| Von Glasersfeld's answers - September II 2006  |

 
 
 


Question:
 
Dear professor Von Glasersfeld,
 
I can only ask it as simply as this: Is there any room in radical
constructivism (RC) for the idea of 'progress of knowledge'? Since,
according to RC, there is no reference possible to (a) reality, I was
wondering whether progress of knowledge can be defined unambigously and
consistently within RC. If so, how? Do you know if there literature about
this?
Yours sincerely,
James Mcdermot
(student history of science)

Answer:

Dear Mr. Mcdermot,
 
It would surely be absurd for anyone to maintain that there is no
progress of knowledge. A hundred years ago no one could launch a
satellite,let alone land on the moon. And Leonardo da Vinci would be
amazed at how much more has been gathered about pumps, war implements,
and flying machines. But the knowledge that made these and all other
ventures possible is based exclusively on human experience, not on an
independent reality. It is judged by its viability, not by an impossible
comparison to what the world beyond our experiential interface might be
like. Knowledge, therefore is always relative to our construction of an
experiential reality and to the aims we happen to have chosen. If the aim
is to manage billiard balls, Newton's theory is adequate; if we want to
organize the structure of what we call galaxies and the universe,
Einstein's theory seems better at the moment; and when it comes to the
structure of matter, we are now not sure what theory would serve us best.
 
Best wishes,
 
Ernst von Glasersfeld

 

 

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