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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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Abraham T. H.
Transcending disciplines: Scientific styles in studies of the brain in mid-twentieth century America.
Studies in History and Philosophy of
Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3935
Much scholarship in the history of cybernetics has focused on the far-reaching cultural dimensions of the movement. What has garnered less attention are efforts by cyberneticians such as Warren McCulloch and Norbert Wiener to transform scientific practice in an array of disciplines in the biomedical
s, and the complex ways these efforts were received by members of traditional disciplines. In a quest for scientific unity that had a decidedly imperialistic flavour, cyberneticians sought to apply practices common in the exact
s – mainly theoretical modeling – to problems in disciplines that were traditionally defined by highly empirical practices, such as neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. Their efforts were met with mixed, often critical responses. This paper attempts to make sense of such dynamics by exploring the notion of a scientific style and its usefulness in accounting for the contrasts in scientific practice in brain research and in cybernetics during the 1940s. Focusing on two key institutional contexts of brain research and the role of the Rockefeller and Macy Foundations in directing brain research and cybernetics, the paper argues that the conflicts between these fields were not simply about experiment vs. theory but turned more closely on the questions that defined each area and the language used to elaborate answers.
Warren S. McCulloch
Ashby W. R.
General systems theory as a new discipline.
In: Klir G. J. (ed.)
Facets of systems
. Plenum Press, New York: 249–257.
The emergence of general system theory is symptomatic of a new movement that has been developing in
during the past decade:
is at last giving serious attention to systems that are intrinsically complex. This statement may seem somewhat surprising. Are not chemical molecules complex? Is not the living organism complex? And has not
studied them from its earliest days? Let me explain what I mean.
Originally published in 1958.
Avenier M. J.
Shaping a constructivist view of organizational design
Organization Studies, Special Issue “Organization studies as applied
: the generation and use of academic knowledge about organizations”
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/371
The so-called rigor–relevance gap appears unbridgeable in the classical view of organization
, which is based on the physical
s’ model. Constructivist scholars have also pointed out a certain inadequacy of this model of
for organization research, but they have not offered an explicit, alternative model of
. Responding to this lack, this paper brings together the two separate paradigmatic perspectives of constructivist epistemologies and of organizational design
, and shows how they could jointly constitute the ingredients of a constructivism-founded scientific paradigm for organization research. Further, the paper highlights that, in this constructivist view of organizational design
, knowledge can be generated and used in ways that are mutually enriching for academia and practice
Constructivism contested: Implications of a genetic perspective in psychology.
Integrative Psychological and Behavioral
Constructivism is an approach to knowledge and learning that focuses on the active role of knowers. Sanchez and Loredo propose a classification of constructivist thinkers and address what they perceive to be internal problems of present-day constructivism. The remedy they propose is a return to the genetic constructivism of James Mark Baldwin, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. In this article we first raise the question of whether thinkers like Baldwin, Vygotsky, Maturana and Varela are adequately depicted as constructivists, and subsequently argue that constructivism is caught in an overly epistemic version of the subject/object dichotomy. We then introduce a genetic logic that is not based on the Hegelian dialectics of negation and mediation, but rather on the idea of the recursive consensual coordination of actions that give rise to stylized cultural practices. We argue that a genuinely genetic and generative psychology should be concerned with the multifarious and ever-changing nature of human “life” and not merely with the construction of knowledge about life.
The article deals with perceived “internal” problems of constructivist approaches and proposes a genetic and generative psychology that is centrally concerned with human life-as-lived and not merely with life-as-known. The article furthermore raises the question whether key thinkers like Vygotsky, Maturana and Varela and are adequately depicted as constructivists.
Life and exteriority: The problem of metabolism.
In: Stewart J., Gapenne O. & Di Paolo E. A. (eds.)
Enaction: Toward a new paradigm for cognitive
. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 89–122.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2495
Inthe French language, the verb vivre means both “to be alive” (Leben) and “to have an experience, to feel something” (Erleben): it is neutral with respect to the distinction between the transitive life that we call consciousness, and the intransitive life of organisms that merely keep themselves alive. In this text, we put forward the hypothesis that this neutrality, far from being a simple accident of language, is highly revealing as to the primordial status of life; it thus indicates the direction that a phenomenology of life should take. The question that a phenomenology of life has to confront is thus the following: what is the primordial meaning of life such that it precedes the distinction between intransitive and transitive life, and thereby makes this distinction possible? In other words: what is life such that the possibility of consciousness is grounded therein? From the moment we consider that consciousness is basically characterized by intentionality, primordial life must already contain the germ of a fundamental transitivity where intentionality can be grounded; it follows from this that the question of the Being of intentionality, and that of the mode of Being of life, are one and the same question.
Buddhism and Neuroscience: Studying the Well-Trained Mind.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/2417
At a conference last month called Investigating the Mind, held here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars discussed attention, mental imagery, emotion, and collaborations to test insights gleaned from meditation.
Constructivism in computer
Journal of Computers in Mathematics and
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3080
Constructivism is a theory of learning, which claims that students construct knowledge rather than merely receive and store knowledge transmitted by the teacher. Constructivism has been extremely influential in
and mathematics education, but much less so in computer
education (CSE). This paper surveys constructivism in the context of CSE, and shows how the theory can supply a theoretical basis for debating issues and evaluating proposals. An analysis of constructivism in computer
education leads to two claims: (a) students do not have an effective model of a computer, and (b) computers form an accessible ontological reality. The conclusions from these claims are that: (a) models must be explicitly taught, (b) models must be taught before abstractions, and (c) the seductive reality of the computer must not be allowed to supplant construction of models.
computer science education
accessible ontological reality
Varela F. J.
Hints for adaptive problem solving gleaned from immune networks.
In: Schwefel H.-P. & Männer R. (eds.)
Parallel Problem Solving from Nature, Lecture Notes in Computer
. Springer Verlag, Berlin: 343–354.
Biology gives us numerous examples of self-assertional systems whose essence does not precede their existence but is rather revealed through it. Immune system is one of them. The fact of behaving in order not only to satisfy external constraints as a pre-fixed set of possible environments and objectives, but also to satisfy internal “viability” constraints justifies a sharper focus. Adaptability, creativity and memory are certainly interesting “side-effects” of such a tendency for self-consistency. However in this paper, we adopted a largely pragmatic attitude attempting to find the best hybridizing between the biological lessons and the engineering needs. The great difficulty, also shared by neural net and GA users, remains the precise localisation of the frontier where the biological reality must give way to a directed design.
The construction of knowledge: A radical constructivist view.
In: Tobin K. (ed.)
The practice of constructivism in
. AAAS Press, Washington DC: 39–50.
Bickhard M. H.
Constructivisms and relativisms: A shopper’s guide.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3903
Diverse forms of constructivism can be found in the literature today. They exhibit a commonality regarding certain classical positions that they oppose – a unity in their negative identities – but a sometimes wild multiplicity and incompatibility regarding the positive proposals that they put forward. In particular, some constructivisms propose an epistemological idealism, with a concomitant relativism, while others are explicitly opposed to such positions, and move in multifarious different directions. This is a potentially confusing situation, and has resulted in some critics branding all constructivisms with the charge of relativism, and throwing out the baby with the bath water. In addition, since the epistemological foundations of even non-relativist constructivisms are not as familiar as the classical positions, there is a risk of mis-interpretation of constructivisms and their consequences, even by some who endorse them, not to mention those who criticize. Because I urge that some version of constructivism is an epistemological necessity, this situation strikes me as seriously unfortunate for philosophy, and potentially dangerous for the practice of education.
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