Questions often tell more about the asker than the answers tell about the respondent.

Your questions are very interesting things. We may think of them as interrogatories, not containing information so much as requesting it, to be provided in the form of complementary statements. What we often do not clarify in our minds are the assumptions that underly virtually any question we can ask.

Even a seemingly simple, direct question such as "what is two plus two" implies a certain system of abstract mathematics under which it will be answered. The answer "four" without further comment may make complete sense in a linear, day to day fashion, but it willingly goes along with the assumptions of the question. In this case it is likely the assumptions are not misunderstood.

When the questions become more personal, deep, or subjective in nature the assumptions start to take a greater role in the framing of the question and the "accuracy" of the answer.

The closer in the socioeconomic matrix two people are, the more likely their assumptions will overlap. This has an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that the answer is likely to be moderately revealing, and reasonably adequate to the intent of the question. The disadvantage is that the assumptions are just as unlikely to ever be recognised.

These unrecognised assumptions hinder our pursuit of the truth and beauty in life, since they must be dug up and addressed before we can fully perceive the notions with which we communicate and live. People who live in homogenous communities or sub-cultures are very unlikely to be able to form accurate opinions or ideas about human nature, since all their experience is drawn from a group with shared and unexamined assumptions. Those who travel between many cultures have available to them the opportunity to drop their own assumptions and see life in a broader and more unversal way.

8/15/00

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