CEPA eprint 1449 (EVG-161)

Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews)

Glasersfeld E. von (1993) Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews). Journal of Science Education and Technology 2(4): 511. Available at http://cepa.info/1449
To the Editor:
Save Selection
Prof. Matthews in his article on “Constructiv­ism and Science Education …” (Journal of Science Eduction and Technology 2: 359-370, 1993) calls me “a well-known figure” in constructivist circles. Given that he quotes me several times, I am driven to re­spond briefly to at least three of the many critical points he raises.
Save Selection
1. Matthews quotes two “epistemological the­ses of constructivism” (pp. 263-264) that I formu­lated in my classes in the early 1980s to distinguish “radical” from “trivial” constructivism. The second thesis proposes to treat knowing as an adaptive function (cf. Piaget) and thus replaces the tradi­tional requirement that knowledge should corre­spond to an ontological reality with the requirement that it fit within the constraints the knower experi­ences. This shift in the concept of knowledge, reit­erated in many constructivist papers (mine and others), is crucial for an understanding of the con­structivist approach to learning, teaching, language, and the practice of science. Matthews, however, does not mention the constructivist requirement of viability but speaks only of “making sense,” which conveniently blurs distinctions.
Save Selection
2. The claim that constructivists want to derive all knowledge directly from “sense impressions” dis­regards all that has been written about reflection and the construction of abstract concepts from Locke and Bentham to Piaget’s books of the 1930s, and since then. Indeed, what Matthews says of Galileo’s point masses and their “depiction and analysis that dealt with abstracted circumstances” (p. 366, Matthews’ emphasis) is a good example of the normal constructivist premise – except that the constructivist then tries to investigate how abstracted circumstances and notions such as point masses are generated (cf. von Glasersfeld, 1981; Winchester, 1991).
Save Selection
3. The suggestion with which Matthews con­cludes his piece, namely that the “constructivist–re­lativist ideas” could support the holocaust, racial discrimination, and atrocities all over the world, is a little bizarre. As a philosopher, he surely knows that ethics is based on values – and values, unfortu­nately, are not a rational domain. Atrocities, espe­cially where they were supported by an organization, have mostly been committed and justified by the be­lief in a shared and unquestionable Truth. Construc­tivism, as I have said and written many times, is uncomfortable for some, because it places the re­sponsibility for thinking and acting on no one but the subject him- or herself. It has no more power over irrational savagery than any other rational theory of knowledge.
Save Selection
References
Save Selection
Matthews, M. R. (1993). Constructivism and science education. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2(1): 359-370.
Save Selection
von Glasersfeld, E. (1981) An attentional model for the construction of units and number. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 12: 83-94.
Save Selection
Winchester, I. (1991). Thought experiments and conceptual revision. In Matthews, M. R. (Ed.), History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching
Save Selection
Glasersfeld E. von (1993) Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews) [1449]

CEPA eprint 1449 (EVG-161)

Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews)

Glasersfeld E. von (1993) Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews). Journal of Science Education and Technology 2(4): 511. Available at http://cepa.info/1449
Table of Contents
To the Editor:
Save Selection
Prof. Matthews in his article on “Constructiv­ism and Science Education …” (Journal of Science Eduction and Technology 2: 359-370, 1993) calls me “a well-known figure” in constructivist circles. Given that he quotes me several times, I am driven to re­spond briefly to at least three of the many critical points he raises.
Save Selection
1. Matthews quotes two “epistemological the­ses of constructivism” (pp. 263-264) that I formu­lated in my classes in the early 1980s to distinguish “radical” from “trivial” constructivism. The second thesis proposes to treat knowing as an adaptive function (cf. Piaget) and thus replaces the tradi­tional requirement that knowledge should corre­spond to an ontological reality with the requirement that it fit within the constraints the knower experi­ences. This shift in the concept of knowledge, reit­erated in many constructivist papers (mine and others), is crucial for an understanding of the con­structivist approach to learning, teaching, language, and the practice of science. Matthews, however, does not mention the constructivist requirement of viability but speaks only of “making sense,” which conveniently blurs distinctions.
Save Selection
2. The claim that constructivists want to derive all knowledge directly from “sense impressions” dis­regards all that has been written about reflection and the construction of abstract concepts from Locke and Bentham to Piaget’s books of the 1930s, and since then. Indeed, what Matthews says of Galileo’s point masses and their “depiction and analysis that dealt with abstracted circumstances” (p. 366, Matthews’ emphasis) is a good example of the normal constructivist premise – except that the constructivist then tries to investigate how abstracted circumstances and notions such as point masses are generated (cf. von Glasersfeld, 1981; Winchester, 1991).
Save Selection
3. The suggestion with which Matthews con­cludes his piece, namely that the “constructivist–re­lativist ideas” could support the holocaust, racial discrimination, and atrocities all over the world, is a little bizarre. As a philosopher, he surely knows that ethics is based on values – and values, unfortu­nately, are not a rational domain. Atrocities, espe­cially where they were supported by an organization, have mostly been committed and justified by the be­lief in a shared and unquestionable Truth. Construc­tivism, as I have said and written many times, is uncomfortable for some, because it places the re­sponsibility for thinking and acting on no one but the subject him- or herself. It has no more power over irrational savagery than any other rational theory of knowledge.
Save Selection
References
Save Selection
Matthews, M. R. (1993). Constructivism and science education. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2(1): 359-370.
Save Selection
von Glasersfeld, E. (1981) An attentional model for the construction of units and number. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 12: 83-94.
Save Selection
Winchester, I. (1991). Thought experiments and conceptual revision. In Matthews, M. R. (Ed.), History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching
Save Selection
To the Editor:
Save Selection
Prof. Matthews in his article on “Constructiv­ism and Science Education …” (Journal of Science Eduction and Technology 2: 359-370, 1993) calls me “a well-known figure” in constructivist circles. Given that he quotes me several times, I am driven to re­spond briefly to at least three of the many critical points he raises.
Save Selection
[1] Matthews quotes two “epistemological the­ses of constructivism” (pp. 263-264) that I formu­lated in my classes in the early 1980s to distinguish “radical” from “trivial” constructivism. The second thesis proposes to treat knowing as an adaptive function (cf. Piaget) and thus replaces the tradi­tional requirement that knowledge should corre­spond to an ontological reality with the requirement that it fit within the constraints the knower experi­ences. This shift in the concept of knowledge, reit­erated in many constructivist papers (mine and others), is crucial for an understanding of the con­structivist approach to learning, teaching, language, and the practice of science. Matthews, however, does not mention the constructivist requirement of viability but speaks only of “making sense,” which conveniently blurs distinctions.
Save Selection
[2] The claim that constructivists want to derive all knowledge directly from “sense impressions” dis­regards all that has been written about reflection and the construction of abstract concepts from Locke and Bentham to Piaget’s books of the 1930s, and since then. Indeed, what Matthews says of Galileo’s point masses and their “depiction and analysis that dealt with abstracted circumstances” (p. 366, Matthews’ emphasis) is a good example of the normal constructivist premise – except that the constructivist then tries to investigate how abstracted circumstances and notions such as point masses are generated (cf. von Glasersfeld, 1981; Winchester, 1991).
Save Selection
[3] The suggestion with which Matthews con­cludes his piece, namely that the “constructivist–re­lativist ideas” could support the holocaust, racial discrimination, and atrocities all over the world, is a little bizarre. As a philosopher, he surely knows that ethics is based on values – and values, unfortu­nately, are not a rational domain. Atrocities, espe­cially where they were supported by an organization, have mostly been committed and justified by the be­lief in a shared and unquestionable Truth. Construc­tivism, as I have said and written many times, is uncomfortable for some, because it places the re­sponsibility for thinking and acting on no one but the subject him- or herself. It has no more power over irrational savagery than any other rational theory of knowledge.
Save Selection
References
Save Selection
Matthews, M. R. (1993). Constructivism and science education: Some epistemological problems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2(1): 359-370.
Save Selection
von Glasersfeld, E. (1981) An attentional model for the construction of units and number. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 12: 83-94.
Save Selection
Winchester, I. (1991). Thought experiments and conceptual revision. In Matthews, M. R. (Ed.), History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching
Save Selection
Glasersfeld E. von (1993) Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews) [1449]

CEPA eprint 1449 (EVG-161)

Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews)

Glasersfeld E. von (1993) Letter to the Editor (Response to Matthews). Journal of Science Education and Technology 2(4): 511. Available at http://cepa.info/1449
To the Editor:
Prof. Matthews in his article on “Constructiv­ism and Science Education …” (Journal of Science Education and Technology 2: 359-370, 1993) calls me “a well-known figure” in constructivist circles. Given that he quotes me several times, I am driven to re­spond briefly to at least three of the many critical points he raises.
1. Matthews quotes two “epistemological the­ses of constructivism” (pp. 263-264) that I formu­lated in my classes in the early 1980s to distinguish “radical” from “trivial” constructivism. The second thesis proposes to treat knowing as an adaptive function (cf. Piaget) and thus replaces the tradi­tional requirement that knowledge should corre­spond to an ontological reality with the requirement that it fit within the constraints the knower experi­ences. This shift in the concept of knowledge, reit­erated in many constructivist papers (mine and others), is crucial for an understanding of the con­structivist approach to learning, teaching, language, and the practice of science. Matthews, however, does not mention the constructivist requirement of viability but speaks only of “making sense,” which conveniently blurs distinctions.
2. The claim that constructivists want to derive all knowledge directly from “sense impressions” dis­regards all that has been written about reflection and the construction of abstract concepts from Locke and Bentham to Piaget’s books of the 1930s, and since then. Indeed, what Matthews says of Galileo’s point masses and their “depiction and analysis that dealt with abstracted circumstances” (p. 366, Matthews’ emphasis) is a good example of the normal constructivist premise – except that the constructivist then tries to investigate how abstracted circumstances and notions such as point masses are generated (cf. von Glasersfeld, 1981; Winchester, 1991).
3. The suggestion with which Matthews con­cludes his piece, namely that the “constructivist–re­lativist ideas” could support the holocaust, racial discrimination, and atrocities all over the world, is a little bizarre. As a philosopher, he surely knows that ethics is based on values – and values, unfortu­nately, are not a rational domain. Atrocities, espe­cially where they were supported by an organization, have mostly been committed and justified by the be­lief in a shared and unquestionable Truth. Construc­tivism, as I have said and written many times, is uncomfortable for some, because it places the re­sponsibility for thinking and acting on no one but the subject him- or herself. It has no more power over irrational savagery than any other rational theory of knowledge.
References
Matthews, M. R. (1993). Constructivism and science education: Some epistemological problems. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2(1): 359-370.
von Glasersfeld, E. (1981) An attentional model for the construction of units and number. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 12: 83-94.
Winchester, I. (1991). Thought experiments and conceptual revision. In Matthews, M. R. (Ed.), History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching
Found a mistake? Contact corrections/at/cepa.infoDownloaded from http://cepa.info/1449 on 2016-09-20 · Publication curated by Alexander Riegler