Ackermann E. K. (2015) Author’s Response: Impenetrable Minds, Delusion of Shared Experience: Let’s Pretend (“dicciamo che io ero la mamma”). Constructivist Foundations 10(3): 418–421. https://cepa.info/2169
Upshot: In view of Kenny’s clinical insights, Hug’s notes on the intricacies of rational vs. a-rational “knowing” in the design sciences, and Chronaki & Kynigos’s notice of mathematics teachers’ meta-communication on experiences of change, this response reframes the heuristic power of bisociation and suspension of disbelief in the light of Kelly’s notion of “as-if-ism” (constructive alternativism. Doing as-if and playing what-if, I reiterate, are critical to mitigating intra-and inter-personal relations, or meta-communicating. Their epistemic status within the radical constructivist framework is cast in the context of mutually enriching conversational techniques, or language-games, inspired by Maturana’s concepts of “objectivity in parenthesis” and the multiverse.
Brier S. (1995) Cyber-semiotics: On autopoiesis, code-duality and sign games in biosemiotics. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 3(1): 3–14. https://cepa.info/3984
This paper discusses how the second order cybernetics of von Foerster, Maturana, Varela and Luhmann, can be fruitfully integrated with Peirce’s semiotics through the bio-semiotics of Hoffmeyer. The conclusion is that what distinguish animals from machines is that they are autopoietic, have code-duality and through their living organization constitutes a biological interpretant. Through this they come to inhabit a new life world: their games of life take place in their own semiotic Umwelt (von Uexküll). It is the biological context and the history of the species and the individual the determine the meaning of signs in the structural couplings that constitutes the channels of communication. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s theory of language games as the context that determines semantic content of the expressions of sentences, we suggest that animals participate in sign games.
Brier S. (2000) Biosemiotics as a possible bridge between embodiment in cognitive semantics and the motivation concept of animal cognition in ethology. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 7(1): 57–75. https://cepa.info/3147
In the context of the question of the emergence of mind in evolution the present paper argues that the concept of linguistic motivation, through the theory of embodiment in cognitive semantics, can be connected with the concept of motivation in ethology. This connection is established through Lakoff and Johnson’s embodied cognitive semantics on the one hand and on the other hand through the theory of biosemiotics. The biosemiotics used is based on C. S. Peirce´s semiotics and the work of J. von Uexkull. Motivation will in this context be understood as a decisive factor in determining which kind of interpretant a living system constructs when perturbed by a significant disturbance in its signification sphere. From this basis the concept of sign stimuli in Ethology, based on the concept of innate release response mechanism (IRM,) is paralleled with the concept of embodied metaphorical categorization based on the concept of idealized cognitive models (ICM). It is realized that we are dealing with motivation on two different levels, that of the linguistic and that of the perceptual-behavioral level. The connection is made through pragmatic language and sign theory viewing language as getting its meaning through language games integrated in cultural life forms and animals signs to get their meaning through sign games and natural life forms. Further connection is made through the common insight of the significant role of embodiment to create signification through the construction of a signification sphere. The later concept is a Peircian biosemiotic conceptualization of von Uexkull’s orginal Umwelt concept.
Brier S. (2003) The cybersemiotic model of communication: An evolutionary view on the threshold between semiosis and informational exchange. tripleC 1(1): 71–94. https://cepa.info/3625
This paper discusses various suggestions for a philosophical framework for a trans-disciplinary information science or a semiotic doctrine. These are: the mechanical materialistic, the pan-informational, the Luhmanian second order cybernetic approach, Peircian biosemiotics and finally the pan-semiotic approach. The limitations of each are analysed. The conclusion is that we will not have to choose between either a cybernetic-informational or a semiotic approach. A combination of a Peircian-based biosemiotics with autopoiesis theory, second order cybernetics and information science is suggested in a five-levelled cybersemiotic framework. The five levels are 1) a level of Firstness, 2) a level of mechanical matter, energy and force as Secondness, 3) a cybernetic and thermodynamic level of information, 4) a level of sign games and 5) a level of conscious language games. These levels are then used to differentiate levels of information systems, sign and language games in human communication. In our model Maturana and Varela’s description of the logic of the living as autopoietic is accepted and expanded with Luhmann’s generalization of the concept of autopoiesis, to cover also to psychological and socio-communicative systems. Adding a Peircian concept of semiosis to Luhmann’s theory in the framework of biosemiotics enables us to view the interplay of mind and body as a sign play. I have in a previous publication (see list of references) suggested the term “sign play” pertaining to exosemiotics processes between animals in the same species by stretching Wittgenstein’s language concept into the animal world of signs. The new concept of intrasemiotics designates the semiosis of the interpenetration between biological and psychological autopoietic systems as Luhmann defines them in his theory. One could therefore view intrasemiotics as the interplay between Lorenz’ biological defined motivations and Freud’s Id, understood as the psychological aspect of many of the natural drives. In the last years of the development of his theory, Lorenz worked with the idea of how emotional feedback introduced just a little learning through pleasurable feelings into instinctive systems because, as he reasoned, there must be some kind of reward of going through instinctive movements, thus making possible the appetitive searching behaviour for sign stimuli. But he never found an acceptable way of modelling motivation in biological science. I am suggesting a cybersemiotic model to combine these approaches, defining various concepts like thought-semiotics, phenosemiotic and intrasemiotics, combining them with the already known concepts of exosemiotics, ecosemiotics, and endosemiotics into a new view of self-organizing semiotic processes in living systems. Thus a new semiotic level of description is generated, where mind-body interactions can be understood on the same description level.
Désautels J. & Roth W.-M. (1999) Demystifying epistemological practice (Special issue \Radical Constructivism in education\ edited by Marie Larochelle). Cybernetics & Human Knowing 6(1): 33–45. https://cepa.info/3121
Epistemology is often presented as an abstract body of knowledge accessible only to a small minority of intellectually capable individuals. In this paper, we elaborate the educational possibilities that present themselves when we question this prejudice and consider epistemology as a social practice. We argue that epistemology looses its air of divine mystery and becomes one of many language games they learn to play. We provide illustrations for this argument from high school students” conversations conducted in the context of their physics course. Enacting epistemological practice in the educational context is therefore not only possible but also desirable. It triggers a recursive self-organizing process that transforms pedagogical practice itself and thus brings to the foreground the socio-political and ethical character of the educational endeavor. Our brief argument is written in the form of a reflexive text and is presented as the starting point for the readers to begin a conversation about the problematic subjects raised.
Grampp S. (2008) Dualism Still at Work. On Wittgenstein’s Certainty. Constructivist Foundations 3(3): 221–225. https://constructivist.info/3/3/221
Problem: A dualistic position faces considerable problems as Mitterer, inter alia, clearly pointed out. Mitterer not only wants to name these problems, but to provide a genuine alternative with his non-dualism. However, this non-dualistic alternative also contains severe problems. Thus this text suggests preferring Wittgenstein’s concept of a pragmatic investigation of language-games to Mitterer’s non-dualism in order to tackle the problems of dualism. Solution: With recourse to Wittgenstein’s pragmatic investigation of language-games, a fundamental problem of dualism can be solved. With the concept of certainty, Wittgenstein succeeds in avoiding an ontological grounding in an independent world – or, as Mitterer would put it, the assumption of a “beyond of discourse.” At the same time, the assumption of an independent world as a concept that provides a basis for our language-games is maintained on an epistemological level. This assumption, however, is not maintained as a phenomenon that requires to be substantiated but as a certainty that is constitutive for language-games and does not need to be substantiated. Such a concept is suitable for preventing epistemological operations such as knowledge, doubt, giving reasons, etc., from being made void, without having to provide an ontological basis for them. Implications: Wittgenstein’s point of view therefore provides an attractive alternative to Mitterer’s non-dualism. By getting rid of the “beyond of discourse,” Mitterer’s non-dualism faces the problem of not being able to explain how we can manage to understand epistemological operations within our language-games without referring to a “beyond of discourse.” From this point of view arises the consequence that it would make sense to analyze language-games from a pragmatic standpoint rather than to keep on honing non-dualistic vocabulary.
In this paper our main objective is to interpret the major concepts in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics, in particular, language games and forms of life, from a social constructivist point of view in an attempt to show that this philosophy is still very relevant in the way mathematics is being taught and practiced today. We start out with a brief discussion of radical constructivism followed by a rudimentary analysis of the basic tenets of social constructivism, the final blow against absolutism – the soulless landmark of mathematics as often construed by the uninitiated. We observe that, the social constructivist epistemology of mathematics reinstates mathematics, and rightfully so, as “…a branch of knowledge which is indissolubly connected with other knowledge, through the web of language” (Ernest 1999), and portrays mathematical knowledge as a process that should be considered in conjunction with its historical origins and within a social context. Consequently, like any other form of knowledge based on human opinion or judgment, mathematical knowledge has the possibility of losing its truth or necessity, as well. In the third section we discuss the main points expounded in Wittgenstein’s two books, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations, as well as in his “middle period” that is characterized by such works as Philosophical Remarks, Philosophical Grammar, and Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. We then briefly introduce the two main concepts in Wittgenstein’s philosophy that will be used in this paper: forms of life and language games. In the fifth and final section, we emphasize the connections between social constructivism and Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics. Indeed, we argue that the apparent certainty and objectivity of mathematical knowledge, to paraphrase Ernest (Ernest 1998), rest on natural language. Moreover, mathematical symbolism is a refinement and extension of written language: the rules of logic which permeate the use of natural language afford the foundation upon which the objectivity of mathematics rests. Mathematical truths arise from the definitional truths of natural language, and are acquired by social interaction. Mathematical certainty rests on socially accepted rules of discourse embedded in our forms of life, a concept introduced by Wittgenstein (Wittgenstein, 1956). We argue that the social constructivist epistemology draws on Wittgenstein’s (1956) account of mathematical certainty as based on linguistic rules of use and forms of life, and Lakatos’ (1976) account of the social negotiation of mathematical concepts, results, and theories.
Existing educational practices focus on subject matter knowledge that is, through the act of teaching, brought into the heads of students. Materials, texts, or images qua aspects of the learning environment are treated as given in terms of fixed and unambiguous structures (ontologies). Drawing on examples from a large data base on learning physics through laboratory activities, I show that (a) students do not perceive and act in worlds shared with physicists and physics teachers and (b) during collective activities, students evolve new domain ontologies and language games by interacting with each other. Because of structural constraints in the environment (teacher, textbook, equipment), initially quite different ontologies and language games converge, the shared language games often become more commensurable with (existing) scientific ontologies and language games. In this co-evolution of ontology and language game, gestures provide an important bridge between laboratory experiences in science and scientific discourse about abstract entities.
Saunders R. (2012) Towards autonomous creative systems: A computational approach. Cognitive Computation 4(3): 216–225.
This paper reviews the long-standing debate surrounding the nature of machine intelligence, autonomy and creativity and argues for an approach to developing autonomous computational creativity that models personal motivations, social interactions and the evolution of domains. The implications of this argument on the types of cognitive processes that are required for the development of autonomous computational creativity are explored and a possible approach to achieving the goal is described. In particular, this paper describes the development of artificial creative systems composed of intrinsically motivated agents engaging in language games to interact with a shared social and cultural environment. The paper discusses the implications that this type of approach may have for the development of autonomous creative systems.
Schwegler H. (2001) Physics develops unaffected by constructivism. Special Issue “The Impact of Radical Constructivism on Science” edited by Alexander Riegler. Foundations of Science 6(1–3): 241–253. https://cepa.info/3633
The way physics and other parts of science work can be explained in the framework of radical constructivism. However, this constructivist view itself shows that a uniquily accepted epistemology, constructivism or any other, would not be an advantage for the development of science. Unlike physics some parts of science successfully use constructivist concepts inside their theories. Because this is the case particularly in learning theory, constructivist ideas can help to improve physics teaching.