Publication 72

Meyer P. (2008) Why Private Meanings Are Incoherent. Constructivist Foundations 3(2): 79–81. Fulltext at
Open peer commentary on the target article “Who Conceives of Society?” by Ernst von Glasersfeld. Excerpt: I will focus on one crucial step in von Glasersfeld’s argumentation, viz. his view that every individual constructs his own private meanings (understood as conceptual structures or elements thereof) for linguistic expressions, so that linguistic interaction and even communication in general is based on a notion of compatibility between different speakers’ private conceptual schemes. The central question here is: “Just what does it mean that different private conceptual schemes (private meanings) are compatible, or what constitutes a viable criterion to this end?” As von Glasersfeld himself stresses twice (§28, §37), the criteria to be looked for can only be “public,” residing in properties of verbal and non-verbal actions of the interacting individuals, properties that can be sensed and processed by the participating system.


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