Dear Profesor von Glasersfeld,
Hello there. I think it's
wonderful that you spend time answering queries
about radical constructivism. I find radical constructivism to be
very interesting. I would like to ask (from the perspective of radical
1.What is the difference between perception and conception?
2. What are the similarities/differences between conception and concept?
I do hope you can e-mail me your answer. Once again, thank
you for your time.
Dear Ms Suzie A R,
I take your second question
first: a "concept" is the product of conceiving; "conception"
should mean the act or operation of conceiving, but like all nomina
action is borrowed from Latin, it can also mean the execution of
a single act of conceiving
and as such may include its result. It is similar to the
way "surgery" is used in the US: Mr. Smith "does
surgery" if he's a surgeon,
and he can "have surgery" if he is the patient.
"Perception", in my
way of thinking, is the process of generating sensory patterns
and images by cutting and coordinating pieces out of the
unordered flow of experience.
"Conception" is the abstraction of generalizable
patterns from percepts and sequences
of mental operations. Your concept of "lily" is what
you have abstracted from a
number of lily-experiences (Plus presumably the fleur-de-lys).
Your concept of "number" is what you have abstracted
from a variety of
Let me know if you are not happy with these answers.
Ernst von Glasersfeld
qual'e' il ruolo dell'errore
nell'interpretazione dei processi cognitivi
sviluppata dal costruttivismo radicale? Se la conoscenza non puo'
essere intesa come rappresentazione di una realta', intesa in senso
ontologico, l'errore e' inevitabile e "fisiologico" in
quanto una completa
corrispondentra tra rappresentazione e oggetto rappresentato
e' a priori impossibile; se mai esistono diversi gradi di
errore nelle nostre "costruzioni", alcuni dei quali
non raggiungono la
consapevolezza, e quindi restano inavvertiti e per cosi' dire subliminali,
mentre in altri casi si impongono e invalidano le nostre conoscenze.
Leggendo il suo ultimo libro tradotto in Italiano, di introduzione
al costruttivismo radicale, ho ricavato l'impressione che l'errore
di base, fonte di altri piu' perniciosi a valle e a cascata, sia
il concetto stesso di rappresentazione mentale. Infine un
quesito operativo: come
accorgersi dell'errore "subliminale" prima che produca
concreti effetti avversi?
Grazie per le risposte e buone
Dott. G. Belleri
Dear Dr. Belleri,
As you refer to answers I have
given in the past, I take it that you read English.
If not, let me know, and I'll give you this one in Italian. It
seems to me that you are using "errore" in two
different senses. At the end
of your letter you speak of the impression that the fundamental
error consists in the notion
of "mental representation". If by this you intend representation
of an independent "reality", it is indeed an
impossibility from the
constructivist point of view. There is no cognitive access to a world
beyond our experiential interface. That is one reason why I use
the term re-presentation, to
indicate that it intends the presentation of a prior experience.
It is these re-presentations that constitute our experiential worlds
in which we can and do make "errors" (2nd sense); but
these errors concern our
acting and thinking and are relative to the goals we have
chosen. In this sense, errors
are crucial in cognitive development, because it is when
we discover that a particular way of acting or thinking does not
lead to the desired goal,
that we are inclined to learn.
Ernst von Glasersfeld
Dear Prof. von Glasersfeld,
whenever I read an article or a
book con constructivism I wonder why WvO Quine
is not mentioned. Surely, at firt sight Quine is a realist. But
this does not make it
impossible to read his theory from a constructivist point of
view. This may as well be the reason that Quine and Piaget where interested
in each other's work. So are there any attempts to bring
Quine's relativism and radical constructivism together?
Dr. Reinhard Oldenburg
Dear Mr. Oldenburg,
Throughout the history of
philosophy there are thinkers who have thought seriously
the sceptics' arguments. To my knowledge Vico is the only one who
has fully accepted them with regard to
rational knowledge and consequently concluded
that humans cannot rationally know the real world; but they do know
the world of their own constructions, i.e., their experiential world.
Today, I believe that van
Frassen probably comes closest to this view, but I have not
read him. I do not know Quine very well either, but I don't think
he would agree that our
knowledge has nothing to do with ontology.
I am sure there are others who
could be related to constructivism, but one's time
for reading others gets less as one grows older.
Ernst von Glasersfeld