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Collaborative Knowledge Building and Integral Theory:On Perspectives,Uncertainty, and Mutual Regard

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Author(s): Tom Murray

Journal: Integral Review
ISSN 1553-3069

Issue: 2;
Start page: 210;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Applied epistemology | cognitive psychology | ethics | integral theory | knowledge building.

ABSTRACT
Uncertainty in knowing and communicating affect all aspects of modern life. Ubiquitous and inevitable uncertainty, including ambiguity and paradox, is particularly salient and important in knowledge building communities. Because knowledge building communities represent and evolve knowledge explicitly, the causes, effects, and approaches to this “epistemological indeterminacy” can be directly addressed in knowledge building practices. Integral theory's approach (including “methodological pluralism”) involves accepting and integrating diverse perspectives in ways that transcend and include them. This approach accentuates the problems of epistemological indeterminacy and highlights the general need to deal creatively with it. This article begins with a cursory analysis of textual dialogs among integral theorists, showing that, while integral theory itself points to leading-edge ways of dealing with epistemological indeterminacy, the knowledge building practices of integral theorists, by and large, exhibit the same limitations as traditional intellectual discourses. Yet, due to its values and core methods, the integral theory community is in a unique position to develop novel and more adequate modes of inquiry and dialog. This text explores how epistemological indeterminacy impacts the activities and products of groups engaged in collaborative knowledge building. Approaching the issue from three perspectives—mutual understanding, mutual agreement, and mutual regard—I show the interdependence of those perspectives and ground them in relation to integral theory’s concerns. This article proposes three phases of developing constructive alternatives drawn from the knowledge building field: awareness of the phenomena, understanding the phenomena, and offering some tools (and some hope) for dealing with it. Though here I focus on the integral theory community (or communities), the conclusions of the article are meant to be applicable to any knowledge building community, and especially value-oriented groups who see themselves fundamentally as working together to benefit humanity.
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