Passibility pp 43-69 | Cite as

Radical Passivity in Learning

  • Wolff-Michael Roth
Part of the Classics in Science Education book series (CISE, volume 3)


In the philosophy of the sciences, it is has become a truism to state that all observation is theory laden. However, the constructivist metaphor does not explain how new forms of viewing the world can emerge and how students thereby can escape from perpetually reproducing everyday ways of perceiving, and therefore of explaining, natural phenomena. Drawing on examples such as the well known images of splotches where, after some time, we may observe certain structures (cows, Dalmatians, young woman/old woman, vase/faces, etc.) and on an empirical 5-year study in a scientific laboratory, I articulate a phenomenology of perception that includes both agential and radically passive dimensions, is a process of making (provoking) visible and becoming visible. Accordingly, new entities give themselves as our perception comes to be restructured in the engagement with the initially unstructured textured surface, giving rise to new structures and new perceptual dispositions. The phenomenon of perception explodes the dichotomy of agency and passivity, inside and outside of the cognizing organism, the intra-psychological and inter-psychological, allowing us to understand each of these but one-sided moments of human perception in and of the world.


Dark Matter Focal Point Perceptual Process Visual Experience Immanent Memory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British ColumbiaCanada

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