Humans have a tendency to think about What if? questions, to think counterfactually. Counterfactually in its various forms is used in many situations: in understanding others (What would I have done in that situation? What would I mean with those words?), in science (What would happen if ...? What would have happened if ...?), and in art.
Geopoeia focuses on Creative Counterfactuality, counterfactuality as art form. That does not imply that all creative counterfactuality is art. Not all drawing is art; not all painting is art; only drawing and painting that qualifies according to certain (rather controversial) standards is art. The same is the case with creative counterfactuality: some of it is art, some of it is not. Whether a certain example of creative counterfactuality is art does not matter for Geopoeia, however. It is the art form that matters here, not just the cases that actually qualify as art.
With regards to creative counterfactuality, a number of meta-issues can be distinguished, some related to its counterfactual nature, some to its nature as art form:
History of counterfactuality
- Main Article: History of Counterfactuality
(To be added: brief notes about the history of conlangs, geofiction, and alternate history.)
Philosophy of counterfactuality
The central issue in the 'philosophy of counterfactuality' is realism. Many counterfactual creations aspire to be 'realistic', but it is unclear whether that is possible and whether the notion of "realism" is even applicable to what by definition is unreal. The closest to realism may be a form of intersubjective realism according to which counterfactual realism is the attempt to create and describe something in such a way that, in the opinion of the communicating collective of creator and participating observers, all described aspects of the creation can be plausibly explained on the basic of current scientific knowledge.
There are some further issues in the 'philosophy of counterfactuality' that are either derivative of or otherwise closely related to the issue of realism. For example, what is the epistemological status of counterfactuality? Can counterfactual thinking result in knowledge about the factual world? How 'scientific' is counterfactual science?
A completely unrelated issue is ethics. For example, is it ethical to create fictional worlds or countries were horrible atrocities have taken place? Or is that just as 'bad' as fantasizing about those? (Or is neither 'bad'?) And is it ethical to fictionally displace real world people or declare them non-existent by locating a fictional country in the place where those real people live? Isn't that like saying 'you don't matter to me, so for my hobby I declare you non-existent', and is it ethically acceptable to 'say' that? Such ethical issues are rarely considered by counterfactual hobbyists, but they are real issues, even if they are considered unimportant.
Aesthetics of counterfactuality
- Main Article: Aesthetics of Counterfactuality
If counterfactuality is an art form, it can be judged by aesthetic criteria. These criteria are not necessarily the same as those used for judging other art forms, however. Plausibility or credibility, Coleridge's notion of the Suspension of Disbelief, or Tolkien's arguments for internal consistency, for example, seem good starting points for a specific aesthetics of creative counterfactuality.
Methodology of counterfactuality
- Main Article: Design and Methodology
Perhaps there is no single methodology of (creative) counterfactuality, but there may be methodologies of aspects of language construction, world construction, and so forth. Generally these are based on science, or simplified models derived therefrom.
see also: Category:Design and Methodology
Psychology of counterfactuality
Counterfactual thinking is a common human faculty, but it may be used differently by different people. What role counterfactuality plays in thought, and how different psychological traits affect different kinds of counterfactual thought belongs to the field of psychology.