The following basic question is studied here: In the relatively stable molecular environment of a vertebrate body, can a dynamic idiotypic immune network develop a natural tolerance to endogenous components? The approach is based on stability analyses and computer simulation using a model that takes into account the dynamics of two agents of the immune system, namely B-lymphocytes and antibodies. The study investigates the behavior of simple immune networks in interaction with an antigen whose concentration is held constant as a function of the symmetry properties of the connectivity matrix of the network. Current idiotypic network models typically become unstable in the presence of this type of antigen. It is shown that idiotypic networks of a particular connectivity show tolerance towards auto-antigen without the need for ad hoc mechanisms that prevent an immune response. These tolerant network structures are characterized by aperiodic behavior in the absence of auto-antigen. When coupled to an auto-antigen, the chaotic attractor degenerates into one of several periodic ones, and at least one of them is stable. The connectivity structure needed for this behavior allows the system to adopt particular dynamic concentration patterns which do not lead to an unbounded immune response. Possible implications for the understanding of autoimmune disease and its treatment are discussed.
This article investigates the following basic question: in the relatively stable molecular environment of a vertebrate body, can a dynamic idiotypic immune network develop a natural tolerance to endogenous components? Our approach is based on stability analysis and computer simulation using a model that takes into account the dynamics of two agents of the immune system, namely, B-lymphocytes and antibodies. We investigate the behavior of simple immune networks in interaction with an Ag whose concentration is being held constant as a function of the connectivity matrix of the network. The latter is characterized by the total number of clones, N, and the number of clones, C, with which each clone interacts. The idiotypic network models typically become unstable in the presence of this type of Ag. We show that idiotypic networks that can be found in particular connected regions of NC-space show tolerance towards auto-Ag without the need for ad hoc mechanisms that prevent an immune response. These tolerant network structures provide dynamical regimes in which the clone which interacts with the auto-Ag is suppressed instead of being excited such that an unbounded immune response does not occur. Possible implications for the future treatment of auto-immune disease such as IvIg-treatment are discussed in the light of these results. Moreover, we propose an experimental approach to verify the results of the present theoretical study.
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.
Problem: The paper investigates some reasons why RC has not become a mainstream endeavor. Method: The central assumptions of RC are summarized. Analysis is made of how each of these assumptions corresponds to other views, especially to intuitive beliefs that are widely accepted. Is RC consistent with these beliefs, supported by them, or incompatible with them? Results: The construction hypothesis is supported by the results of cognitive science and neurophysiology. However, the closed-system hypothesis and antirealism are in conflict with deeply rooted convictions of most people. Some ethical and educational aspects claimed by RC are generally accepted but they are not specifically implications of RC. Implications: In the near future, RC will probably not become the leading paradigm or a mainstream endeavor in the sciences or in philosophy.
Thoughts can be fleeting and changeable and they may also be rigid. Generally the rigid thoughts are related to self-identity, and concern positions people hold very seriously. In previous conferences I have presented constructivist accounts of how ideas change and how tolerance might be promoted. In the present paper I extend these ideas to include insights into these issues raised in social psychology. Where the constructivist approach emphasised the importance of providing experiences that challenged emerging representations with questions and counter-examples, this paper reviews social psychological approaches that draw attention to the importance of the circumstances of events and the natural inclination to attend initially to personal attributes. Relevance: This paper links constructivist insights into promoting tolerance with ways these issues are considered in social psychology
How might a constructivist account of the origins of personal views help conflict resolution? In this paper I consider ideas suggested by Maturana’s epistemology and associated ethical comments. Maturana’s approach to thinking (and feeling) at the individual level begins with observation then we describe and explain what we observe. The explanations may or may not take account of the processes by which they are created. Might it be possible to examine how to implement process oriented examination as a personal ethical procedure? At the next interpersonal level Maturana introduces the concept of the legitimate other as a basis for ethical discussions. Moving to the level of society, Maturana based his vision of ethics on early human social groups where people were interdependent socially and biologically. Relevance: Understanding ethical differences seems crucial to tolerance which helps co-operation at a human level. This paper is about how constructivism has a strong hidden ethical message.
Context: Maturana’s views on cognitive processes and explaining have ethical implications. The aim of this paper is to link ethics and epistemology to facilitate thinking about how to promote respect between different viewpoints through mutual understanding. Method: Maturana’s views on ethics are outlined in three domains: the personal, the interpersonal, and the societal. Results: The ethical implications that emerge around the notion of reality with or without parenthesis, the concept of the legitimate other, and Maturana’s conjectures about the origins of human social groups. Social groups in which cooperation is more important than competition are based on love in the sense that others are accepted as legitimate members of the community. An epistemology that responds to the biological origins of human cognition is one that is more open to cooperation, honesty, responsibility, and respect than an epistemology that takes reality as given and the task of human cognition to represent truth. Implications: This framework for thinking about cognitive processes provides a way of approaching disagreements so they become opportunities for discussion rather than for power assertion of one reality over another. In a world where strongly held viewpoints on ethics and reality lead to conflict, promoting viable models of cognitive process that link cognition and ethics may lead to insights that promote tolerance. Ideas from attribution theory in social psychology are presented as a means of facilitating the emergence of the concept of the legitimate other in discussion about disagreements.
Systems thinking is a source of insights into how ideas interact and change. In the contemporary world there is evidence of turbulence in many domains such as the economic, ecological, and political systems. Constructivism offers insights into the role of beliefs in conflicts and the conditions for reconciliation. These include the limited nature of knowledge, the role of difference in cognition, our need for certainty, and the importance of negative feedback in regulating process. Relevance: Linking constructivism with systems thinking is important to see how to avoid being trapped with visions of what is real in terms of beliefs.
Ernst von Glasersfeld (1974) used the phrase Radical Constructivism (RC) to clarify the meaning of Piaget’s constructivist epistemology. This interpretation was proposed in the context of a Piagetian compensatory early education programme in the USA. Much of the work that followed initially was directly related to subjects like maths and science. The implications of radical constructivism for social understandings led the present author to study stereotypes. This work emphasised the role of identity in prejudice. Identity reflects the social heuristics and world views of one’s culture. Balancing self-perception with acceptable cultural expression is a key to well-being, personal development and one’s social functioning.
In previous papers we have examined experimental programs for children designed to reduce prejudice towards “outsiders” individuals we called “different others.” We found that initial positive and pro-social responses towards “different others” sometimes became negative as a consequence of reflecting on the “outsider” group. This was particularly surprising in control groups that merely reflected on the “other” in the context of completing a questionnaire. Moreover, a gender difference was apparent in these studies with boys having a greater tendency towards more prejudiced cognitive constructions. In this paper we focus on studies with a pre-(post) test design to assess the impact of completing questionnaires on creating constructions of others (negative and positive). This present meta-analysis of the responses of control groups towards concepts of ‘different others’ covers topics ranging from gender stereotypes to children with forms of mental handicap to children in other European nations. Classroom constructivist discussion is suggested as a means of promoting mutual respect and tolerance towards perceived ‘outsiders’ in the development of relationships.