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{{PhilPsy}}
 
{{PhilPsy}}
   
'''Constructivism''' is a perspective in [[philosophy]] that views all of our knowledge as "constructed", under the assumption that it does not necessarily reflect any external "transcendent" realities; it is contingent on [[convention (norm)|convention]], human [[perception]], and social [[experience]].
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'''Constructivist epistemology''' is an [[epistemology|epistemological]] perspective in [[philosophy]] about the nature of scientific knowledge.<ref>Routledge 2000. ''Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy''.</ref> Constructivists maintain that scientific knowledge is constructed by scientists and not discovered from the world. Constructivism believes that there is no single valid methodology and there are other methodologies for social science: qualitative research.<ref>Schofield, L. Critical Theory and Constructivism</ref> It thus is opposed to [[positivism]], which is a philosophy that holds that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on actual sense experience.
   
Constructivism criticizes [[essentialism]], whether it is in the form of medieval [[Philosophical realism|realism]], classical [[rationalism]], or [[empiricism]].{{Fact|date=February 2007}} ''Constructionism'' and ''constructivism'' are often used interchangeably. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including [[Race (classification of human beings)|race]], [[human sexuality|sexuality]], and [[gender]] are [[social construction|socially constructed]] ([[Hegel]], Garns, and [[Marx]] were among the first to suggest such an ambitious expansion of [[social determinism]]).{{Fact|date=February 2007}}
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== Overview ==
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Constructivism has roots in [[Constructivism (psychological school)|philosophy]], [[Constructivism (learning theory)|education]] and [[social constructivism (learning theory)|social constructivism]]. Constructivism criticizes [[Objectivity (philosophy)#objectivism|objectivism]], which embraces the belief that a human can come to know external reality (the reality that exists beyond one's own mind). Constructivism holds the opposite view, that the only reality we can know is that which is represented by human thought (assuming a disbelief or lack of faith in a superhuman God). Reality is independent of human thought, but meaning or knowledge is always a human construction.<ref>Crotty, M. (1998). The Foundations of Social Science Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process.</ref>
   
The expression "Constructivist epistemology" was first used by [[Jean Piaget]], 1967, with plural form in the famous article from the "Encyclopédie de la Pléiade" ''Logique et Connaissance scientifique'' (Logic and Scientific knowledge), an important text for [[epistemology]]. He refers directly to the mathematician [[Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer|Brouwer]] and his ''radical constructivism''.
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''Constructionism'' and ''constructivism'' are often used interchangeably. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including, [[Race (classification of human beings)|race]], [[human sexuality|sexuality]], and [[gender]], as well as tables, chairs and atoms are [[social construction|socially constructed]]. Kant, Garns, and [[Marx]] were among the first to suggest such an ambitious expansion of the power of ideas to inform the material realities of people's lives.{{Citation needed|date=February 2007}}
   
Moreover, in 1967, [[Peter Berger|Peter L. Berger]] and [[Thomas Luckmann]] published ''The Social Construction of Reality'', which has initiated [[social constructionism]].
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The expression "Constructivist epistemology" was first used by [[Jean Piaget]], 1967, with plural form in the famous article from the "Encyclopédie de la Pléiade" ''Logique et Connaissance scientifique'' or "Logic and Scientific knowledge", an important text for [[epistemology]]. He refers directly to the mathematician [[Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer|Brouwer]] and his ''radical constructivism''.
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Moreover, in 1967, [[Peter L. Berger]] and [[Thomas Luckmann]] published ''[[The Social Construction of Reality]]'', which has initiated [[social constructionism]].
   
 
==History==
 
==History==
Constructivism find its roots through :
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Constructivism has many roots:
* Greek philosophers as [[Heraclitus]] (''Everything flows, nothing stands still''), [[Protagoras]] (''Man is the measure of all things''), [[Aristotle]].
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* The thought of Greek philosophers such as [[Heraclitus]] (''Everything flows, nothing stands still''), [[Protagoras]] (''Man is the measure of all things''). Protagoras is clearly represented by Plato and hence the tradition as a relativist. The Pyrrhonist sceptics have also been so interpreted. (Although this is more contentious.)
 
* After the Renaissance and the enlightenment, with the phenomenology and the event, [[Kant]] gives a decisive contradiction to Cartesians’ epistemology that has grown since Descartes despite [[Giambattista Vico]] calls in "La scienza nuova" (the new science) in 1708 reminding that "the norm of the truth is to have made it".
 
* After the Renaissance and the enlightenment, with the phenomenology and the event, [[Kant]] gives a decisive contradiction to Cartesians’ epistemology that has grown since Descartes despite [[Giambattista Vico]] calls in "La scienza nuova" (the new science) in 1708 reminding that "the norm of the truth is to have made it".
* XXth century, [[Gaston Bachelard]], who is known for his physics psychoanalysis and the definition of an "epistemologic obstacle" that can disturb a changing of scientific paradigm as the one that occurred between classical mechanics and Einstein’s relativism, opens the teleological way with "The meditation on the object takes the form of the project". In the following famous saying, he insist on the question that come first when searching a theory, before summarizing "nothing is given, all is constructed" : "And, irrespective of what one might assume, in the life of a science, problems do not arise by themselves. It is precisely this that marks out a problem as being of the true scientific spirit: all knowledge is in response to a question. If there no were question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed.", Gaston Bachelard (''La formation de l'esprit scientifique'', 1934). While quantum’s mechanics is starting to grow, Gaston Bachelard makes a call for a new science in "Le Nouvel Esprit scientifique" (The new scientific spirit).
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* The Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment's universalist tendencies involved an emphasis on the separate natures of races, species, sexes and types of human{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}}.
* XXth century again, French philosopher [[Paul Valéry]] reminds the importance of representations and action : "We have always sought explanations when it was only representations that we could seek to invent", "My hand feels touched as well as it touches; reality says this, and nothing more".
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* [[Gaston Bachelard]], who is known for his physics psychoanalysis and the definition of an "epistemologic obstacle" that can disturb a changing of scientific paradigm as the one that occurred between classical mechanics and Einstein’s relativism, opens the teleological way with "The meditation on the object takes the form of the project". In the following famous saying, he insists that the ways in which questions are posed determines the trajectory of scientific movement, before summarizing "nothing is given, all is constructed" : "And, irrespective of what one might assume, in the life of a science, problems do not arise by themselves. It is precisely this that marks out a problem as being of the true scientific spirit: all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed.", Gaston Bachelard (''La formation de l'esprit scientifique'', 1934). While quantum mechanics is starting to grow, Gaston Bachelard makes a call for a new science in ''Le Nouvel Esprit scientifique'' (The new scientific spirit).
* This link with action, that could be call a "philosophy of action" was well represented by Spanish poet [[Antonio Machado]] : ''Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar''.
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* [[Paul Valéry]], French poet (20th c.) reminds us of the importance of representations and action: "We have always sought explanations when it was only representations that we could seek to invent", "My hand feels touched as well as it touches; reality says this, and nothing more".
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* This link with action, which could be called a "philosophy of action", was well represented by Spanish poet [[Antonio Machado]]: ''Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar''.
 
* [[Ludwik Fleck]] establishes scientific constructivism by introducing the notions of [[thought collective]] (''Denkkollektiv''), and [[thought style]] (''Denkstil''), through which the evolution of science is much more understandable, because the research objects can be described in terms of the assumptions (thought style) that are shared for practical but also inherently social reasons, or just because any thought collective tends to preserve itself. These notions have been drawn upon by [[Thomas Kuhn]].
 
* [[Ludwik Fleck]] establishes scientific constructivism by introducing the notions of [[thought collective]] (''Denkkollektiv''), and [[thought style]] (''Denkstil''), through which the evolution of science is much more understandable, because the research objects can be described in terms of the assumptions (thought style) that are shared for practical but also inherently social reasons, or just because any thought collective tends to preserve itself. These notions have been drawn upon by [[Thomas Kuhn]].
* [[Norbert Wiener]] gives another defense of teleology in 1943 "Behavior, intention and teleology" and is one of those who created cybernetics.
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* [[Norbert Wiener]] gives another defense of teleology in 1943 "Behavior, intention and teleology" and is one of the creators of cybernetics.
* [[Jean Piaget]], after the creation in 1955 of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva, first uses the expression "constructivists epistemologies" (see above). According to [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]], Jean Piaget is "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing" (in ''An Exposition of Constructivism: Why Some Like it Radical'', 1990) and "the most prolific constructivist in our century" (in ''Aspects of Radical Constructivism'', 1996).
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* [[Jean Piaget]], after the creation in 1955 of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva, first uses the expression "constructivist epistemologies" (see above). According to [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]], Jean Piaget is "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing" (in ''An Exposition of Constructivism: Why Some Like it Radical'', 1990) and "the most prolific constructivist in our century" (in ''Aspects of Radical Constructivism'', 1996).
 
* [[Herbert Simon]] called « The sciences of the artificial » these new sciences (cybernetics, cognitive sciences, decision and organisation sciences) that, because of the abstraction of their object (information, communication, decision), cannot match with the classical epistemology and its experimental method and refutability.
 
* [[Herbert Simon]] called « The sciences of the artificial » these new sciences (cybernetics, cognitive sciences, decision and organisation sciences) that, because of the abstraction of their object (information, communication, decision), cannot match with the classical epistemology and its experimental method and refutability.
 
* [[Gregory Bateson]] and his book ''Steps to an Ecology of Mind'' (1972).
 
* [[Gregory Bateson]] and his book ''Steps to an Ecology of Mind'' (1972).
* [[Heinz von Foerster]], invited by Jean Piaget, presented "Objects: takens for (Eigen-) behaviour" in 1976 in Geneva at a Genetic Epistemology Symposium, a text that will become a reference for constructivist epistemology.
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* [[Heinz von Foerster]], invited by Jean Piaget, presented "Objects: tokens for (Eigen-)behaviours" in 1976 in Geneva at a Genetic Epistemology Symposium, a text that would become a reference for constructivist epistemology.
 
* [[Paul Watzlawick]], who supervised in 1984 the publication of ''Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism)''.
 
* [[Paul Watzlawick]], who supervised in 1984 the publication of ''Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism)''.
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]], who has promoted since the end of the 70s ''radical constructivism'' (see below).
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]], who has promoted since the end of the 70s ''radical constructivism'' (see below).
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==Constructivism's concepts and ideas==
 
==Constructivism's concepts and ideas==
The common thread between all forms of constructivism is that they do not focus on an [[ontological]] reality, but instead on the constructed reality.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} Indeed, a basic presupposition of constructivism is that Reality-As-It-Is-In-Itself (Ontological Reality) is utterly incoherent as a concept, since there is no way to verify how one has finally reached a definitive notion of [[Reality]]. One must already have Reality in mind--that is, one must already know what Reality consists of--in order to confirm when one has at last "hit bottom". [[Richard Rorty]] has justly said, therefore, that all claims to Realism can be reduced to [[intuition]] (''Consequences of Pragmatism'', chs. 9, 11). At bottom, then, it seems that the Realist/Anti-Realist debate can be reduced to a conflict of intuitions: "It seems to us that..." "Well, it seems to us that...". A realist would not like to construe the argument in this way, and would say that someone is misled, that one of these groups seems correctly, and another group perceives incorrectly. Again, though, constructivists will complain that there is no way to confirm one way or another, since the goal of inquiry (Reality) must be assumed to be understood at the outset. The Realist hope, in a constructivist understanding, is simply an arbitrary freezing of the infinite regress of circularity that plagues human reasoning which vainly hopes to validate itself with a secure foundation.
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{{POV-check|date=March 2009}}
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{{Refimprovesect|date=September 2008}}
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{{Section OR|date=September 2008}}
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The common thread among all forms of constructivism is that they do not focus on an [[ontological]] reality, but instead on a constructed reality.{{Citation needed|date=February 2007}} Indeed, a basic presupposition of constructivism is that Reality-As-It-Is-In-Itself (Ontological Reality) is utterly incoherent as a concept, since there is no way to verify how one has finally reached a definitive notion of [[Reality]]. Thus constructivism shows itself to confuse epistemology with ontology. Talk of verification in this connection is beside the point. According to constructivism, one must already have Reality in mind—that is, one must already know what Reality consists of—in order to confirm when one has at last "hit bottom." [[Richard Rorty]] has said that all claims to Realism can be reduced to [[Intuition (knowledge)|intuition]] (''Consequences of Pragmatism'', chs. 9, 11). The Realist/Anti-Realist debate can be reduced, in the end, to a conflict of intuitions: "It seems to us that..." vs "Well, it seems to us that..." A realist would not like to construe the argument in this way, and would say that one of these is misled, that one group perceives correctly, and the other perceives incorrectly. Strict constructivists will complain that there is no way to confirm one way or another, since the goal of inquiry (Reality) must be assumed to be understood at the outset. The Realist hope, in a constructivist view, is simply to arbitrarily freeze the infinite circularity that plagues human reasoning which vainly hopes to validate itself with a secure foundation.
   
Famously, this rather [[relativism|relativist]] [[theory]] is seen by some to contradict itself as a true affirmation: because this view also is "constructed," that is, made and not found, built by human hands rather than discovered in Nature or Reality. Consistent constructivists, however, will reply to this ''tu quoque'' (your theory, too!) critique with a rejoinder of their own: ''bien sur!'' (of course our theory, too!). It is an obvious and foolish claim for a constructivist to play a realist with regard to his or her own perspective. It is the basic claim of constructivism which allows one to reject altogether claims to universalism, realism, or objective truth. Consistent constructivists will not make any of these "hard" claims for their views, for they believe that their position is merely a view, a more or less coherent way of understanding things, that has thus far worked for them as a model of the world. This notion is deeply indebted to [[Darwinism|Darwinian theory]], as it is claimed by constructivists that human understanding, as the product of Natural Selection, can be said to provide no more "true" understanding of the world as it is in itself than is absolutely necessary for human survival. Naturally, one will ask constructivists why they accept Darwin as a foundational thesis, if there are no "truer" explanations of the world than any other. Constructivists will reply that Darwinism epistemology undercuts itself as a transparent window onto the world, and reveals only its plausibility as an account. Insofar as someone desires a naturalistic account of the world that makes sense of a variety of data, [[Darwinism]] is the best (indeed, virtually only) explanatory schema that meets the requirements of modern scientific inquiry. Modern scientific inquiry, however, constructivists wish to point out, is itself subject to the contingencies of history, culture, language, and the tenuousness of the human intellect. For many, though, this self-reflexive anti-epistemology will not prove useful, desirable or very sturdy as an explanatory framework. An excellent account of the Self-Refutation Charge is given in [[Barbara Herrnstein Smith]]'s ''Belief & Resistance'', chapter 5 (pp. 73-87; "Unloading the Self-Refutation Charge").
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Constructivism proposes new definitions for [[knowledge]] and [[truth]] that forms a new [[paradigm]], based on inter-subjectivity instead of the classical [[objectivity]] and viability instead of truth. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic as [[Giambattista Vico|Vico]] said: "the truth is to have made it".{{Citation needed|date=September 2008}}
 
Constructivism proposes new definitions for [[knowledge]] and [[truth]] that forms a new [[paradigm]], based on inter-subjectivity instead of the classical [[objectivity]] and viability instead of truth. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic as [[Giambattista Vico|Vico]] said: "the truth is to have made it".
 
   
 
In this paradigm, "sciences of the artificial" (see [[Herbert Simon]]) as [[cybernetics]], automatics or [[decision theory]], [[management]] and engineering sciences can justify their teaching and have a space in the academy as "real sciences".
 
In this paradigm, "sciences of the artificial" (see [[Herbert Simon]]) as [[cybernetics]], automatics or [[decision theory]], [[management]] and engineering sciences can justify their teaching and have a space in the academy as "real sciences".
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==Constructivism and sciences==
 
==Constructivism and sciences==
 
===Social constructivism in sociology===<!-- This section is linked from [[International relations]] -->
 
===Social constructivism in sociology===<!-- This section is linked from [[International relations]] -->
{{main|Social constructionism}}
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{{Main|Social constructionism}}
 
One version of ''social constructivism'' contends that categories of knowledge and reality are actively created by social relationships and interactions. These interactions also alter the way in which scientific episteme is organized.
 
One version of ''social constructivism'' contends that categories of knowledge and reality are actively created by social relationships and interactions. These interactions also alter the way in which scientific episteme is organized.
   
Social activity presupposes human beings inhabiting shared forms of life, and in the case of social construction, utilizing [[semiotic]] resources (meaning making and meaning signifying) with reference to social structures and institutions. Several traditions use the term ''Social Constructivism'': [[psychology]] (after [[Lev Vygotsky]]), [[sociology]] (after [[Durkheim]], [[Peter Berger]] and [[Thomas Luckmann]], themselves influenced by [[Alfred Schütz]]), [[sociology of knowledge]] ([[David Bloor]]), [[sociology]] of [[mathematics]] ([[Sal Restivo]]), [[philosophy of mathematics]] ([[Paul Ernest]]). [[Ludwig Wittgenstein]]'s later philosophy can be seen as a foundation for ''Social Constructivism'', with its key theoretical concepts of ''language games'' embedded in ''forms of life''.
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Social activity presupposes human beings inhabiting shared forms of life, and in the case of social construction, utilizing [[semiotic]] resources (meaning making and meaning signifying) with reference to social structures and institutions. Several traditions use the term ''Social Constructivism'': [[psychology]] (after [[Lev Vygotsky]]), [[sociology]] (after [[Peter L. Berger|Peter Berger]] and [[Thomas Luckmann]], themselves influenced by [[Alfred Schütz]]), [[sociology of knowledge]] ([[David Bloor]]), [[sociology]] of [[mathematics]] ([[Sal Restivo]]), [[philosophy of mathematics]] ([[Paul Ernest]]). [[Ludwig Wittgenstein]]'s later philosophy can be seen as a foundation for ''Social Constructivism'', with its key theoretical concepts of ''language games'' embedded in ''forms of life''.
 
Lev Vygotsky's social constructivist principles can be applied in new collaborative tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts.
 
   
 
===Constructivism and psychology===
 
===Constructivism and psychology===
{{main|Constructivism (psychological school)}}
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{{Main|Constructivism (psychological school)}}
{{sectstub}}
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{{Expand section|date=June 2008}}
   
 
===Constructivism and education===
 
===Constructivism and education===
{{main|Constructivism (learning theory)}}
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{{Main|Constructivism (learning theory)}}
   
==Constructivism and postmodernism==
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[[Joe L. Kincheloe]] has published numerous social and educational books on critical constructivism (2001, 2005, 2008), a version of constructivist epistemology that places emphasis on the exaggerated influence of political and cultural power in the construction of knowledge, consciousness, and views of reality. In the contemporary mediated electronic era, Kincheloe argues, dominant modes of power have never exerted such influence on human affairs. Coming from a [[critical pedagogy|critical pedagogical]] perspective, Kincheloe argues that understanding a critical constructivist epistemology is central to becoming an educated person and to the institution of just social change.
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Kincheloe's characteristics of critical constructivism:
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*Knowledge is socially constructed: World and information co-construct one another
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*Consciousness is a social construction
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*Political struggles: Power plays an exaggerated role in the production of knowledge and consciousness
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*The necessity of understanding consciousness—even though it does not lend itself to traditional reductionistic modes of measurability
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*The importance of uniting logic and emotion in the process of knowledge and producing knowledge
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*The inseparability of the knower and the known
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*The centrality of the perspectives of oppressed peoples—the value of the insights of those who have suffered as the result of existing social arrangements
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*The existence of multiple realities: Making sense of a world far more complex that we originally imagined
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*Becoming humble knowledge workers: Understanding our location in the tangled web of reality
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*Standpoint epistemology: Locating ourselves in the web of reality, we are better equipped to produce our own knowledges
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*Constructing practical knowledge for critical social action
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*Complexity: Overcoming reductionism
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*Knowledge is always entrenched in a larger process
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*The centrality of interpretation: Critical hermeneutics
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*The new frontier of classroom knowledge: Personal experiences intersecting with pluriversal information
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*Constructing new ways of being human: Critical ontology
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=== Constructivism and postmodernism===
 
For some, social constructionism can be seen as a source of the postmodern movement, and has been influential in the field of cultural studies. Some have gone so far as to attribute the rise of cultural studies (the cultural turn) to social constructionism.
 
For some, social constructionism can be seen as a source of the postmodern movement, and has been influential in the field of cultural studies. Some have gone so far as to attribute the rise of cultural studies (the cultural turn) to social constructionism.
   
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==Constructivist trends==
 
==Constructivist trends==
===Cultural constructivism===
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;Cultural constructivism
[[Cultural constructivism]] asserts that knowledge and reality are a product of their cultural context, meaning that two independent cultures will likely form different observational methodologies. For instance, Western cultures generally rely on ''objects'' for scientific descriptions; by contrast, Native American culture relies on ''events'' for descriptions. These are two distinct ways of constructing reality based on external artifacts.
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:[[Cultural constructivism]] asserts that knowledge and reality are a product of their cultural context, meaning that two independent cultures will likely form different observational methodologies. For instance, Western cultures generally rely on ''objects'' for scientific descriptions; by contrast, Native American culture relies on ''events'' for descriptions. These are two distinct ways of constructing reality based on external artifacts.
 
===Communal constructivism===
 
In Communal constructivism students and teachers are not simply engaged in developing their own information. Rather, they are actively involved in creating knowledge that will benefit other students. "In this model students will not simply pass through a course like water through a sieve but instead leave their own imprint in the development of the course, their school or university, and ideally the discipline." Holmes, B., Tangney, B., Fitzgibbon, A., Savage, T, & Mehan, S. (2001). [[https://www.cs.tcd.ie/publications/tech-reports/reports.01/TCD-CS-2001-04.pdf PDF]]
 
   
===Radical constructivism===
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;Radical constructivism
[[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] is a prominent proponent of radical constructivism, which claims that knowledge is the self-organized cognitive process of the human brain. That is, the process of constructing knowledge regulates itself, and since knowledge is a construct rather than a compilation of empirical data, it is impossible to know the extent to which knowledge reflects an [[ontological]] reality.{{seealso|Francisco Varela|Humberto Maturana|Heinz von Foerster}}
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:[[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] is a prominent proponent of radical constructivism, which claims that knowledge is the self-organized cognitive process of the human brain. That is, the process of constructing knowledge regulates itself, and since knowledge is a construct rather than a compilation of empirical data, it is impossible to know the extent to which knowledge reflects an [[ontological]] reality.{{See also|Francisco Varela|Humberto Maturana|Heinz von Foerster}}
   
===Critical constructivism===
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;Critical constructivism
A series of articles published in the journal ''Critical Inquiry'' (1991) served as a manifesto for the movement of critical constructivism in various disciplines, including the [[natural science]]s. Not only truth and reality, but also "[[evidence]]", "[[document]]", "[[experience]]", "[[fact]]", "proof", and other central categories of empirical research (in [[physics]], [[biology]], [[statistics]], [[history]], [[law]], etc.) reveal their contingent character as a social and ideological construction. Thus, a "realist" or "rationalist" interpretation is subjected to criticism.
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:A series of articles published in the journal ''Critical Inquiry'' (1991) served as a manifesto for the movement of critical constructivism in various disciplines, including the [[natural science]]s. Not only truth and reality, but also "[[evidence]]", "[[document]]", "[[experience]]", "[[fact]]", "proof", and other central categories of empirical research (in [[physics]], [[biology]], [[statistics]], [[history]], [[law]], etc.) reveal their contingent character as a social and ideological construction. Thus, a "realist" or "rationalist" interpretation is subjected to criticism. Kincheloe's political and pedagogical notion (above) has emerged as a central articulation of the concept.
   
While recognizing the constructedness of reality, many representatives of this critical paradigm deny philosophy the task of the creative construction of reality. They eagerly criticize realistic judgments, but they do not move beyond analytic procedures based on subtle [[Tautology (logic)|tautologies]]. They thus remain in the critical paradigm and consider it to be a standard of scientific philosophy per se.
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:While recognizing the constructedness of reality, many representatives of this critical paradigm deny philosophy the task of the creative construction of reality. They eagerly criticize realistic judgments, but they do not move beyond analytic procedures based on subtle [[tautology (logic)|tautologies]]. They thus remain in the critical paradigm and consider it to be a standard of scientific philosophy per se.
   
===Genetic epistemology===
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;Genetic epistemology
[[James Mark Baldwin]] invented this expression, which was later popularized by [[Jean Piaget]]. From 1955 to 1980, Piaget was Director of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva.
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:[[James Mark Baldwin]] invented this expression, which was later popularized by [[Jean Piaget]]. From 1955 to 1980, Piaget was Director of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva.
   
 
==Quotations==
 
==Quotations==
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:: "My hand feels touched as well as it touches; that's reality, and nothing more"
 
:: "My hand feels touched as well as it touches; that's reality, and nothing more"
 
* ''Intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself'', [[Jean Piaget]] in "La construction du réel chez l'enfant" (1937)
 
* ''Intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself'', [[Jean Piaget]] in "La construction du réel chez l'enfant" (1937)
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* "If the natives are in different worlds, how come we can shoot them?" [[Stephen Stich]]
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== Criticisms ==
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Numerous criticisms have been leveled at Constructivist epistemology. The most common one is that it either explicitly advocates or implicitly reduces to [[relativism]]. This is because it takes the concept of truth to be a socially "constructed" (and thereby socially relative) one. This leads to the charge of self-refutation: if what is to be regarded as "true" is relative to a particular social formation, then this very conception of [[truth]] must itself be only regarded as being "true" in this society. In another social formation, it may well be false. If so, then social constructivism itself would be false in that social formation. Further, one could then say that social constructivism could be both true and false simultaneously.
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Another criticism of constructivism is that it holds that the concepts of two different social formations be entirely different and incommensurate. This being the case, it is impossible to make comparative judgements about statements made according to each worldview. This is because the criteria of judgement will themselves have to be based on some worldview or other. If this is the case, then it brings into question how communication between them about the truth or falsity of any given statement could be established.
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Social Constructivists{{Who|date=July 2009}} often argue that constructivism is liberating because it either (1) enables oppressed groups to reconstruct "the World" in accordance with their own interests rather than according to the interests of dominant groups in society, or (2) compels people to respect the alternative worldviews of oppressed groups because there is no way of judging them to be inferior to dominant worldviews. As the [[Wittgenstein]]ian philosopher [[Gavin Kitching]]<ref>Kitching, G. 2008. ''The Trouble with Theory: The Educational Costs of Postmodernism''. Penn State University Press.</ref> argues, however, constructivists usually implicitly presuppose a [[deterministic]] view of language which severely constrains the minds and use of words by members of societies: they are not just "constructed" by language on this view, but are literally "determined" by it. Kitching notes the contradiction here: somehow the advocate of constructivism is not similarly constrained. While other individuals are controlled by the dominant concepts of society, the advocate of constructivism can transcend these concepts and see though them. A similar point is made by Edward Mariyani-Squire<ref>Mariyani-Squire, E. 1999. "Social Constructivism: A flawed Debate over Conceptual Foundations", ''Capitalism, Nature, Socialism'', vol.10, no.4, pp.97-125</ref>
  +
::even if Social Constructivism were true, there is nothing necessarily liberating about entities being socially constructed. There is not necessarily any political advantage to be gained by thinking of Nature as a social construction if, as a political agent, one is systematically trapped, marginalised and subdued by means of social construction. Further to this general theme, when one looks at much Social Constructivist discourse (especially that informed by Michel Foucault), one finds something of a bifurcation between the theorist and the non-theorist. The theorist always plays the role of the constructor of discourses, while the non-theorist plays the role of the subject who is constructed in a quite deterministic fashion. This has a strong resonance with the point already made about solipsistic theism - here the theorist, conceptually anyway, “plays God” with his/her subject (whatever or whoever that may be). In short, while it is often assumed that Social Constructivism implies flexibility and indeterminism, there is no logical reason why one cannot treat social constructions as fatalistic.
   
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
  +
{{Multicol}}
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;Related subjects
 
* [[Anti-racist math]]
 
* [[Anti-racist math]]
 
* [[Deutsche Physik]]
 
* [[Deutsche Physik]]
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* [[Metacognition]]
 
* [[Metacognition]]
 
* [[Personal construct psychology]]
 
* [[Personal construct psychology]]
  +
* [[Postmodernism]]
 
* [[Science and technology studies]]
 
* [[Science and technology studies]]
 
* [[Social constructionism]]
 
* [[Social constructionism]]
 
* [[Systems theory]]
 
* [[Systems theory]]
 
* [[Teleology]]
 
* [[Teleology]]
+
{{Multicol-break}}
===Proponents===
+
;Proponents
{{col-begin}}
 
{{col-break}}
 
 
* [[Gaston Bachelard]]
 
* [[Gaston Bachelard]]
 
* [[Gregory Bateson]]
 
* [[Gregory Bateson]]
* [[Rolf Breuer]]
 
 
* [[Michael Dummett]]
 
* [[Michael Dummett]]
* [[Franz Epting]]
 
 
* [[Ludwik Fleck]]
 
* [[Ludwik Fleck]]
 
* [[Heinz von Foerster]]
 
* [[Heinz von Foerster]]
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* [[Jean-Louis Le Moigne]]
 
* [[Jean-Louis Le Moigne]]
 
* [[Edgar Morin]]
 
* [[Edgar Morin]]
* [[Greg Neimeyer]]
 
* [[Robert Neimeyer]]
 
 
* [[Jean Piaget]]
 
* [[Jean Piaget]]
 
* [[Rupert Riedl]]
 
* [[Rupert Riedl]]
 
* [[Richard Rorty]]
 
* [[Richard Rorty]]
 
* [[David Rosenhan]]
 
* [[David Rosenhan]]
* [[Gerhard Roth (biologist)|Gerhard Roth]]
+
{{Multicol-break}}
  +
;Proponents (further)
 
* [[Herbert Simon]]
 
* [[Herbert Simon]]
* [[Gabriel Stolzenberg]]
 
 
* [[Francisco Varela]]
 
* [[Francisco Varela]]
 
* [[Giambattista Vico]]
 
* [[Giambattista Vico]]
 
* [[Paul Watzlawick]]
 
* [[Paul Watzlawick]]
 
* [[Alexander Wendt]]
 
* [[Alexander Wendt]]
  +
;Critics
  +
* [[Michael Devitt]]
   
===Critics===
+
{{Multicol-end}}
{{col-begin}}
 
{{col-break}}
 
* [[Michael Devitt]]
 
* [[David Kenneth Johnson]]
 
* [[Robert Nola]]
 
* [[Wal Suchting]]
 
* [[David J. Weissman]]
 
{{col-break}}
 
{{col-break}}
 
{{col-end}}
 
   
== References ==
+
==References==
* [[Jean Piaget]] ([[1967]]). ''Logique et Connaissance scientifique'', Encyclopédie de la Pléiade.
+
{{reflist}}
* [[Herbert Simon]] ([[1969]]). ''[[The Sciences of the Artificial]]'' 3rd Edition MIT Press ([[1996]]).
+
* [[Paul Watzlawick]] ([[1984]]). ''Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism)'', W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition.
+
==Further reading==
* [[Edgar Morin]] [[1986]], ''La Méthode, Tome 3, La Connaissance de la connaissance''
+
* Devitt, M. 1997. Realism and Truth. Princeton University Press.
  +
* Gillett, E. 1998. "Relativism and the Social-constructivist Paradigm", Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, Vol.5, No.1, pp.&nbsp;37-48
  +
* [[Joe L. Kincheloe]] (2001) "Getting beyond the Facts: Teaching Social Studies/Social Science in the Twenty-First Century." NY: Peter Lang.
  +
* [[Joe L. Kincheloe]] (2005) "Critical Constructivism Primer." NY: Peter Lang.
  +
* [[Joe L. Kincheloe]] (2008) "Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy." Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
  +
* Kitching, G. 2008. The Trouble with Theory: The Educational Costs of Postmodernism. Penn State University Press.
  +
* Mariyani-Squire, E. 1999. "Social Constructivism: A flawed Debate over Conceptual Foundations", Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, vol.10, no.4, pp.&nbsp;97-125
  +
* Matthews, M.R. (ed.) 1998. Constructivism in Science Education: A Philosophical Examination. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  +
* [[Edgar Morin]] 1986, ''La Méthode, Tome 3, La Connaissance de la connaissance''
  +
* Nola, R. 1997. "Constructivism in Science and in Science Education: A Philosophical Critique", Science & Education vol.6, no.1-2, pp.&nbsp;55-83.
  +
* [[Jean Piaget]] (1967). ''Logique et Connaissance scientifique'', Encyclopédie de la Pléiade.
  +
* [[Herbert Simon]] (1969). ''[[The Sciences of the Artificial]]'' 3rd Edition MIT Press (1996).
  +
* Slezak, P. 2000 "A Critique of Radical Social Constructivism", in D.C. Philips, (ed.) 2000. Constructivism in Education: Opinions and Second Opinions on Controversial Issues. The University of Chicago Press.
  +
* Suchting, W.A. 1992. "Constructivism Deconstructed", Science & Education, vol.1, no.3, pp.&nbsp;223-254
  +
* [[Paul Watzlawick]] (1984). ''Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism)'', W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition.
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] (1987) ''The construction of knowledge, Contributions to conceptual semantics''.
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] (1987) ''The construction of knowledge, Contributions to conceptual semantics''.
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] (1995) ''Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning''.
 
* [[Ernst von Glasersfeld]] (1995) ''Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning''.
  +
* [[Tom Rockmore]] (2008), ''On Constructivist Epistemology''
   
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
* [http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/ Radical Constructivism]
 
* [http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/ Radical Constructivism]
 
* [http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal Constructivist Foundations] is a peer-reviewed journal which publishes papers on radical constructivism, enactivist cognitive science, second order cybernetics, and related topics.
 
* [http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal Constructivist Foundations] is a peer-reviewed journal which publishes papers on radical constructivism, enactivist cognitive science, second order cybernetics, and related topics.
*[http://robertexto.com/archivo3/ciencia_y_constructivismo.htm/ Science studies and constructivism]
 
 
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Latest revision as of 08:01, January 21, 2010

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Constructivist epistemology is an epistemological perspective in philosophy about the nature of scientific knowledge.[1] Constructivists maintain that scientific knowledge is constructed by scientists and not discovered from the world. Constructivism believes that there is no single valid methodology and there are other methodologies for social science: qualitative research.[2] It thus is opposed to positivism, which is a philosophy that holds that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on actual sense experience.

Overview Edit

Constructivism has roots in philosophy, education and social constructivism. Constructivism criticizes objectivism, which embraces the belief that a human can come to know external reality (the reality that exists beyond one's own mind). Constructivism holds the opposite view, that the only reality we can know is that which is represented by human thought (assuming a disbelief or lack of faith in a superhuman God). Reality is independent of human thought, but meaning or knowledge is always a human construction.[3]

Constructionism and constructivism are often used interchangeably. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including, race, sexuality, and gender, as well as tables, chairs and atoms are socially constructed. Kant, Garns, and Marx were among the first to suggest such an ambitious expansion of the power of ideas to inform the material realities of people's lives.[citation needed]

The expression "Constructivist epistemology" was first used by Jean Piaget, 1967, with plural form in the famous article from the "Encyclopédie de la Pléiade" Logique et Connaissance scientifique or "Logic and Scientific knowledge", an important text for epistemology. He refers directly to the mathematician Brouwer and his radical constructivism.

Moreover, in 1967, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann published The Social Construction of Reality, which has initiated social constructionism.

HistoryEdit

Constructivism has many roots:

  • The thought of Greek philosophers such as Heraclitus (Everything flows, nothing stands still), Protagoras (Man is the measure of all things). Protagoras is clearly represented by Plato and hence the tradition as a relativist. The Pyrrhonist sceptics have also been so interpreted. (Although this is more contentious.)
  • After the Renaissance and the enlightenment, with the phenomenology and the event, Kant gives a decisive contradiction to Cartesians’ epistemology that has grown since Descartes despite Giambattista Vico calls in "La scienza nuova" (the new science) in 1708 reminding that "the norm of the truth is to have made it".
  • The Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment's universalist tendencies involved an emphasis on the separate natures of races, species, sexes and types of human[citation needed].
  • Gaston Bachelard, who is known for his physics psychoanalysis and the definition of an "epistemologic obstacle" that can disturb a changing of scientific paradigm as the one that occurred between classical mechanics and Einstein’s relativism, opens the teleological way with "The meditation on the object takes the form of the project". In the following famous saying, he insists that the ways in which questions are posed determines the trajectory of scientific movement, before summarizing "nothing is given, all is constructed" : "And, irrespective of what one might assume, in the life of a science, problems do not arise by themselves. It is precisely this that marks out a problem as being of the true scientific spirit: all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed.", Gaston Bachelard (La formation de l'esprit scientifique, 1934). While quantum mechanics is starting to grow, Gaston Bachelard makes a call for a new science in Le Nouvel Esprit scientifique (The new scientific spirit).
  • Paul Valéry, French poet (20th c.) reminds us of the importance of representations and action: "We have always sought explanations when it was only representations that we could seek to invent", "My hand feels touched as well as it touches; reality says this, and nothing more".
  • This link with action, which could be called a "philosophy of action", was well represented by Spanish poet Antonio Machado: Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
  • Ludwik Fleck establishes scientific constructivism by introducing the notions of thought collective (Denkkollektiv), and thought style (Denkstil), through which the evolution of science is much more understandable, because the research objects can be described in terms of the assumptions (thought style) that are shared for practical but also inherently social reasons, or just because any thought collective tends to preserve itself. These notions have been drawn upon by Thomas Kuhn.
  • Norbert Wiener gives another defense of teleology in 1943 "Behavior, intention and teleology" and is one of the creators of cybernetics.
  • Jean Piaget, after the creation in 1955 of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva, first uses the expression "constructivist epistemologies" (see above). According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget is "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing" (in An Exposition of Constructivism: Why Some Like it Radical, 1990) and "the most prolific constructivist in our century" (in Aspects of Radical Constructivism, 1996).
  • Herbert Simon called « The sciences of the artificial » these new sciences (cybernetics, cognitive sciences, decision and organisation sciences) that, because of the abstraction of their object (information, communication, decision), cannot match with the classical epistemology and its experimental method and refutability.
  • Gregory Bateson and his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972).
  • Heinz von Foerster, invited by Jean Piaget, presented "Objects: tokens for (Eigen-)behaviours" in 1976 in Geneva at a Genetic Epistemology Symposium, a text that would become a reference for constructivist epistemology.
  • Paul Watzlawick, who supervised in 1984 the publication of Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism).
  • Ernst von Glasersfeld, who has promoted since the end of the 70s radical constructivism (see below).
  • Edgar Morin and his book La Méthode (1977-2004, six volumes).
  • Mioara Mugur-Schächter who is also a quantum mechanics specialist.
  • Jean-Louis Le Moigne for his encyclopedic work on constructivist epistemology and his General Systems theory (see "Le Moigne's Defense of Constructivism" by Ernst von Glasersfeld).

Constructivism's concepts and ideasEdit

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The common thread among all forms of constructivism is that they do not focus on an ontological reality, but instead on a constructed reality.[citation needed] Indeed, a basic presupposition of constructivism is that Reality-As-It-Is-In-Itself (Ontological Reality) is utterly incoherent as a concept, since there is no way to verify how one has finally reached a definitive notion of Reality. Thus constructivism shows itself to confuse epistemology with ontology. Talk of verification in this connection is beside the point. According to constructivism, one must already have Reality in mind—that is, one must already know what Reality consists of—in order to confirm when one has at last "hit bottom." Richard Rorty has said that all claims to Realism can be reduced to intuition (Consequences of Pragmatism, chs. 9, 11). The Realist/Anti-Realist debate can be reduced, in the end, to a conflict of intuitions: "It seems to us that..." vs "Well, it seems to us that..." A realist would not like to construe the argument in this way, and would say that one of these is misled, that one group perceives correctly, and the other perceives incorrectly. Strict constructivists will complain that there is no way to confirm one way or another, since the goal of inquiry (Reality) must be assumed to be understood at the outset. The Realist hope, in a constructivist view, is simply to arbitrarily freeze the infinite circularity that plagues human reasoning which vainly hopes to validate itself with a secure foundation.

Constructivism proposes new definitions for knowledge and truth that forms a new paradigm, based on inter-subjectivity instead of the classical objectivity and viability instead of truth. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic as Vico said: "the truth is to have made it".[citation needed]

In this paradigm, "sciences of the artificial" (see Herbert Simon) as cybernetics, automatics or decision theory, management and engineering sciences can justify their teaching and have a space in the academy as "real sciences".

Constructivism and sciencesEdit

Social constructivism in sociologyEdit

Main article: Social constructionism

One version of social constructivism contends that categories of knowledge and reality are actively created by social relationships and interactions. These interactions also alter the way in which scientific episteme is organized.

Social activity presupposes human beings inhabiting shared forms of life, and in the case of social construction, utilizing semiotic resources (meaning making and meaning signifying) with reference to social structures and institutions. Several traditions use the term Social Constructivism: psychology (after Lev Vygotsky), sociology (after Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, themselves influenced by Alfred Schütz), sociology of knowledge (David Bloor), sociology of mathematics (Sal Restivo), philosophy of mathematics (Paul Ernest). Ludwig Wittgenstein's later philosophy can be seen as a foundation for Social Constructivism, with its key theoretical concepts of language games embedded in forms of life.

Constructivism and psychologyEdit

Main article: Constructivism (psychological school)

Template:Expand section

Constructivism and educationEdit

Main article: Constructivism (learning theory)

Joe L. Kincheloe has published numerous social and educational books on critical constructivism (2001, 2005, 2008), a version of constructivist epistemology that places emphasis on the exaggerated influence of political and cultural power in the construction of knowledge, consciousness, and views of reality. In the contemporary mediated electronic era, Kincheloe argues, dominant modes of power have never exerted such influence on human affairs. Coming from a critical pedagogical perspective, Kincheloe argues that understanding a critical constructivist epistemology is central to becoming an educated person and to the institution of just social change.

Kincheloe's characteristics of critical constructivism:

  • Knowledge is socially constructed: World and information co-construct one another
  • Consciousness is a social construction
  • Political struggles: Power plays an exaggerated role in the production of knowledge and consciousness
  • The necessity of understanding consciousness—even though it does not lend itself to traditional reductionistic modes of measurability
  • The importance of uniting logic and emotion in the process of knowledge and producing knowledge
  • The inseparability of the knower and the known
  • The centrality of the perspectives of oppressed peoples—the value of the insights of those who have suffered as the result of existing social arrangements
  • The existence of multiple realities: Making sense of a world far more complex that we originally imagined
  • Becoming humble knowledge workers: Understanding our location in the tangled web of reality
  • Standpoint epistemology: Locating ourselves in the web of reality, we are better equipped to produce our own knowledges
  • Constructing practical knowledge for critical social action
  • Complexity: Overcoming reductionism
  • Knowledge is always entrenched in a larger process
  • The centrality of interpretation: Critical hermeneutics
  • The new frontier of classroom knowledge: Personal experiences intersecting with pluriversal information
  • Constructing new ways of being human: Critical ontology

Constructivism and postmodernismEdit

For some, social constructionism can be seen as a source of the postmodern movement, and has been influential in the field of cultural studies. Some have gone so far as to attribute the rise of cultural studies (the cultural turn) to social constructionism.

From a realist's point of view, both postmodernism and constructivism can be seen as relativist theories.

Constructivist trendsEdit

Cultural constructivism
Cultural constructivism asserts that knowledge and reality are a product of their cultural context, meaning that two independent cultures will likely form different observational methodologies. For instance, Western cultures generally rely on objects for scientific descriptions; by contrast, Native American culture relies on events for descriptions. These are two distinct ways of constructing reality based on external artifacts.
Radical constructivism
Ernst von Glasersfeld is a prominent proponent of radical constructivism, which claims that knowledge is the self-organized cognitive process of the human brain. That is, the process of constructing knowledge regulates itself, and since knowledge is a construct rather than a compilation of empirical data, it is impossible to know the extent to which knowledge reflects an ontological reality.
See also: Francisco Varela, Humberto Maturana, and Heinz von Foerster
Critical constructivism
A series of articles published in the journal Critical Inquiry (1991) served as a manifesto for the movement of critical constructivism in various disciplines, including the natural sciences. Not only truth and reality, but also "evidence", "document", "experience", "fact", "proof", and other central categories of empirical research (in physics, biology, statistics, history, law, etc.) reveal their contingent character as a social and ideological construction. Thus, a "realist" or "rationalist" interpretation is subjected to criticism. Kincheloe's political and pedagogical notion (above) has emerged as a central articulation of the concept.
While recognizing the constructedness of reality, many representatives of this critical paradigm deny philosophy the task of the creative construction of reality. They eagerly criticize realistic judgments, but they do not move beyond analytic procedures based on subtle tautologies. They thus remain in the critical paradigm and consider it to be a standard of scientific philosophy per se.
Genetic epistemology
James Mark Baldwin invented this expression, which was later popularized by Jean Piaget. From 1955 to 1980, Piaget was Director of the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva.

QuotationsEdit

"the norm of the truth is to have made it," or
"the true is precisely what is made"
"the true and the made are convertible"
  • Et, quoi qu’on en dise, dans la vie scientifique, les problèmes ne se posent pas d’eux-mêmes. C’est précisément ce sens du problème qui donne la marque du véritable esprit scientifique. Pour un esprit scientifique, toute connaissance est une réponse à une question. S’il n’y a pas eu de question, il ne peut y avoir de connaissance scientifique. Rien ne va de soi. Rien n’est donné. Tout est construit, Gaston Bachelard (La formation de l'esprit scientifique, 1934)
"And, irrespective of what one might assume, in the life of a science, problems do not arise by themselves. It is precisely this that marks out a problem as being of the true scientific spirit: all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed."
  • On a toujours cherché des explications quand c’était des représentations qu’on pouvait seulement essayer d’inventer, Paul Valéry
"We have always sought explanations when it was only representations that we could seek to invent"
  • Ma main se sent touchée aussi bien qu’elle touche ; réel veut dire cela, et rien de plus, Paul Valéry
"My hand feels touched as well as it touches; that's reality, and nothing more"
  • Intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself, Jean Piaget in "La construction du réel chez l'enfant" (1937)
  • "If the natives are in different worlds, how come we can shoot them?" Stephen Stich

Criticisms Edit

Numerous criticisms have been leveled at Constructivist epistemology. The most common one is that it either explicitly advocates or implicitly reduces to relativism. This is because it takes the concept of truth to be a socially "constructed" (and thereby socially relative) one. This leads to the charge of self-refutation: if what is to be regarded as "true" is relative to a particular social formation, then this very conception of truth must itself be only regarded as being "true" in this society. In another social formation, it may well be false. If so, then social constructivism itself would be false in that social formation. Further, one could then say that social constructivism could be both true and false simultaneously.

Another criticism of constructivism is that it holds that the concepts of two different social formations be entirely different and incommensurate. This being the case, it is impossible to make comparative judgements about statements made according to each worldview. This is because the criteria of judgement will themselves have to be based on some worldview or other. If this is the case, then it brings into question how communication between them about the truth or falsity of any given statement could be established.

Social Constructivists[attribution needed] often argue that constructivism is liberating because it either (1) enables oppressed groups to reconstruct "the World" in accordance with their own interests rather than according to the interests of dominant groups in society, or (2) compels people to respect the alternative worldviews of oppressed groups because there is no way of judging them to be inferior to dominant worldviews. As the Wittgensteinian philosopher Gavin Kitching[4] argues, however, constructivists usually implicitly presuppose a deterministic view of language which severely constrains the minds and use of words by members of societies: they are not just "constructed" by language on this view, but are literally "determined" by it. Kitching notes the contradiction here: somehow the advocate of constructivism is not similarly constrained. While other individuals are controlled by the dominant concepts of society, the advocate of constructivism can transcend these concepts and see though them. A similar point is made by Edward Mariyani-Squire[5]

even if Social Constructivism were true, there is nothing necessarily liberating about entities being socially constructed. There is not necessarily any political advantage to be gained by thinking of Nature as a social construction if, as a political agent, one is systematically trapped, marginalised and subdued by means of social construction. Further to this general theme, when one looks at much Social Constructivist discourse (especially that informed by Michel Foucault), one finds something of a bifurcation between the theorist and the non-theorist. The theorist always plays the role of the constructor of discourses, while the non-theorist plays the role of the subject who is constructed in a quite deterministic fashion. This has a strong resonance with the point already made about solipsistic theism - here the theorist, conceptually anyway, “plays God” with his/her subject (whatever or whoever that may be). In short, while it is often assumed that Social Constructivism implies flexibility and indeterminism, there is no logical reason why one cannot treat social constructions as fatalistic.

See alsoEdit


ReferencesEdit

  1. Routledge 2000. Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  2. Schofield, L. Critical Theory and Constructivism
  3. Crotty, M. (1998). The Foundations of Social Science Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process.
  4. Kitching, G. 2008. The Trouble with Theory: The Educational Costs of Postmodernism. Penn State University Press.
  5. Mariyani-Squire, E. 1999. "Social Constructivism: A flawed Debate over Conceptual Foundations", Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, vol.10, no.4, pp.97-125

Further readingEdit

  • Devitt, M. 1997. Realism and Truth. Princeton University Press.
  • Gillett, E. 1998. "Relativism and the Social-constructivist Paradigm", Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, Vol.5, No.1, pp. 37-48
  • Joe L. Kincheloe (2001) "Getting beyond the Facts: Teaching Social Studies/Social Science in the Twenty-First Century." NY: Peter Lang.
  • Joe L. Kincheloe (2005) "Critical Constructivism Primer." NY: Peter Lang.
  • Joe L. Kincheloe (2008) "Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy." Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
  • Kitching, G. 2008. The Trouble with Theory: The Educational Costs of Postmodernism. Penn State University Press.
  • Mariyani-Squire, E. 1999. "Social Constructivism: A flawed Debate over Conceptual Foundations", Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, vol.10, no.4, pp. 97-125
  • Matthews, M.R. (ed.) 1998. Constructivism in Science Education: A Philosophical Examination. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Edgar Morin 1986, La Méthode, Tome 3, La Connaissance de la connaissance
  • Nola, R. 1997. "Constructivism in Science and in Science Education: A Philosophical Critique", Science & Education vol.6, no.1-2, pp. 55-83.
  • Jean Piaget (1967). Logique et Connaissance scientifique, Encyclopédie de la Pléiade.
  • Herbert Simon (1969). The Sciences of the Artificial 3rd Edition MIT Press (1996).
  • Slezak, P. 2000 "A Critique of Radical Social Constructivism", in D.C. Philips, (ed.) 2000. Constructivism in Education: Opinions and Second Opinions on Controversial Issues. The University of Chicago Press.
  • Suchting, W.A. 1992. "Constructivism Deconstructed", Science & Education, vol.1, no.3, pp. 223-254
  • Paul Watzlawick (1984). Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Believe We Know? (Contributions to constructivism), W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition.
  • Ernst von Glasersfeld (1987) The construction of knowledge, Contributions to conceptual semantics.
  • Ernst von Glasersfeld (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning.
  • Tom Rockmore (2008), On Constructivist Epistemology

External linksEdit


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