TopicQuests Mission as Enabling Apperception

Here’s one phrasing of a Mission Statement for TopicQuests: To enable wise global apperception.

“Apperception” basically means perception in context. The Wikipedia entry distinguishes between a psychological usage of the word, which denotes the creation of a new experience in the context of past experience (such as a rich or a poor child’s view of a $10 bill), and a philosophical one, in which the term refers to the introspective or reflective apprehension by mind of its own states. Let’s call the former apperception-out, and the latter apperception-in.

Apperception-out fits very nicely into how TopicQuests uses knowledge gardens as a way to fulfill its mission. A knowledge garden is a repository of knowledge that is ongoingly mapped and enriched with inter-relationships, by humans in concert with active software. New relationships, hypotheses, and conclusions arise as apperceptions. For example, a guild may, through a quest, create and tool an active perspective, which then contributes a new or refined way to look at an issue.

This is one side of apperception-out, where a new datum emerges. However, novelty may also back-propagate to modify the contexts from which it emerged: this is the flip side of apperception-out, where what emerges is new contextualization, perhaps even a paradigm shift. This takes the form of new organs of perception: new maps, visualizations, displays, situation rooms.

A classic example of literature-based discovery illustrates this:

  • Context-1: As part of immune response to bacterial infection, macrophages use free radicals to kill bacteria
  • Context-2: Antioxidants kill free radicals
  • Emerging from those two contexts: bacterial infection contraindicates use of antioxidants
  • Further contextual refinements…

Apperception-in is related to wisdom: how to work with holding a context or perspective, individually and as a group or guild. Apperception-in is tuning the instruments of perception and contextualization, by practicing how to hold, let go, and innovate those. This is necessary because the problems we in the Anthropocene Epoch are engaged with cannot be dealt with by excluding how our own perceptions, feelings, framings, and decisions contribute to those problems. Therefore such a practice of working with the source but also “blind spot” of intention, leadership and innovation needs to be part of a guild’s craft when dealing with wicked issues. It is also now clear that this needs to be an explicit part of any Fullerian or Engelbartian quest to augment our problem-solving capacity: to augment how we care as well as how we know.

To enable wise global apperception, TopicQuests contributes to growing an ecosystem of knowledge gardens cultivated by teams of humans who in turn cultivate their own consequential intentionalities.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mark, I much appreciate what you wrote.

    In the phrase “enable wise global apperception,” how do you define “wise?”

    1. Good question. I think wisdom would be something emerging from both awareness of context (and so of an action in light of past history, and anticipating its future consequences) and self-knowledge (so knowing, as best one can, one’s biases and projections). There’s probably also some aspect of being in touch with “the good”, which is probably closer to how our ethics work than is the notion of “algorithmic ethics”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *