Constructivism Contested: Implications of a Genetic Perspective in Psychology

Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12124-012-9221-z

Cite this article as:
Baerveldt, C. Integr. psych. behav. (2013) 47: 156. doi:10.1007/s12124-012-9221-z


Constructivism is an approach to knowledge and learning that focuses on the active role of knowers. Sanchez and Loredo (Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science 43:332–349, 2009) propose a classification of constructivist thinkers and address what they perceive to be internal problems of present-day constructivism. The remedy they propose is a return to the genetic constructivism of James Mark Baldwin, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. In this article we first raise the question of whether thinkers like Baldwin, Vygotsky, Maturana and Varela are adequately depicted as constructivists, and subsequently argue that constructivism is caught in an overly epistemic version of the subject/object dichotomy. We then introduce a genetic logic that is not based on the Hegelian dialectics of negation and mediation, but rather on the idea of the recursive consensual coordination of actions that give rise to stylized cultural practices. We argue that a genuinely genetic and generative psychology should be concerned with the multifarious and ever-changing nature of human ‘life’ and not merely with the construction of knowledge about life.


Constructivism Genetic logic Generativity Expressivism Enactivism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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