I will try to focus on the “compose a satisfying, useful, compact, and true model of what questions are” aspect. To reduce the problem to something more manageable, I will regard the thought process while questioning and exclude social and linguistic aspects. In short: My model proposal:- While thinking, we use ‘frameworks’ (expectations/models/concepts/..)- When thinking inside of a framework, we are able to notice gaps and inconsistencies, which feels unnerving to confusing- This causes us to search for a solution (filling the gap, fixing the inconsistency, replacing the framework), which is the act of asking a question(- The nested, interacting, fuzzy and changing ‘frameworks’ make everything complicated.)
In long:Aiyen answered “It’s a noticed gap in your knowledge”, which I would like to build on: It seems to me that questions are only possible when there is some expectation/model/concept in my mind to find the gap in.As no better term comes to my mind I will use *framework* as the term for the expectation/model/concept that the question is stemming from. One can imagine ‘framework’ to refer to a mental picture of some part of reality.Now it seems to me that while thinking inside of a framework one can notice gaps or inconsistencies in the framework (this strongly reminds me of ‘Noticing Confusion’ from the Sequences), which feels unnerving (if clear) or confusing (if vague). The search for a fix to the gap of the framework would then be what we call asking a question.When doing this in a social setting, asking a question will tell others that help (in some sense) is being asked for and reveal something about the framework in use (which has many implications for social interaction).
- I think that the term ‘stupid question’ is usually used when one thinks that the asking person is using an unsuitable framework altogether. It doesn’t refer to the question itself but to the fact that ‘basic understanding’ (the ‘proper framework’) seems to be missing and thus answering the question would be pointless. Usefulness and Summary
Although this model of Questions seems quite compact and true to me, at this point it doesn’t help with moving from the “Unknown Unknown to Known Unknwon”. Pointing out that confusion plays a big role is already part of the Sequences.Apart from hiding everything complicated behind the term ‘framework’, the main aspect of my model is the claim that questions always, per definition, have their origin from ‘inside their box’ and are a quest for looking outside of it.
Our quest consists of the simplest operations, each one worthy of examination. We cannot build towers of thought without a solid foundation. We cannot build better tools if we don’t know how our current tools operate, and it’s often good to bootstrap by using our tools on themselves.
To improve our tools of thinking, a better understanding of questions and their behaviour surely is useful.In my usual way of thinking, the frameworks I am using in my mind are fuzzy and ever changing, which makes it hard to pin down and realize confusion. This problem can be approached by thoroughly and consciously choosing one’s framework of interest. One would expect this to take a lot of mental work/time, but in exchange be a more robust way to improve frameworks(This does sound a lot like the “System 2” way of thinking from Kahnemann’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”).If it is true that finding gaps in a defined box (framework) is a natural ability of our mind (and the existence of a box a condition for this ability), this could open an approach for improving our tools.___Final note: Until now I only read about rationality and certainly do not feel confident in my ability to contribute without erring often. Please point out mistakes that I make or basic ideas that I am unaware of.