Approach «Radical Constructivism»

Coined by Ernst von Glasersfeld (1974Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology. In: Smock C. D. & Glasersfeld E. von (eds.) Epistemology and education. Follow Through Publications, Athens GA: 1–24.), Radical Constructivism (or "RC") is “an unconventional approach to the problems of knowledge and knowing. It starts from the assumption that knowledge, no matter how it is defined, is in the heads of persons, and that the thinking subject has no alternative but to construct what he or she knows on the basis of his or her own experience. What we can make of experience constitutes the only world we consciously live in … all kinds of experience are essentially subjective, and though I may find reasons to believe that my experiences may not be unlike yours, I have no way of knowing that it is the same…” (Glasersfeld 1995Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London.: 1).
Glasersfeld defines the two principles of RC as follows: "(1) a. Knowledge is not passively received either through the senses or by way of communication; b. knowledge is actively built up by the cognizing subject. (2) a. The function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense of the term, tending towards fit or viability; b. cognition serves the subject's organization of the experiential world, not the discovery of an objective ontological reality." (Glasersfeld 1995Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London.: 18).
Cite this definition as: Riegler A. (2016) Radical Constructivism. Constructivist E-Paper Archive. Version of 20 February 2016. Available at

Publications Found: 621 · Show All Abstracts

Accame F. (2007) Ernst von Glasersfeld and the Italian Operative School. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 18–24. Available at
Alhadeff-Jones M. (2013) Complexity, methodology and method: Crafting a critical process of research. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education 10(1/2): 19–44. Available at
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2012) Observing Environments. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 39–52. Available at
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2014) Second-Order Science of Interdisciplinary Research: A Polyocular Framework for Wicked Problems. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 65–76. Available at
An der Heiden U., Roth G. & Schwegler H. (1985) Principles of self-generation and self-maintenance. Acta Biotheoretica 34: 125–138. Available at
Aufenvenne P., Egner H. & Elverfeldt K. (2014) On Climate Change Research, the Crisis of Science and Second-order Science. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 120–129. Available at
Avenier M. J. & Parmentier Cajaiba A. (2012) The dialogical model: Developing academic knowledge for and from practice. European Management Review 9(4): 199–212.
Baecker D. (1999) Gypsy reason: Niklas Luhmann’s sociological enlightenment. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 6(3): 5–19. Available at
Baecker D. (2008) Obey Society, and Note Your Resistance. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 96–97. Available at
Balsemao E. (2011) A individuação da sociedade moderna (The individuation of modern society). Coimbra University Press, Coimbra. Available at
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