In this part of our work about a comparison between Kelly’s personal construct theory and phenomenology, we enter the fields of psychotherapy and research. The topic of intersubjectivity, meant as original recognition of the other’s subjectivity, provides a backdrop for both phenomenological clinic and Kellyan psychotherapy. Though Kelly never used the term “intersubjectivity,” his theory and the corollary of sociality in particular, reveals a view of interpersonal relationships as intercorporeality, which is much closer to phenomenological ideas than to the cognitive ones. Depending on such commonality, in either cases clinical relationship is not viewed as an “aspecific factor” of psychotherapy, but as the essential tool for the care of other. Furthermore, the core role of intersubjectivity in scientific knowledge implies a radical revision of the criteria of research. Consistently with the intent of a science of experience, it is no more a matter of collecting data, as of accepting meanings. Psychological research has to refound itself in continuity with life and recognize the need for a real involvement and real interaction with the subjects, as far as to reverse the traditional relation between clinic and research. It is nonsense to conceive clinic as an applicative sector of a pure science because clinic, on the contrary, is the place where one can know, in first-person, those meaningful realities which take shape in the intersubjective exchange of ideas, in order to make them comprehensible and controllable. Relevance: The publication explores the dimension of intersubjectivity in phenomenology (starting from Husserl) and personal construct theory, and its relevance in psychotherapy and research.
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.
Context: We are presently witnessing a revival of introspective methods, which implicitly challenges an impressive list of in-principle objections that were addressed to introspection by various philosophers and by behaviorists. Problem: How can one overcome those objections and provide introspection with a secure basis? Results: A renewed definition of introspection as “enlargement of the field of attention and contact with re-enacted experience,” rather than “looking-within,” is formulated. This entails (i) an alternative status of introspective phenomena, which are no longer taken as revelations of some an sich slice of experience, but as full-fledged experiences; and (ii) an alternative view of the validity of first-person reports as “performative coherence” rather than correspondence. A preliminary empirical study of the self-assessed reliability of introspective data using the elicitation interview method is then carried out. It turns out that subjects make use of reproducible processual criteria in order to probe into the authenticity and completeness of their own introspective reports. Implications: Introspective inquiry is likely to have enough resources to “take care of itself.” Constructivist content: It is argued that the failure of the introspectionist wave of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries is mostly due to its unconditional acceptance of the representationalist theory of knowledge, and that alternative non-representationalist criteria of validity give new credibility to introspective knowledge.
The paper proposes a renewal of the problem-space in which the relation between psychoanalysis and the cognitive neurosciences is played out, this is in response to the persistent embarrassment or stand-off that characterizes current attempts at dialogue. The authors suggest going beyond classical conceptual oppositions, (mind-body, subject-object etc.), and beyond the seduction of the idea of some ‘natural’ conceptual translation between the two practices. A process of reciprocal ‘transference’ becomes central to creating the space in which the “mixed,” (both biological and subjective), quality of our objects may be recognized and the pitfalls of reductionism be avoided. For psychoanalysis the hysteric was originally such a mixed or “quasiobject’ in which psyche and soma were in a relation of reciprocal representation. On the other hand, the cognitive neurosciences’ ‘embodied-enactive’ and neurophenomenological perspectives provide a philosophical framework for the place of subjectivity and interpretation in scientific work. This important epistemological shift in scientific thinking offers evocative conceptual tools (emergent processes, circular causality), which should transform the difficult dialogue between the neurosciences and psychoanalysis.
In this article, I sketch an enactive account of autism. For the enactive approach to cognition, embodiment, experience, and social interaction are fundamental to understanding mind and subjectivity. Enaction defines cognition as sense-making: the way cognitive agents meaningfully connect with their world, based on their needs and goals as self-organizing, self-maintaining, embodied agents. In the social realm, the interactive coordination of embodied sense-making activities with others lets us participate in each other’s sense-making (social understanding = participatory sense-making). The enactive approach provides new concepts to overcome the problems of traditional functionalist accounts of autism, which can only give a piecemeal and disintegrated view because they consider cognition, communication, and perception separately, do not take embodied into account, and are methodologically individualistic. Applying the concepts of enaction to autism, I show: (1) How embodiment and sense-making connect, i.e., how autistic particularities of moving, perceiving, and emoting relate to how people with autism make sense of their world. For instance, restricted interests or preference for detail will have certain sensorimotor correlates, as well as specific meaning for autistic people. (2) That reduced flexibility in interactional coordination correlates with difficulties in participatory sense-making. At the same time, seemingly irrelevant “autistic behaviors” can be quite attuned to the interactive context. I illustrate this complexity in the case of echolalia. An enactive account of autism starts from the embodiment, experience, and social interactions of autistic people. Enaction brings together the sensorimotor, cognitive, social, experiential, and affective aspects of autism in a coherent framework based on a complex non-linear multi-causality. This foundation allows to build new bridges between autistic people and their often non-autistic context, and to improve quality of life prospects.
Problem: The underlying assumption of all feminist theories is that in order to achieve our emancipatory goals we have to resolve the so-called female subjectivity problem first. That is, we have to answer the question of what is (is not) the nature/essence/main feature of being a woman. The debate about where and how we should look for that essence seems to be endless and it still continues in contemporary feminist theories. This stalemate blocks the initial political and social power of the whole feminist movement. It also seems to contradict the idea that philosophy can serve practical purposes, which was a driving force behind feminist theories as such. Solution: While analyzing contemporary feminist theories we can discover that they are dualistic with respect to the cognitive situation. Using tools taken from Josef Mitterer’s philosophy and the idea of emancipation developed by Bruno Latour, I want to consider the idea of avoiding stalemate situations in discussions on female subjectivity. I claim that this strategy can be more effective in achieving certain practical goals that are important from a feminist point of view. Benefits: We are able to show that the aim of our theoretical activity is not to agree about what a woman is and what kind of woman we are going to emancipate, but rather to define which problems should be solved in order to improve the situation of women. We just have to learn how to formulate the description from now on of initial matters of concern that is acceptable to all those involved in a given dispute.
Working for decades as both theorist and teacher, Ranulph Glanville came to believe that cybernetics and design are two sides of the same coin. Working as both practitioners and teachers, the authors present their understanding of Glanville and the relationships between cybernetics and design. We believe cybernetics offers a foundation for 21st-century design practice. We offer this rationale: – If design, then systems: Due in part to the rise of computing technology and its role in human communications, the domain of design has expanded from giving form to creating systems that support human interactions, thus, systems literacy becomes a necessary foundation for design. – If systems, then cybernetics: Interaction involves goals, feedback, and learning, the science of which is cybernetics. – If cybernetics, then second-order cybernetics: Framing wicked problems requires explicit values and viewpoints, accompanied by the responsibility to justify them with explicit arguments, thus incorporating subjectivity and the epistemology of second-order cybernetics. – If second-order cybernetics, then conversation: Design grounded in argumentation requires conversation so that participants may understand, agree, and collaborate on effective action. Second-order cybernetics frames design as conversation for learning together, and order design creates possibilities for others to have conversations, to learn, and to act.
Scholars have described the sculptures of Linda Stein, limbless, classicizing, thick-waisted female forms that are often wearable, in the context of gender performativity and/or embodied subjectivity, informed by the sumptuousness of her materials, which invite a haptic or touch-centered response. To encompass the performative nature of her wearable sculpture used as a component of her political activism and her developing concept of the interrelationship between individual, society and environment, I propose a reading through the lens of systems theory, particularly the concept of open systems. Associated with life, growth, and change, open systems took on political and social resonance for artists like Stein maturing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Historically coincident with the American women’s movement, the theorization of open systems in relation to society, biology and the environment was deployed by women artists in the early 1970s as an alternative means of conceiving social and environmental relationships. Relevance: I discuss the artist’s work through the theory of Gregory Bateson. In 1972, the anthropologist and cyberneticist argued that individuals, societies and ecosystems must be conceived integrally, as a complex, interrelated system. The notion of a self-sufficient, independent self is a fallacy in this model. According to Bateson, Mind itself expands to become “immanent in the larger system [of] man plus environment.”
Taking its orientation from Peter Winch, this article critiques from a Wittgensteinian point of view some “theoreticist” tendencies within constructivism. At the heart of constructivism is the deeply Wittgensteinian idea that the world as we know and understand it is the product of human intelligence and interests. The usefulness of this idea can be vitiated by a failure to distinguish conceptual from empirical questions. I argue that such a failure characterises two influential constructivist theories, those of Ernst von Glasersfeld and David Bloor. These are considered in turn. Both theories seek to give a general, causal account of knowledge: von Glasersfeld’s in term of cognitive subjectivity, Bloor’s in terms of social agreement. Ironically, given that both writers cite Wittgenstein as a source of theoretical inspiration, assumptions of both theories run counter to key Wittgensteinian arguments. To show that Wittgenstein’s views offer no solace to the realist, the article closes with a brief consideration of John Searle’s theory of knowledge.
This paper supports the view that the ongoing shift from orthodox to embodied-embedded cognitive science has been significantly influenced by the experimental results generated by AI research. Recently, there has also been a noticeable shift toward enactivism, a paradigm which radicalizes the embodiedembedded approach by placing autonomous agency and lived subjectivity at the heart of cognitive science. Some first steps toward a clarification of the relationship of AI to this further shift are outlined. It is concluded that the success of enactivism in establishing itself as a mainstream cognitive science research program will depend less on progress made in AI research and more on the development of a phenomenological pragmatics.