Mark H. Bickhard
There are many issues presented, touched on, and presupposed in the chapters in this volume--issues that have, in some cases, ancient historical roots and many variants and complexities. In searching for a framework within which I felt I could approach these chapters in some integrated way, I was forced back to these historical roots. This volume is a moment in a very long conversation ( Melchert, 1991), and it cannot be understood outside of the context of that conversation. Consequently, I elaborate on the general historical issues, commenting on and criticizing them as well as their instances herein.
To some extent, I contextualize the points in the chapters with respect to the histories. Hence, not all chapters are addressed in the order in which they appear, and some points in some chapters are pulled out of their chapter context and dealt with in what I take to be their issue context.
The stakes in the debate around which this book was organized are adumbrated in the beginning in Gergen's chapter (chap. 2). Gergen issues a challenge not only to the major positions concerning epistemology that have dominated throughout Western history, but even more deeply to the dichotomies that he claims framed the entire historical debate. His proposal is to escape these dead-end frameworks--escape into a social constructionism that never permits those ancient epistemological incoherencies to arise in the first place.
Thus, the focus on educational theory and practice in this book forms the stage for examination of some of the widest encompassing assump