The Critical Ladder is an attempt at a simplified view of the application of questions for purposes of investigation and exploration. It can be applied to just about anything, in any domain.
It began with two problems I was trying to solve:
- how to explain the levels of abstraction in human cultures and society and
- the relationship between context and content in Information & Communication Technology and Media systems.
I quickly found myself using the far too simplistic “5 Ws” (who, what, when, where, why), which led me to The Powerful Questions. However, I wanted to provide evidence of the structure along which inquiry flows between The Levels of Abstraction (WIP).
How to use The Critical Ladder
Very simply, take any thing—an object, a concept—and asks questions about it.
- How does it work. (This can lead to answers of what, where, when, who type.)
- Why is it here? (Pops you up a level of context, of “reasons why.” There too you will find Hows.)
- How is it here? (This may lead you downwards, into the details of where it came from, when, through who?)