Volume 18 · Number 1 · Pages 030–041
The Maturanian Turn: Good Prospects for the Language Sciences

Alexander V. Kravchenko

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Context: Strongly influenced by Cartesian dualist philosophy, contemporary linguistic orthodoxy is unable to explain the nature and function of language in the human praxis of living. Structuralists and cognitivists alike continue to dehumanize language, viewing it as something external to body and mind, thereby impeding our understanding of life and world. Problem: Inability to change the orthodox perspective on language and failure to come to grips with the biology of language and cognition tells on the overall efficacy of linguistics, making it a prescience that negatively affects institutionalized social practices, especially education. Method: Building on Humberto Maturana’s biology of cognition as a constructivist epistemology, I identify the epistemological errors of linguistics and show how a systems-theory approach helps us to arrive at a holistic view of language as our existential domain in which we arise as observers. Results: Consistent application of the tenets of the biology of cognition in theorizing language helps us to understand anew or reconceptualize many problems that have been stumbling blocks in linguistics, providing simple and coherent explanations of various linguistic phenomena as distinctions made in language by the observer. Implications: Instead of focusing on language as a system of abstract symbols used as a “tool” to be studied “in itself and for itself,” language scientists should make a concerted effort to transform the humanities into a unified science of humanness.

Key words: Ecology, epistemology, language, linguistics, Maturana, observer, systems theory, world construction.


Kravchenko A. V. (2022) The maturanian turn: Good prospects for the language sciences. Constructivist Foundations 18(1): 030–041. https://constructivist.info/18/1/030

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