Excerpt: Ernst von Glasersfeld has succeeded in finding a viable fit between the man and the scientist and in embodying a Haltung (attitude) that represents constructivism. He was prepared to get involved with a “different way of thinking” and to deal with a matter that is often “demanding and uncomfortable” for those affected. Ernst von Glasersfeld, in an interview with me on questions of constructivism and school.
Open peer commentary on the target article “From Objects to Processes: A Proposal to Rewrite Radical Constructivism” by Siegfried J. Schmidt. Upshot: This commentary asks if Schmidt’s latest process-orientated philosophy is based on a vicious infinite regress argument. The commentator uses recent literature on the distinction of vicious and benign infinite regresses (from Claude Gratton and Nicholas Rescher) and tries to show that – taken verbatim – there is a serious logical problem in Schmidt’s argumentation.
Excerpt: It is not possible within the scope of this chapter to mount a full-scale philosophical defence of radical constructivism. What is possible is an attack from the radical constructivist point of view using a weapon readily adaptable to a wide range of opponents.
Open peer commentary on the target article “From Objects to Processes: A Proposal to Rewrite Radical Constructivism” by Siegfried J. Schmidt. Upshot: The aim is to show that, although Schmidt’s thesis must in most respects be warmly welcomed, there is an unexpressed implication concerning the dialogic structure of language that, when drawn out plainly, reveals a further valuable move open to the theory. I offer it therefore as a clarification of his theory with which I hope Schmidt may agree. He has already stressed the differences in understanding between one agent and another; it is because of this that, in order to communicate, agents must play without believing the mutual hypothetical projections of “truth,” “sincerity,” “objectivity,” “reference,” and other ideals of social “reality.” In the language process it is faith upon which this rests rather than blind trust. It is argued that only faith can properly take account of the risks of contingency.
Purpose: To point out the relevance of Heinz von Foerster’s work to modern embodied cognitive science and artificial intelligence research. Approach: The paper discusses (a) von Foerster’s contributions to understanding the limitations of the computer metaphor which has long dominated cognitive science, and (b) his theories concerning how reality is constructed in organizationally closed organisms, and what the underlying neural mechanisms are. The latter is exemplified with a simple neuro-robotic model that illustrates the constructive and anticipatory nature of memory. Findings: von Foerster’s work on the integration of a radical constructivist philosophy of knowledge construction with models of the underlying neurophysiological and sensorimotor mechanisms is still highly relevant to the understanding of embodied cognition and robotic models thereof. Value: This paper identifies conceptual contributions that von Foerster’s constructivist cybernetics can make to cognitive science’s still limited understanding of the embodiment of cognition and “representation”. Relevance: The paper addresses the relevance of radical constructivism in general, and von Foerster’s work in particular, to modern embodied cognitive science and artificial intelligence research.