Constructivism and The Certainty of Uncertainty

I just discovered that one of my favorite books of all time, The Certainty of Uncertainty: Dialogues Introducing Constructivism is now available on Kindle. The book is a series of conversations translated from German of Bernhard Poerksen talking individually with Heinz von Foerster, Humberto R. Maturana, Paul Watzlawick, Francisco J. Varela, Ernst von Glasersfeld, Gerhard Roth, Siegfried J. Schmidt and Helm Stierlin. It is always for me a breath of fresh relaxing air that cleans out my head and body.

I am a part, at least nominally, of several communities in which people tend towards statements of certainty about reality. They know what a dead man thinks, they know with certainty what a method is, or what truth is, how another person should live or act. When I spend too much time interacting with people who claim certainty, I return to the certainty of uncertainty (which to be fair, is not always certain) to get a reprieve and to realize that sanity can indeed exist in the world, however briefly. Highly recommended for Feldenkrais practitioners, philosophers, travelers, ex-pats, and marketers of all types.

I will leave you with one quote from the introduction of the book:

"...all those seeking to probe the truth of what we perceive with the eyes of a biologist, will inevitably have to accept that they are themselves among the objects they want to describe. They are living systems that want to understand living systems. Human subjects study objects that are identical with themselves. The situation turns circular as perceivers struggle to understand the processes of perceiving. We are reminded of the mythological figure of the Ouroboros: the snake eating its own tail; a brain explaining the brain; human knowers striving to understand understanding. Human subjects turn into their own objects."

The book is also reminding me to make a conscious decision, at this very moment, to make sure that all of my sales and marketing efforts fit within a constructivist format. I am not sure if such a thing is possible. But I will do my best. Much selling today tries to sell human beings on the idea that they are broken and need to be fixed by a particular product or idea. The ethics of that are rather dubious, regardless of how much money one can make doing so.

1 Comment

  1. I love this book, also it’s companions “From Being to Doing” with Bernhard Poerksen interviewing Humberto Maturana and “Understanding Systems” where Bernhard interviews Heinz von Foerster. They all restore the joy of being in the mystery for me, as someone who is fundamentally opposed to fundamentalism.

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