Burl Grey 1-1-02013
CONSTRUCTIVISM
and
RESPONSIBILITY
A UNITY
*   In our embodiment and perceptions, it's necessary to distinguish between the ideas of Space and Time.
We deeply know that one without the other is not just impossible, but absurd.
I also claim the same exact relationship between Constructivism and Responsibility = A Unity

|Part 1|

      First, trying to avoid polemic excess, I set a minimal perspective frame for the rise and significance of constructivism, and some references for deeper and wider explorations.
      The 20th Century has seen exponential growth of virtually everything from population and knowledge, to technology and entropy.
Fatefully, with the explosive growth of science when quantum mechanics and relativity were forming around 1900, the physicists were stunned to find long accepted meanings of the reality of material substance, accepted for millennia, inexplicably and deeply undermined!

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As these radical new experimental facts were confirmed, they enabled us to make stuff like atom bombs, transistors, Grocking the very fabric of experience as a constructivist, is like reversing what man has done for thousands of years... assuming an objective world which is the center of the universe. That one part of this is today easy, maybe a clue about what needs to be understood.
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      As these radical new experimental facts were confirmed, they enabled us to make stuff like atom bombs, transistors, and terabyte thumb drives.
Grokking* the very fabric of experience as a constructivist, is like reversing what man has done for thousands of years... assuming an objective world which is the center of the universe. That one part of this is today easy, maybe a clue about what needs to be understood.
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'a bridge too far' for most souls. But remember that Ptolemy ruled for millennia and I’m not arrogant enough to say it could not happen 'us', the cognoscenti ^o^!
     The fact is that physical science has now proved not only that "things are not what they seem" but, at base, ultimately incomprehensible for the embodied human mind.
See Richard Feynman quote. No one can understand quantum mechanics.
In 1900, Max Planck in desperation, abandoned received belief at the time to achieve a transformative insight enabling physicists to perform today's marvels with today's advanced mathematics. We only know that quantum mechanics enable us to do stuff never before possible.

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      Planck tried a mathematical trick. He presumed that the light wasn't really a continuous wave as everyone assumed, but perhaps could exist with only specific amounts, or "quanta," of energy. Planck didn't really believe this was true about light, in fact he later referred to this math gimmick as "an act of desperation." But with this adjustment, the equations worked, accurately describing the box's radiation."

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      I believe today's situation suffers analogously; within the frame of dominant perceptions where we see the world as fixed, objective and ready-made for us to discover, we could switch to the simple fact that In 1924 Korzybski wrote: ”...all man can know is a joint phenomenon of the observer and the observed” I read his 1933 - 800 book “Science and Sanity” in 1948 but never had the name constructivism nor heard the justifications until the 1980s.
     I offer more references below about ways of knowing but I prefer the umbrella name of Constructivism, exhaustively referenced below. My intellectual community (http//:www.asc-cybernetics.org) has not yet negotiated one 'name' to cover the current range of ideas used by central players.

|Part 2|

     New epistemological insights are emerging as the inevitable evolution of language forms accelerate. I suggest Klaus Krippendorff's 2009 book ON COMMUNICATING On page 217 we read the heading: ”Discourse as Systematically Constrained Conversation"
      "Over the last forty years, a slow epistemological revolution has been taking place... in philosophy... it realizes language not merely as a reflection of reality, a simple medium of representation, but as constitutive of reality."
Krippendorff as a modern master will (if you are a serious explorer) take you on a great trip as he pulls diverse threads together from scholars like Wittgenstein, Rorty, Searle, Glasersfeld, Maturana and Varela to name a few I admire.

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      Now, I offer you a much easier, softer and wider canvas performed by a well respected scholar Ian Hacking" The social construction of what?"
I find he misses crucial distinctions but I include him for the didactic reason a reviewer says: "The reasoned and reasonable examination of the many constructionist positions make it particularly useful for those whose realist bias makes it impossible for them to peruse an actual constructionist text.
Hacking understands that the debate goes much deeper than this, but his overview of the nominal issues is also a valuable contribution to the raging debate. Recommended for any and all interested in the science/culture wars."
      Richard Rorty Here's a review of Hacking (from the above site in the Atlantic magazine) by a favorite writer of mine.
      Hacking's book is an admirable example of both useful debunking and thoughtful and original philosophizing -- an unusual combination of good sense and technical sophistication. After he has said his say about the science wars, Hacking concludes with fascinating essays on, among other things, fashions in mental disease, the possible genesis of dolomitic rock from the activity of nanobacteria, government financing of weapons research, and the much-discussed question of whether the Hawaiians thought Captain Cook was a god. In each he makes clear the contingency of the questions scientists find themselves asking, and the endless complexity of the considerations that lead them to ask one question rather than another. The result helps the reader see how little light is shed on actual scientific controversies by either traditionalist triumphalists or postmodernist unmaskers.”

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     Here is Ernst von Glasersfeld with, what I believe, the best introductory basic paper on Radical Constructivism.
‘Objectivity is the delusion that observations could be made without an observer’. This von Forester quote is on page 7 and page 11, the last paragraph, Glasersfeld makes for me the salient point about Responsibility which I find warrants a crucial and essential rationale and role for advocating constructivist language that ineluctably includes responsibility. My emphasis:

     It is clear that fundamentalists, who claim to possess the one and only ‘truth’, cannot abide such a notion. And among the scientifically minded the reluctance may spring from the fact that to see the construction of theories as based on autonomous abductions and conceptual assimilation brings with it the realization that the responsibility for the gained knowledge lies with the constructor. It cannot be shifted to a pre-existing world. This deprives scientists of the comforting belief that what they do, can simply be justified as steps necessary for the growth of knowledge. The awareness that it is they who are responsible for their theoretical models and thus at least to some extent for actions based on them, might change the widely held belief that the direction of scientific research must not be fettered by ethical considerations."

     And here is Glasersfeld's definitive book on the subject. Radical Constructivism

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     This is inventing reality Bruce Gregory
Inventing Reality

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           Bertalanffy started thinking about whole systems in the 1920,s. His 1968 General Systems Theory is a great introduction to systems thinking which is definitively moving into the academy and IMO a vital and necessary way to overcoming the limits of reduction science. While reduction is still a vital part in today's world, systems thinking is now necessary for dealing with complexity and chaos in interacting systems. And a serious confusion about the difference leads too many good minds into that shibboleth “Scientism”.

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     Here is a peer review free Constructivism e-magazine site for further, deeper explorations.
Constructivism Key

* "To Grok" is to understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. [Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his Stranger in a Strange Land.]