| Von Glasersfeld's answers - April 2009 |



Dear Prof Ernst von Glasersfeld,

I have been enjoying many articles of yours for a few years now. For some time I thought I was a radical constructivist because so many of the ideas of yours that I read were in me already. However, a single problem has arisen repeatedly and at this point RC seems to be inviable to my reasoning.

The recurring problem is that I can no more know that I have constructed my experiences than I can know that my experiences have arisen from a world which exists apart from me. Thus I understand the process of construction like I understand reality. As you have taught me, I cannot compare my idea of reality beyond my self with that reality; and likewise I cannot compare my idea of a process of constructing with the process itself. It is akin to Bateson's assertion that a TV could not display its own hardware without still more hardware.

Is this reconcilable? If an agnostic philosophy does not commit to a metaphysic of "what is," should it not also avoid comitting to "what happens?"

Archer Krantz

Dear Mr. Kranz--McGuire,

Let me tell you: I consider your question a sort of jewel. It has never been asked but is, from my point of view, the basic one, if you still want to hold on to an ontology - a very understandable desire, given that our languages constantly foster such an assumption .

As I read your question, the statements "compare my idea of a process of constructing with the process itself" and "comitting to 'what
happens' " presuppose that processes and happenings "exist" in an ontic domain apart from their occurring. As a constructivist, I cannot say anything about such a domain.

I have stated several times that RC is based on three unexplained assumptions : memory, primitive values, and consciousness. You are suggesting that what consciousness makes us aware of has a life of its own, an "existence" beyond our experience. This suggestion is incompatible with RC.

If this answer does not satisfy you, we can continue the discussion.

Best wishes,
Ernst von Glasersfeld
PS: So that others may follow this exchange, I am attaching your question.



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