By Yvonna S Lincoln
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Extra info for The Constructivist Credo
As we pointed out earlier, many of these assumptions and presumptions arose from questions faced by us or by our students. In the struggle for answers to our and their problems, the nature of the “givens” in constructivist inquiry became clearer. Thus, we have not taken up the serious debates among theories, lenses, perspectives, and critiques pursued by our colleagues, but rather have focused on extending and clarifying the perspectives of constructivists (and, in Appendix A, tried to imagine what a Tier 1 research university would look like if organized around constructivist principles, rather than scientific method principles).
It might be acceptable to conclude that in the physical and biological sciences, such an approach is reasonably appropriate (although that conclusion is by no means secure). But suppose one decides to defi ne reality in a non-foundational sense, that is, relativistically. What if reality is conceptualized as not being real in the usual sense, but relative to its observer/defi ner? Is there a class of entities worth inquiring into that would fit this defi nition? We believe it to be the case that all entities commonly included within the purview of the human sciences are of this kind.
The book consisted of a series of case studies intended to demonstrate that “language-less” thought was possible. I was especially struck by the case of a British mathematician, who claimed that he thought not only without language but without the notational systems common to mathematicians. Indeed, he argued, he developed his proofs at some inner level of mind that eschewed both words and symbols. But when the proof had to be written down so that it could be communicated to others, it “lost in the translation”; that is, it communicated only the surface of the thought and failed to communicate the deeper mental experience.