Volume 2 · Number 1 · Pages 6–16
Radical Constructivism Seen with Edmund Husserl as Starting Point

Edmond Mutelesi

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Purpose: The paper intends to investigate possible affinities between Husserlian phenomenology, mainly on the basis of Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität, and radical constructivism, essentially in its version according to Maturana and Varela. Findings: Although the two thoughts appear to be delivered in terms that can be philosophically quite abstract for the Husserlian phenomenology and that are empirical-concrete for radical constructivism in Maturana’s thought, there is actually an obvious closeness between the two theories of knowledge, so that the epistemological approach used on both sides can be said to be idealistic. This idealistic orientation in epistemology certainly has its basis in the links seen on both sides between the organic and the cognitive dimension of the subject, although those links are taken as a theme in a kinesthetic approach by Husserl and in a bio-physiological one by Maturana. Neurophenomenology is nowadays one of the fields where this organic–cognitive link – which is crucial for an idealistic approach to knowledge – is being expressed. Research implications: Talking about idealism should not be a source of fear, especially when what is meant is an epistemological idealism and when it is clearly and simply understood as the philosophical and epistemological orientation that interprets the subject as determining the way the object is known in the cognitive process. Also idealism does not mean necessarily subjective idealism. Some very “balanced” authors developed a theory of knowledge that is usually seen as idealistic without ignoring the role played by the object in the cognitive process. It is therefore worth investigating further the fact that the ultimate meaning of idealistic epistemologies acknowledging intersubjectivity as a defining dimension of knowledge, is not to ignore the object but to rigorously reestablish the genesis of the object in the cognitive process.

Key words: knowledge, cognition, constitution, construction, intersubjectivity, idealism


Mutelesi E. (2006) Radical constructivism seen with edmund husserl as starting point. Constructivist Foundations 2(1): 6–16. http://constructivist.info/2/1/006

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