quest for answers, for new knowledge, for new solutions, and
for greater wisdom can be exciting, but not everyone shares John Cage’s
opinion, because inquiry can also be daunting. It requires that one
be able to tolerate anxiety, to accept the possibility of failures and
“dead ends,” and be prepared to deal with the consequences
of new discoveries. Thus, some people prefer the known to the unknown.
But, it is the spirit of discovery that leads to great personal satisfaction
in the conduct of inquiry, even though the growth of indeterminacy,
or uncertainty, seems to be outstripping the growth of certainty. As
Robert Persig put it:
predicted results of scientific enquiry and the actual results of
scientific enquiry are diametrically opposed here, and no one seems
to pay too much attention to the fact. The purpose of scientific
method is to select a single truth from among many hypothetical
truths. That, more than anything else, is what science is all about.
But historically science has done exactly the opposite. Through
multiplication upon multiplication of facts, information, theories
and hypotheses, it is science itself that is leading mankind from
single absolute truths to multiple, indeterminate, relative ones.
The major producer of the social chaos, the indeterminacy of thought
and values that rational knowledge is supposed to eliminate, is
none other than science itself.
and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Even though there may be less of an expectation of discovering immutable
principles, I believe it is fair to say that expansions of knowledge
and the development of new paradigms of inquiry makes life more exciting
and has potential for inestimable benefits.
takes many forms including the musical experimentations of
John Cage incorporating elements of chance and innovative uses of silence,
the formal investigations of basic research scientists, systematic troubleshooting
by mechanics investigating the causes of malfunctions, and clinicians
seeking effective methods for changing and improving human behavior.
With regard to investigations into why people do what they do and what
can be done to influence their choices, there already is a vast body
of research on human motivation. Yet, this body of research, in keeping
with Persig’s observation, seems to be expanding, not contracting.
No matter how many questions are answered, there are far more that have
not been answered. In recent years there has been a growing interest
in many areas of motivation research, especially with regard to the
development of principles and practices that can be incorporated into
the design of instruction and learning environments.
folder contains subtopics pertaining to several of these areas
with a few representative references in each. The intention here is
to help you get started not to provide comprehensive bibliographies;
however, the lists and the categories will be expanded from time to
time. In that regard, I would be very happy to receive your suggestions
for additions. Please send them to email@example.com.
2006 John M. Keller, All rights reserved.
John Keller firstname.lastname@example.org