The Art of Making Questions
“Without asking questions, civilisation cannot exist”
Socrates, Greek philosopher
But how do you MAKE questions?
What are the drivers causing different type of questions?
To unravel this hardly discussed topic, we propose insights you can experiment with.
Humans absorb many impressions every day, this has increased exponentially the last decade due to technological development computer, mobile network, smartphones and platforms. When we see and read, for example a news item or a post on a social media platform causes us to either respond or react.
The difference between react and respond
If you react it is instant, indicating it is coming from your instinct. No time for contemplation because you feel threatened and are often defensive. This indicates it comes from a past time when life was a constant struggle to survive and we trusted our instinct to react immediately. Today our lives are no longer threatened but “to react” is still a part of our behaviour.
Responding takes time and thinking, you process the information and either answer, or ask a question to gather more information to arrive at a thought through reply or opinion.
We call the period we struggled for survival “Evolution from ape to human” lasting for millions of years. We were depended on immediate reactions for our survival as can be observed in wild-life.
In the next evolution stage “Stone age to present” humans gradually left circumstances where life threatening situations demanded reactions for survival. More time became available for some. Humans used this time to contemplate resulting in for example religion, new technology and philosophy.
React & respond from evolutionary perspective
Evolution of behaviour specified
Both the reactive and responsive behaviour have their own development periods.
React behaviour divided
1. Ape to human - 9 till 2,5 Million of Years Ago (MYA)
Developed due to permanent threats demanding immediate reactions.
2. Stone age 2,5 MYA till 11.600 YA
Still many threats existed but collaboration provided more safety.
Respond behaviour divided
1. Holocene period (11.600 YA – present)
Urbanisation developed other environment specific behaviour resulting in culture.
2. Consciousness (? - present)
Unclear when consciousness became available for humans. When used as primary source for our behaviour it results in the most civilised responses.
Human evolution summarised in 4 behavioural layers
Each behavioural layer drives the making of different questions for the situation you are confronted with as shown below. You can always revisit any topic and ask yourself questions again, but from another behavioural layers.
Questions emerging from each behavioural layer
Time to make questions
Time is an important factor deciding which behavioural layer creates a reaction or response. If you perceive the situation as life threatening, you do not think, you react instantly and instinctively. Due to this perceived lack of time you respond / make questions from the Ape and Stone Age behaviour.
An environment becoming gradually safer, thinking/contemplation was possible. A group living in the Stone age still had to be on guard for animals, other tribes and weather circumstances but also became creative and made coloured cave paintings.
When societies developed, more time became available for contemplation and culture emerged as another behavioural layer.
When moving up the behavioural layers more aspects of life and perspectives are taken into consideration resulting in a reaction becoming a response.
Wars have become a distant memory in some societies. Nevertheless, the fear behaviour is still apparent in every human and can be activated when a message is perceived as a lethal threat, real or not. Good news is, you can recognise questions coming from the Ape or Group behaviour and put it aside. Because today we have ample opportunity to contemplate and the digital age provides us with enough sources to obtain a second opinion.
Perception of available time to make questions
We support you in your journey becoming a human, recognising & appreciating the ape behaviour, but leaving it aside when it comes to making questions.
The personal gain from reviewing your reaction/response is putting your fear aside. We live in a save and organised society where Ape behaviour should not be the driver for our perception of the world and each other. Fear is causing stress and has detrimental effects on you psychological and physical health.
Once you know where the basic question has emerged from, you have to structure it powerful, to arrive at the desired outcome. How to create powerful questions is explained in this document. Use it to explore any topics in private and business life.
The explanation below is recognising four behavioural layers (social psychology) build up over time caused by human evolution as theoretical concept behind the Art of Making Questions.
This is not an attempt to prove anything. We have come to this by, again applying the Socrates method. Most important goal is to support people in understanding their behaviour and once acknowledged, how it can be changed. Based on practical experience we can adjust the explanation of this model. Scholars are kindly invited to investigate this and apply this in their own field of expertise.
4 levels where questions emerge from
To understand this, we must go back to human evolution influencing our social psychology. Why both the animal and prehistoric behaviour continues to be a source of our behaviour might be because of our brain development. It is a part of the DNA and we are born with it.
Ape and Group behaviour are similar for every human on the planet meaning they come from a period where humans evolved under similar circumstances Millions of Years Ago (MYA).
The Holocene period resulted in civilisations where culture created another layer of behaviour. This cultural layer is fundamentally different all over the planet given the different opinions to topics we witness daily.
Human evolution (9 – 2,5 MYA) -> Ape behaviour
We mix this Britannica encyclopaedia article with the cultural developers. (link to a previous CQ page). Humans have common ancestry to apes, 99% of our DNA matches the chimpanzee. This confirms our origins including the part our human behaviour being: fight, flight or freeze and fear versus greed, which are instinctive reactions. Fear of becoming predators’ prey versus greed; to eat as much as possible as fast as possible to survive. We see greed back in the unstoppable human behaviour of wanting more, enough is never enough, without ever asking why. Unstoppable because it is based on a survival instinct. This ape behaviour still decides a large portion of our reactions.
Stone Age (2,5 MYA till 11.600 YA) -> Group behaviour
Due to the handling of tools and the creation of fire, humans removed themselves from the natural food chain. Parallel did humans develop the skill to collaborate. This resulted in cave settlement and the development of more complex behaviour. Living in groups or tribes led to man and woman developing different behavioural aspects. Survival now depended on collaboration. Men were hunting in groups with focus on killing animals. They were led by experienced elder men and these trips lasted for days or weeks. Woman stayed in groups nurturing children, watching for danger, each other and looking for food to be gathered, always in walking distance of the cave, the place of safety.
Holocene (11.600 YA – present) -> Cultural behaviour
When the first permanent settlements were established, some humans had time to think about other aspects of life. Food and safety (survival) received gradually less attention. Humans developed technology making sophisticated tools in the Bronze age, tried to explain the unexplainable creating various types of religion. Geographical and climate circumstances had a great effect on behaviour. All this can be described as culture. This type of behaviour and development is explained on the Home page and podcasts.
? - present -> Consciousness
The definition of consciousness and awareness are mixed up in the various articles available. It is a semantic discussion about an abstract state of mind. We will not engage in this discussion but made a choice for consciousness since it is easiest to understand. Our aim is to help people understand and use the Art of Making Questions.
Consciousness -> Individual choices
When the human obtained the ability to be consciousness (to be is important because we are not always conscious but have the ability to gain access it) is a topic of debate. We add this layer because the purest questions emerge from it. Conscious questions are not influenced by any other behavioural layer.
When did people become conscious or have they always been? This would mean every animal has a conscious. But seeing what conscious is used for and how animals are living or better surviving, this is doubtful. Another point of view is every creature has consciousness but only humans, presumably due to evolution, have the ability to access it.
Most information found on the internet attempts to explains what conscious or awareness is not where it comes from nor the relation with animals or human evolution.