Excerpt About Indeterminacy

Indeterminacy: the Openness in Inquiry

Inquiring into how our ordinary knowledge determines, patterns, and limits our experience enables us to learn a different way of approaching the content of that knowledge. Usually we take our knowledge as the determination, as the boundary, of what is possible and what can be known. However, if we understand indeterminacy, the openness of inquiry, in time we learn to take the knowledge not as a boundary but as a pointer. We can use our words, concepts, and thoughts as pointers toward truth, toward what is possible, rather than as boundaries for what can be known: “This is a possibility” instead of “That is what you will find.” If we can inquire into our experience by using knowledge as a pointer, it becomes a helper, a kind of guidance. For instance, we know that anger frequently hides hurt. That becomes knowledge from repeated experience. The next time we see anger, how do we use that knowledge? Do we say, “There must be hurt there; let’s find the hurt”? Or, rather than making this automatic assumption, are we open to the possibility that there is hurt, which then can guide our investigation? If you assume that you are hurt, you might be wrong, for once in a while hurt does not underlie anger. There are always exceptions. Knowledge can be used in a way that will aid our inquiry, but we usually use it in a way that limits and binds our inquiry.

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