Publication 3209

Moser S. (2002) Observing Differences, Embodying Knowledge: Radical Constructivism Meets Feminist Epistemology. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 9(3–4): 35–54. Fulltext at
The paper draws a comparison between feminist epistemology as exemplified by Donna Haraway’s work and radical constructivist approaches to the process of knowing. Both approaches observe scientific operations in the context of theories that are based on the notion of difference, both describe research as an empirically conditioned activity. Operations of research are consequently situated at various levels within historical fields of differentiation. While radical constructivism describes observation as a prototypical distinction in general and therefore draws its arguments from cognitive and social systems theories, feminist arguments work out the distinction of gender as an epistemological category and demarcate the interpretative conditions of engendered representation. Both approaches put the traditional distinction between theoretical and empirical knowledge into question and emphasize the mutual constitution of observation and the world observed. Reality appears to be an operational process that is embodied in the concrete action of observing systems. Thus, process-oriented, non-dualistic concepts of the knowing subject are proposed. Finally, the paper points out the innovative impact both approaches could have on the reinterpretation of scientific methodology. On the one hand the combination of quantitative and interpretive methods is outlined within a framework of hermeneutic cybernetics, on the other hand, a feminist interpretation of cybernetic self-reflection serves as an example for the transdisciplinary integration of different knowledges.

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