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What is Not August 10, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Uncategorized.

For a long time, ever since reading Munchausen’s Pigtail and The Invented Reality (both edited by Paul Watzlavick), I have identified with constructivism.  It is a philosophy with a lot to recommend it, despite its obvious contradictions.  Back in the mid-1990s I wrote this Haiku to summarize one of its quandries:

Constructivists say
All we can know is what is not.
How can we know this?

So anyway, despite that, the constructivist viewpoint is invaulable in research, particularly when confronted with information that seems paradoxical.  And I often fall back on a constructivist viewpoint when flailing about looking for solutions. 

A couple of weeks back I was talking to a young student at the University who was interning for a popular radio show and we discussed the idea that computers are constructivist (at least I think that they are) because they are comprised of circuits that are predominantly nand gates.  Yet they do not seem constructivist because we mostly use them to proclaim “this is truth,” rather than “this is falsehood.”  Partially this is a failing of human communication in general.  Narratives based on things not happening don’t feel like they are going anywhere, and we understand events as narrative.

Anyway, this morning while I was looking through my bloglines account I was thinking about how to categorize these blog posts and I ran across one of my favorite writers, Jon Carroll, who shares this anecdote about Wittgenstien talking to one of his students:

<<Wittgenstein . . . was having a conversation with a student when he said, “The one thing I’ve never understood is why ancient man believed that the sun revolved around the Earth.”

The student replied, “That’s obvious; it’s because it looks as if the sun revolves around the Earth.”

Wittgenstein thought for a moment and then asked, “How would it look if it looked as if the Earth revolved around the sun?”>>

So, naturally, I decided to try categorizing posts according to what they are not about.  I may go back and change it later if this doesn’t lead anywhere.  We’ll have to see.



1. My Super Kids - August 16, 2007

Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

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