Volume 11 · Number 1 · Pages 119–126
Religion: A Radical-Constructivist Perspective

Andreas Quale

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Context: In the literature of radical constructivism, the epistemology and ontology of religion has been rarely discussed. Problem: I investigate the impact of radical constructivism on some aspects of religion - in particular, on the conflict that is sometimes perceived to arise between religion and natural science, discussed in the context of religious belief. Method: It is argued that the epistemology of radical constructivism serves to distinguish between items of cognitive and non-cognitive knowledge. This makes it possible to discuss issues of religious belief, which are non-cognitive, from a constructivist epistemic and ontological perspective. Results: I conclude that radical constructivism cannot be invoked to support or contradict any particular religious faith; the individual knower will construct her own ontology (i.e., her attitudes and convictions with respect to religious propositions), as part of her store of non-cognitive knowledge, in interaction with her environment (which includes other individuals. Note that the existence of this environment is accepted as given (thus repudiating the metaphysical position of solipsism); on the other hand, any knowledge of it must be constructed in the mind of the knower, and there is no way to identify any one construction as being objectively “right” or “true.” Hence the truth value of propositions of religious conviction cannot be argued in cognitive terms. Implications: It is argued that these results elevate the knower into a position of personal autonomy with respect to religious issues. One consequence of this is the emergence of a fundamental epistemic incompatibility between the worldviews of radical constructivism and religion of any kind. Another is that the old dichotomy between atheism and agnosticism disappears - or rather, becomes irrelevant. Constructivist content: The role played by radical constructivism in the approach to cognitive vs. non-cognitive knowledge is discussed, specifically as pertaining to issues of religion. The construction of knowledge (of any kind) is a strictly personal enterprise, and the use of constructed non-cognitive knowledge then forms a basis for the individual knower’s religious position.

Key words: Radical constructivism, knowledge construction, cognition, non-cognitive knowledge, religion.


Quale A. (2015) Religion: A radical-constructivist perspective. Constructivist Foundations 11(1): 119–126. http://constructivist.info/11/1/119

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