Approach «Radical Constructivism»

Coined by Ernst von Glasersfeld (1974Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology. In: Smock C. D. & Glasersfeld E. von (eds.) Epistemology and education. Follow Through Publications, Athens GA: 1–24.), Radical Constructivism (or "RC") is “an unconventional approach to the problems of knowledge and knowing. It starts from the assumption that knowledge, no matter how it is defined, is in the heads of persons, and that the thinking subject has no alternative but to construct what he or she knows on the basis of his or her own experience. What we can make of experience constitutes the only world we consciously live in … all kinds of experience are essentially subjective, and though I may find reasons to believe that my experiences may not be unlike yours, I have no way of knowing that it is the same…” (Glasersfeld 1995Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London.: 1).
Glasersfeld defines the two principles of RC as follows: "(1) a. Knowledge is not passively received either through the senses or by way of communication; b. knowledge is actively built up by the cognizing subject. (2) a. The function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense of the term, tending towards fit or viability; b. cognition serves the subject's organization of the experiential world, not the discovery of an objective ontological reality." (Glasersfeld 1995Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London.: 18).
Cite this definition as: Riegler A. (2016) Radical Constructivism. Constructivist E-Paper Archive. Version of 20 February 2016. Available at

Publications Found: 519 · Show All Abstracts

Accame F. (2007) Ernst von Glasersfeld and the Italian Operative School. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 18–24. Fulltext at
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2014) Second-Order Science of Interdisciplinary Research: A Polyocular Framework for Wicked Problems. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 65–76. Fulltext at
Anderson J. R., Reder L. M. & Simon H. A. (1998) Radical constructivism and cognitive psychology. Brookings Papers on Education Policy 1: 227–278. Fulltext at
Aufenvenne P., Egner H. & Elverfeldt K. (2014) On Climate Change Research, the Crisis of Science and Second-order Science. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 120–129. Fulltext at
Avenier M. J. & Parmentier Cajaiba A. (2012) The dialogical model: Developing academic knowledge for and from practice. European Management Review 9(4): 199–212.
Baecker D. (2008) Obey Society, and Note Your Resistance. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 96–97. Fulltext at
Bartesaghi M. (2011) On Making Process Practically Visible, or Moving Constructivism Beyond Philosophical Argumentation. Constructivist Foundations 7(1): 22–24. Fulltext at
Barton A. C. & Osborne M. D. (1999) Re-examining lived experiences: Radical constructivism and gender. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 6(1): 47–59. Fulltext at
Bednarz N. & Proulx J. (2011) Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Contribution and Legacy to a Didactique des Mathématiques Research Community. Constructivist Foundations 6(2): 239–247. Fulltext at
Beltrame R. (2007) The Theoretical Environment around 1965. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 25–28. Fulltext at
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