The key problem of cultural psychology comprises a paradox: while people believe they act on the basis of their own authentic experience, cultural psychologists observe their behavior to be socially patterned. It is argued that, in order to account for those patterns, cultural psychology should take human experience as its analytical starting point. Nevertheless, there is a tendency within cultural psychology to either neglect human experience, by focusing exclusively on discourse, or to consider the structure of this experience to originate in an already produced cultural order. For an alternative approach, we turn to the enactive view of cognition developed by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. Their theory of autonomy can provide the epistemological basis for a cultural psychology that explains how experience can become socially patterned in the first place. Cultural life forms are then considered as consensually coordinated, embodied practices.
I employ spoken and written discourse and extended excerpts from teleconferences between local, state, and federal officials in the midst of Hurricane Katrina to examine the term coordination as one powerful way of accounting for and pragmatically (re)constructing weather in crisis discourse. By means of discourse analysis, I find that the indexical term coordination is part of a metadiscursive vocabulary of disaster, and that, though it performs important social functions in the communication of accountability, authority, and redress, it has very little to do with communicating about weather itself. My conclusion presses for a discursive approach as a means of recovering and understanding social ontologies like weather and the way we materially organize around themes what Latour refers to “matters of concern.” Relevance: It analyzes how notions of weather and disaster are constructed in language.
This publication constructs a methodology of active learning for observing the observer: the tool used is the construction of games. The basic question is: What actions can be taken to allow the subject to observe himself, and how can learning activities be used as a way of reconstructing the subject’s experience during the observation? The basic reference framework for the qualitative research is constructivism. The conceptual and philosophical analysis of research is second-order cybernetics, which gives relevance to the theory of the observer and the relationship between the observer and what is observed. For the construction of the games the group is organized according to specific structures, which make up a work network within the proposed experimental scenario. Every reflexive discourse (conceptual, informational and descriptive) on the describer’s properties system will be formed, at least, of the perspectives, dispositions and distinctions in the language of the observer. In this sense, to observe the observer is not a representation of analyzable, controllable and predictable process, rather to observe the observer will be interpreting the metaphors that constitute him or her at any stage of experimentation that is proposed. The usefulness of the game as a methodology for observing the observer means that it is possible to propose a comparison between the dynamics of the social system built by the participants in the application of the methodology and the networks that can be built in terms of the language used. Relevance: The publication addresses a methodological approach for learning to observe the observer. In von Foerster’s words, observing the observer consists of describing the properties of the describer. First, we start from a position in second-order cybernetics which turns out to be a radical constructivist position. Then, we make a connection between observer, constructivism, metaphors and learning. The game is the designing pillar and the tool used to incorporate the proposed methodology. The games follow rules: constitutive, regulative and strategic. The structure of the game uses ideas of syntegration by Beer, and reinterprets them in a scenario of experimentation called the Cybernetics of Cybernetics course. In the game, each participant experiences the world which constitutes the game and the role of the observer in observing. Some final remarks discuss the use, advantages and limitations of the methodology proposed.
Context: Meeting Ernst von Glasersfeld for the first time in 1985, when about 70% of his work had still to be conceived, written and published, was a great stroke of fortune for me; it was based on my collaboration with Silvio Ceccato that had started in 1981 and it profoundly influenced my contributions to radical constructivism in the following 25 years of our friendship. Problem: Presenting the details of how it all began can shed a light on the development of constructivist ideas. Method: Anecdotes from 1979 to 1985 about how I came to meet Silvio Ceccato in Milan in 1981 and the influence of these events on preparing the 1985 meeting with Ernst von Glasersfeld, also in Milan. Results: The article describes the timeline of 50 years of publications by von Glasersfeld, an anecdote about a connection between Ceccato and the University of Zurich in the 60s, the attempt to present Ceccato’s ideas as compatible and complementary with the neuroscience discourse in 1985, von Glasersfeld’s opinion about this attempt, and this attempt’s potential influence on the emergence of a new concept in neuroscience, “EEG microstates.” Implications: The events and facts reported in the article help us to understand some aspects of an early phase in the development of radical constructivism, especially the relationship between Ceccato, von Glasersfeld and other members of the Italian Operational School such as Bruna Zonta, Felice Accame, and the author himself.
Purpose: The text searches for possible uses of a daring postulate to reject dualism, formulated by Josef Mitterer. Furthermore, it explores the inconsistencies of dualism and its remnants in three projects: Richard Rorty’s neopragmatism, the strong program of the sociology of knowledge, and radical constructivism. The final aim of the argument is to demonstrate that a very interesting incorporation of Mitterer’s postulates is possible, and that it must take the form of a consistent antiessentialism. At this point the article presents Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory. Findings: The article underlines the specific role of the so-called other side of the discourse – which, according to Mitterer is fabricated by the dualizing mode of speaking. Such an instance is a priori essentialized and it plays a crucial role as a tool for settling arguments. The text traces the role of this instance in the concepts mentioned above. Benefits: Through the use of Latour’s constructivism, the text indicates that there exists a fruitful empirical (non-speculative) research program, which was projected in accordance with Mitterer’s postulates.
Upshot: This is a book for thoughtful science and mathematics teachers and curriculum developers and educational philosophers. Quale helps us to challenge pernicious received “truths” and offers us intriguing perspectives, valuable discourse ventures and practical paedagogic strategies to engage the youth of today who are turning away from science in droves, to their and our cost.
Emergence and Embodiment focuses on cybernetic developments that stem from the second-order turn in the 1970s, when the cyberneticist Heinz von Foerster catalyzed new thinking about the cognitive implications of self-referential systems. The collection opens with an interview with von Foerster and includes essays by Varela and Luhmann. It engages with Maturana and Varela’s creation of the concept of autopoiesis, Varela’s later work on neurophenomenology, and Luhmann’s adaptations of autopoiesis to social systems theory. Taken together, these essays illuminate the shared commitments uniting the broader discourse of neocybernetics.
Context: Traditional research on the fiction/non-fiction distinction is the fruit of an essentialist methodology in which the procedures of ontologizing and textualizing are assumed as obligatory. Ontologizing and textualizing form the basic discursive technique, in which analyses are focused on the object as the semantic centre. Theory of literary fiction – deeply rooted in Alexius Meinong’s theory of non-existent objects – is object-orientated and, as a result, is always ontologically involved/engaged. Problem: The re-description of the fundamental literary problems as a kind of epistemological experiment for which non-dualizing philosophy is a foundation. Considerations are aimed at providing answers/solutions to the three following issues: 1. Is it possible to connect non-dualism with a literary discourse about literary fiction? 2. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to a philologically-orientated discourse? 3. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to the constructivist approach to the problem of fiction? Approach: Mitterer’s non-dualism is considered from both the context of ontologically-orientated discourse about fiction and literary research and the context of constructivist discourse about fiction. Results: Mitterer’s non-dualizing conception may be considered a foundation of a radical non-essentialist way of thinking about literary fiction. As a result, the philologically-orientated research on literary text, focused on the explanation of its semantics, would rather move towards a culturally-, pragmatically-, and/or sociologically- orientated type of discourse. The notion of (literary) fiction should be reformulated as follows: fiction is not the reason for interpretation; fiction is the result of interpretation because the description comes from the object of speech (from-object-cognition). Implications: This is only an introduction to the project of a potential non-ontologizing discourse about literary fiction. Therefore it should be developed and discussed as the option for the dualizing type of the discourse as it still stirs up a lot of controversies.
In the reception of Josef Mitterer’s writings up to now, there are two predominant types of motifs: the radical constructivist background of his philosophy and the ontological and epistemological foundations and consequences of non-dualism. The critics are focused rather on some problematic consequences of non-dualism, ranging from the problem of infinite regress up to the thesis assuming that Mitterer’s philosophy presupposes a world reduced to descriptions. However, these two types of readings are founded on dualizing assumptions which are not coherent with non-dualism. \\Thus, in the present paper I interpret non-dualism in the frame of non-dual-ism, based on non-dualizing assumptions. I argue that non-dualism is a rhetorical project resulting in far-reaching consequences in the field of academic and scientific debates, poetics and practice of negotiations and deliberations, as well as in ordinary discourse. Non-dualism fulfills Richard Rorty’s dream of culture as a never-ending conversation in which the argument of power is successfully replaced by the power of argument. Mitterer makes transparent the rhetorical techniques performed in the dualizing discourse (not only in situations of conflict) in order to present an alternative – the non-dualizing mode of discourse. Mitterer’s philosophy – reread in the context of Rorty’s pragmatism, Foucault’s conception of discourses, Perelman’s new rhetoric – offers the new vocabulary (in Rorty’s meaning) which may change the practice of speaking
Problem: The question of the moral and social effects of non-dualism has not yet been clarified to the necessary extent. The relation of truth claims, power and violence has been simplified; critical questions of non-dualist practises have not yet been addressed. Approach: By discussing relevant philosophy and political theory, this paper draws the attention of non-realists towards the issues of power, conflict and discourse rules and asks to rethink the issue of the pragmatic justification of non-realist epistemology. Findings: (1) Constructivists, as well as the non-dualist Josef Mitterer, are critical of the discursive effects of truth claims. Yet, neither constructivism nor non-dualism solve the power issues that are ascribed to realism by constructivists and dualism by Mitterer. Even if participants abstained from truth claims in discourses, many of the power issues would still be prevalent. (2) The question arises of whether a practical difference between non-dualism and dualism exists. (3) There is a tendency in constructivist and non-dualist theory to regard any form of influence on others as illegitimate. This tendency is not sound. Instead, the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power is necessary in non-dualism as well. Implications: Constructivist and non-dualist theory need to scrutinise statements about the moral implications of the respective theories and to emphasise power issues not solely by extrapolating from epistemology, but by acknowledging the social dynamics of discourses and conflicts. Non-dualist social scientists could contribute to the discussion through empirical analyses of the effects of the use and the debunking of truth claims.