is an epistemology, a
metatheory, a theory of knowledge, the generic definitions of which are
centered on the active participation of the subject in construing
than on reflecting or representing reality. PCP
is regarded as sharing a constructivist
epistemology, as testified by its philosophical assumption of constructive
alternativism. While the philosophical founders of a constructivist
knowledge are often identified as Giambattista
Vico ("verum ipsum
factum") and George Berkeley
("esse est percipi"), its success
in modern and post-modern psychology is due to von Glasersfeld’s
of Piaget’s work in terms of a radical
constructivist epistemology (von
Glasersfeld, 1974). By "radical" (contrasted with
"trivial") constructivism von Glasersfeld means "a theory of
knowledge in which knowledge does not reflect an 'objective'
reality, but exclusively an ordering and organization of a world
our experience" within the constraints of reality (von Glasersfeld,
p. 24). Therefore, knowledge does not match reality: it fits it.
The vague definition of constructivism
led many scholars to suggest other distinctions within the area in
Mahoney (1988) distinguishes a
"radical" (according to von Glasersfeld) from a "critical"
constructivism, and rejects the former on the basis of its presumed
rather than realistic ontological assumption.
Chiari and Nuzzo (1996) argue that the
"constructivism" should be reserved for the approaches that grapple
to overcome the realism-idealism dichotomy, and distinguish two broad
categories of constructivism - "epistemological" and
"hermeneutic". Epistemological constructivists believe that there can
be many, equally legitimate constructions of one external reality,
hermeneutic constructivists share a view of knowledge as
interpretation historically founded rather than timeless, contextually
verifiable rather than universally valid, and linguistically generated
socially negotiated rather than cognitively and individually produced.
The place of PCP within these kinds of
constructivism, as well as similarities and differences between
constructivism and social constructionism, are issues addressed by
G., & Nuzzo, M. L. (1996). Psychological constructivisms: A
differentiation. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 9,
M. J. (1988). Constructive metatheory: I. Basic features and historical
foundations. International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology,
J. D. (2002). Constructivism in psychology: Personal construct
radical constructivism, and social constructionism. In J. D. Raskin
& S. K.
Bridges (Eds.), Studies in meaning: Exploring constructivist psychology
1-25). New York: Pace University Press. (online version at the URL http://acjournal.org/holdings/vol5/iss3/special/raskin.htm)
Glasersfeld, E. (1974). Piaget and the radical constructivist
C. D. Smock & E. von Glasersfeld (Eds.), Epistemology and
Athens, GA: Follow Through Publications.
Glasersfeld, E. (1984). An introduction to radical constructivism. In
Watzlawick (Ed.), The invented
reality. New York: Norton. (originally published in P. Watzlawick
erfundene Wirklichkeit. München: Piper, 1981) (online version at the URL http://www.umass.edu/srri/vonGlasersfeld/onlinePapers/html/082.html)
Gabriele Chiari & M. Laura Nuzzo