Context: During the 1980s, Ernst von Glasersfeld’s reflections nourished various studies conducted by a community of mathematics education researchers at CIRADE, Quebec, Canada. Problem: What are his influence on and contributions to the center’s rich climate of development? We discuss the fecundity of von Glasersfeld’s ideas for the CIRADE researchers’ community, specifically in didactique des mathématiques. Furthermore, we take a prospective view and address some challenges that new, post-CIRADE mathematics education researchers are confronted with that are related to interpretations of and reactions to constructivism by the surrounding community. Results: Von Glasersfeld’s contribution still continues today, with a new generation of researchers in mathematics education that have inherited views and ideas related to constructivism. For the post-CIRADE research community, the concepts and epistemology that von Glasersfeld put forward still need to be developed further, in particular concepts such as subjectivity, viability, the circular interpretative effect, representations, the nature of knowing, errors, and reality. Implications: Radical constructivism’s offspring resides within the concepts and epistemology put forth, and that continue to be put forth, through a large number of new and different generations of theories, thereby perpetuating von Glasersfeld’s legacy.
Ernst von Glasersfeld, *1917, studied mathematics in Zurich and Vienna, was a farmer in County Dublin during the War, and worked as a journalist in Italy from 1947. There he met the philosopher and cybernetician Silvio Ceccato who, in the beginning stages of the computer age, had gathered a team of researchers in order to carry out projects of computational linguistic analysis and automatic language translation. Ernst von Glasersfeld became a close collaborator of Ceccato’s, translated for him, and developed projects of his own. In 1966, he moved to the USA where he was made a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Georgia in 1970. Three principal research interests have made him one of the well-known founders of constructivism. He systematically scoured the history of European philosophy for varieties of epistemological skepticism and set up an ancestral gallery reaching back to the insights of the ancient skeptics of the 4th century B. C. He replaced the classical realist concept of truth by the idea of viability: theories need not and do not correspond with what is real, he says, but they must be practicable and useful, they must be viable. Finally, he introduced the work of the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, into the constructivist debate. Jean Piaget, in his book La construction du reel chez l’enfant, constructs a model of how knowledge is created and developed through the confirmation or disappointment of expectations (or, more precisely, of particular patterns of action, so-called schemes). A model of this kind has profound consequences for the conception of learning and teaching: it eliminates the reification of information and knowledge, the conception of knowledge as a substance that can be transferred from the teacher’s head to the empty heads of students. The mechanical idea of teaching evaporates. We must face the ineluctable subjectivity of meanings and given cognitive patterns. From this perspective, the acquisition of knowledge no longer appears to be a passive reception of information but a creative activity. The upshot is that teaching someone something will only be successful if it is oriented toward the reality of that someone. Ernst von Glasersfeld is, at present, with the Scientific Reasoning Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts. There he works on models of teaching and learning that apply the theory of constructivism to school practice.
The main objective of this study is to revisit the fundamental postulations of autopoietic self-production wrapped within the autopoietic six-point key and to investigate whether or not firms as specific social systems can be treated as autopoietic unities. In order to do so firms have to be defined as simple and composite unities whereupon their boundaries have to be clearly identifiable. The test of social autopoiesis reveals that firms can be viewed as autopoietic social systems that exist in the communicative space with employees’ firm-specific communicative sub-domains as their components. Furthermore, it is argued that the social reification of autopoiesis (autokoinopoiesis) in firms is quintessentially interconnected with physical autopoiesis of their employees (autophysiopoiesis). Discontiguous focus on productivity as firms’ obvious physical implication may thus be upgraded by a very social nature of ideactivity, firms’ only real survival force.
Upshot: Two main critiques of the target article have surfaced fairly consistently across the five commentaries: (1) It does not go far enough in its critique of naturalism’s reification of a supposedly universal subjectivity; (2) The proposed bio-social spectrum of eigenforms lacks coherence due to its mixing of logical types. The first critique is refuted, primarily, by revealing the quasi “straw man” nature of an argument resting too heavily on “mainstream” instances of naturalist performance while the second is embraced and the alternative metaphor of domains within a “bio-cultural matrix” is offered as a corrective. In conclusion, a model of naturalistic theatrical practice is described that might productively respond to issues raised across the commentaries by oscillating between domains.