Howard Pattee has claimed that an epistemic cut separates the world from observers and therefore from organisms. The epistemic cut imputes a linguistic mode of operation to living systems. Among evolutionary systems-theorists on the other hand there seems to be a tendency to consider living systems as just one among many other kinds of evolutionary systems that, in principle, can all be described on the basis of thermodynamics or infodynamics. This paper searches a third position, in which the epistemic cut position is defended without adopting Patteee’s distinction between a dynamic and a linguistic mode. It is observed that even the dynamic mode in living systems is always a semiotic mode although index- and analog-coded rather than symbolic and digitally coded. The analog-coded messages corresponds to a kind of tacit knowledge hidden in macromolecular structure and shape (e.g., molecular complementarity), and in organismic architecture and communication, that is, in the semiotic interactions of the body.
Petitmengin C. (1999) The intuitive experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6(2–3): 43–77. https://cepa.info/2411
This article summarizes a research on the psycho-phenomenology of intuition, which is an attempt to provide a thorough description of the subjective experience of intuition. In the first part, the main stages of the method used are described: how to have access to the pre-thought-out aspects of the intuitive experience, how to clarify them, how to analyse and compare the descriptions obtained. A generic structure emerged from this work of description and analysis, made up of an established succession of very precise interior gestures. The most significant aspects of this structure are presented in the second part.
Half a century after Michael Polanyi conceptualised ‘the tacit component’ in personal knowing, management studies has reinvented ‘tacit knowledge’ – albeit in ways that squander the advantages of Polanyi’s insights and ignore his faith in ‘spiritual reality’. While tacit knowing challenged the absurdities of sheer objectivity, expressed in a ‘perfect language’, it fused rational knowing, based on personal experience, with mystical speculation about an un-experienced ‘external reality’. Faith alone saved Polanyi’s model from solipsism. But Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism provides scope to rethink personal tacit knowing with regard to ‘other people’ and the intersubjectively viable construction of ‘experiential reality’. By separating tacit knowing from Polanyi’s metaphysical realism and drawing on Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’, it is possible to conceptualise ‘imagined institutions’ as the tacit dimension of power that shapes human interaction. Whereas Douglass North claimed institutions could be reduced to rules, imagined institutions are known in ways we cannot tell.
Nonaka and Takeuchi’s highly influential account of tacit–explicit knowledge‐conversion in Japan’s knowledge‐creating companies has been instrumental in Knowledge Management’s institutionalisation of Michael Polanyi’s distinction between ‘tacit knowledge’ and ‘explicit knowledge’. But tacit knowledge has been misunderstood and what Nonaka and Takeuchi claim in the name of explicit knowledge does not make sense. Whereas Polanyi was concerned with the discovery of absolute truth about ontological reality, Nonaka and his colleagues insist that truth is ‘in the eye of the beholder’. Yet, Nonaka et al.’s implicit nihilism seems to have gone unnoticed. Many people talk about explicit knowledge as if it existed on a par with scientific knowledge: a tangible commodity that is ‘as real as rocks’. Arguably, Nonaka and Takeuchi have offered a ‘lesson from Japan’ that has distorted Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowing, inspired unwarranted faith in the viability of ‘explicit knowledge’, and ignored the significance of power mediated by ‘high‐context’ communication. This paper uses Ernst von Glasersfeld’s work on radical constructivism to make sense of Polanyi’s insights into tacit knowing without invoking notions of metaphysical truth. With reference to knowing, learning and communicating in Japanese organisations, we suggest that a radical constructivist approach offers a viable alternative to Nonaka and Takeuchi’s knowledge‐conversion model.
Sweeting B. & Hohl M. (2015) Exploring Alternatives to the Traditional Conference Format: Introduction to the Special Issue on Composing Conferences. Constructivist Foundations 11(1): 1–7. https://cepa.info/2197
Context: The design of academic conferences, in which settings ideas are shared and created, is, we suggest, of more than passing interest in constructivism, where epistemology is considered in terms of knowing rather than knowledge. Problem: The passivity and predominantly one-way structure of the typical paper presentation format of academic conferences has a number of serious limitations from a constructivist perspective. These limits are both practical and epistemological. While alternative formats abound, there is nevertheless increasing pressure reinforcing this format due to delegates’ funding typically being linked to reading a paper. Method: In this special issue, authors reflect on conferences that they have organised and participated in that have used alternative formats, such as conversational structures or other constructivist inspired approaches, in whole or in part. We review and contextualize their contributions, understanding them in terms of their connections to constructivism and to each other. Results: While this issue is of relevance across disciplinary boundaries, contributions focus on two fields: that of cybernetics/systems, and that of design. We identify the way that conference organization is of particular importance to these fields, being in self-reflexive relationship to them: the environment of a design conference is something that we design; while a conference regarding systems or cybernetics is itself an instance of the sorts of process with which these fields are concerned. Implications: Building on this self-reflexivity and, also, the close connection of design and cybernetics/systems to constructivism, we suggest that conference organization is an area in which constructivism may itself be understood in terms of practice (and so knowing) rather than theory (and so knowledge. This in turn helps connect ideas in constructivism with pragmatic fields, such as knowledge management, and recent discussions in this journal regarding second-order science. Constructivist content: As a setting for the creation of new ideas, the design of conferences is of importance where we understand epistemology in constructivist terms as a process of knowing. Moreover, the particular fields drawn on - design and cybernetics/systems - have close connections to constructivism, as can be seen, for instance, in the work of Ranulph Glanville, on which we draw here.