Publication 2712

Luhmann N. (1990) The cognitive program of constructivism and a reality that remains unknown. In: Krohn W., Küppers G. & Nowotny H. (eds.) Selforganization. Portrait of a scientific revolution. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 64–85. Fulltext at
Excerpt: Insofar as constructivism maintains nothing more than the unapproachability of the external world “in itself” and the closure of knowing – without yielding, at any rate, to the old skeptical or “solipsistic” doubt that an external world exists at all – there is nothing new to be found in it. Nonetheless, the theoretical form in which this is expressed has innovative aspects – even such radical innovations – that it is possible to gain the impression that the theory of a self-referring cognition closed in upon itself has only now acquired a viable form. One can express this more precisely: it has only now acquired a form in which it can represent itself as knowledge. A problem arises here, however. With the word “constructivism” (taken over from mathematics) premature victories have been proclaimed, and one has to accept that there will be those who step aside, with a shake of the head, denying the validity of these claims. It is important, therefore, to investigate the question of what is new and convincing here – and this will lead the discussion far afield.

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