i am disappointed,
that you ask the following question:
"I agree that the world cannot "be observed without an observer" or "known
without a knower." I've asked you several times whether you believe that a
world exists outside our knowledge of the world -- I've never been able to
get a clear answer on that specific question."
i do not recall that you asked me that question before. i surely would have
answered: yes, of course.
had you read the semantic turn, you would have found much more than this
answer to your question. in it i point out that if you accept that the
world cannot be observed without an observer, that the world cannot be known
without a knower, you would also have to accept that you cannot say anything
about the world without speaking. all you can do is reporting of your
observing, acting, designing and speaking.
your fatal move, i believe, is claiming that you could step out of your
nervous system and see what is in front of your eye, a world independent of
your observing, acting, and speaking, which effectively denies your body
(and that of others as well).
judging truths in terms of what you have no direct access to is a devilish
power game over who has privilege access to reality the way god might see it
- objectively (i.e., without human bodily involvement), undistorted, and
uncontaminated by human action (the way it exists), especially not modified
by designers who in my view ought to alter the world as is.
i am far from relativist, as jean schneider might be implying. i have
nothing to do with post-modernism, which denies that there is anything out
there. all i do is taking human bodily experiences and practices of living
as the ground from which to understand what we do.
had you read my book carefully in terms i develop, not the dictionary
definitions you like, you would have found that the world outside either
affords our always evolving conceptions of what we can do with it or it does
not, causing disruptions in our practices of living. this makes human
knowing and acting not dependent on an accurate representation of a
principally inaccessible world but subject to a Darwinian mechanism
eliminating conceptions that do not work out.
this grounds reality in what the human body is capable of sensing, doing,
and communicating and this is far from arbitrary. to you, it seems, that
the known reality resides outside of human involvement, objective,
unaffected by what people do with it. i consider this to be a metaphysical
claim, which i don't need to make.
to conclude this post, i am not interested in philosophizing. i do not like
-isms and prefer not to be categorized that way. my intent is to develop
conceptions, methods, and practices for human-centered (not
technology-centered) designers that allow them to listen and respect the
many voices, experiences, and practices that people bring to the artifacts
we are designing. i prefer a diversity of approaches, unconstrained by a
single (and stifling) objectivist epistemology. that's all!
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 11:43 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Roots, traps, constructions
You're proposing that I should have checked with you to exemplify my own
A visit to the list archive will clarify the sequence of the thread:
I posted a definition to define a term I used prior to your response.
I introduced the word "radical" into the thread to describe my view of your
comments. When I was chastised for describing your views as radical, I
presented a definition to explain my meaning. Then Keith responded. At that
point, you replied to Keith.
Before that point, I used a definition to exemplify what I meant. I did not
ignore your use of the word radical when I posted the definition. You had
not used it at that point. You used the word "radical" later.
Your statement that "your dictionary is not as bad as i thought" must be
sardonic. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is hardly "my"
dictionary. It is the dictionary that is in widest use as the desk
dictionary of university presses, academic publishers, and publishers of
As you saw, though, I chose definition 3a to exemplify my meaning.
The definition you prefer -- and the meaning to which Keith refers --
appears earlier. I gather that you intend to be radical in the sense of
gruendlich. I just don't think you achieved the goal in this case.
You seem to be making assumptions on view views. I agree that the world
cannot "be observed without an observer" or "known without a knower." What I
say is that there is a world that exists independent of and over against any
observer and knower. This is Herbert Blumer's view, and it is consistent
with George Herbert Mead's views. I've asked you several times whether you
believe that a world exists outside our knowledge of the world -- I've never
been able to get a clear answer on that specific question.
If you'd answer that question in a clear unambiguous way, that would help to
clear up our epistemological differences.
In your view, is there a world that exists independent of our knowledge of
the world, whether or not we observe it?
You may be right in suspecting I have not read the entire literature of the
new radical constructivism over the past thirty years, but I'm probably not
as ignorant as you think. If you think I've missed something that will help
me to avoid epistemological traps, please post the citations.
During this same era, the ideas of George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer
have been attracting renewed attention, and they seem to hold up fairly
Is there a world that exists independent of our knowledge of the world,
whether or not we observe it?
I look forward to your answer.
Klaus Krippendorff wrote:
i am glad your dictionary is not as bad as i thought, judging by what your
quoted from it. from what you now say, you borrowed the authority of a
dictionary only to justify the meanings you intended,
by ignoring how i used the word "radical." if you would have been
uncertain about what i meant, you could have asked me. as the author i am
the authority on what i wish to say. but i am not even deviating from the
english etymology: "radical" = root, proceeding from the root or base, not
yet seen (as are leaves). the german meaning is much the same "radical" =
grund, gruendlich, der sache auf den grund gehen.
you say: "The argument to evolutionary fitness offers one explanation for
this epistemology that I have not seen before, at least not in philosophy of
science arguments on whether we can know something "real" about the world."
well, you may want to familiarize yourself with radical constructivism,
which has made much progress during the last 30 years in developing an
epistemology from roots in piaget and vico. it does not make the
metaphysical assumption of a world that can be observed without an observer,
that can be known without a knower. it has managed to avoid the
epistemological traps you are struggling with.