Uploaded by andrea_toral

notes constructivism

“What happens within a person is related to the person’s biological and social context,
as well as our roles in observing and describing what is real and true.”
How they are functioning. The uniqueness of them... the social context: describing and
An active process inbuilding knowledge
The face of
Reality is subjective, based upon the person’s knowing process.
Observer makes reality. The process is unique to each of us.
Knowledge is constructed, not discovered
Learning as an active process (not passively receiving information. You are creating
your own understanding)
Truth is unknowable
Glaserfeld: “There is a world, but we are unable to acquire certainty of our
representations of it as true to reality as we are unable to access any objective
Knowledge from adaptation to viability, so not the environment produces structural
changes but our fitness in relation to our experiences.
“All communication and all understanding are a matter of interpretive
construction on the part of the experiencing subject”
CONSTRUCTIVISM: (second order
cybernetics) what happens within a
person is related to the person’s
biological and social context as well as
our role as observers in describing what
is real and true.
The knower creates the known
Anti-realist: no independent reality
Knower makes the reality rather than
discovers it; creates reality, since reality
is subjective, based upon the person’s
knowing process.
Environment effects are not predictable
OBJECTIVISM: holds that there is a
reality independent from the observer that
can be known. The therapist would
assume that there are objective facts
waiting to be discovered and that a welltrained therapist can discover them.
Objectivist position explains that there is
an environmental determinism.
Realist: an independent reality to be
discovered. The knower discovers reality.
Couse and effect relationships can be
predictable, since the cause and the
effect can be objectively known in
Environment has predictable effects on
Compare to other therapy models
Collaborative vs. totalitarian
Developmental vs. symptom oriented
Process vs content
Reflective vs psychoeducational
Interaction with the world
We (therapist) intervene in meaning
“The focus of therapy from an assessment of what is- which would be an attempt to gain
an objective truth of the situation- to an exploration of how the person, in this case the
client (and, of course, the therapist), construct what they know.”
Constructivists understand that we cannot help but influence other person, but we
cannot say with certainty what the outcome of this influence/intervention will be. These
non- predictable influences have come to be called perturbations.
Life is not about how one conforms to the rigors of the outside world but, rather, how
one transforms outside stimuli into a personal construct
Essentially, constructivism is a family of theories and therapies:
a. That humans are proactive (and not passively reactive) participants in their own
experience- that is, in all perception, memory and knowing
b. That the vast majority of the ordering process organizing human lives operate at
tacit (un- or super- conscious) levels of awareness
c. That human experience and personal psychological development reflect ongoing
operation of individualized, self-organizing process that tend to favor the
maintenance (over the medication) of experiential patterns.
Von Glasersfeld proposed three essential epistemological tenets of constructivism to
which a fourth has been added in light of recent writings.
1. Knowledge is not passively accumulated, but rather, is the result of active
cognizing by the individual
2. Cognition is an adaptive process that functions to make an individual’s behavior
more viable given a particular environment
3. Cognition organizes and makes sense of one’s experience, and is not a process
to render an accurate representation of reality
4. Knowing has roots in both biological/neurological construction, and social,
cultural and language based interactions.
“An evaluation of radical constructivism results in radical constructivism being
considered a “strong” form of constructivism, as it fully embraces three of the
constructivist epistemological tenets and at least partially embraces the fourth. That is,
radical constructivism is concerned with both the construction of mental structures, the
position of cognitive constructivists, and the construction of personal meaning. In this
sense, radical constructivism involves a greater degree of construction than does
cognitive constructivism, involving two planes of construction, structure and meaning,
rather than only one, structure”
Radical constructivism- the knower can only know through his own experience,
and this, there is no objective reality
It is radical because it breaks with convention and develops a theory of knowledge in
which knowledge does not reflect an “objective” ontological reality, but exclusively an
ordering and organization of a world constituted by our experience.
There is not a denial of events outside of us, but an understanding that what we
experience are our own constructed models of what is. “The map is not the territory.
Rather, the map is an individual’s construction of the territory that is out there”.
“Anything said is said by an observer”. From a constructivist perspective, the self is
based on an awareness of what one is doing and experiencing.
FROM “I think, therefore I am” TO “I am aware of thinking, therefore I am”.
The fundamental principles of radical constructivism:
Knowledge is not passively received either through the senses of by way of
Knowledge is actively built up by the cognizing subject
The function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense of the term, tending
towards fit or viability.
Cognition serves the subject’s organization of the experiential world, not the
discovery of an objective ontological reality.
Video: What makes us different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKlaMJaE0g
Positivism- the idea that objective
truth can be discovered by an
observer who is neutral
• desire to see
• access reality
• understand reality
• desire to see
Post-positivists understand that the
observer inevitably influences that • responsability for
is observed- that the observer is part
of the observed, and that detached • observer's
construction of reality
neutrality is not possible.
Biology of love accepting the legitimacy of the other
Maturana defined violence as an act in which one person tries to negate the reality of
another or replace it with his own reality. Love becomes defined as the opposite, an
acceptance of the reality of the other.
“For the constructivist therapist working with Frank and Stella, this leads to the
conceptualization of each of them changing self rather than trying to change the other,
since the self of each the source of their reality. When people accept that they construct
their own reality, they are more readily available to accept responsibility for their
Autopoiesis: a system that self regulates
A person is autopoietic in that he is a self- organizing and self-referential system.
Further, the person has a structure, which determines how he functions. This
functioning changes based on the interactions with various mediums (other systems).
For therapists, perhaps one of the most important concepts is that the medium in which
people interact is through language (both verbal and nonverbal)
Ethical imperative- act always so as to increase the number of choices
Consensual behavior- being in connection with one another, function based on their
own organization but also change by being involved with one another. Frank and stella
will each display behaviors that would not have existed if it were not for their being in
relationship with one another. For each connection to a different person would lead to
different consensual behavior.
Structural drift: is the connection between how a system is organized and the system’s
connection with the medium (another system). Structural drift happens in the moment
based on the interactions between people. People in relationship are connected to one
another through structural drift.
Structural determinism: is the notion that people function in their internal and
relational dynamics based on their structure. Maturana and Varela described that, in
examining the organization of a system, one views the component parts not as separate
entities but in terms of how they work in relation to the other components of system
(what these authors call the unity)
The actions of the environment are just the situation, which allows the system’s
response to occur. These actions are called perturbations. We cannot help but
influence the other person, and we cannot say with certainty what the outcome of our
influence will be.
When one part of a system change, it will change the consensual behavior, which is
called orthogonal interactions. A change in one part of the system, can lead to
system-wide change.