The Dream of Reality: Heinz von Foerster's Constructivism / Edition 2

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What if there were no objective facts, no objective truth, only our belief in them? What if our consciousness itself is an unconscious invention, constructed out of logic and language? In this thought-provoking volume, Lynn Segal describes how the ideas of Heinz von Foerster compel us to explore the question "Do we discover the world or do we invent it?". He suggests that we must first know how we think before we can claim knowledge of the world. While Constructivism may seem relevant only to those in the cognitive sciences, it is, in fact, highly relevant to everyone. Paradoxically, grasping the limits of our own understanding can free us to live more creative and meaningful personal and professional lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"Segal…amicably succeed(s) in making rather profound insights seductively easy to read and in maintaining von Foerster’s oratory flair…”

"(a) richly provocative book…”

From the reviews of the second edition:

"Segal, a psychotherapist, initiated this work as a transcription of von Foerster’s lecture material; but it evolved instead into interpretation of von Foerster’s ideas in accessible language. … The appendix contains an interview with von Foerster himself. This second edition is essentially a reissue of the first … but it incorporates corrections and clarifications that von Foerster added to the German edition … ." (Reference & Research Book News, November, 2001)

Von Foerster's complex ideas, which deal with the limitations of understanding, are primarily in the realm of the cognitive sciences; but the powerful implications of constructivism are currently attracting renewed interest, and they reach across many fields. Segal, a psychotherapist, initiated this work as a trancription of von Foerster's lecture material; but it evolved instead into an interpretation of von Foerster's ideas in accessible language. He organizes the material in seven chapters on the myth of objectivity, the difficulties of language, Maturana and the observer, the nervous system, computation, biocomputation, and closure. An appendix contains an interview with von Foerster himself. This second edition is essentially a reissue of the first (W.W. Norton, 1986), but it incorporates corrections and clarifications that von Foerster added to the German edition (Piper, 1988). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387951300
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Edition description: 2nd ed. 2001
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 163
  • Product dimensions: 0.39 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by Heinz von Foester; Foreword by Paul Watzlawick; Preface; Introduction; 1. The Myth of Objectivity; 2. The Difficulties of Language; 3. Maturana and the Observer; 4. The Nervous System; 5. Computation; 6. Biocomputation; 7. Closure; Appendix: An Interview with Heinz von Foerster; Notes; Index.

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