Truth in Society

February 9, 1995

Prompt #52

Generating possibilities . . .

Everyone should have a printed copy of a thoughtful reflection on the READLOGS you've been reading. If you're not quite ready, we may be able to find a way to give you a bit of time. Here's how it will work. We're going to have three separate seminar meetings today, one right now, or as soon as we can get it organized, one at 10:00, and one at 1:00. We're going to ask you to sign up for one of these seminar groups. If you need an hour to finish, sign up for 10:00; if you need more, sign up at 1:00. When a seminar group gets a dozen names, it's full.

What we're going to do in the meetings is a three-stage process. First everyone in the seminar group will read with some care everyone else's reflections. As you read, you're should make a list of possible questions or issues a group might investigate. This is brainstorming, so don't, at this point, be critical: list everything that seems even remotely possible. It might be a large, general question which comes up repeatedly; it might be a particular, specific incident that conjures questions of belief and truth. It might even be something that nobody has suggested so far, but that you think of as you read what everyone has written. We'll be doing some weeding later, so at this point what you're looking for is possibilities, ones worth thinking about a bit more.

When we've got the lists of possibilities, we'll create a master list of all of them, and then discuss them, pulling together similar ones, asking questions about them eliminating ones that don't seem, on second thought, to have much potential. We'll aim, in each seminar, at creating a list of between three and five possible projects that we think warrant further exploration.

We'll also divide the group into provisional subgroups to do that exploration (to conduct what we're calling "feasibility studies").

At 4:00, there will be a whole-section meeting where we will compare lists, eliminate obvious overlaps, and get ready to do the feasibility studies (we'll have a prompt outlining some specific issues you need to consider as you assess how feasible the exploration of a given issue, subject, topic or question is. Between now and the end of the day on Tuesday, each group will prepare a written report assessing the feasibility of their topic. That report will be their "feasibility study."

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