Saturday, February 28, 2009

What is a Conclusion?

So I said it. In front of the entire teacher-induction class:

"I'm not a big fan of 'truth'. I prefer to keep the ideas coming, the explorations on-going. I resonate with whoever said that a conclusion is where thinking comes to a stop and judgment owns the day. I feel truth often divides unnecessarily. And that ambiguity is the key to learning. Without the tension, what's the point of applying one's mind?"

I could've sworn some heads were shaking slowly, with that "What's-his-problem?!" tone.


U-Liang said...

On the contrary, coming to firm conclusions after a long inquiry allows me/us to ask better and deeper questions of the subject matter. Not so much in terms of disputing the conclusion but in terms of asking, "So what?"

e.g. Everyone knows that there are infinitely many prime #'s. (That's a conclusion). But the matter doesn't end there. Becuase of this, it is meaningful to ask
" How sparsely are the prime # distributed?" (This is still unsolved)
" Are there infinitely many prime #'s in an arithmetic progression?" (The answer is yes, and it is the starting point of modern number theory)
And this leads to more conclusions and more investigation.

The problem isn't the idea with "conclusions" or "truth" or what not...its more the attitude of the seeker I think.

If we are lazy, any epistemological paradigm will justify our inaction.

alwyn said...

Couldn't agree (with your conclusion) more! ;>)

Often it's good to come to various 'fixed' points in our journey, without which 'moving forward' becomes difficult.

And yet, don't we often come across many a learned thinker who'd refused to explore (let alone budge) on some issue because he's invested so many years/tears on the conclusion? (hint: think theologians!)

florenceloo said...

I agree with you, U-Liang and Al.

However, there are some who are looking directly for the 'truth'. Like in bible studies and cell groups for example... Or for answers like right or wrong.

Under these circumstances, your audience would not be interested in the ideas or possibilities :) They need the definitive.

But to be fair, I'm merely looking at this from the perspective of bible study la.

Alwyn said...

thnks for the comments, Flo.

I'm well-aware many are looking for 'the truth', and knowing our 'Asian' culture we appear to reluctant to 'talk back' to or challenge the preacher (grin).

But if you take the Gospels and Jesus' style, did He always give it to them :

a) immediately?
b) in pure/logical/unambiguous form (e.g. "This is X, That is Y")?

His main message format was parables, a form devised to :

- make people think / reflect

- evoke lives, stories, images, feelings

- encourage discussion!

- generate multiplicities of meaning (and resists one-to-one 'mapping' of referents and words)

basically, whilst i'm sure the conclusion was important, for Jesus the *process* was as or even more important.

This is what I'm trying to get LHC towards. Less 'passive absoprtion', more questioning and *construction* of meaning (and truth!).

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