Von Glasersfeld's answers
April  2001









Dear Mr. Glasersfeld

I am studying construtivism and system theories.

There seems to be different positions - the thinkers with a french basis believe that language is the corner stone - is our access to the world/reality, and thinkers with a german basis use the term communication, language being only the media of the communication. How profound and important do you regard this difference of views?

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

Per Stig Andersen



Dear Mr. Andersen,

From my radical constructivist point of view, language is as much (if not more) a human construct than anything else. There is no way it could grasp an ontological reality. Both the linguistic expressions and their meanings are rooted entirely in the experiential world.

When you say the German view claims that "communication" provides access to reality, you probably refer to the work of Niklas Luhman - and I have never understood how he justifies such a claim.

From the constructivist perspective, there is no possible cognitive (rational) access to an ontological reality. If that is what you want, you have to turn to the mystics, who use empathy instead of reflection and may be able to enter a world in which there are no distinctions.

Best wishes,

Ernst von Glasersfeld



Dear Professor von Glasersfeld,
I am a psychologist in research and I would be interested in neural network computing as a model of radical constructivistic cognition. Could You tell me, if you know, who is interested in NN in radical constructivistic perspective (contacts or literature)?

Yours sincerely,

Michal Simecek (Czech Republic)


Dear Mr.Simecek,

I know very little about the work you are interested in. I can only give you three addresses where you might find out more.

Ranulph Glanville runs a consulting firm in England -

Gerhrd Roth is neurophysiologist in Bremen, Germany, and is very much a constructivist - Gerhard Roth, Abteilung fuer Verhaltensphysiologie, Universitat Bremen, 28000 Bremen, Germany (I regret I have no e-mail adress for Roth).

Alex Riegler directs a website on constructivism and may put you in touch with people who can help you; -  ariegler@vub.ac.be

Best wishes,

Ernst von Glasersfeld




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