Constructivism and Ethics: An Interview with Dr. Leon Tsvasman

In launching our interview series, we eschew traditional greetings for a prelude that mirrors our era’s complexity and the emergent AI’s promise.  This era heralds significant advances in knowledge discovery and pedagogy, while also navigating the ethical imperatives of human-centric innovation—a nexus seldom probed by individual researchers with depth.  Here enters Leon Tsvasman, a scholar whose work intricately weaves these themes, presenting a tapestry of insights through his scholarly publications, pedagogical endeavors, and intellectual pursuits. 

Our dialogues traverse diverse yet invariably pertinent subjects, addressing prevention strategies and ethical resolutions, all through Dr. Tsvasman’s lens of cybernetic philosophy. Grounded in systemic thinking and Radical Constructivism, he enriches our series with viable concepts, beginning with his professional journey and progressively unraveling specific facets in ensuing segments. 


Interviewer: Dr. Tsvasman, while your primary publications are in German, your contributions to the Constructivist Foundations journal, your engaging social media aphorisms, and notes on your latest English work, “The Age of Sapiocracy,” have caught my attention. Your academic path, illuminated by mentorship from Siegfried J. Schmidt and collaboration with Ernst von Glasersfeld—who lauded your lexicon as exceptionally intelligent—stands out. Could you share an experience that highlights their impact on your intellectual journey?  

Dr. Tsvasman: Reflecting on my intellectual path, I recognize how my early fascination with systemic perspectives, deeply rooted in the cybernetic philosophy and augmented by the philosophical insights of Kant and Vico, as well as the classical science fiction narratives of Asimov and Lem, laid the groundwork for my subsequent academic pursuits. This early inclination was further contextualized through the works of Heinz von Forster, who is often regarded as the Socrates of cybernetic thinking. 

This diverse intellectual foundation steered me towards like-minded thinkers, leading to my encounter with the disciples of Gerold Ungeheuer in Germany. This pivotal moment enriched my understanding and appreciation of communication theories.

The constructivist orientation in Siegfried J. Schmidt’s work profoundly resonated with me, compelling me to pursue my doctoral studies under his guidance. Our interactions were marked by an intellectual curiosity that transcended traditional academic boundaries. Similarly, my collaboration with Ernst von Glasersfeld on the lexicon project was not just a professional engagement but a profound intellectual partnership. His rigor and encouragement have significantly shaped my interdisciplinary research approach.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union, a significant political event from my youth, influenced my perspectives on autonomy and potentiality, alongside the socio-political implications of communication and information science. These formative experiences have been central to my academic and philosophical inquiry, influencing my work on orientation, human potentiality, and the ethical and didactic models I advocate for today.

Interviewer: What was the catalyst for your decision to delve into doctoral studies within your field?

Dr. Tsvasman: Reflecting on the spark that guided me towards doctoral studies, it wasn’t merely an ambition but a natural extension of an intrinsic role I found myself playing from a young age. Among friends and peers, I was often seen as an intellectual mentor, not out of a desire to outshine but due to my penchant for offering perspectives that surprised even me.  This, I believe, was driven by an insatiable curiosity—a refusal to let any question go unanswered or any challenge unexplored. I couldn’t rest until I unraveled the mysteries that captivated me, a trait perhaps born from the simplistic answers of my childhood, which left me craving more substantive understanding.  This quest invariably led me through diverse academic terrains—from languages and linguistics to medicine, journalism, and political science—each enriching my view on methodologies and didactics. My path wasn’t just about accruing knowledge in these fields but critically examining the methods of knowledge acquisition that were presented as definitive in our educational systems.  Thus, pursuing a Ph.D. was almost a foregone conclusion for me, a necessary journey to deepen my exploration and critique of knowledge itself. However, what I hadn’t anticipated was the intricate dance of intrigues and loyalties within the academic hierarchy—human elements that, while understandable, stood in stark contrast to the ideals of knowledge pursuit I held dear.


Interviewer: Dr. Tsvasman, which philosophical discipline forms the core of your research and application?

Dr. Tsvasman: My intellectual journey is anchored in cybernetic philosophy, a confluence of insights from precursors like Giambattista Vico, Kant, and Hegel, to cybernetics pioneers Norbert Wiener and Heinz von Foerster, and even extending to systemic theorists like Niklas Luhmann and philosophers with related focus on natural evolution like Humberto Maturana. This broad spectrum provides a rich epistemological base, framing humanity with an inherently humanistic lens and advocating for a proactive stance on problem avoidance. These philosophical underpinnings have guided me in crafting a unified approach that lends a profound ethical dimension to the digital transformation.

Interviewer: Could you define “ethical innovation” and its practical application?

Dr. Tsvasman: Ethical innovation revolves around the notion of enhancing human potential through “structural coupling,” advocating for genuine intersubjectivity by overcoming the inherent redundancy in analog communication. This concept envisions a shift towards a more autonomous socio-technical infrastructure, akin to autopoiesis in living systems, fostering a symbiotic relationship between technology and society. My exploratory work in publications such as “AI-Thinking,” “Infosomatic Turn,” and “The Age of Sapiocracy” dissects these themes, proposing a model where technology empowers rather than subjugates human agency.

Interviewer: How does the AI-thinking mindset integrate with ethical decision-making?

Dr. Tsvasman: The AI-thinking mindset merges the systemic orientation of cybernetic philosophy with the actionable ethos of radical constructivism. It champions a methodology that seeks not only to address current challenges but to preemptively formulate ethical, human-centric solutions. This approach is crucial for ethical decision-making in the digital age, ensuring that AI and other technological advancements enrich rather than detract from societal well-being. My contributions aim to illustrate how leveraging a cybernetic framework can illuminate the ethical dimensions of AI, guiding us towards a future where technology serves to amplify human potential.  


This interview will continue with the next sequence, delving into essential theoretical questions surrounding constructivism, its application in education and pedagogy, and its implications for ethics within the framework of applied sciences, including AI.