Volume 2 · Number 2-3 · Pages 136–145
Triple-Loop Learning as Foundation for Profound Change, Individual Cultivation, and Radical Innovation: Construction Processes beyond Scientific and Rational Knowledge

Markus F. Peschl

Download the full text in
PDF (139 kB)

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment


Purpose: Ernst von Glasersfeld’s question concerning the relationship between scientific/rational knowledge and the domain of wisdom and how these forms of knowledge come about is the starting point. This article aims at developing an epistemological as well as methodological framework that is capable of explaining how profound change can be brought about in various contexts, such as in individual cultivation, in organizations, in processes of radical innovation, etc. This framework is based on the triple-loop learning strategy and the U-theory approach, which opens up a perspective on how the domains of scientific/rational knowledge, constructivism, and wisdom could grow together more closely. Method: This article develops a strategy which is referred to as “triple-loop learning,” which is not only the basis for processes of profound change, but also brings about a new dimension in the field of learning and knowledge dynamics: the existential realm and the domain of wisdom. A concrete approach that puts into practice the triple-loop learning strategy is presented. The final section shows, how these concepts can be interpreted in the context of the constructivist approach and how they might offer some extensions to this paradigm. Findings: The process of learning and change has to be extended to a domain that concerns existential issues as well as questions of wisdom. Profound change can only happen if these domains are taken into consideration. The triple-loop learning strategy offers a model that fulfills this criterion. It is an “epistemo-existential strategy” for profound change on various levels. Conclusion: The (cognitive) processes and attitudes of receptivity, suspension, redirecting, openness, deep knowing, as well as “profound change/innovation from the interior” turn out to be core concepts in this process. They are compatible with constructivist concepts. Von Glasersfeld’s concept of functional fitness is carried to an extreme in the suggested approach of profound change and finds an extension in the existential domain.

Key words: double-loop learning, individual cultivation, radical innovation, knowledge creation, knowledge society, personality development, presencing, profound change, triple-loop learning, U-theory, wisdom


Peschl M. F. (2007) Triple-loop learning as foundation for profound change, individual cultivation, and radical innovation: Construction processes beyond scientific and rational knowledge. Constructivist Foundations 2(2-3): 136–145. http://constructivist.info/2/2-3/136

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Peschl M. F. (2006) Modes of Knowing and Modes of Coming to Know Knowledge Creation and Co-Construction as Socio-Epistemological Engineering in Educational Processes
Sweeting B. & Hohl M. (2015) Exploring Alternatives to the Traditional Conference Format: Introduction to the Special Issue on Composing Conferences
Peschl M. F., Bottaro G., Hartner-Tiefenthaler M. & Rötzer K. (2014) Learning How to Innovate as a Socio-epistemological Process of Co-creation: Towards a Constructivist Teaching Strategy for Innovation
Peschl M. F., Bottaro G., Hartner-Tiefenthaler M. & Rötzer K. (2014) Authors’ Response: Challenges in Studying and Teaching Innovation: Between Theory and Practice
Zimmermann E., Peschl M. F. & Römmer-Nossek B. (2010) Constructivist Curriculum Design for the Interdisciplinary Study Programme MEi:CogSci – A Case Study


Argyris C. & Schön, D. A. (1996) Organizational learning II. Theory, method, and practice. Addison-Wesley: Redwood City CA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Aristoteles (1985) Nikomachische Ethik. Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bechtel W. & Abrahamsen A. (2002) Connectionism and the mind. Parallel processing, dynamics, and evolution in networks. Blackwell Publishers, Malden MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Boden M. A. (ed.) (1990) The philosophy of artificial intelligence. Oxford University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bohm D. (1996) On dialogue. Routledge, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bortoft H. (1996) The wholeness of nature. Goethe’s way of science. Floris Books, Edinburgh. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Clark A. (1997) Being there. Putting brain, body, and world together again. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Depraz N., Varela F. J. & Vermersch P. (2003) On becoming aware. A pragmatics of experiencing. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, Philadelphia. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
European Commission (2004) Innovation management and the knowledge-driven economy. European Commission, Directorate-general for Enterprise, Brussels. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Foerster H. von (1973) On constructing a reality. In: Preiser W. F. E. (ed.) Environmental design research. Hutchinson & Ross: Stroudsburg PA, ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Friedman T. L. (2006) The world is flat. A brief history of the twenty-first century, Ferrar. Straus and Giroux, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glasersfeld E. von (1984) An introduction to radical constructivism. In: Watzlawick P. (ed.) The invented reality: How do we know? W. W. Norton, New York: 17–40. http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/070.1
Glasersfeld E. von (1989) Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese 80(1): 121–141. http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/118
Glasersfeld E. von (1991) Knowing without metaphysics: Aspects of the radical constructivist position. In: Steier F. (ed.) Research and reflexivity. Sage Publications, London: 12–29. http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/132
Glasersfeld E. von (1995) Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. Falmer Press, London. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glasersfeld E. von (1996) Radikaler Konstruktivismus. Ideen, Ergebnisse, Probleme. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/M. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Glasersfeld E. von (2000) Konstruktion der Wirklichkeit und des Begriffes der Objektivität. In: Foerster H. von, Glasersfeld E. von, Hejl P. M., Schmidt S. J. et al. (eds.) Einführung in den Konstruktivismus. 5th ed. Piper, Munich: 9–39. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hebb D. O. (1949) The organization of behavior; a neuropsychological theory. Wiley, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Holsapple C. W. (ed.) (2003) Handbook of knowledge management 1: Knowledge matters. Springer, Berlin, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hutchins E. (1995) Cognition in the wild. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Isaacs W. (1999) Dialogue and the art of thinking together: A pioneering approach to communicating in business and life. Doubleday Currency, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kolb D. A. (1984) Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs NJ. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Krogh G. von, Ichijo K. & Nonaka I. (2000) Enabling knowledge creation. How to unlock the mystery of tacit knowledge and release the power of innovation. Oxford University Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Levi P. (1997) Collective intelligence: Mankind's emerging world in cyberspace. Perseus Books, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (eds.) (1980) Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Reidel: Dordrecht, Boston. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Maturana H. R. (1970) Biology of cognition. In: Maturana H. R. & Varela F. J. (eds.) Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Reidel: Dordrecht, Boston: 2–60. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Nonaka I. & Takeuchi H. (1995) The knowledge creating company. How Japanese companies manage the dynamics of innovation. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Nonaka I. & Toyama R. (2003) The knowledge-creating theory revisited: Knowledge creation as a synthesizing process. Knowledge Management Research and Practice 1: 2–10. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peschl M. F. (2001) Constructivism, cognition, and science. An Investigation of its links and possible shortcomings. Foundations of Science 6: 125–161. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peschl M. F. (2003) Structures and diversity in everyday knowledge. From reality to cognition and back. In: Gadner J., Buber R. & Richards L. (eds.) Organising knowledge. Methods and case studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire: 3–27. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peschl M. F. (2005) Acquiring basic cognitive and intellectual skills for informatics. Facilitating understanding and abstraction in a virtual cooperative learning environment. In: Micheuz P., Antonitsch P. & Mittermeir R. (eds.) Innovative concepts for teaching informatics. Ueberreuter, Vienna: 86–101. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peschl M. F. (2006) Modes of knowing and modes of coming to know. Knowledge creation and knowledge co-construction as socio-epistemological engineering in educational processes. Constructivist Foundations 1(3): 111–123. http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/1/3/111.peschl
Peschl M. F. (2006) Raum für Innovation und Knowledge Creation. Lernende Organisation 29: 56–64. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Piaget J. (1992) Biologie und Erkenntnis. Über die Beziehung zwischen organischen Regulationen und kognitiven Prozessen. Fischer, Frankfurt/M. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Polanyi M. (1966) The tacit dimension. Doubleday, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Rifkin J. (2004) The end of work. Putnam, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Rosch E. (1999) Primary knowing: When perception happens from the whole field. Retrieved from http://www.dialogonleadership.org/Rosch-1999.pdf on 6 May 2005. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Rumelhart D. E., Hinton G. E. & Williams R. J. (1986) Learning internal representations by error propagation. In: Rumelhart D. E. & McClelland J. L. (eds.) Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the microstructure of cognition. Foundations. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 318–361. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Scharmer C. O. (2000) Presencing: Learning from the future as it emerges. On the tacit dimension of leading revolutionary change. Retrieved from http://www.dialogonleadership.org/PresencingTOC.html on 2 February 2005. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Scharmer C. O. (2001) Self-transcending knowledge. Sensing and organizing around emerging opportunities. Journal of Knowledge Management 5: 137–150. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Scharmer C. O. (forthcoming) Theory U: A social technology for leading profound change. Published in 2009. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schein E. H. (1993) On dialogue, culture and organizational learning. Organization Dynamics 22: 44–51. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Senge P. M. (1990) The fifth discipline. The art and practice of the learning organization. Doubleday, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Senge P., Scharmer C. O., Jaworski J. & Flowers B. S. (2004) Presence. Human purpose and the field of the future. Society for Organizational Learning, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
UNESCO (2005) Towards knowledge societies. Paris, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO World Report). ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. (2000) Three gestures of becoming aware. Retrieved from http://www.dialogonleadership.org/Varela-2000.pdf on 27 April 2005. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Varela F. J., Thompson E. & Rosch E. (1991) The embodied mind: cognitive science and human experience. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.