Excerpt About Process of Understanding

The Process of Understanding in Inquiry

A key part of the process of understanding in inquiry involves uncovering relationships between things. To do that, you have to place them next to each other to see how they are related. You need to compare and contrast them: how are they the same or different, and if they are different, in what way are they different? In this process of interrelating by contrasting, a constant comparison is happening. You are comparing your experience yesterday with your teacher to your experience a week ago in your job, to your experience ten years ago in a previous job, to your experience fifty years ago with your father. Through contrast and comparison, at some point you arrive at a sense of what the similarity among them is or what they are all pointing to that is common to each experience. You can see from this that it is inherent in our discrimination, in our
capacity to know, that we contrast, interrelate, and compare things. I might say, “Yesterday I was really terrified, and today I am just scared, so I can say that I was much more scared yesterday. And, a week ago with my teacher I was anxious, but I can see that anxiety is really related to that terror, and with my father I was really afraid.” So, not only can we compare, but we can also make objective assessments or judgments—the way a scientist would in comparing data from an experiment. We can make determinations such as, this is greater than that, that is smaller than this, this is more scary than that, this is more alive than that, that is more intense than this, and so on. All of this comparison is necessary for our understanding.

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