Seven unknown letters from 1823 to 1831 are published. The famous discoverer of the mammal's egg and founder of the modern embryology KarlErnst von Baer (1792â1876), born as a German in Estonia and then anatomist and zoologist at KÃ¶nigsberg University, wrote them to his publisher Ludwig F. Froriep in Weimar and his son and successor. Robert F. Baer offered his co-work with a dictionary of natural history (which he criticized), he proposed a map of all (...) research voyages everywhere in the world, and he sent a few small papers about local birds. To Robert F. Baer gave some recommendations concerning his career; he asked for details of a death elephant, and he told that they were awaiting the cholera. (shrink)
Se editan los textos centrales de la conferencia pronunciada en 1860 por K. E. y. Baer, según la rara edición que hizo de la misma en ¡862. Su mostración imaginativa de lo diferente que sería nuestra representación de la realidad natural con el USO de otros cánones espacio-temporales, puede volver a interesar hoy, sobre todo, al llamado Constructivismo,Zentrale Texte des Vortrages von 1860, den It E. y. Baer lii Petesbrug hielt, nach der seltenen Ausgabe von 1862, sowie ibre (...) spanische Ubersetzung sind hier herausgegeben. Seine imaginative Darstellung der ganz verschiedenen Auffasung der Natur nach der Veránderung des Raum-Zeit-Mai3stabes gelten jinmer noch als Anregung ciner fruchtbaren Reflexion, tiberhaupt in Zeiten des sogenannten Konstruktivismus. (shrink)
Ein Amoralist ist jemand, der nicht motiviert ist, das zu tun, was er als moralisch erforderlich erkennt, und der dennoch nicht praktisch irrational ist. Die Frage, ob und in welcher Weise es so etwas wie einen Amoralisten geben kann, wird dann relevant, wenn es darum geht zu entscheiden, welche Formen des moralischen Skeptizismus ernst zu nehmen sind. Mehr noch: Diese Frage ist von entscheidender Bedeutung für das Schicksal des metaethischen Naturalismus. Der Autor analysiert in seinem Beitrag, in welchem Sinne (...) von einem Amoralisten gesprochen werden kann. Dabei wird deutlich, dass beträchtlicher Raum für einen moralischen Skeptizismus bleibt. Der metaethische Naturalist steht jedoch vor einem ernsthaften Problem. (shrink)
Purpose: Appreciating the relationship between Sylvio Ceccato and Ernst von Glasersfeld, both as people and in their work. Approach: historical and personal accounts, archeological approach to written evidence. Findings: Ceccato’s work is introduced to an English speaking audience, and the roots of Glasersfeld’s work in Ceccato’s is explored. Flaws in Ceccato’s approach are indicated, together with how Glasersfeld’s work overcomes these, specially in language and automatic translation, and what became Radical Constructivism. Conclusion: Glasersfeld willingly acknowledges Ceccato, who he still (...) refers to as the Master. But Ceccato’s work is little known, specially in the English speaking world. The introduction, critique and delineation of extension and resolution of Ceccato’s ideas in Glasersfeld’s work is the intended value of the paper. (shrink)
Thomas Henry Huxley designated three men as the finest intellects of 19th century natural history: his dear friend Charles Darwin; his most worthy opponent Georges Cuvier; and KarlErnst von Baer, who discovered the mammalian egg cell in 1827 and wrote the founding treatise of modern embryology in 1828. Of these three, posterity has largely forgotten von Baer, who suffered a severe mental breakdown in the 1830's, but then recovered and moved to Russia (not uncommon for (...) a German-speaking Estonian national), where he enjoyed a distinguished second university career, largely in anthropology and lasting well into the 1870's. (shrink)
Research into learners' ideas about science suggests that students often have alternative conceptions about important science concepts. Because of this dissatisfaction, constructivism has been adopted as a theoretical framework by many teachers and researchers, and it has had a curricular influence in many countries. Constructivism is much more than an educational doctrine and we are aware that a ‘science war’ about the possibility of objectivity is in progress. ‘Constructivism’ cannot necessary be a package deal: it must be possible to accept (...) educational suggestions deemed useful without buying all the epistemology or the metaphysical implications. The claim that cognitive agents understand the world by constructing mental representations of it can be a shared suggestion for changing science instruction. Many teachers are much more concerned in finding productive teaching methods than about philosophical questions as if knowledge must be considered an objective representation of the real world or not. We have to ponder if some ideas from the constructivist theory of instruction can help instructors to become better teachers. The pragmatic suggestions that come from the constructivist theory of instruction developed by von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of radical constructivism, could be a good start in this␣search. (shrink)
Mit seinem Einfluß auf die Entwicklung der Physiologie, Physik und Geometrie ist Hermann von Helmholtz wie kaum ein anderer Wissenschaftler der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts repräsentativ für die Naturforschung in Deutschland. Nicht weniger repräsentativ nimmt sich die Entwicklung seiner Wissenschaftsauffassung aus. Während er bis in die späten 60er Jahre einen emphatischen Wahrheitsanspruch der Wissenschaft vertrat, begann er in der nachfolgenden Zeit, die Geltungsbedingungen der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis einer Relativierung zu unterwerfen, die zusammenfassend als Hypothetisierung bezeichnet werden kann. Helmholtz entwickelte damit (...) schon im vergangenen Jahrhundert Ansätze einer Wissenschaftsauffassung , die in erstaunlichem Umfang in die Richtung der Moderne weisen. Wie nah er späteren Wissenschaftsauffassungen bereits gekommen ist, kann ein Vergleich mit Karl R. Poppers Forschungslogik illustrieren. In seiner Forschungslogik ist die Hypothetisierung der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis entschieden weiter vorangeschritten als in Heimholtz' Wissenschaftstheorie. Was sich bei Helmholtz erst vage abzuzeichnen beginnt, ist bei ihm bereits explizit formuliertes Programm geworden. Obwohl HeImholtz und Popper in keiner direkten wissenschaftstheoretischen Entwicklungslinie stehen und Popper sich in seinen Schriften auch nur sehr selten und beiläufig auf Helmholtz bezieht, finden sich dennoch überraschende und bisher nicht beachtete Berührungspunkte, die insbesondere dann hervortreten, wenn man Heimholtz' Wissenschaftsauffassung vor dem Hintergrund von Poppers Forschungslogik betrachtet. (shrink)
In 1967, American biologist Adrian Wenner (1928-) launched an extensive challenge to Karl von Frisch's (1886-1982) theory that bees communicate to each other the direction and distance of food sources by a symbolic dance language. Wenner and various collaborators argued that bees locate foods solely by odors. Although the dispute had largely run its course by 1973 -- von Frisch was awarded a Nobel Prize, while Wenner withdrew from active bee research -- it offers us a rare window into (...) mid-twentieth century discussions about animals, language, and cognition. Historians, sociologists, and scientists have commented on the debate and its outcome, but none has seriously questioned why von Frisch and Wenner pursued such different explanations of the bees' dances. In this paper, I explore von Frisch and Wenner's differing visions of animals and their behaviors and show how these contributed to their respective positions. Von Frisch's early-twentieth-century training in experimental physiology disposed him to focus on individual animals, their abilities, and their behaviors' evolutionary significance. Wenner, by contrast, was trained in mathematics and statistics and the Schneirla school of behavior. He viewed the bees' behaviors probabilistically with an eye toward the entire hive and its surroundings and ultimately explained them in terms of simple stimulus--response conditioning. Finally, while the debate was resolved in von Frisch's favor, he neither waged nor won the battle by himself. Instead, I show that practitioners, whose agendas ranged from the nascent fields of sociobiology to cognitive ethology, took up the cause of the communicating bees. (shrink)
With his influence on the development of physiology, physics and geometry, Hermann von Helmholtz – like few scientists of the second half of the 19th century – is representative of the research in natural science in Germany. The development of his understanding of science is not less representative. Until the late sixties, he emphatically claimed the truth of science; later on, he began to see the conditions for the validity of scientific knowledge in relative terms, and this can, in summary, (...) be referred to as hypothesizing. Already in the past century, HeImholtz made first approaches to an understanding of science, which were incompatible with his own former position and which pointed to the modern age to an astonishingly large extent. A comparison with Karl R. Popper's logic of research will illustrate how closely he nevertheless approached modern understanding of science. In Popper's logic of research, hypothesizing of scientific knowledge is definitely much more advanced than in Helmholtz's theory of science. What begins vaguely to emerge with Helmholtz has already become an explicitly formulated programme with Popper. Although HeImholtz and Popper are not on a direct line of epistemological development and Popper refers to HeImholtz only rarely and casually, there are in fact surprising points of contact which have not been taken notice of so far and which appear above all if one looks at Helmholtz's understanding of science against the background of Popper's logic of research. (shrink)
I shall write about my first meeting with Ernst von Glasersfeld, and how his comments then on my doctoral study continue to help me clarify what it is I am trying to talk about; how he challenged me to pursue what has turned out to be my life’s work so far; and about how these seem to me now to fit in with that constellation of ideas.
In this essay Clarence Joldersma explores radical constructivism through the work of its most well-known advocate, Ernst von Glasersfeld, who combines a sophisticated philosophical discussion of knowledge and truth with educational practices. Joldersma uses Joseph Rouse's work in philosophy of science to criticize the antirealism inherent in radical constructivism, emphasizing that Rouse's Heideggerian critique differs from the standard realist defense of modernist epistemology. Next, Joldersma develops an alternative conception of truth, in terms of disclosure, based on Lambert Zuidervaart's work (...) in aesthetics. Joldersma concludes by arguing that this notion of truth avoids the pitfalls of both realism and antirealism, giving educational theorists a way forward to accept some of the major insights of constructivism with respect to learning and teaching without having to relinquish a robust notion of truth. (shrink)
Constructivism rejects the metaphysical position that “truth”, and thus knowledge in science, can represent an “objective” reality, independent of the knower. It modifies the role of knowledge from “true” representation to functional viability. In this interview, Ernst von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of Radical Constructivism underlines the inaccessibility of reality, and proposes his view that the function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense: the adaptation is the result of the elimination of all that is not adapted. There (...) is no rational way of knowing anything outside the domain of our experience and we construct our world of experiences. In addition to these philosophical claims, the interviewee provides some personal insights; he also gives some suggestions about better teaching and problem solving. These are the aspects of constructivism that have had a major impact on instruction and have modified the manner many of us teach. The process of teaching as linguistic communication, he says, needs to change in a way to involve actively the students in the construction of their knowledge. Because knowledge is not a transferable commodity, learning is mainly identified with the activity of the construction of personal meaning. This interview also provides glimpses on von Glasersfeld’s life. (shrink)
Purpose: Ernst von Glasersfeld has dedicated a lot of effort to trying to define just where his views and those of his friend Humberto Maturana part company, epistemologically speaking (Glasersfeld 1991, 2001). As a contribution to unravelling this puzzle I propose in this article to delineate just where they seem to differ most and why these differences arise. Approach: Part of my contribution is to propose drawing a distinction between von Glasersfeld's Radical Constructivism as the last viable outpost of (...) constructivism before entering into the domain of solipsism, in contrast to Maturana's position which is saved from being located within the solipsistic domain by virtue of his ideas on "structure determined systems" and his theory of how language arises in human experience. Findings: Von Glasersfeld's puzzle arises due to what Kant called "transcendental illusion," that is, the error of trying to encompass two mutually untranslatable phenomenal domains within the same language framework. Conclusion: After an examination of some of the crucial differences between von Glasersfeld and Maturana I typify Maturana's positioning as that of "radical realism" in contrast to von Glasersfeld's "radical constructivism.". (shrink)
First paragraph: In the 1980s I went through a phase of writing limericks during idle moments when I lacked something to read. The result was a set of 27 limericks about cybernetics (Umpleby 1992). I occasionally use the limericks in class to restate a theoretical point. Limericks bring a smile and demonstrate that cybernetics can be approached in a variety of ways. Below are three limericks from this collection. The last was written by Ernst von Glasersfeld. It seems (...) class='Hi'>Ernst believed that I was overly concerned with "reality" as opposed to perception, or at least that I had not captured the point that he was trying to make. (shrink)
Problem: What is it that Ernst von Glasersfeld brought to mathematics education with radical constructivism? Method: Key ideas in the author’s early thinking are related to ideas that are central in constructivism, with the aim of showing their importance in math education. Results: The author’s initial thinking about constructivism began with Toulmin’s view of thinking as evolving. Ernst showed how Piaget’s genetic epistemology implied an epistemology that was not about ontology. Continuing with an analysis of the way radical (...) and trivial constructivism were received by the mathematics education community, implications of Ernst’s ideas are considered. Implications: These include the need to consider major changes in ways content is introduced to children, to consider carefully the language used to describe children’s emerging mathematical ideas, and to consider new conjectures and also how we think about the foundations of mathematics. Ultimately the value of RC is the way it reinspires belief in the possibility and importance of human growth. (shrink)
Context: Ernst von Glasersfeld collaborated with the Italian Operational School from the early 1960s when the project on the mechanization of higher human activities began. Problem: To analyze the cognitive processes in terms of a mnemonic-attentional dynamic and to study every thought content in light of the interdependence between observer and observed. Method: The project comprised two research areas: the linguistic translation, in which von Glasersfeld participated; and the semantic analysis of words, in which I participated. The common basis (...) was the analysis of attentional dynamisms. This allowed the syntactic complexity of a sentence to be transferred to the correlational structure of the thought. The semantic analysis, especially of the observational words, was based on the attentional dynamisms used for the categorization, perception, and representation processes. Results: The analysis of visual processes led to the “constitutive structures.” These structures allowed me to establish an operative didactic based on the awareness of mental operations. Implications: The comparison between von Glasersfeld’s and my experiences revealed the equivalence of some analyses, which was due to the common presumption that the experiential units depend on the operation performed by the perceiver. (shrink)
Context: The constructivist approach to the definition (or analysis) of the fundamental meanings of language in Ernst von Glasersfeld’s work. Problem: Has this approach achieved better results than other approaches? Method: Review of a book chapter by von Glasersfeld that is devoted to the analysis of the concepts of “unity,” “plurality” and “number.” Results: The constructivist approach to the semantics of the fundamental elements of language (some of which are fundamental for sciences too) seems to have produced positive results; (...) moreover these are in a field where other approaches have produced results that do not objectively seem satisfactory. (shrink)
Problem: Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism has been highly influential in the fields of mathematics and science education. However, its relevance is typically limited to analyses of classroom interactions and students’ reasoning. Methods: A project that aims to support improvements in the quality of mathematics instruction across four large urban districts is framed as a case with which to illustrate the far-reaching consequences of von Glasersfeld’s constructivism for mathematics and science educators. Results: Von Glasersfeld’s constructivism orients us to question (...) the standard view of policy implementation as a process of travel down through a system and to conceptualize it instead as the situated reorganization of practice at multiple levels of a system. In addition, von Glasersfeld’s constructivism orients us to understand rather than merely evaluate policies by viewing the actions of the targets of policies as reasonable from their point of view. Implications: The potential contributions of von Glasersfeld’s constructivism to mathematics and science education have been significantly underestimated by restricting the focus to classroom actions and interactions. The illustrative case of research on the application of these ideas also indicates the relevance of constructivism to researchers in educational policy and educational leadership. (shrink)
Context: During the 1980s, Ernst von Glasersfeld’s reflections nourished various studies conducted by a community of mathematics education researchers at CIRADE, Quebec, Canada. Problem: What are his influence on and contributions to the center’s rich climate of development? We discuss the fecundity of von Glasersfeld’s ideas for the CIRADE researchers’ community, specifically in didactique des mathématiques. Furthermore, we take a prospective view and address some challenges that new, post-CIRADE mathematics education researchers are confronted with that are related to interpretations (...) of and reactions to constructivism by the surrounding community. Results: Von Glasersfeld’s contribution still continues today, with a new generation of researchers in mathematics education that have inherited views and ideas related to constructivism. For the post-CIRADE research community, the concepts and epistemology that von Glasersfeld put forward still need to be developed further, in particular concepts such as subjectivity, viability, the circular interpretative effect, representations, the nature of knowing, errors, and reality. Implications: Radical constructivism’s offspring resides within the concepts and epistemology put forth, and that continue to be put forth, through a large number of new and different generations of theories, thereby perpetuating von Glasersfeld’s legacy. (shrink)
Upshot: Paul Braffort was in charge of the research department GRISA (Groupe de Recherches sur l’Information Scientifique Automatique) in EURATOM when Ernst von Glasersfeld joined Silvio Ceccato’s group in the early 1960s. With these responsibilities he provided the initial funding for the work on language analysis that later Ernst brought to the US. In his essay Braffort describes von Glasersfeld’s professional involvements in France and Italy.
Upshot: Richard Michod is professor and head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. He met Ernst von Glasersfeld at the University of Georgia and was a member of the Thursday evening epistemology seminar group. In his essay he recalls the discussions he had with Ernst on the nature of evolution and adaptation.
Context: The paper utilizes a conceptual analysis to examine the development of abstract conceptual structures in mathematical problem solving. In so doing, we address two questions: 1. How have the ideas of RC influenced our own educational theory? and 2. How has our application of the ideas of RC helped to improve our understanding of the connection between teaching practice and students’ learning processes? Problem: The paper documents how Ernst von Glasersfeld’s view of mental representation can be illustrated in (...) the context of mathematical problem solving and used to explain the development of conceptual structure in mathematical problem solving. We focus on how acts of mental re‑presentation play a vital role in the gradual internalization and interiorization of solution activity. Method: A conceptual analysis of the actions of a college student solving a set of algebra problems was conducted. We focus on the student’s problem solving actions, particularly her emerging and developing reflections about her solution activity. The interview was videotaped and written transcripts of the solver’s verbal responses were prepared. Results: The analysis of the solver’s solution activity focused on identifying and describing her cognitive actions in resolving genuinely problematic situations that she faced while solving the tasks. The results of the analysis included a description of the increasingly abstract levels of conceptual knowledge demonstrated by the solver. Implications: The results suggest a framework for an explanation of problem solving that is activity-based, and consistent with von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivist view of knowledge. The impact of von Glasersfeld’s ideas in mathematics education is discussed. (shrink)
Purpose: The paper provides an overview of Ernst von Glasersfeld's life and theory, concentrating on subjects such as the acquisition of knowledge, language and communication, ethical questions, and aspects of teaching and learning. Conclusion: Ernst von Glasersfeld interests cover a wide range of disciplines. Therefore his work is genuinely rooted in interdisciplinarity.
Problem: While the elaboration and framing of constructivist epistemologies in keeping with the “currents of contemporary scientific epistemology” can be attributed to Jean Piaget, their development under the banner of radical constructivist epistemology is a result of the epistemological work of Ernst von Glasersfeld. The development of this epistemological paradigm, pursued over the last 40 years with the objective of “linking knowledge to action and situating the subject and the object on the same, multiple levels,” warrants further exploration and (...) contextualization within the framework of current scientific activity. Results: In what amounts to a historical coincidence, von Glasersfeld discovered the work of Piaget in 1973, the same year that the author of this article first began to read Piaget’s Epistemological Studies; this coincidence provides a starting point for describing the epistemological itinerary that led the author from a reading of Piaget in 1973 to a somewhat tardy reading of von Glasersfeld in 1988 . He then explicates the subsequent developments of this paradigmatic conjunction over the last 30 years, interpreting them in the contexts of contemporary developments of scientific and operational interdisciplinarity as well as in terms of historical roots extending from Leonardo da Vinci to Paul Valéry. Implications: The paradigm of constructivist epistemologies can be presented and supported with arguments that are at least as solid and legitimate as those invoked in favor of alternative paradigms of realist and post-positivist epistemologies. (shrink)