van der Schyff D. & Schiavio A. (2017) Evolutionary musicology meets embodied cognition: Biocultural coevolution and the enactive origins of human musicality. Frontiers in Neuroscience 11: 519. https://cepa.info/4764
Despite evolutionary musicology’s interdisciplinary nature, and the diverse methods it employs, the field has nevertheless tended to divide into two main positions. Some argue that music should be understood as a naturally selected adaptation, while others claim that music is a product of culture with little or no relevance for the survival of the species. We review these arguments, suggesting that while interesting and well-reasoned positions have been offered on both sides of the debate, the nature-or-culture (or adaptation vs. non-adaptation) assumptions that have traditionally driven the discussion have resulted in a problematic either/or dichotomy. We then consider an alternative “biocultural” proposal that appears to offer a way forward. As we discuss, this approach draws on a range of research in theoretical biology, archeology, neuroscience, embodied and ecological cognition, and dynamical systems theory (DST), positing a more integrated model that sees biological and cultural dimensions as aspects of the same evolving system. Following this, we outline the enactive approach to cognition, discussing the ways it aligns with the biocultural perspective. Put simply, the enactive approach posits a deep continuity between mind and life, where cognitive processes are explored in terms of how self-organizing living systems enact relationships with the environment that are relevant to their survival and well-being. It highlights the embodied and ecologically situated nature of living agents, as well as the active role they play in their own developmental processes. Importantly, the enactive approach sees cognitive and evolutionary processes as driven by a range of interacting factors, including the socio-cultural forms of activity that characterize the lives of more complex creatures such as ourselves. We offer some suggestions for how this approach might enhance and extend the biocultural model. To conclude we briefly consider the implications of this approach for practical areas such as music education.
Vanderstraeten R. (2016) Who Communicates? Constructivist Foundations 12(1): 44–45. https://cepa.info/3805
Open peer commentary on the article “Constructivism as a Key Towards Further Understanding of Communication, Culture and Society” by Raivo Palmaru. Upshot: Palmaru claims that communication and social processes cannot be understood unless models describing them are based on the individual and his or her consciousness. Based on a brief discussion of recent sociocultural evolutions, I ask for the social conditions allowing radical constructivism to locate communication in the individual and his or her consciousness.
Verheggen T. & Baerveldt C. (2007) We don’t share! The social representation approach, enactivism and the ground for an intrinsically social Psychology. Culture & Psychology 13(1): 5–27.
Wolfgang Wagner is a current and productive advocate of the social representation approach. He developed a version of the theory in which social representations are freed from individual minds and instead conceived of as concerted interactions. These epistemological starting points come very close to the enactive outlook on consensually coordinated actions. Yet Wagner is not radical enough in that he continues to see concerted interaction as an expression of representations that are already shared by the actors constituting a group. In our view, the ubiquitous notion of sharedness – which is also found in studies on social models, cultural patterns, schemas, scenarios, and so forth – is conceptually problematic and reveals a misapprehension of how orchestrated actions come about. Moreover, it obscures a proper understanding of what really constitutes intrinsically social behavior. Enactivism provides a much more consistent epistemology for a psychology that is intrinsically social.
In earlier contributions to Culture & Psychology we have put forward enactivism as an epistemological alternative for representationalist accounts of meaning in relation to action and experience. Critics continue to charge enactive cultural psychology of being a solipsistic and a materialist reductionistic epistemology. We address that critique, arguing that it consistently follows from misunderstanding in particular the enactivist notion of “operational closure,” and from mixing up two observer viewpoints that must be analytically severed when describing living, cognitive systems. Moreover, Daanen (2009) argued that in particular Heidegger’s phenomenology can help to reconcile enactive cultural psychology and social representation theory. We reply that although enactivism is indeed close to phenomenology, Daanen fails to appreciate Heidegger’s much more radical break with a philosophy of consciousness to anchor meaningful Being. Consequently, representationalist accounts cannot be salvaged, least of all by invoking Heidegger.
Wąsik Z. (2014) Meaning as a subjective construct. Chapter 7 in: Lectures on the epistemology of semiotics. Philological School of Higher Education in Wrocław Publishing, Wrocław: 127–153. https://cepa.info/7892
Excerpt: In this lecture, a logical-philosophical approach to meaning-carriers or meaning-processes is juxtaposed with the anthropological and biological conceptions of subjective significance uniting the semiotics of culture with the semiotics of nature. Special attention is paid to practices and patterns of meaning-creation and meaning-utilization in social interactions. The subject matter of the domain studied by human semiotics is specified in terms of sign- and meaning-processing and sign- and meaning-interpreting activities of communicating selves who utilize the objects found in their subjective universe as functional tools or valuable goods of culture. The roots of such subject-oriented conceptions of sign and meaning will be traced in the, praxeological, i.e., function- and purpose-oriented or the axiological, i.e., value- and need-oriented view of culture. Thus, exposed in a human-centered theory of culture is the role of a subject who acts as a meaning-utilizer or meaning-evaluator, and who nominates and subsumes the objects of culture as signs of purposes or needs. With regard to the semiotic activity of human beings a proposal is put forward to distinguish two forms of meaning-nomination and meaning-subsumption, either from the viewpoint of praxeosemiotics or axiosemiotics. Praxeosemiotic nominations and subsumptions are connected with the ascription of functions to the objects hitherto as being useful for certain purposes, and the axiosemiotic nominations and subsumptions result in the transfer of products and behavior of people to the realm of cultural objects with respect to their goodness.
Weber A. (2004) Mimesis and metaphor: The biosemiotic generation of meaning in Cassirer and Uexküll. Sign Systems Studies 32(1/2): 297–307. https://cepa.info/5688
In this paper I pursue the influences of Jakob von Uexküll’s biosemiotics on the anthropology of Ernst Cassirer. I propose that Cassirer in his Philosophy of the Symbolic Forms has written a cultural semiotics which in certain core ideas is grounded on biosemiotic presuppositions, some explicit (as the “emotive basic ground” of experience), some more implicit. I try to trace the connecting lines to a biosemiotic approach with the goal of formulating a comprehensive semiotic anthropology which understands man as embodied being and culture as a phenomenon of general semioses.
Windschitl M. (1999) The challenges of sustaining a constructivist classroom culture. The Phi Delta Kappan 80(10): 751–755. https://cepa.info/5792
Mr. Windschitl sees articulating these challenges as a significant step in helping educators create and sustain a classroom culture that values diversity in learning and offers a new vision of the roles of teachers and learners – the culture of constructivism.
Wittkamp R. F. (2005) Konstruktivismus, Wahrnehmung und Gedächtnis: Plädoyer für einen konstruktivistischen Landschaftsdiskurs [Constructivism, perception and memory: A plea for a constructivist landscape discourse]. Japanstudien 16(1): 239–256. https://cepa.info/7874
In trying to study the idea of landscape (fukei) in Japanese waka-poetry, one may find oneself confronted with a great variety of concepts. All of these share commonalities in that they are not at all defined, that their meaning depends on personal usage (at the level of the producer, as well as of the researcher who often speaks the same language), and that they can be understood on a wide spectrum between the two extreme positions marked by fiction and reality (without, of course, any scientific concept about what fiction and reality might be). Although European traditions are coping with the concept of landscape in an aesthetical and philosophical way, there is no such comparable tradition in traditional Japanese literary history (kokubungaku). Because of this, there is no satisfactory way to conceptually understand waka-landscape, since the very basic key-term itself is not mutually accessible. European and Japanese concepts of landscape may not, therefore, be able to be brought together. To have an international scientific discussion on landscape (found in every culture historically and up to the present), it is necessary to develop a concept of landscape which is not only an issue of arts, aesthetics or philosophy, but also the subject of anthropological approaches and cultural studies. In this paper, I attempt to develop a concept of landscape, which is based on constructivism and the psychology of perception and memory. I will also show how constructivist thought has gained great popularity in German social and cultural studies.
Wright P. (2015) Poetics, power, possibilities, and playfulness: Zombies, performance, and making meaning in young people’s lives. Arts Education Policy Review 116(3): 137–146.
This article considers drama/theater education as a form of constructivism where popular culture is both accessed and employed to engage young people and animate education. Using the familiar cultural trope of zombies, and in reference to three separate performance projects, attention is drawn to why projects such as these matter and why they work – and those who might be touched by them. The article further considers how knowledge might be transformed when young people work as artists and how participatory arts experiences reference questions relating to the nature of knowledge, our relationship to knowledge, and what this relationship might mean. Finally, the article considers how policy might delimit these generative possibilities.
The impact of constructivism and social constructionism upon vocational psychology has often been through the use of the more generic “constructivism.” In this article constructivism is distinguished by its focus on how the individual cognitively engages in the construction of knowledge from social construction which claims that knowledge and meaning are historically and culturally constructed through social processes and action. The considerable ambiguity in the use of these terms is also discussed. Their contributions, challenges, and opportunities to the career field’s dominant discourses are examined: the dispositions discourse, the contextualizing discourse, the subjectivity and narrative discourse, and the process discourse. Broader challenges and opportunities for the field are also noted. The historical construction of knowledge, concern with language, action, and process problematize traditional understandings of career. They raise opportunities to question fundamental assumptions, focus on context, culture, the person–environment interaction, and practice.