The Oracle-Sphinx Model: The Development of Questioning and Answering Abilities

By Cătălin Mamali.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The study presents a model of the dynamics of questioning and answering abilities across life-span and cultures. It attempts to work out an integrated perspective that uses different approaches to the interrogatives such as: developmental psychology, logic, linguistics, social psychology, anthropology, artificial intelligence, rhetoric and history. The construct Oracle-Sphinx uses two symbols: the Oracle, represents the answering authority and the acquired knowledge by previous generations that precede and influence the individual ontogenetic development; the Sphinx represents the question, its perplexing nature, its dangers and possibilities that must be confronted and answered by a questioned who, potentially, is able to generate questions. These two cultural symbols, and the practices represented by them both within historical development and ontogenesis are internalized and enhance the innate drive for search. The model Oracle-Sphinx, based on Oedipus myth, on other myths and legends and on empirical findings of previous studies on children’s and adults’ questions, identifies four major developmental stages of the inquiring (questioning/answering) abilities across lifespan and cultures: I) Questioning stage (early childhood); II) Predominant puzzle-solving (answering) stage (adolescence); III) The efficient alternation of questioning and answering abilities (adulthood); IV) The wise use of questioning, counter-questioning, and answering abilities (late adulthood). The study introduces also the issue of the most common interrogative phoneme across languages and the relationship between the interrogative attitudes and performance under different social conditions (open/democratic - versus authoritarian/totalitarian).

Keywords: Oracle-sphinx Complex, Epistemic Arrogance, Most Common Interrogative Phonetic Structure (or Phoneme), Self-inquiring Technique, Inter-inquiring, Interrogative Triangle, Stages of Inquiring Processes

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.247-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.146MB).

Dr. Cătălin Mamali

Department of Psychology, Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, USA

Social Psychologist Cătălin Mamali, Ph.D., participated in cross-cultural studies initiated, among others, by Johan Galtung, John Harvey, Otto Klineberg, and by J. Botkin, M.Elmandjra, & Mircea Malita within the Rome Club, and published research on motivation, interpersonal cognitive behavior, interpersonal relationships within totalitarian societies, interrogative orientations of scientists, the interface diary-correspondence, and on participative methods. He has published a few books such as: Interknowledge (1974); Motivational balance and coevolution (1981); The Gandhian mode of becoming (1998).

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