Publication 6637

Gash H. (2016) Systems and belief. Foundations of Science 21(1): 177–187. Fulltext at
Systems thinking provides insights into how ideas interact and change, and constructivism is an example of this type of systemic approach. In the 1970s constructivism emphasised the development of mathematical and scientific ideas in children. Recently constructivist ideas are applied much more generally. Here I use this approach to consider beliefs and their role in conflicts and the conditions needed for reconciliation. If we look at Reality in terms of how we construct it as a human cognitive process, we recognise two things. First, that we cannot go beyond our senses and thoughts to what exists independently of us, and second, if we construct what we know we have to take responsibility for this. This inevitably focuses our thinking on the relation we have with the physical and social world, we are a part of the universe rather than apart from it. This paper argues that accepting and understanding these limits of human knowing together with our interconnectedness provide opportunities to understand conflicting positions. To resolve conflict, people with opposing viewpoints have to be prepared to understand each other. That is a challenge because our own reality plays a vital role in our lives, for everything from personal survival to social support.

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