Number of Entries Found: 22
Foerster H. von & Müller A. (2008) Computing a Reality. Heinz von Foerster’s Lecture at the A.U.M Conference in 1973. Edited by Albert Müller. Constructivist Foundations 4(1): 62–69.
Purpose: Commenting on the transcript of a lecture. Findings: The document reconstructs the development of the original 1973 lecture by Heinz von Foerster into his best-known paper, On Constructing a Reality. Many aspects of that paper can be identified as being shaped through interaction with the audience. Implications: The lecture documented here was a forerunner of a central paper in constructivism.
This book pursues two different agendas. On the one hand this volume presents two important contributions by Heinz von Foerster, which are both related strongly to Vienna. The first contribution is a reprint of Foerster’s early book on memory (Das Gedächtnis), published in 1948. The second contribution is a reflection by Heinz von Foerster on the Vienna Circle as a parable for a specific style of thought. The second agenda for this book lies in a historic and systematic account of a Viennese intellectual tradition or, to use Ludwik Fleck’s term, a Viennese thought collective with a specific style of thought. This thought collective comprises, inter alia, Ernst Mach and Otto Neurath as their most prominent exponents. In this book the argument has been made that Heinz von Foerster became socialized into this specific style of thought, which manifests itself clearly in his first big publication, namely in his book on memory. Moreover, it can be shown that the roots of important components of radical constructivism already existed within this specific Viennese thought collective.
This volume and its German counterpart (1993e) derived from a single set of draft materials. The volumes were developed, translated, and published in parallel. This is not a translation of the other volume, and vice versa. Portuguese translation: Maturana & Verden-Zöller 2004
This volume and its Spanish counterpart (1993f) derived from a single set of draft materials. The volumes were developed, translated, and published in parallel. This is not a translation of the other volume, and vice versa.
Spanish translation (Biologia del amor) in Maturana (in collaboration with Nisis) 1999: 215–228
Portuguese translation of Maturana & Verden-Zöller 1993.
Müller A. & Müller K. H. (eds.) (2011) Re-discovering and re-inventing Heinz von Foerster. Special Issue of Cybernetics and Human Knowing 18(3–4): 5–16.
The first part presents Heinz von Foerster directly, with four largely inaccessible or unpublished texts, mostly from the 1960s. The second part offers thirteen re-inventions of Heinz von Foerster by friends and colleagues, including Ranulph Glanville, Humberto R. Maturana, Siegfried J. Schmidt, Bernard Scott, and several significant others. Together, both parts underline the high relevance of Heinz von Foerster’s work to contemporary contexts and its wide scope, which was genuinely transdisciplinary at a time when the term “transdisciplinarity” was almost unknown.
Purpose: This conceptual-epistemological paper deals with the old problem of inversion of thinking, as typified by traditional metaphysics-ontology. It is proposed that a thorough constructivism – which views structures of mind, nature, and all, as not derived from (not referring to) any pre-structured given mind-independent reality (zero-derivation, 0-D) – can go beyond this conceptual impasse; it can also serve as a fall-back position for positive ontologies. Practical implications: The practical result of 0-D is that all structures of experience are understood as tools serving individual and collective subjects. Conclusion: This conceptual correction results in a simplification for the understanding of some conceptual puzzles, such as the mind-brain relation, but also in a considerable increase of responsibility, because entities and agents formerly considered responsible, and outside the mind, are recognized to be extensions of the subjects.
Müller H. F. J. (2007) Brain in Mind: The Mind–Brain Relation with the Mind at the Center. Constructivist Foundations 3(1): 30–37.
Purpose: To show that the mind–brain relation can be understood from a perspective that keeps the mind at the center. Problem: Since at least the time of Augustine, the puzzle of the mind–brain relation has been how the mind is attached to, or originates from, the body or brain. This is still the prevalent scientific question. It implies assumption of a primary (ontological) subject–object split, and furthermore that subjective experience can be derived from, or even reduced to, a fictitious mind-independently pre-structured reality. This belief in mind-independent reality is closely related to the development and use of language. It in turn means that the mind cannot be real because it cannot be mind-independent and so disappears from discussion, preventing access to the mind–brain question. Solution: The problem requires an epistemology which keeps subjective experience at the center but does not interfere with objective methods. The un-testable proposition of mind-independent structures can be re-formulated as the use of templates for thinking: a method created by humans, a knowable tool, that is, “working” or “as-if” ontology-metaphysics. Truth and reality, including the reality of objective brain activity, then become working tools within ongoing subject-inclusive encompassing experience. Conclusion: The traditional mind–brain puzzle is the result of erroneous premises, and can be replaced by the question: how does working-objective knowledge originate within encompassing experience? This is a novel and contradiction-free approach to studies of the mind–brain relation and related questions.
Purpose: Understanding the place of Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Radical Constructivism (RC), and some of its implications, in the development of epistemology. Design: Characterization of two main options for the content of “knowledge” (without and with belief in mind-independent structures), sketch of their history in occidental thought; comparison of their properties concerning subjectivity, objectivity, second-order cybernetics, reliability of mental tools, and the needs and mechanisms for certainty and overall structures. Findings: Awareness that we structure mental working tools can, as RC suggests, replace belief in mind-independent reality, and this change dissolves the conceptual problem of metaphysics-ontology, but also eliminates the certainty expected from it, which raises the possibility of relativism. Working-concepts cannot be deconstructed because they imply no ontological claims. Subject(s) are necessarily included in all knowledge (which does not mean solipsism): because subjective experience encompasses all mental tools, including those of objectivity and mathematics, while in contrast the subject itself cannot become an objective system. Practical reliability of mental tools differs from subjective certainty, which requires an ontological leap of faith to positive beliefs: for specific tools including automata, and for positive holistic structures. However, in agreement with the constructivist view, holistic views can instead have an unstructured center, with reliability = viability, which prevents relativism. In sum, belief in mid-independent reality is needed for certainty if desired; for all other purposes constructivism is more helpful. Implications: The change in view suggested by von Glasersfeld’s work is of relevance for a number of fields of study with conceptual problems (such as the mind-brain relation). However, due to their generality, the implications will need evaluation in specific instances. The question of certainty needs attention for practical reasons.
Open peer commentary on the target article “Arguments Opposing the Radicalism of Radical Constructivism” by Gernot Saalmann. First paragraph: My remarks are basedon the view that mind-and-world structures of subject-inclusive experience (the only available startingpoint for thinking) are created by individual and collective subjects, and are not derived from pre-existing subject-exclusive structures (zero-derivation (0-D) structuring; see my papers in CF and the Karl Jaspers Forum). I will comment on two points.
Müller K. H. (2008) Methodologizing Radical Constructivism. Recipes for RC-Designs in the Social Sciences. Constructivist Foundations 4(1): 50–61.
Purpose: Several accounts like Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Who Conceives of Society? (2008) locate empirical research in the social sciences and radical constructivism in almost parallel universes. The main purpose of this paper is to argue for more inter-active relations and to stress the importance of establishing weak, medium and strong ties between radical constructivism and empirical social research in general. Findings: The article shows that that weak, medium and strong ties between radical constructivism and empirical research in the social sciences can be established. Moreover, these weak, medium and strong ties play a crucial role for increasing and maintaining the relevance of radical constructivism within the social sciences and for contributing to the viability of radical constructivism in the long run. Implications: The most important consequence for radical constructivism lies in a new research agenda. In the course of this article weak, medium and strong ties to empirical research have been specified specifically and exclusively for the social sciences. But these specific links cannot be simply generalized or transferred to other disciplinary fields outside the social sciences. Since interactive links between radical constructivism and empirical research are currently missing in practically all disciplines, these weak, medium and strong links, as a new RC-agenda, have to be developed separately for each major scientific research arena.
Purpose: Josef Mitterer’s essays are considered to be important philosophical advancements of radical constructivism. The main purposes of this paper are, on the one hand, to structure the RC landscape and, on the other hand, to investigate the relations of Mitterer’s work to radical constructivism in particular and to philosophy in general. Findings: In this short essay focusing on Mitterer’s Das Jenseits der Philosophie, I would like to stress two major points. First, Mitterer’s book should be considered as one of several contemporary variants of a radical critique of the semantic turn in the philosophy of science that has taken place since the mid-thirties with the works of Rudolf Carnap, Carl G. Hempel, Hilary Putnam, Alfred Tarski and others. Second, it is by no means clear how to determine the relevance of the new semantic critique for the present and future cognitive status of radical constructivism. The degree of relevance depends crucially on the use of the term “radical constructivism.” If radical constructivism, as I will argue, is seen as an umbrella term for a group of empirical research programs, then, by sheer necessity, the relevance can be marginal only. If, however, radical constructivism is viewed as a special form of philosophy of language and/or as a new epistemology, then the importance of Josef Mitterer’s approach must be judged within the context of available functional alternatives. Implications: An immediate consequence of this article lies in a renewed emphasis on advancing an empirical research agenda for radical constructivism and in an effective downsizing of radical constructivism as a philosophical perspective.
Open peer commentary on the target article “Who Conceives of Society?” by Ernst von Glasersfeld. Excerpt: I will make the point that radical constructivism von Glasersfeld style unnecessarily plays only a passive or an inactive role. Quite obviously, I want to demonstrate that there is life for radical constructivism outside its seemingly irrelevant function in empirical social research and that it is possible to develop radical constructivism in designs with tangible consequences and effects for the cognitive routines in the social sciences. In short, it is conceivable, despite “Who Conceives of Society?”, that radical constructivism matters.
The three volume series on a new science of cybernetics is embedded in the overall series on “Complexity, Design, Society”. The new science of cybernetics, gradually developed by Karl H. Müller and his team, explores, on the basis of Heinz von Foerster’s second-order cybernetics, radically new forms of concept formations, theory structures as well as new ways of conducting research
Müller K. H. (2010) The Radical Constructivist Movement and Its Network Formations. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 31–39.
Context: The main problem is the rather marginal status of radical constructivism within its core domains of brain research, cognition and learning. Problem: The basic goal is to provide a short history of radical constructivism and its institutionalization processes. Additionally, the article specifies critical conditions that should be met in order for radical constructivism to become a mainstream endeavor. Method: The main methods used are those of comparative historical research. Results: The main results lie in the specification of missing elements that have blocked radical constructivism becoming a mainstream endeavor. Implications: The paper might serve as a common reference for necessary steps to be taken over the following years in order to move radical constructivism out of its current weak position.
Müller K. H. (2011) The Missing Links in S.J. Schmidt’s Rewriting Operations. An Austrian Contribution. Constructivist Foundations 7(1): 35–37.
Open peer commentary on the target article “From Objects to Processes: A Proposal to Rewrite Radical Constructivism” by Siegfried J. Schmidt. Upshot: The subtitle of “An Austrian Contribution” emphasizes a basic distinction between German and Austrian traditions in the philosophy of fields of science. In S. J. Schmidt’s genuinely German way of writing, one can observe a high emphasis on terminology and a specific arena of heavy philosophical problems that have to be solved in a strictly philosophical manner, whereas the Austrian tradition places its importance on scientific progress, especially in the natural sciences, and on the clarifying, mediating, and self-reflecting role of philosophy within the overall context of scientific evolution.
“Cybernetics comes in two flavors: a more engineering flavor (first-order cybernetics) and the lesser-known, though in many ways older, second-order cybernetics, relating more to the humanities, design, and social sciences. This second-order cybernetics has been under-theorized in universities and other research environments. Karl H. Müller’s new book, his second volume on the New Science of Cybernetics, provides outstanding, general, innovative coverage that should enable scholars to bridge the gap between the work of second-order cyberneticians and others who work with similar approaches, and these institutions. It is an important book that can lead to significant insights, methods and actions.” (Ranulph Glanville)
Purpose: The article pursues three aims. First, it intends to differentiate between two different approaches for knowledge studies, namely an empirical and a normative mode. In a second move, two different epistemologies in the work of Ernst von Glasersfeld will be introduced under the labels of “Epistemology I” and “Epistemology II.” Epistemology I relates to empirical research, Epistemology II is normative in nature. Third, the article makes the point that while Ernst von Glasersfeld’s Epistemology II has already been presented in a finite and mature form, his empirical analysis of cognitive processes still provides a rich pool of tools and designs that should be further developed and advanced in the years and decades ahead. Method: The article is analytical in nature, identifying the different building blocks and relational networks of von Glasersfeld’s two epistemologies. By this, the article intends to contribute to a further advancement of von Glasersfeld’s Epistemology I. Results: The main finding lies in recognizing the radical and innovative elements of von Glasersfeld’s Epistemology I and on the still-challenging research designs of Epistemology I.
Müller K. H. (2012) A Circular Comment on Luhmann as a Question Generator. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 28–30.
Open peer commentary on the article “Luhmann and the Constructivist Heritage: A Critical Reflection” by Armin Scholl. Upshot: The comment starts with Buchinger’s assessment that Luhmann’s contribution to constructivism is original and inspiring, but raises more questions than answers. In three variations, the comment tries to show that Luhmann can indeed be viewed as a big question-generator and that his heritage for radical constructivism may lie in the original and inspiring effects these new and additional questions can produce.