| Von Glasersfeld's answers - May III 2006  |

 
 
 



QUESTION:

 

Dear professor Von Glasersfeld,
 
I was not trying to argue against constructivism, I was trying to
think from its point of view, probably not very well.
 
The idea I wrote in my last letter was that the convergence of a
theory towards truth may be defined inside the domain of our
experience without any reference to an external reality. In others
words, I was trying to redefine approximation to truth from a
constructivist way of thinking using the mathematical (not the
common) concept of limit as a metaphor.
 
Anyway, this was just an idea to introduce my question. I am not
sure you have answered it, I'll try again.
 
Is it viable, from the perspective of radical constructivism, the
project of Science to construct a unified model of the world, or
even the hope of particular sciences to build unified models of its
objects of knowledge?
 
Nowadays Physics is a unified science, but Psychology is a
fragmented science, for example, psychoanalysis and behaviourism are
radically incompatible. Do you think Psychology will converge in the
future towards a unified and coherent science, as any realist should be
sure of, or do you think it is possible (probable, sure) to be fragmented
forever?
 
Best regards
 
Pedro P. Rivas
Spain
 

 

ANSWER:
Dear Mr. Rivas,
 
The notion of "approximation to truth", where truth means "agreement with
reality", is not compatible with constructiivism.
 
I am not sure what you mean by "Physics is a unified
science". Physicists today use explanatory models that are quite
incompatible with one another, e.g. wave- and particle theories of
light, Newtonian and Einsteinian models of the galaxy, etc.
 
As for psychology, most of what was done under the behaviorist label
should not be called psychology because it concerned observable behavior
and programmatically disregarded the mind.
 
There is no reason why psychologists should not use different and
mutually incompatible models if they find them useful for their purposes.
 
I think that managing with a single theoretical model may be a
temporary state in any science, because as experience expands, the
model is likely to crack.
 
I sometimes imagine that Leonardo da Vinci is sitting beside me as I am
driving my car and i am trying to talk to him - it makes me realize that
there is extremely little that he would experience the way I do;
explanations are therefore very difficult.

Best wishes,

Ernst von Glasersfeld
 

 

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