An Exercise in Hegelian Inquiry


  • John A. Kilpatrick
  • Robert R. Miller


" One of the objectives of experiential learning techniques is to enable the student to see and experience “what is going on” in a particular situation. That is, the specific facts of the case are of less importance than the actions, and causes of the actions, that evolve. Of major importance in this respect are the world views, or collection of attitudes, opinions and beliefs about reality, held by participants or actors. What is the relationship between a person’s world view and the actions and reactions that result? What is the nature of the assumptions made by a person holding a particular world view? What are the policy implications of the assumptions and world views? C. West Churchman has dealt at some length with this concept of world view. In his The Design of Inquiring Systems, he discusses the perceptor’s image of the world - Weltanschauung. [2, p. 169-179] This Weltanschauung determines the use that an individual will make of a particular item of information; it provides the context in which the information will be interpreted. Different individuals with different world views will, accordingly, make different uses of the same piece of information. This fact provides the basis for Churchman’s Hegelian inquiries and for our adaptation of it to classroom use. A number of methods have been developed to encourage students to examine their own values or value orientations in varying contexts. There also exists, in the literature, a wide variety of loosely related models or sets of explanations as to why things happen the way they do in business organizations. For the purposes of classroom explication and discussion, there needs to be a connection between the two. This connection is not always easily made. That is, once the student has given some thought to is or her own values in a given context, it is often difficult to bridge the gap to understanding how an existing model would apply in the same context, and to appreciating the implications of this particular viewpoint. For example, suppose the student completes a Rokeach-type value ranking form. Then a discussion of Theory X-Theory Y, or System 1-System 4 ensues. A case or incident is then analyzed. Can the student make the connection between the assumptions of the theory and the act? Can he or she make the further connection between the theoretical assessment of the act and his own value assessment? "