Purpose: Appreciating the relationship between Sylvio Ceccato and Ernst von Glasersfeld, both as people and in their work. Approach: historical and personal accounts, archeological approach to written evidence. Findings: Ceccato’s work is introduced to an English speaking audience, and the roots of Glasersfeld’s work in Ceccato’s is explored. Flaws in Ceccato’s approach are indicated, together with how Glasersfeld’s work overcomes these, specially in language and automatic translation, and what became Radical Constructivism. Conclusion: Glasersfeld willingly acknowledges Ceccato, who he still refers to as the Master. But Ceccato’s work is little known, specially in the English speaking world. The introduction, critique and delineation of extension and resolution of Ceccato’s ideas in Glasersfeld’s work is the intended value of the paper.
Ackermann E. K. (1996) Perspective-taking and object construction: Two keys to learning. In: Kafai J. & Resnick M. (eds.) Constructionism in practice: Designing, thinking, and learning in a digital world. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ: 25–37.
Piaget defines intelligence as adaptation, or the ability to maintain a balance between stability and change, or, in his own words, between assimilation and accommodation. When people assimilate the world to their current knowledge, they impose their order upon things. This momentary closure is useful to build “invariants” that lend existence to the world, independent of immediate interaction. In accommodation, people become one with the object of attention. This may lead to momentary loss of control, since fusion loosens boundaries, but allows for change. I choose the domain of perspective-taking to illustrate how this alternation between assimilation and accommodation punctuate individuals’ interactions with the world. I show that the ability to move away from one’s own standpoint, and to take on another person’s view, requires the construction of cognitive invariants: a recasting of the world’s stabilities that transcends any given viewpoint. I conclude that separation is a necessary step toward the construction of a deeper understanding, and that adopting a “god’s eyes view” is by no means contrary to situating one’s one stance in the world.
Ackermann E. K. (2004) Constructing knowledge and transforming the world. In: Tokoro M. & Steels L. (eds.) A learning zone of one’s own: Sharing representations and flow in collaborative learning. IOS Press, Amsterdam: 15–37. https://cepa.info/3894
The first part of this paper examines the differences between Piaget’s constructivism, what Papert refers to as“constructionism,” and the socio-constructivist approach as portrayed by Vygotsky. All these views are developmental, and they share the notion that people actively contribute to the construction of their knowledge, by transforming their world. Yet the views also differ, each highlighting on some aspects of how children learn and grow, while leaving other questions unanswered. Attempts at integrating these views [learning through experience, through media, and through others] helps shed light on how people of different ages and venues come to make sense of their experience, and find their place – and voice – in the world. Tools, media, and cutural artifacts are the tangible forms, or mediational means, through which we make sense of our world and negociate meaning with others. In the second part of this paper, I speak to the articulations between make-believe activities and creative symbol-use as a guiding connection to rethink the aims of representations. Simulacrum and simulation, I show, play a key role besides language in helping children ground and mediate their experience in new ways. From computer-based microworlds for constructive learning (Papert’s turtle geometry, TERC’s body-syntonic graphing), to social virtual environments (MUDing). In each case, I discuss the roles of symbolic recreation, and imaginary projection (people’s abilities to build and dwell in their creations) as two powerful heuristic to keep in touch with situations, to bring what’s unknown to mind’s reach, and to explore risky ideas on safe grounds. I draw implications for education.
Ackermann E. K. (2007) Experiences of artifacts: People’s appropriations / objects’ “affordances”. Chapter 23 in: Key works in radical constructivism (edited by Marie Larochelle). Sense Publishers, Rotterdam: 249–257. https://cepa.info/3893
Excerpt: I wish address some of the paradoxes that arise if one adopts a non-critical radical constructivist stance to account for creative people’s interactions with – and through – (hu)man-made artifacts, in particular as they engage in the process of ‘world-making’, to use Goodman’s expression (1978), or designing in a broad sense.
Ackermann E. K. (2010) Constructivism(s): Shared roots, crossed paths, multiple legacies. In: Clayson J. & Kalas I. (eds.) Constructionist approaches to creative learning, thinking and education: Lessons for the 21st century. Proceedings of Constructionism 2010. Comenius University, Bratislava: 1–9. https://cepa.info/6082
This paper examines the shared roots and crossed paths between Jean Piaget’s constructivism, what Seymour Paper refers to as “constructionism,” and socio-cultural theories as epitomized by Lev Vygotsky. We do so in the light of more situated, pragmatic, and ecological approaches to human cognition. All these views are developmental (stressing the genesis children’s interests and abilities over time), experiential (in the sense that knowledge is rooted in sensori-motor activity) and interactionist (people are seen as constructing their knowledge by transforming the world). Yet, the views also differ, each highlighting some aspects of how children grow and learn, while leaving other questions unanswered. Piaget’s main contribution was to flesh out what is common in children’s ways of thinking at different stages of their cognitive development and, more important, how consistent, robust, and generally “adapted” their views are. The theory stresses the progressive de-contextualization of knowledge (from here-and-now to then-and-there) and identifies some of the hidden mechanisms (internal reorganizations) that drive human cognitive development. Papert, in contrast, stresses how individuals learn in context and how they use their own – and other people’s – externalizations as objects to think with, especially as their convictions break down. His approach is more situated. Papert is particularly interested the role of new media in human learning. Both Papert and Vygotsky shed light on the articulations between direct and mediated experience (from action and tool-use to enactments, language, and symbol-use). Yet Vygotsky and the Russian school have paid much closer attention to the role of caring adults and peers in a child’s initiation to her culture. They remind us that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Integrating the views helps rethink how children come to make sense of their experiences, and how they find their own places – and voices – in the world. At once world-makers, world-readers, and dwellers in the world, human infants are granted from birth with the abilities to optimize exchanges with people and things by moving in and out of contexts, by shifting perspectives, and by switching roles or standpoint. They are extraordinary learners, and much can be learned from them. Lastly, while mostly inner-driven and curious, children need caring adults, secure grounds, and engaging peers and props to thrive and grow. Tools, media, and cultural artifacts are the tangible forms through which they explore their surrounds, express their thoughts, and share the fun with others – and the traces left by those who came before (cultural heritage) become a terrain for newcomers to create their paths.
Context: The idea for this article sprang from a desire to revive a conversation with the late Ernst von Glasersfeld on the heuristic function - and epistemological status - of forms of ideations that resist linguistic or empirical scrutiny. A close look into the uses of humor seemed a thread worth pursuing, albeit tenuous, to further explore some of the controversies surrounding the evocative power of the imaginal and other oblique forms of knowing characteristic of creative individuals. Problem: People generally respond to humor, i.e., they are inclined to smile at things they find funny. People like to crack jokes, make puns, and, starting at age two, human infants engage in pretense or fantasy play. Research on creativity, on the other hand, has mostly scorned the trickster within. Cognitivists in particular are quick to relegate wit, whimsy, and even playfulness to the ranks of artful or poetic frivolities. Method: We use the emblems of the craftsman, the trickster, and the poet to highlight some of the oblique ways of knowing by which creative thinkers bring forth new insights. Each epitomizes dimensions intrinsic to the art of “possibilizing.” Taken together, they help us better understand what it means to be playful beyond curious, rigorous beyond reasonable, and why this should matter, even to constructivists! Results: The musings characteristic of creative individuals (artists, scientists, children) speak to intelligent beings’ ability to use glitches intentionally or serendipitously as a means to open up possibilities; to hold on to a thought before spelling it out; and to resist treating words or images as conventional and arbitrary signs regardless of their evocative power. To fall into nominalism, Bachelard insisted, is a poet’s nightmare! Implications: Psyche is image, said Jung, and when we feel alive we rely on the imaginal to guide our reason. Note that image is not here to be understood as a picture in the head or a photographic snapshot of the world. The imaginal does not represent, it brings forth what we understand beyond words. It does not lock us into a single mode. Instead, it is a call to be mindful, in Ellen Langer’s sense: in the present, mentally alert, and on the outlook for our psyche’s own surprising wisdom (sagacity. Constructivist content: Debates on the heuristic function and epistemological status of oblique ways of knowing have long occupied constructivist scholars. I can only guess whether my uses of Jung’s imaginal or Bachelard’s anti-nominalism would have amused or exasperated Ernst! I do know that, on occasion, Ernst the connoisseur, bricoleur, and translator allowed the rationalist-within to include the poet’s power to evoke as a legitimate form of rationality. He himself has written about oblique knowing as legit!
Recent work in cognitive science has suggested that there are actual cases in which cognitive processes extend in the physical world beyond the bounds of the brain and the body. We argue that, while transcranial cognition may be both a logical and a nomological possibility, no case has been made for its current existence. In other words, we defend a form of contingent intracranialism about the cognitive.
Aizawa K. (2014) Extended cognition. In: Shapiro L. (ed.) The Routledge handbook of embodied cognition. Routledge, London: 31–38. https://cepa.info/4462
Excerpt: This brief chapter will focus on two types of arguments for extended cognition inspired by Clark and Chalmers (1998). First, there has been the thought that cognition extends when processes in the brain, body, and world are suitably similar to processes taking place in the brain. We might describe these as cognitive equivalence arguments for extended cognition. Second, there has been the thought that, when there is the right kind of causal connection between a cognitive process and bodily and environmental processes, cognitive processes come to be realized by processes in the brain, body, and world. We might describe these as coupling arguments for extended cognition. What critics have found problematic are the kinds of similarity relations that have been taken to be applicable or suitable for concluding that there is extended cognition and the conditions that have been offered as providing the right kind of causal connection.
Alhadeff-Jones M. (2008) Promoting scientific dialogue as a lifelong learning process. In: F. Darbellay, M. Cockell, J. Billotte & F. Waldvogel (ed.) A vision of transdisciplinarity; Laying foundations for a world knowledge dialogue. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Press / CRC Press, Lausanne: 94–102.
The aim of this paper is to reconsider some of the stakes involved in the dialogue between sciences and between scientists, considering it as a complex and critical learning process. Dialogue – as conversation, expression, performance and negotiation – can be conceived in several ways. It carries both an epistemic and an experiential side. It involves simultaneously heterogeneous theories and identities. Because it involves fragmented scientific languages, it also requires a shared vision. But above all, what seems critical to acknowledge is that dialogue is a matter of transformation. And because transformation is also a matter of learning, the promotion of dialogue between sciences should be perceived as a virtuous spiral involving: instrumental learning (to dialogue), communicational learning (what we mean by dialoguing) and emancipatory learning (to challenge our core assumptions about dialogue and sciences). Considering the evolution of sciences as a double process embedded in the production of knowledge and the self-development of researchers raises the question of how to conceive simultaneously the relationships between these two major stakes. From a practical point of view, considering scientific dialogue as a lifelong learning process would finally suggest the management of forums like the World Knowledge Dialogue (WKD) as a privileged educational opportunity to be designed following what is known about science as a social practice and about researchers as adult learners. Based on the first edition of this forum, four suggestions are finally considered: favoring heterogeneity; valorizing formal knowledge as well as lived experience; acknowledging the learning dimension involved in the process of sharing; and confronting professional experience with knowledge produced about sciences. Inspired by Edgar Morin’s constructivist and non-dualistic position, this paper explores its practical stakes by revisiting the practice of transdisciplinary research and by considering the relationships between the process of knowledge construction and researchers’ self-development as a lifelong learning process.
Alrøe H. F. & Noe E. (2012) The paradox of scientific expertise: A perspectivist approach to knowledge asymmetries. Fachsprache - International Journal of Specialized Communication XXXIV(3–4): 152–167. https://cepa.info/462
The paradox of scientific expertise is that the growth of science leads to a fragmentation of scientific expertise. To resolve this paradox, this paper probes three hypotheses: 1) All scientific knowledge is perspectival. 2) The perspectival structure of science leads to specific forms of knowledge asymmetries. 3) Such perspectival knowledge asymmetries must be handled through second order perspectives. We substantiate these hypotheses on the basis of a perspectivist philosophy of science grounded in Peircean semiotics and autopoietic systems theory. Perspectivism is an important elaboration of constructivist approaches to help overcome problems in cross-disciplinary collaboration and use of science, and thereby make society better able to solve complex, real-world problems.