Policy Alternation for Development

Constraints on a meta-answer

Anthony Judge

To avoid creating the impression that this amounts to pluralist relativism, it is necessary to clarify some constraints which counteract such a condition before taking the argument a step further. Ranges of possible constraints have been explored in an earlier paper (22). At this point it is appropriate to list the following:

  • Single, exclusive, universal claims: Such claims are what the meta-answer must necessarily interrelate. A claim of this type defines itself as of a different type than that of a meta-answer.
  • Eclectic pluralism: The meta-answer must necessarily be open to any perspective, but it is of little value if it does not achieve more than this.
  • Artificial agglomerations: Grouping together answers within a framework of categories (e.g. a matrix or a thesaurus) may prove to be a valuable step towards a meta-answer, but the framework does not possess all the required characteristics of one.
  • Partial strategies: Reduction of the range of factors to be considered may lead to valuable insights but it fails to respond to the basic challenge of interrelating the full range of answers.
  • Non-self-reflexive approaches: Any approach to a meta-answer which is not faced with the paradox of the status of a meta-answer in relation to an answer avoids an essential dimension of the challenge.
In the earlier paper (22) it was argued that statements about a meta-answer could best be formulated as an open-ended ordered series of mutually-incompatible, transformation-oriented propositions of which 210 were outlined in 20 sets. A measure of self-reflexiveness is built into them but is most evident in the earlier sets. The statements are formulated in sets based on the number of elements by which it is hoped to "contain" the description of the complexity of an adequate meta-answer. The first two sets, containing respectively one and two elements, are:

1. Inadequacy of formulations No single formulation (including this one), nor any logically integrated set of formulations, adequately encompasses the nature of the development process. Every position or formulation is therefore suspect. When it is formulated within a domain of unquestioned consensus, this potential doubt is inactive, thus establishing a boundary of uncritical discourse which inhibits development.

2. 0pposition/Disagreement 2.1 New initiatives, including this one, are formulated by taking and establishing a particular position in opposition to whatever is conceived as potentially denying it. The nature of the initiative is partly determined by the way in which the challenge or initial absence of any opposing position is perceived and the possible nature of the response. It is the immediacy with which the challenge is perceived that empowers the initiative.

2.2 The taking of a position as a result of a new initiative engenders or activates a formulation which is its denial. Every formulation is therefore necessarily matched by an initiative which is incompatible with it, or opposed to it, or takes an essentially different direction from it. This opposition is fundamentally unmediated and as such cannot be observed or described. It can only be comprehended through identification with one of the opposed positions.

The tentative titles used to indicate the qualitative characteristics of the other sets formulated are:

  • 3. Dialectic synthesis
  • 4. Development interaction
  • 5. Constraints on existence
  • 6. Coherence through renewal
  • 7. Modes of change
  • 8. Constraints on change
  • 9. Implementation of a transformation process
  • 10. Endurance of a form
  • 11. Empowerment and importance of a form
  • 12. Harmoniously transformative controlled relationship
  • 13. Creative renewal
  • 14. Cycle of development processes
  • 15. Construction and development of form
  • 16. Values and assumptions
  • 17. Relationship potential of a form
  • 18. Inadequate transformation attempts
  • 19. Qualitative transformation
  • 20. Significance of mutually constraining form

In effect such sets attempt to clarify the kinds of significance domain perceptible under different conditions of observation whilst at the same time challenging the nature of the formulation and of the observation process. In a sense the ordered sets establish the necessity of the fragmentation of answers into domains.