Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Constructivist Foundations

In my research I came upon a Journal by the above name at this link. It will be an invaluable resource in my postmetaphysical meanderings. This is the how it describes itself:

Constructivist Foundations (CF) is an international peer-reviewed academic e-journal dedicated to constructivist issues raised by philosophy a well as the natural, human, and applied sciences. The journal publishes original scholarly work in all areas of constructivist approaches, especially radical constructivism, enactive cognitive science, second order cybernetics, biology of cognition and the theory of autopoietic systems, and non-dualizing philosophy, among others. The readers of the journal will be kept up-to-date with the central issues and problems of contemporary constructivist approaches.

Constructivist approaches support the idea that mental structures such as cognition and perception are actively built by one’s mind rather than passively acquired. However, constructivist approaches vary in function of how much influence they attribute to constructions.

Many assume a dualistic relationship between reality and constructed elements. They maintain that constructed mental structures gradually adapt to the structures of the real world (e.g., Piaget). In this view perception is the pickup of information controlled by the mental structure that is constructed from earlier perceptions (e.g., Neisser). This leads to the claim that mental structures are about learning sensorimotor contingencies (e.g., O’Regan).

Others seek to avoid the dualistic position. Either they skeptically reject that the structures of the real world can be compared with mental ones, independently of the senses through which the mental structures were constructed in the first place (e.g., von Glasersfeld), or they embrace a phenomenological perspective that considers perception as the grouping of experiential complexes (e.g., Mach).

All these approaches emphasize the primacy of the cognitive system (e.g., LlinĂ¡s) and its organizational closure (e.g., von Foerster, Maturana). Hence, perceived patterns and regularities may be regarded as invariants of inborn cognitive operators (e.g., Diettrich).

Constructivist approaches can be said to differ also with respect to whether constructs are considered to populate the rational-linguistic (e.g., von Glasersfeld, Schmidt), the biological-bodily (“enactivist/embodied” theories, e.g., Varela), or the social realm (social constructivism, e.g., Latour).

Here's an excerpt from the abstract of Brier, S. (2009) "Cybersemiotic pragmatism and constructivism," Constructivist Foundations 5:1 (November):

"[We] must also accept as prerequisites...a pre-linguistic reality from which our bodies come.... Furthermore, we can no longer claim that there is a reality that we do not know anything about...we know that the world can produce more or less stable embodied consciousnesses that can exchange and construct conceptual meanings through embodied conversations and actions that last over time and exist in space-time and mind, and are correlated to our embodied practices. We can also see that our communication works through signs for all living systems as well as in human language, understood as a structured and progressively developed system of communication. The prerequisite for this social semiotic production of meaning is the fourfold 'semiotic star of cybersemiotics,' which includes at least four different worlds: our bodies, the combination of society, culture and language, our consciousness, and also an outer nature.

"The semiotic star in cybersemiotics claims that the internal subjective, the intersubjective linguistic, our living bodies, and nature are irreducible and equally necessary as epistemological prerequisites for knowing. The viable reality of any of them cannot be denied without self-refuting paradoxes. There is an obvious connectedness between the four worlds, which Peirce called 'synechism.' It also points to Peirce’s conclusion that logic and rationality are part of the process of semiosis, and that meaning in the form of semiosis is a fundamental aspect of reality, not just a construction in our heads."

Here's an interesting article by Humberto Maturana called "The biological foundations of virtual realities and their implications for human existence" (3:2, 2008).

"Our nervous system is continuously changing along the flow of our living, and it does so in a manner  that is moment by moment contingent on the course of our living, both in our conscious and unconscious, external and internal, relational psychic space. As a result, all that we live, regardless of what kind of living we live, arises in us modulated by the history of our psychic existence regardless of whether this takes place through our living in what an observer might call a virtual or a non-virtual reality. In these circumstances, and since our structure and the structure of the medium that we bring about systemically in our living change together congruently as we live, our living becomes dependent on the virtual realities that we live as they become systemic factors in the cultural realization of our living. In other words, as we live them repeatedly, realities that were initially virtual progressively stop being virtual. As features of our culture, they become part of our biological manner of living and, hence, of the non-virtual reality that we live."

1 comment:

  1. Voker Gadenne, "The construction of realism" (3:3 15 July 2008) abstract:

    "In the controversy between realism and constructivism, both sides have often misunderstood each other. Many realists still consider constructivism as a kind of idealism. And constructivists often assume that realists believe they have direct access to things as they really are. It seems necessary to clarify the statements of either side, to rule out some misunderstandings, and then to discuss anew the central epistemological problems. A version of realism is proposed that takes into account constructivist ideas and objections. Realism as presented here is not opposed to the idea that cognition is a constructive process. According to this view, reality is something we presuppose in any attempt to attain knowledge though we can never be certain how things really are. Having knowledge amounts to the preliminary judgment that some hypotheses seem to correspond to reality better than others. In addition, it is demonstrated that a constructivist position that reduces the claim to knowledge even further does not solve the problems better but creates new ones."


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