• Artemis
    1.1k
    http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/EvG/papers/070.1.pdf

    In this essay, Von G. writes: "we cannot possibly conceive of an unexperienced world." (p. 1). Later he applies this line of thought to apples (p. 5).

    Either the realist errs in remaining committed to the existence of "unconceptualized" or unexperienced apples.
    Or there is an objective reality we can know of, yet not have conceptualized or experienced. But then, how can knowledge claims arise?

    Thoughts? Defenses of constructvism or realism?

    (Please read the essay before commenting. Thanks.)
  • Mww
    854


    Interesting read. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

    I wonder...is it possible to be one at the exclusion of the other? If not, how far does one have to go in the reduction of their respective arguments in order to meet with their mutual exclusivity. On the other hand, if one finds fault with empirical skepticism in realism and finds fault with cognitive activity in constructivism, then it would seem a combination of parts of each is called for. If for nothing else, just to establish a personal comfort zone, which wouldn’t do for a professional, but suits the regular guy just fine.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k


    If we can't conceive of an unexperienced or objective world, then what would we even be talking about in this discussion?
  • bogdan9310
    18
    Didn't know they are opposites.
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    Well, the constructivist stance is that there is no objective truth outside the self, and the realist says there is. So as far as that goes, yes you have to choose one. It's A or not A.

    Seems to me the constructivist has to deny all of realism, but the realist can allow some constructivism. So, the realist posits there is an objective reality, but humans may have imperfect access to it.



    Like I said, you need to read the article.
  • Mww
    854
    the realist posits there is an objective reality, but humans may have imperfect access to it.NKBJ

    I can live with that. If I were to modify it to fit me better, I’d say, may have imperfect knowledge of it. This because we only have one means of access, re: perception, so it’s relativity is moot. Of course, one obligates himself to forward some sense of idealism, by insisting it is judgement in error, not perception, in the case of sensible illusion and such, which is the only way to mitigate your “imperfect access”.

    As far as “truth” is concerned, however, I suppose the constructivist holds sway, insofar as the human cognitive system is predicated on a network of interwoven faculties, the sole employment of which is to construct relations between the objects of those faculties. Theoretically, that is; no one really has the correct answers.
  • Echarmion
    473


    Thanks for the interesting essay. Not much that I would fundamentally disagree with.

    I wonder whether radical constructivism holds that there are a priori principles built into the human mind? Are e.g. time and space, as ordering principles, built from comparing experiences?
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    As far as “truth” is concerned, however, I suppose the constructivist holds sway, insofar as the human cognitive system is predicated on a network of interwoven faculties, the sole employment of which is to construct relations between the objects of those faculties. Theoretically, that is; no one really has the correct answers.Mww

    I think some constructivism, or at least fallibalism is warranted with things like perceptions/knowledge of the experiential world. I'm not sure it makes as much sense when we talk about basic math or logic. A =/= ~A is a pretty straightforward truth.

    I wonder whether radical constructivism holds that there are a priori principles built into the human mind? Are e.g. time and space, as ordering principles, built from comparing experiences?Echarmion

    Yes, I think the constructivist maintain that there are priori principles built into the human mind. That's what v.G. means when he talks about the apparent structured nature of the world and then explains that it appears so because we are predisposed to construct it as such.
  • Echarmion
    473
    I think some constructivism, or at least fallibalism is warranted with things like perceptions/knowledge of the experiential world. I'm not sure it makes as much sense when we talk about basic math or logic. A =/= ~A is a pretty straightforward truth.NKBJ

    Well it's a truth, but it's not an objective truth, is it? Formal logic does not point towards some object somewhere, nor does maths. Though physicists like to say that "math is the language of the universe" math and logic are not imparted to us by the universe. All purely deductive systems are tautological, they are true because they are true.
  • Mww
    854
    I'm not sure it makes as much sense when we talk about basic math or logic.NKBJ

    Don’t we have to construct our mathematical and logical forms a priori? Then go about proving their truths in the world?
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    All purely deductive systems are tautological, they are true because they are true.Echarmion

    I don't think the foundational elements of logic are tautological as much as they are self-evident to the point that you cannot rationally seriously doubt them. That is because in order to interrogate them, you must use them.

    Don’t we have to construct our mathematical and logical forms a priori?Mww

    Well, a priori forms/ideas are by definition not constructed.

    But I suppose there is some point at which the realist will find one ontological proof of logic in the way s/he finds things in the world. A cannot be ~A, and that is based on both our entire way of understanding the world, as well as on the world itself, in which you cannot find a single example of A being ~A.
  • Mww
    854
    Well, a priori forms/ideas are by definition not constructed.NKBJ

    Then how do we know them? How can they be thought?
  • Number2018
    270
    The essay is interesting.
    Von G. wrote himself: “The way that question was put at the very beginning made it impossible to answer, and the attempts that have since been made
    could not get anywhere near a solution to the problem.”
    I mean that the way the problem was formulated, assumed to push the reader to choose
    Constructivism. Yet, the author argumentation is based primarily on his interpretation of
    a priory, as well as the Piaget's theory of mental development. “The a priori describes the framework within which such an organism
    operates, but it does not tell us what the organism does, let alone why it does it…. the world which we experience is, and must be as it is because we have put it together that way.”
    It is a vicious logical circle, kind of tautology,being understood as a universal principle, allows
    to lay a philosophical ground of constructivism in Von G.’s interpretation. The second, psychological founding principle is based on Piaget’s apprehension of child development. So, the two principals, unfolding together, support each other and
    create an appearance of a solid theoretical foundation. Yet, it is known, that the main
    principals of Piaget’s psychology were challenged by Vygotski, who showed the importance of the social environment to a child’s mental development. There is not the
    productive building activity of an independent child’s mind, but a mutual, interdependent process, involving both the social as well the child’s mental
    operations. Therefore, the aporia – Constructivism or Realism could be avoided, if instead
    of isolating both terms involved one would try to include the third term: The Social.
  • Echarmion
    473
    Then how do we know them? How can they be thought?Mww

    Several options are possible. They might be hardwired into our minds. They might form during early infancy, before conscious experience is possible.
  • Mww
    854


    I grant some conceptions may exist hardwired in the mind, as a product of the kind of rational being we are, re: necessity, correlation, existence. These are used in our mathematical and logical constructions after attaining the age of reason. We cannot begin to think A = A without the ground of those concepts.

    Yes? No?
  • sime
    371
    Realism is a type of constructivism. For otherwise the statements of realists would not exist. The difference between realists and idealists is in what statements they construct and for what purposes.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Like I said, you need to read the article.NKBJ

    So we can't have a discussion about the question I asked?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Well, the constructivist stance is that there is no objective truth outside the self, and the realist says there is. So as far as that goes, yes you have to choose one. It's A or not A.

    Seems to me the constructivist has to deny all of realism, but the realist can allow some constructivism. So, the realist posits there is an objective reality, but humans may have imperfect access to it.
    NKBJ

    Also, it's important not to conflate truth and ontology in general.

    For example, I'm a subjectivist on truth--in short, truth is a relation between propositions and other things, and in my view that relation amounts to a judgment that individuals make. But I'm a realist in general a la believing that tons of things exist independently of us. (And in fact I find it aggravating that so many people are so focused only on us in what's basically an extension of little kids thinking that "the world revolves around them.")
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    Then how do we know them? How can they be thought?Mww

    By definition, a priori are things we just know "before." Which is where it gets iffy. Kant, for instance, thinks we're just imbued with this knowledge. I'm on the fence. I think we may be programmed genetically to view things in a certain way, but then again, the aspects of the way the world is have shaped our genes, so it makes sense to say that our perceptions of the world, and the way we interpret it are a reflection of the way the world really is.

    Like we come with the ability to see. And the reason we evolved such things as eyes is because light exists. If it didn't exist, the random mutations leading to the first eye-like things would have disappeared.

    We evolved to think A=A because that's the way it is in the world. There's nothing any of our ancestors encountered that contradicted that.

    But this is just my preliminary rumination and I'm not necessarily tied to it.



    Spoken like a true constructivist xD
    But seriously, no they're not at all the same. They entertain diametrically opposed worldviews.

    So we can't have a discussion about the question I asked?Terrapin Station

    Have you ever been in a class or had a conversation with people about a book or paper and one person never bothered to read the material but still wants to talk? If so, then you know that it's just silly, because either they say things only tangentially related, or make points that would have been answered if they'd read the text. It derails the conversation and wastes everyone's time.

    So, I'm not interested in having a conversation with you that you are unprepared for, but you're welcome to have your conversation elsewhere. You can always create your own discussion.
  • sime
    371
    Spoken like a true constructivist xD
    But seriously, no they're not at all the same. They entertain diametrically opposed worldviews.
    NKBJ

    If they are diametrically opposite worldviews, constructivism says they cannot be so in the sense of the presence or absence of construction, because constructivism identifies semantics with the process of derivation. Hence constructivism denies the possibility that the semantics of realist conclusions can transcend their logical, phenomenal and behavioural argumentation.

    For example, constructivism denies that "This is not a constructed sentence" is not a constructed sentence. Yet it is possible for a realist to apparently accept the sentence's message at face value. The constructivist therefore cannot argue with the realist, rather he must find a way of interpreting the realist's statements so as to make the realist's claims true from a constructivist point of view.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Have you ever been in a class or had a conversation with people about a book or paper and one person never bothered to read the material but still wants to talk? If so, then you know that it's just silly, because either they say things only tangentially related, or make points that would have been answered if they'd read the text. It derails the conversation and wastes everyone's time.NKBJ

    Are you saying that the text answers "If we can't conceive of an unexperienced or objective world, then what would we even be talking about in this discussion?"
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    Let me know when you've got substantive questions/comments tha show you've bothered reading the text.
    Or don't.
    But I will not respond to further comments that don't.
  • Mww
    854
    We evolved to think A=A because that's the way it is in the world.NKBJ

    I dunno, man. Everybody with a few of the right letters after his name, from at least Hume all the way up to nowadays, is likely to suggest “the way it is in the world” is an empirically contingent induction and can never be a law like A = A. We may have indeed evolved with the knowledge a rock is always going to be a rock in our world, but it wasn’t until our physiological evolution was pretty much over that we discovered water isn’t always fluid and there are “objects” with no (rest) mass.

    Agreed, Kant does say we arrive alive with some pure a priori knowledge, such as A = A, which is of course, not empirically contingent because it doesn’t matter what A is, but whatever it is, it is that.

    I also think we are genetically inclined to view the world in a certain way, and our view, at least in general, is the way the world is. The gravity we know is attractive, the sun doesn’t really rise in the east, grizzlies are not your friends.
  • Echarmion
    473
    By definition, a priori are things we just know "before." Which is where it gets iffy. Kant, for instance, thinks we're just imbued with this knowledge. I'm on the fence. I think we may be programmed genetically to view things in a certain way, but then again, the aspects of the way the world is have shaped our genes, so it makes sense to say that our perceptions of the world, and the way we interpret it are a reflection of the way the world really is.NKBJ

    I think that it is evident that empirical reality, even if constructed, is not unrelated to objective reality. But the word reflection carries a connotation of it being like a mirror or a picture, as the paper you linked also points out. If empirical reality is a bunch of constructions that work, I.e. provide the kind of information they were supposed to, then they reflect something of the structure of objective reality, but not necessarily the way it is.

    As to where a priori concepts come from, that is rather the same question as "where does green come from". The color, not the wavelength. Why does light with a certain wavelength appear green? Do the photons carry the essence of green-ness? But then how would that essence be transported into our minds? A priori concepts are concepts that we happen to have, like we happen to exist in the first place. All we can say is that they were not an obstacle to our survival.

    Like we come with the ability to see. And the reason we evolved such things as eyes is because light exists. If it didn't exist, the random mutations leading to the first eye-like things would have disappeared.NKBJ

    This does not quite follow. For a mutation to disappear, it needs to not reproduce. An attribute does not need to be beneficial to be preserved, it just needs to not kill you. Evolution is strictly "negative" in this sense.
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    On page 2, we read,
    The philosopher of science, Hilary Putnam, has recently formulated it like this: “It is impossible to find a philosopher before Kant (and after the pre-Socratics) who was not a metaphysical realist, at least about what he took to be basic or unreducible assertions.” ....A metaphysical realist, thus, is one who insists that we may call something “true” only if it corresponds to an independent, “objective” reality.

    This is repeated on Page 10:
    whatever we infer from our experience – i.e., whatever we call inductive – necessarily concerns our experience and not that mythical experiencer-independent world of which metaphysical realists dream.

    Now I think the notion of an 'experiencer-independent world' is not actually metaphysical realism, but what Kant would have designated 'transcendental realism':

    transcendental realism...regards space and time as something given in themselves (independent of our sensibility). The transcendental realist therefore represents outer appearances (if their reality is conceded) as things in themselves, which would exist independently of us and our sensibility and thus would also be outside us according to pure concepts of the understanding. (CPR, A369)

    Prior to the late medievals, 'realism' was instead associated with realism concerning universals. So to say of someone (for example Aquinas) that they were a 'realist' was to say, not that he believes in an observer-independent domain - an idea which I'm sure was completely alien to the medievals - but that he accepted the reality of universals, which the nominalists disputed (by saying that universals were 'mere names', hence the designation). The historical debate didn't at all concern the reality of what we now understand as 'the external world' but with the reality of the forms and ideas - universals - which were understood to be the basis of the order of the world. So the 'metaphysical realism' is actually much nearer in meaning to modern, scientific realism. (I am still reading the essay but wanted to bring attention to this point.)
  • jorndoe
    677
    I admittedly did not read the whole document. :meh:

    P1:

    we cannot possibly conceive of an unexperienced world — Ernst von Glasersfeld

    1. I cannot experience your self-awareness (I'd then be you instead)
    2. by P1 we cannot possibly conceive of other self-awarenesses
    3. P1 degenerates into solipsism and is therefore a performative contradiction

    Does that work?


    By the way, I came across one of Glasersfeld's partners in crime recently:

    Conflating Abstraction with Empirical Observation: The False Mind-Matter Dichotomy
    Bernardo Kastrup
    Nov 2017

    > Context • The alleged dichotomy between mind and matter is pervasive. Therefore, the attempt to explain matter in terms of mind (idealism) is often considered a mirror image of that of explaining mind in terms of matter (mainstream physicalism), in the sense of being structurally equivalent despite being reversely arranged. > Problem • I argue that this is an error arising from language artifacts, for dichotomies must reside in the same level of abstraction. > Method • I show that, because matter outside mind is not an empirical observation but rather an explanatory model, the epistemic symmetry between the two is broken. Consequently, matter and mind cannot reside in the same level of abstraction. > Results • It then becomes clear that attempting to explain mind in terms of matter is epistemically more costly than attempting to explain matter in terms of mind. > Implications • The qualities of experience are suggested to be not only epistemically, but also ontologically primary. > Constructivist content • I highlight the primacy of perceptual constructs over explanatory abstraction on both epistemic and ontic levels. > Key words • Idealism, physicalism, pancomputationalism, anti-realism, hard problem of consciousness, epistemic symmetry, explanatory abstraction, levels of abstraction.

    « 41 » The pervasive but unexamined assumption that mind and matter constitute a dichotomy is an error arising from language artifacts. Members of dichotomies must be epistemically symmetrical and, therefore, reside in the same level of abstraction. Physically objective matter – as an explanatory model – is an abstraction of mind. We do not know matter in the same way that we know mind, for matter is an inference and mind a given. This breaks the epistemic symmetry between the two and implies that mainstream physicalism and idealism cannot be mirror images of each other. « 42 » Failure to recognize that different levels of epistemic confidence are intrinsic to different levels of explanatory abstraction lies at the root not only of the false mindmatter dichotomy, but also of attempts to make sense of the world through increasingly ungrounded explanatory abstractions. — Conclusion

    Someone claimed that Kastrup thereby proved idealism (mental monism).
    Yet, as far as I can tell, all this stuff is susceptible to the usual problems.
  • Echarmion
    473
    Does that work?jorndoe

    I don't see how either 2 or 3 follow.
  • jorndoe
    677
    Too bad . :confused:

    Furthermore, there's an inconspicuous sleight of hand move in P1
    we cannot possibly conceive of an unexperienced world — Ernst von Glasersfeld

    Presumably "we" refers to us, humans at large, like other forums members, including when not conscious. Yet, as per
    1. I cannot experience your self-awareness (I'd then be you instead)
    others' self-awarenesses are already inherently unexperienceable parts of the world. In fact, we only learn of others' self-awarenesses (indirectly) via experiencing (interacting with) others' "physical" bodies, thus others' self-awarenesses are further removed than "physical" bodies ("an unexperienced world"). There's more to the world than what meets the eye it would seem, t'would perhaps be a bit arrogant/self-elevating to assume otherwise anyway. Ontics ≠ epistemics. Others' self-awarenesses are like a kind of noumena. As far as I can tell, this stuff is related to self-identity, individuation and indexicality.

    Anyway, I don't think Glasersfeld's (and Kastrup's) metaphysical constructions are particularly ... ehh constructive, outside of mental gymnastics.
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