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Who Conceives of Society?

Ernst von Glasersfeld

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Abstract

Problem: How can constructivists speak of social interaction or communication with others, when, as they claim, their experiential world is their own construction? This question is frequently asked and is perfectly reasonable. The present paper is intended as an answer. Solution: After providing an outline of the constructivist approach to perception and the generation of recognizable objects in the experiential field, I argue that “others,” too, can be explained as an individual’s creation; a creation, however, that is just as constrained by the condition of viability as are the physical objects with which we furnish our world. Consequently, “society” too can be considered an individual construct rather than an ontological given. Benefits: The exposition may help to clarify the constructivist position with regard to social interaction and communication.

Key words: Sociology, linguistic communication, conceptual analysis

Citation

Glasersfeld E. von (2008) Who conceives of society? Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 59–64. http://constructivist.info/3/2/059

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