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

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

“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”


As preparation for writing my next book, tentatively titled Enworldment (A Philosophy of Design of Philosophy), I’m indexing the articles I’ve written on approaching philosophy as a design discipline. Some of the earlier articles have a blunt simplicity to them that I want to recover, at least for the introduction. I’m going to list some of … Continue reading Enworldment

A possible outline for my book

A philosophy should be: Understood as an instrument that is adopted and used (instrumentalism) Expected to disappear in use and become a ready-to-mind producer of self-evident truths for its user Designed with a subjective user experience (perceiving, understanding, anticipating, responding) as its primary purpose and mode of being, and its objective forms (presentation, argument, vocabulary, etc.) serving as a … Continue reading A possible outline for my book

Intentional extension

Reading Schutz’s observations of the “intentional gaze” I am realizing how important the concept of intentional mediation as a means to extend our intentionality (both active and receptive intention) is to my own thinking. This is the sentence that sparked it: However, as I am always interpreting these perceptions as “body of another,” I am … Continue reading Intentional extension

Foregrounds and backgrounds

I am looking in my anomawiki for a quote from Nietzsche about foreground and background philosophies. I am digging through one of the themes I’ve catalogued, “depth“, and noticing — somehow for the first time! — how many of these quotes involve water, and specifically cold water. Reading Nietzsche I slowly discovered a symbolic language … Continue reading Foregrounds and backgrounds

Facets of empathy

Working in design research, empathy is one of our primary tools. Reflective practitioners quickly learn where they and their teammates have strengths and weaknesses using empathy to produce understanding. Continuing this week’s trend of identifying distinctions and creating categories, here’s a list of skills associated with what is commonly called “empathy” and what I prefer … Continue reading Facets of empathy

The odor of burning rubber

When thinking about truth, we expect both clarity and effectiveness. These qualities are so expected, in fact, that they serve as criteria for truth. If they are present we assume what we think is true, and if we are surrounded by people thinking the same way we might even succumb to certainty. Certainty is comfortable. … Continue reading The odor of burning rubber


From Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects: The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory spearheaded by Bohr holds that though quantum theory is a powerfully accurate heuristic tool, peering underneath this tool to see what kind of reality might underlie it would be absurd because quantum phenomena are “irreducibly inaccessible to us.” “Powerfully accurate heuristic tool” jumps out of … Continue reading Eureka

Rorty’s wonderful omissions

One of the great pleasures of reading Richard Rorty is experiencing his precise neglect of nonhuman actors. The man lived in a wordworld of free-floating humans whose sole purpose was conversation. It helps make what I learned from Bruno Latour extra tangible, that what we converse about is rooted as much in our tacit interactions … Continue reading Rorty’s wonderful omissions