Modélisation de la CompleXité
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"Modélisation de la CompleXité"

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MCX-APC (Accueil) > Ouvrages > Description de l'ouvrage


par Ernst Von GLASERSFELD (edited by Marie Larochelle)

Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, the Netherland , 2007, ISBN : 978 90 8790 085 4, 323 pages.

            La professeure Marie Larochelle, Université Laval, Québec, a eu l’excellente idée de proposer à Ernst von Glasersfeld de publier une compilation de ses principaux articles publiés après 1985. Avec ces ‘Key works in radical constructivism’, nous disposons ainsi d’une solide présentation de son édifice épistémologique, après celle de ses fondations, publiée en 1985 sous le titre ‘The construction of Knowledge’. Marie Larochelle nous avait il y a peu offert  une brève et dense  introduction (en langue française) à l’occasion de le remise du doctorat Honoris Causa de l’université Laval à Ernst von Glasersfeld, publiée sur le site du Réseau sous le titre : Connaître, n’est ce pas décrire ce que l’on peut faire dans le monde ?’

            En attendant des traductions en d’autres langues de cette œuvre maîtresse qui rassurera, espérons le, les universitaires frileux qu’effraye encore le qualificatif ‘Radical’ (utilisé depuis 1912 pour dire ‘non trivial’), nous publions ici la présentation et le sommaire de l’ouvrage en anglais établie par l’éditeur. (JL LM)


Editorial Book Description
            “Key works on radical constructivism brings together a number of essays by Ernst von Glasersfeld that illustrate the application of a radical constructivist way of thinking in the areas of education, language, theory of knowledge, and the analysis of a few concepts that are indispensable in almost everything we think and do.

            Ernst von Glasersfeld's work opens a window on how we know what we know. The present work grew out of a desire to make more accessible this line of thought, to highlight its originality and consistency, and to illustrate its fecundity in the domains of cognition and learning. The first three parts of this book contain texts by Glasersfeld that outline the constructivist approach and explicate the frequently drastic reconceptualizations he has suggested.

            Both the last part and the postscript consist of commentaries by Edith Ackermann, Jacques Désautels, Gérard Fourez, Leslie P. Steffe and Kenneth Tobin, scholars in the fields that Glasersfeld has been concerned with. They examine a number of critical aspects pertaining to (radical) constructivism's current and future development, often tracing out paths that warrant further exploration and reflection, in particular concerning the sociopolitical dimension of knowledge.

            “Key works on radical constructivism” is intended as a reference book for researchers, educators, and students of education-and for anyone interested in grasping, or deepening their grasp of, radical constructivism's tenets, ambitions and concerns. Readers will discover in this collection of firsthand contributions the contours of a bold, contemporary debate about a most compelling current of thought.


Ernst von Glasersfeld was brought up with more than one language from the very beginning. This taught him early on that the realities people think and talk about are noticeably different. He was much influenced by Silvio Ceccato, the founder of the Operational School in Italy, and then by Jean Piaget's Genetic epistemology, to which, he believes, he was able to add some details. He worked as a language analyst at the Center for Cybernetics in Milan, directed a language research project for the Us Air Force from 1962 to 1970, and then taught as professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Georgia, USA. In 1987 he retired at the age of 75 and became Research Associate at the Scientific Reasoning Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts. Throughout, his main interest was how we come to know what we know and how thought and language are linked. He has published several books in English, German, and Italian.


Marie Larochelle is Full Professor at the Faculty of Education of Université Laval, Québec City. For many years, she has actively researched socio epistemological problems related to the teaching/learning of scientific knowledge. Her publications have been primarily in the fields of science education and constructivism. Her current research interests focus on how students and future science teachers figure or represent the conflicts, controversies, negotiations and socioethical issues that shape the practice of the technosciences.



Preface (Ernst von Glasersfeld)

List of contributors

Acknowledgment of sources



Marie Larochelle



 1. Learning as a constructive activity

2. Reconstructing the concept of knowledge

3. Facts and the self from a constructivist point of view

4. Signs, communication, and language

5. How do we mean? A constructivist sketch of semantics

6. On the concept of interpretation

7. Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology



8. Aspects of constructivism: Vico, Berkeley, Piaget

9. The end of a grand illusion

10. The simplicity complex

1.1. The logic of scientific fallibility

1.2. The incommensurability of science and poetic wisdom

13. Farewell to objectivity

1.4. The radical constructivist view of science

1.5. Cybernetics and the theory of knowledge



16. Notes on the concept of change

17. Abstraction, re-presentation, and reflection. An interpretation of experience and of Piaget' s approach

18. Representation and deduction

19. A constructivist approach to experiential foundations of mathematical concepts

20. The conceptual construction of time

2L Anticipation in the constructivist theory of cognition

22. A constructive approach to 'universals'



23. Experiences of artifacts: People's appropriations /’ objects’ ‘affordances'

Edith Ackermann

24. Knowledge as representation

Gerard Fourez

25. A constructivist account of knowledge production as a social

phenomenon and its relation to scientific literacy   .

Jacques Desautels

26. Radical constructivism and "school mathematics"

Leslie P. Steffe



index of names

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