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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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Ackermann E. K.
Constructing knowledge and transforming the world.
In: Tokoro M. & Steels L. (eds.)
A learning zone of one’s own: Sharing representations and flow in collaborative learning
. IOS Press, Amsterdam: 15–37.
Available at http://cepa.info/3894
The first part of this paper examines the differences between Piaget’s constructivism, what Papert refers to as“constructionism,” and the socio-constructivist approach as portrayed by Vygotsky. All these views are developmental, and they share the notion that people actively contribute to the construction of their knowledge, by transforming their world. Yet the views also differ, each highlighting on some aspects of how children learn and grow, while leaving other questions unanswered. Attempts at integrating these views [learning through experience, through media, and through others] helps shed light on how people of different ages and venues come to make sense of their experience, and find their place – and voice – in the world. Tools, media, and cutural artifacts are the tangible forms, or mediational means, through which we make sense of our world and negociate meaning with others. In the second part of this paper, I speak to the articulations between make-believe activities and creative symbol-use as a guiding connection to rethink the aims of representations. Simulacrum and simulation, I show, play a key role besides language in helping children ground and mediate their experience in new ways. From computer-based microworlds for constructive learning (Papert’s turtle geometry, TERC’s body-syntonic graphing), to social virtual environments (MUDing). In each case, I discuss the roles of symbolic recreation, and imaginary projection (people’s abilities to build and dwell in their creations) as two powerful heuristic to keep in touch with situations, to bring what’s unknown to mind’s reach, and to explore risky ideas on safe grounds. I draw implications for education.
Andrew A. M.
Questions about constructivism.
Available at http://cepa.info/2628
A number of observations are made about the nature of constructivism, with the suggestion that it is a less revolutionary development that has been claimed, and that some accounts imply an unwarranted disregard of the environment. The presentation is meant to be provocative and to invite discussion that may clarify the issues.
Closing the gap? Some questions for neurophenomenology.
Phenomenology and cognitive sciences
Available at http://cepa.info/2260
Autopoiesis and cognition in the game of life.
Available at http://cepa.info/1143
Maturana and Varela’s notion of autopoiesis has the potential to transform the conceptual foundation of biology as well as the cognitive, behavioral, and brain sciences. In order to fully realize this potential, however, the concept of autopoiesis and its many consequences require significant further theoretical and empirical development. A crucial step in this direction is the formulation and analysis of models of autopoietic systems. This article sketches the beginnings of such a project by examining a glider from Conway’s game of life in autopoietic terms. Such analyses can clarify some of the key ideas underlying autopoiesis and draw attention to some of the central open issues. This article also examines the relationship between an autopoietic perspective on cognition and recent work on dynamical approaches to the behavior and cognition of situated, embodied agents.
The article focuses on the theory of autopoiesis and related concepts such as structural coupling and cognitive domain.
Luisi P. L.
Autopoiesis with or without cognition: Defining life at its edge.
Journal of the Social Society Interface
Available at http://cepa.info/2262
This paper examines two questions related to autopoiesis as a theory for minimal life: (i) the relation between autopoiesis and cognition; and (ii) the question as to whether autopoiesis is the necessary and sufficient condition for life. First, we consider the concept of cognition in the spirit of Maturana and Varela: in contradistinction to the representationalistic point of view, cognition is construed as interaction between and mutual definition of a living unit and its environment. The most direct form of cognition for a cell is thus metabolism itself, which necessarily implies exchange with the environment and therefore a simultaneous coming to being for the organism and for the environment. A second level of cognition is recognized in the adaptation of the living unit to new foreign molecules, by way of a change in its metabolic pattern. We draw here an analogy with the ideas developed by Piaget, who recognizes in cognition the two distinct steps of assimilation and accommodation. While assimilation is the equivalent of uptake and exchange of usual metabolites, accommodation corresponds to biological adaptation, which in turn is the basis for evolution. By comparing a micro-organism with a vesicle that uptakes a precursor for its own self-reproduction, we arrive at the conclusion that (a) the very lowest level of cognition is the condition for life, and (b) the lowest level of cognition does not reduce to the lowest level of autopoiesis. As a consequence, autopoiesis alone is only a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for life. The broader consequences of this analysis of cognition for minimal living systems are considered.
Maturana, Technology, and Art: Is a Biology of Technology Possible?
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Available at http://cepa.info/3389
This paper is a celebration of Maturana as an artist, who, in his writing, has brought forth a model, or perhaps it can be called a social ideal, in which people coexist in love, mutual respect and honesty, a form of coexistence from which social responsibility ought to arise spontaneously. Maturana, by openly inviting re?ection upon the condition of humanity, on the nature of humanness, and, in his critique of the concept of metadesign, our addiction to technology, becomes an artist. In his own words, he becomes a poet of daily life. It is in this role that Maturana has provoked an exploration to begin into the possibilities of extending the application of his biology of cognition, and his insights into the phenomena of technology and art, to understanding and resolving the problems created by our apparent inability to regulate the development of technology.
Autopoiesis and cognition.
Available at http://cepa.info/2263
This article revisits the concept of autopoiesis and examines its relation to cognition and life. We present a mathematical model of a 3D tesselation automaton, considered as a minimal example of autopoiesis. This leads us to a thesis T1: “An autopoietic system can be described as a random dynamical system, which is defined only within its organized autopoietic domain.” We propose a modified definition of autopoiesis: “An autopoietic system is a network of processes that produces the components that reproduce the network, and that also regulates the boundary conditions necessary for its ongoing existence as a network.” We also propose a definition of cognition: “A system is cognitive if and only if sensory inputs serve to trigger actions in a specific way, so as to satisfy a viability constraint.” It follows from these definitions that the concepts of autopoiesis and cognition, although deeply related in their connection with the regulation of the boundary conditions of the system, are not immediately identical: a system can be autopoietic without being cognitive, and cognitive without being autopoietic. Finally, we propose a thesis T2: “A system that is both autopoietic and cognitive is a living system.”
tessela- tion automaton
random dynamical system
Paradigms: The inertia of language.
In: Chandra A. (ed.)
When music resists meaning: The major writings of Herbert Brün
. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown CT: 292–300.
Available at http://cepa.info/4128
Reconnecting biology, social relations and epistemology: A systemic appreciation of autopoietic theory.
International Journal of General Systems
Available at http://cepa.info/3759
This paper seeks to tease out the systemic character of a body of work that elsewhere in both the primary and secondary literature tends to be described, discussed and applied in fragmented and reductionist terms. The origins of “autopoietic theory” may be traced back to experimental work in cellular biology and neuro-physiology and to the concept of “autopoiesis” (a theory of living systems) itself. From there, it has extended its coverage into a wide range of diverse areas including cognition, perception, emotion, evolution, language, culture, epistemology, the philosophy of science and ethics. Against this background, the paper seeks to outline a high-level systemic interpretation of autopoietic theory; specifically one that integrates its various biological, social and epistemological components and which shows that it is best evaluated and understood as an explanatory whole and not in a reductionist manner.
Reflections on the Ontology of Observing.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Available at http://cepa.info/3391
One of the fundamental notions offered by Humberto Maturana is that of the ontology of observing, in which the notion of (objectivity), or objectivity-in-parentheses is presented. This, in my view is not a singular notion, rather it is a matrix of coherent ideas that he often presents in a figure (Fig. 1) that he himself considers the equivalent, in the domain of his work, to the well known equation E=MC2 in the domain of Einstein’s work. In the sense that both are abbreviations that represent a collection of abstract concepts that are not fully understood by many who refer to them, this is indeed the case.
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