In this article I am concentrating on root problems. Root problems concern questions that underlie first order principles of usual theoretical thinking. In second intensional issues we inevitably get into the problems of definition and understanding. and meaning. In discussing problems I begin with the following definition of 'problem'.
A problem is here defined as: a pertinent question in which finding a good enough answer presents a challenge. More fully, a problem is a relevant question or group of questions in which some difficulty obstructs discovery of adequate answers. Sometimes a problem explores which questions to ask and in what order. Always, a problem involves the unknown where some doubt surrounds the needed answer. If there is no difficulty, there is no real problem. Some problems are potential, some are actual and most are both. A problem, from a Plusroot point of view, is the intellectual aspect of a conflict or a or struggle or other opposition.
Considered this way, all intellectually functioning people face problems and sometimes make mistakes while working toward solutions.
In other settings, outside the universe of this discourse, the term problem can hold additional meanings such as ‘source of distress’. For example, a fish on a hook has a serious problem that is a source of distress for the fish. The fish responds instinctively by flopping to wiggle off the hook.
But the present study, for the sake of discussion, ignores this connotation and restrict the meaning of problem to the intellectual realm of question and answer. Following this procedure, a problem is a pertinent question in which finding a good enough answer presents a challenge.
When we detect a problem, what we discern is the possibility of making a mistake. This is because, if no chance of mistake were present, no real difficulty could occur and the question would not be a problem. If we never made intellectual mistakes, we would simply ask questions and, with no danger of blunder, our first answer would always be the best answer. With no chance of error, we would always ask the right question at the right time. Furthermore, we would agree on fundamental issues, because nobody would make mistakes.
Problems, from a Plusroot point of view, are a function of the possibility of mistakes. Without one, there would not be the other.
And so it is with elemental rational philosophy (root theory). If there were no chance of making intellectual mistakes, we would not face root problems. If we never made elemental blunders (root errors) then, when thinking about thinking, we would always ask the right questions at the right time and the right answers would pop into our head. At every moment, we would accurately analyze our thoughts about thinking and correctly apply our conclusions to our business.
It’s safe to say that problem-free root theory does not happen. In thinking about thinking, we do make mistakes and we do have elemental rational problems. Each root error represents one problem and sets the stage for others. Insofar as we refuse to fix these mistakes, we deliberately indulge in elemental rational deception.
Every root error is an actual problem. Every root verity can be viewed as a solution to a root problem. Worded another way, every root verity is an adequate answer to a root question. Every root error is an inadequate answer to a root question.
Mistakes about thinking work their way into our rational techniques and damage problem solving abilities. By affecting the foundation of problem solving skills, root errors compound complexity in elemental theory far beyond problems in other subjects. Because root theory consists of assumptions that underlie our surface problem solving, elemental rational impropriety presents challenges of a different order of magnitude than mistakes in surface subjects. As in all fields, some mistakes are worse than others.
Notice the quandary created by root errors. The mistakes not only damage our reasoning skill in daily affairs, they also damage our ability to correct mistakes because we must use our problem solving skills to detect and fix mistakes in our problem solving techniques. Root errors are obstructions buried in the very roots of our thinking. Although easy to fix under the right conditions, they often remain un-repaired because people don’t see them. To add to the confusion, many professionals treat them as if they were frivolous. As a result, some root errors become embedded in our rational style and remain generation after generation. [See Chapter 3, Rational Style]
So here is a big challenge: The prudent way to improve problem solving skills is to adequately correct root errors and sufficiently support root verities. This means we must look at and think about problems that many authorities approach as trivial and not worth the bother.
Taking time to fix root errors is worth the trouble it takes. If we have to split hairs in order to build a better world, we should learn to enjoy splitting hairs and make something worthwhile of the job.
A Crucial Root Problem:
People committed to radical antithetic ideologies approach the problems involved in different terminology than used herein. What affirmative rational thinkers assume is good, radical rule dialecticians proclaim is bad. If this process is allowed to develop and mature, civil discourse becomes swamped with confusion. When confusion becomes serious, high quality negotiation fades.
Root Dilemma
If we are to sort desirable root values from the undesirable and preserve that which needs keeping, we must first believe it is an important task. But to see the importance of problems involved we must talk about them. Ordinarily we will not talk about problems until we have a common language. Establishing mutual terminology and learning to see the challenge requires work. Normal people will not do the work until they see the danger. However, in order to see the danger, first we have to do the work.
As long as humans are human and resources are limited, we can expect conflict of some degree. But, most conflict is not a misfortune. Conflict of opinion is the grist that mills the human story. Our rational life is the on-going drama of how we resolve disagreement, that is, solve problems. Disaster comes from failure to adequately resolve conflict in a beneficial manner.
Although conflict is inherent in our human conditions, we can hope to reduce violence. [See Peace Essay]
Time and Energy Ratio
It is quick and easy to make root errors statements but it is time consuming and difficult to refute them. Perhaps a mathematician could figure the time and energy ratios involved. When immersed in contests between affirmative and negative, this ratio becomes an important factor.
For example, we can quickly tell a lie and slander someone's good name. On the other hand, it is difficult and time consuming to undo the damage caused by slander. People with a negative agenda can produce new misrepresentations at a fast rate. Refuting them is close to impossible.
As things now stand, negative prone dialecticians run rings around people making a strong effort to use affirmative rational methods. This is a major problem society. [See Negative Essay]
Problem Solving
Not all intellectual activity is rational, that is, uses reasons. In more advanced epistemological and logical theory, it is worth the trouble to adhere to precise distinctions, but for our present purposes it strains the issue to be picky. The same is true for the difference between rational and problem solving because not all reasoning is problem solving. The difference needs to be mentioned because there are times when these distinctions are crucial. At the beginning, where we are now, usually the terms intellectual, rational, and problem solving can be interchanged without causing a problem. [See Chapter 04, Rational Skill]
Last updated 2009 sep 11. Previous update 2008 April 14.