Pragmatism as an Episode of Constructivism

I am chatting with some colleagues right now, and explaining what I meant when earlier this week I referred to pragmatism as an episode of constructivism.

Pragmatism is a worldview or philosophy that is concerned with the application of what works in this or that context. If pragmatism is a paradigm that Creswell, in his Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, has separated out from the others (like positivism or critical theory), then it occurred to me that pragmatism is doing something based completely on the context. In other words, it is constructing a method or approach to an issue as needed. This sounds surprisingly like constructivism, just reconstructed in time as needed and when needed.

Thus, pragmatism is an episode of constructivism.

Why Do Theoretical Foundations Not Require Evidence?

I am now on to reading some of Donald Schon’s work, specifically the first chapter from his Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. I have liked his work for some time, though have never read it, per se, for a class.

I am starting to wonder how people such as Schon, Wenger, Foucault, or Ortega y Gasset conceptualize or theorize about the world and how we make meaning out of it, and then the rest of us who engage in research rely on them for guiding frameworks and theoretical foundations? Few of that class of thinker provides much research-based evidence for their work, though in some way they get tapped to be quoted without their having to support their work in the same way that one who writes for peer review needs to do. While we can point to some being philosophers (and thus there is the result), I am not sure that Wenger or Schon would ordinarily fit into that classification.

I wonder if there is anything that explains how or why that happens?

string theory

Ortega y Gasset and Pragmatism as an Episode of Constructivism

Still reading the Cook and Brown (1999) Bridging epistemologies article from yeseterday. Would have gotten it completed today (even though I taught at Pace University in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program today, where I am co-teaching NURS 840: Teaching and Learning in Advanced Practice Nursing), but I had a request for more revisions for an article that is scheduled to be published later this year. The problem—the revisions are a RUSH, and due by Sunday.

Farewell weekend 🙁

Anyway, one of the items in Cook and Brown is their assessment of interaction with the social and physical worlds comes from Jose Ortega y Gasset, one of many great thinkers I have never read (though I did just order his book of essays, History as a System, after the authors made several references to it). I was particularly touched with this:

Ortega abandoned the frame of the abstracted, analytic thinking self and throughout his work approached questions of epistemology, action, etc. from the perspective of ‘myself within this context.” For Ortega,  what we can know and what we can do are not discoverable through an abstract Cartesian though experiment, but are products of ongoing concrete interaction between “myself” (or “ourselves”) and the specifics of the social and physical “context” or “circumstances” we are in at any given time (p. 389).

I really like the emphasis on the individual bringing meaning to this or that experience based on the context, and while this is generally considered American Pragmatism, I am now wondering if pragmatism is merely another frame of constructivism, just captured in time? In another way, is pragmatism an episode of constructivism?

Quote interesting this writing about my doctoral studies each day . . .

Axel Honneth

He will present the methodological foundation for his entire book.

Axel speaks with a smart German accent. Wow, he is reading his work. Not paraphrasing, but actually reading it.

The political changes have not been beyond social criticism. Wow, he just mentioned Foucault’s work.
Critical theory is out of the Hegelian tradition. The historical past should be understood in an historical way. Positive form in Horkheimer or Marcuse or negative in Adorno or Benjamin.

One of the main tasks today is to develop an alternative concept of justice (not a Kantian way), but rather from a Hegelian concept. From Hegel, the theory of justice is immediately an analysis of society. With Kant, there is a split between analysis and a concept of justice.

Division of left and right Hegelians, and the sense that existing institutions should be given moral legitimacy. In Germany, the revived sense of Hegelian justice. Axel wants to reconstruct Hegel’s theory of right. This can not be resurrected as is, but will need to look at it in light of current society and history.

Axel is concentrating of four premises:

  1. Specific concept of society to presuppose of justice. The ordering of society shape the actions of its members into mechanism of different social practices in different spheres. The members of society normally follow the norms that have been established. The economically subsystem as a normative aspect of society. The idea that we should understand society as objective spirit. The notion of objective spirit as an analysis of all of society.
  2. Justice as imminent claim of all societies. For Hegel and those in his tradition, such as Marx, the notion of justice indicates the binding intention to render everybody his or her due. Thus, others should be treated in a manner required by different aspects, dependent on the differences of people. What is just is what produces actions in a given society with an ethical distribution of labor. All people produce different amounts and are complementary way. In taking up Hegel’s approach we have to refrain from taking up structures in society before judging them. This immanent approach
  • liveblogging is tough when the content is tough. Not much of the this is what I will say, here I am saying it, and this is what I said!
  • Normative reconstructioin in opposition of normative
  • how critiique worjs on these four