And Recovering a Culture of Listening
About a dozen people convened in May for an inquiry into possibility as possible in our futures. The sense of a future horizon where anything is possible, where possibility itself draws us forth, will always be for humanity a powerful source of dasein, of being “able to be for a future.” I say that, as an observer of possibility over decades, that this is precisely what is missing among us thrown moderns right now. Framed for the dialogue the question was opened as “what determining actions can we can take to advance a desired future for ourselves?” See how this question comports with the idea of Dasein:
Dasein is the kind of being that always projects toward a future. It is the future that contains countless possibilities and in which Dasein will realize its projects. Its orientation in the present is always with respect to this transcendence.From Existentialism J. Stewart (2012) Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics
The inquiry led with the question “what is the nature of possibility?” What can we create to leap into a future undetermined by the past? Does it exist outside ourselves or is it purely discovered internally? If not, how do we discover the sense of what’s possible, contingent on awareness & sensemaking?
As opposed to the position of “possible futures” that we often employ in foresight conversations, here the question was to seek the possibility of being that leads to new futures. We prompted dialogue with an exploration of the possible, of the experience of Kairos where options, time and potentials emerge and converge, and can take stage over different horizons.
The real focus is on the shared space of inquiry held by attentive listening and sensing into the questions. How might our sense of the possible – the insight of possibility being available – be enhanced? The sketchnote shows some of the directions the question embraced among the dialogists.
I draw attention to the appearance of more questions, of themes and propositions, but not answers in the sense of conclusions that foreclose. I found the generativity of questions in inquiry to indicate the vitality of the dialogue, that questions answered by questions creates more potential for us to deeply inquire to live within the more compelling question, to stay with the concern.
I’ll close the brief discussion by asking further questions.
- How do we sense the experience of possibility?
- How do we know what might be possible for ourselves?
- Is it driven from an inner desire and then attention?
- Is it more the relationship of one’s seeking to the fit and frame of emergent contexts?
I might suggest the venerable Werner Erhard, who built an entire program for human transformation around possibility (est), to address this disclosive space.
“Usually, we think of possibility as options. While this is in some sense true, possibility also exists on a deeper level of abstraction— defining which options are permissible. So, to bring forth possibility is to bring forth a domain in which new options become possible. It is not simply finding new options within the same range of options; it actually produces whole new ranges of options. It is actually the bringing forth of possibility itself. It is a distinctly human act, far more human than simply choosing between the options with which one is presented. It is the act of bringing forth whole ranges of options, options with which you were not presented and yet which you caused to be.
We can associate this deeper notion of possibility with creativity. Possibility shows up as an act of creation, as bringing forth. This also exists only in the domain of Being. Our work is the opening up, the bringing forth of a new domain of possibility for people.