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rediscovered Sextus Empiricus and his account of Pyrrho, the father of scepticism in the Hellenic world. Montaigne merely cut down to size the efforts of human reason. H e put it as conci sel y as one can:
Radical constructivism is an effort to eliminate that conceit. It does not deny the possibility of knowing, but it strives to show that knowledge is not the commodity the tradition of Western philosophy would have us believe. Indeed, constructivism is a theory of act ive knowing, not a conventional epist emology that treat s knowledge as an embodiment of Truth that reflects the world \u201cin itself\u201d, independent of the knower. I ndeed, the two basic principles of radical constructivism are:
To adopt these two principles means to relinquish the mainstays of an inveterate conceptual network. It means getting out of habitual pathways and reconceptualizing a different rational view of the world. In short, it involves a good deal of thinking and, as Bertrand Russell once said, people would rather die than think, and they do.
are supposed to be open-minded and, indeed, to welcome the solution of stubborn problems, even if the new solutions entail a change of thinking and the demise of concepts t hat seemed well established in the past .
faith and the perpetrators of innovation tend to be treated as heretics. This happened to Darwin and his theory of evolution, to Einstein when he first published the theory of relativity, and it happened to Alfred Wegener when he suggested the idea of
difficult book. It is divided into five sections that treat different aspects of one and the same development and the reader is left with the task of integrating novel conceptions of physical objects, space, time, causality, and the universe we find ourselves living in, into a coherent model of the world. This is a formidable task. If the summaries of
among the widely misunderstood concepts of Piagetian theory. One reason for this stems from the fact that \u201cassimilation\u201d is a conceptual postulate whose explanatory use ranges from the unconscious to the deliberate. When a subject assimilates
study and I use my shoe to hammer it in again, I am deliberately assimilating the shoe to the function of a hammer. I t may work, or it may not, but even if it does work I am not led to believe that the shoe is a hammer. In contrast, a child that has just begun to associate two or three visual characteristics, such as four legs, a tail, and fur, with
readers of the works of Piaget and the contemporary constructivists are not as direct and outspoken. I nstead they desperately try to assimilate what they read and hear, disregarding all sorts of clues and bending the interpretation of words to their own notions; and when this proves impossible, they conclude that the author is
The most frequent objection to radical constructivism takes the form of discarding it as a kind of solipsism. I t is t he same objection t hat George Berkeley had t o contend with, and what it claims is as inappropriate in our case as it was in his. The title of Berkeley\u2019s major epistemological work was A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge. If one keeps that title in mind, it will be clear that when he
experience, being constituted by the kind of permanence that results from invariants created by an experiencer\u2019s successful assimilation. But his opponents, just as today\u2019s critics of constructivism, reacted as though he had been talking about the \u201cworld-in- itself\u201d rather than about the principles of human knowledge.
that claims an absolute, eternal order of the universe. Their way of reconciling their blatantly subjectivist theories of knowledge with the requirement of an immutable objective world were parallel and equally ingenious. For Berkeley the unity and
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