June 22, 2007

Not-knowing made easier

The solution-focused approach advocates an attitude of not-knowing. It is an approach which uses and celebrates the power of the question and of exploration and discovery. That is why I like the following quotes of acknowledged geniuses. Nobel prizewinner Niels Bohr said the following: "Everything I say must be understood not as an affirmation but as a question." American quantum physicist Richard Feynman said: "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things but I am not absolutely sure of anything and many things I don't know anything about.... I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things." Isaac Newton (considered by many as one of the two greatest scientists ever) said: "I do not know what I appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on a seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me." Now, doesn't this make it a lot easier for US to acknowledge the limits of our understanding and to assume the not-knowing posture?


  1. I like your posts very much. I have one comment though: I wish you would cite Harlene Anderson (1997, and many previous publications)when you talk about "not knowing", as she and Harry Goolishian were the ones to introduce the concept with that name to the field of therapy. Insoo Kim and Peter DeJong do give her credit for this when they discuss "not knowing" in their chapter in Interviewing for Solutions.
    Thanks for your good work on Solution Focused approaches.
    Best regards from Mexico City
    Margarita Tarragona, Ph.D.

  2. Dear Margarita, Thank you for your post. I fully agree and I will make a special post citing them.
    All the best,


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner