Ernst von Glasersfeld's answers


QUESTION 1 - Subject: Re: Laws of Form

Dear Professor von Glasersfeld,

What are some of the practical day-to-day applications in relationships and communication and freedom to be found in G. Spencer-Brown's book, "Laws of Form".

Thank you
Thomas Hughes

ANSWER 1 - 'Laws of Form' proposes a formal logic based on distinctions that is more elementary than classical logic. Spencer Brown gives a lot of insightful advice in his footnotes. One has to read them, because they are very compressed and cannot be further summarised.




QUESTION 2 - Subject: - Empirical methods developed out of / concerning radical constructivism

Dear Prof. von Glasersfeld!

Since a few years I am working on different types of constructivism. One problem I have as a student of psychology and sociology is, that i cannot find empirical methods (of course in a wider sense also) that are developed out of constructivist approach. In scociology there are a few (qualitative)methods like e.g.ethnomethodology or the social - constructivist - Schütz/Berger/Luckmann - program and followers and others, but these ideas can´t really get to the point of the construction as an act. In psychology the problem is another: some researchers (in Vienna, where I am studying) want to "proof" constructivism by showing e.g. neuropsychological phenomena liek the retina and so on, or there are dealing with cognitive approaches, or even learning interventions. Also here it is not possible for me to make out a fine view of looking at the construction process itself. (of corse it is not easy to observe things like conciousness etc..)

So my question is, shortly: what methods can be developed out of your approach of (radical) constructivism or in which kind of observance can construction-process of knowlegde (in a wider sense)be seen clearly.

And, as an additional question, do You think that my ideas go the "right direction" when I think, that for example researches in the fields of conciousness and correlates, psychopathology (as a frontier of the normal world -sensu Jaspers)and maybe social-erperimants could show the effects of construction or even constructions.

sincerely Martin F. Weckenmann

ANSWER 2 - Radical constructivism is a hypothetical model of rational knowing and the construction of our experiential reality. As one cannot observe concepts and mental operations, one has to infer them from actions and verbal expressions. Watching people solving problems and children building their concepts on the assumption that there is no transfer of information from outside in, is the way to build and 'confirm' such a model.






Lieber Ernst

ich habe diese tolle Einrichtung im Netz gefunden und will auf es auf diesem Weg versuchen: Kannst Du mir eine Definition fuer Operation geben? Ich meine mit Definition eine Umschreibung, die ich in Deinen Texten anstelle des Ausdruckes einsetzen kann.

Herzlich Gruesse

Rolf Todesco

ANSWER 3 - If you have a definition of 'physical action', 'operation' is the mental counterpart. Piaget has made the distinction. Example: 'Lift your left arm!' is an injunction to act physically. ' F=r2p ‘ is the symbolic designation of mental operations that give you the surface ‘F’ of a circle, without numerical values for ‘r’ and ‘p ’. In my view, operations consist of attentional movements that generate relations; e.g., when you establish that your thumb is shorter than your index finger. - You won’t like this because you don’t want anything to do with consciousness or attention - but there I cannot help you.




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