversity of readings from others has
been pretty interesting so far. It's also serving as a beneficial
exercise trying to quantize my macro-bloggings down to micro scale,
so I'll keep working at that for the time being and see how it goes.

For now I have in mind circling back to a point in my project on
Inquiry Driven Systems, namely, the chapter addressing various
Obstacles to the Project.

Inquiry Driven Systems • Overview

Inquiry Driven Systems • Obstacles


Jon (

Jon Awbrey

Jan 7, 2023, 1:00:42 PMJan 7
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG, Systems Thinking Ontario
Cf: 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.


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.


Jon (

Jon Awbrey

Jan 8, 2023, 1:36:43 PMJan 8
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG, Systems Thinking Ontario
Cf: In the Way of Inquiry • Initial Unpleasantness

Clouds and thunder:
The image of Difficulty at the Beginning.
Thus the superior man
Brings order out of confusion.

— I Ching ䷂ Hexagram 3


Inquiry begins in doubt, a debit of certainty and a drought of information,
never a pleasant condition to acknowledge, and one of the primary obstacles to
inquiry may be reckoned as owing to the onus one naturally feels on owning up to
that debt. Human nature far prefers to revel in the positive features of whatever
scientific knowledge it already possesses and the mind defers as long as possible the
revolt it feels arising on facing the uncertainties that still persist, the “nots” and
“not yets” it cannot as yet and ought not deny.


The I Ching, or Book of Changes, R. Wilhelm and C.F. Baynes (trans.),
Foreword by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series 19, Princeton University Press,
Princeton, NJ. 1st edition 1950, 2nd edition 1961, 3rd edition 1967.


Jon (

David Ing

Jan 8, 2023, 7:31:09 PMJan 8
to Systems Thinking Ontario
This email list for Systems Systems Ontario is a low-volume facility.  The rate is usually one message per month, to let people know when the next meeting has been posted.

Due to responses from group members, I have turned on moderation for Jon's messages.  For those who wish to follow him, he updates regularly on his blog at .

Monday, January 9, we'll have our scheduled meeting on "Root Metaphors and World Hypotheses", see .  There has been some responses from senior members in the systems community, that led to a January 4 blog post at .  (That may be another one of those topics better handled in conversation, rather than assigned reading!)

A lot has happened since "World Hypotheses" was published in 1942,  We have a tentative discussion leader for next month, expecting that we'll get some questions from the January 9 session that will flow into a February 13 session.  (Details on framing are still underway).

We also had set a long date for the March 13 session.  More to come on that.

We're still taking advantage of online sessions for participation with people from afar, who wouldn't be able to come to downtown Toronto.  Perhaps when we start wearing shorts again, we should schedule another in-person meeting.

-- David ing
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages