The distinction between discovering what is, versus creating what yet isn’t covers over a region of action that is far more important and common than either — a region Bruno Latour called (after Étienne Souriau) called instauration, the act of discovering-creating in collaboration with the thing being brought into existence. Anyone who actually crafts real … Continue reading Instaurationalism


Most “truth is a construct” type constructivists appear to have retained a vestigial correspondence theory of truth; that is, they take truth to be a little mental duplicate of, or model of or, in extreme cases, a substitute for, reality. Truth is true to the degree that it corresponds to reality. According to a correspondence-constructivist … Continue reading Instrumental-instaurationism?

Palindromic structure of service design

I am desperately trying to find much simpler ways to convey how service design works. Here is one of my recent simplifications. And it is a simplification that intentionally errs toward over-simplification. It not precisely, exactly accurate, but it is directionally true and helps illuminate the logic of the methodology. It is a helpful heuristic. … Continue reading Palindromic structure of service design

Cabal of the unheard word

What Zwicky and Heidegger have in common is they both see truth as a revelation of that toward which the inattentive are oblivious. We may respond to these revelations in various ways. Language and conceptualization are among the responses available to us, but non-linguistic practical or moral responses are possible as well, and sometimes necessary. … Continue reading Cabal of the unheard word

Reenworld thyself

Let’s stop distorting the meaning of subjectivity by situating it within an essentially objective world. But that objective world within which we understand ourselves to be situated is produced by our subjectivity, through its own participation in reality. It is reality within which we are situated. Objectivity (and the objective truth we know about it) … Continue reading Reenworld thyself

Re-cranking the writing machine

(I’m trying to get back to publishing my ideas, even when they are far from perfect. For some reason I’ve been inclined to leave most of what I write private, but I’m going to make myself start putting things out there again. ) My immersion in the philosophical work of Jan Zwicky has given me … Continue reading Re-cranking the writing machine

On the subject of subjects

I have been thinking a lot about “background philosophies”, the ideas we think with, and “foreground philosophies”, the ideas we think about. I have equated background philosophies with subjects. Whether it is a personal subject, or an academic subject, it does not matter. My thought has brought me to an understanding of subjects that on … Continue reading On the subject of subjects

The universal design brief

It occurs to me this morning that Liz Sanders’s useful/usable/desirable framework is the heart of what could be thought of as a universal design brief. Useful: The design satisfies functional needs. Usable: The design minimizes functional obstacles. Desirable: The design is valuable beyond its function. The goal of design research is to particularize this brief. … Continue reading The universal design brief

3D conversations

Nick Gall and I have developed a framework for thinking about modes of conversation: debate, dialogue and dialectic. Debate is conversing with the intention of advancing our own ideas against the other’s. This is an arguing mode of conversation. Dialogue is conversing with the intention of getting inside the other’s ideas and really understanding them … Continue reading 3D conversations

Sketchy endeavor

I want to lay out a basic vocabulary for my project of approaching philosophy as a design discipline. * This is a very sketchy endeavor. I’m presenting even the philosophy that justifies and encourages approaching philosophy this way as itself something I designed. This philosophy makes no claims to truth, only to being one good … Continue reading Sketchy endeavor

Faith as intuition system

Let’s define faith as an configuration of intuitive faculties (which I will simply call intuitions) within a psyche. Different intuitions (again, the faculties, not their content) coordinate themselves societally, which produce a certain form of subjectivity, with its own ways of conceiving, perceiving, interpreting, inferring, responding, etc. Subjectivity can be changed if these intuition systems … Continue reading Faith as intuition system

Deep thoughts on depth

“Depth” can mean thoroughness. If you discuss or explore a matter “in depth”, you talk about it or look into it, in all its detail, to understand how the details hang together. “Depth” can also mean foundationality, or (since I have a mild allergy to foundation metaphors) degree of structural dependence. A deep change alters … Continue reading Deep thoughts on depth

Repetition of conceptions

Quoted in Gabriele Tarde’s Laws of Repetition: “Scientific knowledge need not necessarily take its starting-point from the most minute hypothetical and unknown things. It begins wherever matter forms units of a like order which can be compared with and measured by one another, and wherever such units combine as units of a higher order and … Continue reading Repetition of conceptions

Reconceiving conceptions, part 1

A note on word choice: I am experimenting with using the word “conception” in place of “concept”. A conception is a conceiving move that produces a concept. A concept can be one of any number of artifacts, all of which can be viewed as alike in that they are produced and reproduced (comprehended) by the … Continue reading Reconceiving conceptions, part 1

“Precision inspiration”

When people ask me what design research is, my favorite answer is “precision inspiration”. I know this might seem slightly business romantic, but my meaning is exact, clear, concrete — even a bit technical. * I’ll start by explaining what research is pragmatically, in terms of what it does. And because I’m a business guy, … Continue reading “Precision inspiration”

Anne-Marie Willis’s “Ontological Designing”

Yesterday, Nick freaked me out about the existence of Anne-Marie Willis’s paper “Ontological Designing”. I was so distressed about possibly being scooped, and also about the state of my current project — a distress possibly biologically amplified by an infected eyelid — that I barely slept last night. I was dreaming about this stuff. Today … Continue reading Anne-Marie Willis’s “Ontological Designing”