Re: Hello

Josh Soffer (
Thu, 22 Oct 1998 16:58:28 -0500 (CDT)

manfred m straehle student of epistemology wrote:

Lyddon has said that their is a very fine line of decifering radical
constructivism and phenonmenology. Can you elaborate on this?

George Boeree responded:
To keep it simple (which is the only way I understand it anyway!),
phenomenology postulates a more immediate and non-constructed
"pre-reflective" awareness, whereas constructivism at least doesn't seem
to speak of it. In other words, there is the possibility of seeing the
world "as it is" with nothing more than your biology doing any sifting
or contrasting. If pcp postulates biological or instinctual constructs
(which in my mind is a contradiction in terms), then I suppose there is
little difference at all.

George, as I see it, there are a variety of phenomenological approaches
to be found within philosophy (Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Ricoeur). One
could say that what they have in common is a view of the relationship
between person and world as an indissociale interaction. I know its
confusing , but that experiencing is described as immmediate and
pre-reflective does not mean that it is not constructed. Indeed,
Husserl's motto was 'to the things themselves', but Husserl
characterized the creation of this 'immediate' meaning as taking place
as part of a flowing synthesis of intentional acts. To intend is to
intend beyond itself. Intentionality is inherently anirticipatory and

For Merelau-Ponty meaning is embodied, an intersubjective matrix in
which one's construing is simultaneously a normative assimilation of the
other and a being drawn into the alienness of the other. In sum ,
phenomenological approaches are as fully constructive in the kellian
sense as is pcp. As to the relation between radical constructivism and
phenomenology, again we may locate different definitions of 'radical'. I
tend to associate this orientation with the social constructivst
positions of those like Efran and Gergen. Is this compatible with some
variant of phenomenology? Trevor Butt has argued so in the Oct. 1998
issue of the Journal of Constructivism (Sedimentation and Elaborative
Choice). He interprets Merleau-Ponty in Gergenesque terms.

I tend to see Merleau-Ponty in a constructivist rather than
constructionist light (the differences are subtle but important) but
the point is that phenomenology and PCP have been viewed as compatible
by many authors.

Regards, Josh Soffer