| Von Glasersfeld's answers - March II 2006  |


Dear Prof. Ernst von Glasersfeld,
I am doing my Phd in the Theory of knowledge in
the University of Athens in Greece. I would like
to know what is the difference between radical
constructivism and social constructivism.
I would also like to have your opinion about the
Sophists' theory of knowledge and especially
Protagoras´ : man is the measure of all things.
Could we consider this as a hint for the later constructivism?
Thank you
Papageorgiou Pagona
Dear Mr/Ms (?) Papageorgiou Pagona,
I am sure you would get a different answer from
a social constructivist. From my "radical" point
of view, most social constructivists seem to
take society and language as "existing" apart
from the minds of individuals. This is
incompatible with my constructivism, in which
society and especially language have to be
constructed by each individual for him- or
herself. Most of this construction, of course,
takes place in interaction with the constructs
we call others in our experiential field. So
there is, indeed, social construction, but it
takes place with entities that we ourselves have
constructed, much the same as we interact with
the constructs we call walls or rocks or skiing
slopes and devise methods and rules for dealing with them.
Among the Pre-Socratics, there seem to be many
suggestions of the notion that we ourselves
construct our world. Protagoras is not the only
one. But as I do not speak classical Greek I am
not certain. On the other hand, the translators
are nearly always staunch realists and therefore
deaf to the constructivist allusions that may be
in the original texts. Parmenides is, I think, a
prime example, The comments I have read about
his fragments all confuse his epistemology with
his metaphysics. I have an old plan to write a
paper about him, but I may never get it done.

Best wishes,

Ernst von Glasersfeld



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