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2 Research questions

My aim in this study is to understand human placiality. This is achieved by studying place in its placeness. The means of geography to pursuit this is to study a particular place. Therefore, I am studying Roseau (Fig. 2). But to understand Roseau as a place one has to understand something about 'place' in general.

The most difficult questions are usually the ones that are easiest to pose. This is the reason why the research questions of scientific studies are usually highly articulated. Definite concepts and technical form of the questions provide a definite and technical methodology to conduct the study. Asking simple questions is the task of philosophical inquiry. However, when the most fundamental subjects of a given field--like question of place in geography--are concerned one needs to be rather philosophical. Therefore, I have chosen to pose a simple question. I ask:

(1) What kind of place is Roseau?
This is a general question. It is so general that I cannot expect to answer it thoroughly. However, due to its ambiguity it is the kind of question that leaves plenty of space for theoretical cogitations. Following the method of Jaakko Hintikka (1976: 22), the logical form of the Question (1) is:
(1') Bring it about that I know what kind of place Roseau is.
In this case 'I know what kind of place Roseau is' is the desideratum of Question (1). It describes the cognitive situation which is to be achieved. The logical form of the question explicitly shows that there is a subject, in this case the author of this study, who poses the question. Therefore, apart from logic and semantics of questions and answers, the form of potential answer depends on the cognitive state of the one asking the question at the time the question is posed (see Hintikka 1976: 41-45). That is to say that semantically I will have found a satisfactory answer to the question at the time I have found an answer that satifies me as a poser of the question. However, I am not answering only for myself. I have stated the question publicly, and therefore believe that I should also answer the question in a manner that also satisfies my public.

To investigate what could be the suitable requirements for a methodology of answering to Question (1) I pose another question. I ask:

(2) What are the satisfactory requirements for describing a place?
The desideratum of Question (2) is 'I know what the satisfactory requirements for describing a place are.' While superficially like with Question (1), there is a major difference between the logical form of the questions, which is due to the term 'satisfactory' in the latter. Thus, the question could also be posed:
(2') What should one know about a place to describe it?
This is a normative question. It is therefore fundamentally different from Question (1). I ask it in order to raise the level of the enquiry from the level of my own personal cognition to that of public understanding. If I can answer Question (2), then I can find the methodology to answer Question (1). To do that I will first examine what has already been said about my subject. Question (2) or its equivalents are nevertheless a widely discussed subject at least in the fields of geography and architecture.

To answer to Question (2) is the subject of next four chapters. I begin with a brief introduction to the tradition of regional geography. After that the concept of 'place' is studied, and this will provide the outlines for studying the methodology of describing places.



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