The goal of research and the (re)prioritization of questions

According to different perspectives from the natural and social sciences, research is aimed at exploring unknown intellectual territories, explaining, and developing and understanding of ideas and phenomena, and constructing new knowledge. It occurred to me recently that Paulo Freire along with Lev Vygotsky and other theorists (who argued that valid knowledge did not appear in a learner’s mind through simple transfer but rather as a co-constructed process in a specific sociocultural setting) could provide some inspiration for a different approach to research as well. What if the goal of research could be to create questions, rather than to answer them?

You could argue that all good research does something like this: inspire more questions, bringing new thoughts and initiatives to the table and in turn creating new opportunities for research (in fact, this is how scientific development occurs, as thinkers build from previous work). But what I mean probably will sound odd: What if we could create a form of research whose end point was a set of questions that we simply couldn’t answer? A form of research whose goal was to establish a set of end points clearly articulated in question form that left us in the much less comfortable position of uncertainty, inability to say for sure?

Or am I just talking about philosophy?


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