von Glasersfeld, Ernst

Adjunct Research Professor; Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia

Ernst was a renowned philosopher and leading exponent of the epistemology of Radical Constructivism.

The University of Vienna maintains the definitive Ernst von Glasersfeld web site. If you go there and ignore the links below, we won't be offended.

Ernst answered questions about constructivism for ten years on the web site Ecology of Mind -- Mind-ing Ecology


For the most complete list of Ernst's publications, including downloadable PDFs of many, see the above mentioned Ernst von Glasersfeld web site.

Be sure to check out Ernst's book, Key Works in Radical Constructivism, for a collection of his writings.

Biographical Sketch

Ernst von Glasersfeld was born in 1917 with Austrian citizenship in Munich, where his father was attached to the Austrian Embassy at the Court of Bavaria. One year later, when Czechoslovakia was created, his family automatically received Czech citizenship because his father's official domicile was Prague where the family property was situated.

In 1935 he graduated from Zuoz College, Switzerland, with Swiss Scientific "Matura." For the next two years he studied mathematics, first at Zürich University, then at the University of Vienna. Shortly before Hitler's invasion of Austria, he moved to Paris, in the hope of finishing his academic studies there. Before he received a permit of residence, however, the family property was confiscated by the Nazis, which left him without funds to continue university studies. In 1939 he went to Ireland, where he became a farmer and was granted citizenship in 1945. Privately he continued studying philosophy, logic, and psychology.

In 1947 he moved to Italy and began working for Prof. Silvio Ceccato and the Italian Operational School, whose translator and consultant on language he became in 1949. As this work was only partly remunerated he earned his living during the next decade as an accredited foreign correspondent of Swiss and German newspapers. From 1959 on, worked continuously in research and university related positions.

Academic Positions

  • Consultant and official translator of the Italian Operational School, prior to its incorporation in the University of Milan as Center for Cybernetics (1949-1959).
  • Research Associate, Center for Cybernetics, University of Milan, Italy, (1959-1960).
  • Head of Foreign Language Section, Center for Cybernetics, University of Milan, Italy, (1960-1962).
  • Principal Investigator, Language Research Project sponsored by U.S.Air Force Office of Scientific Research, administered by the Italian Institute of Engineering Information (IDAMI), Milan, Italy, (1963-1966).
  • Director of Research and Principal Investigator, Georgia Institute for Research, Athens, GA. (1966-1969).
  • Research Associate, Computer Center, University of Georgia, (1968-1969).
  • Assistant Professor, Dept.of Psychology, University of Georgia, (1970-1975).
  • Research Associate, Dept. of Primate Behavior, Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA. (1971-1976).
  • Member, Interdepartmental Faculty of Linguistics (1971-1987).
  • Consultant on Language Development and Cognition, Mathemagenic Activities Program, Georgia Follow Through, University of Georgia, (1972-1977).
  • Associate Professor, Dept.of Psychology, University of Georgia, (1975-1979).
  • Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, University of Georgia (1979-1987).
  • Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia, 1987.
  • Visiting Adjunct Prof., Dept of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1987-1989).
  • Research Associate, Scientific Reasoning Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1987-present).


  • Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia, USA, 1987.
  • Warren McCulloch Memorial Award (American Society for Cybernetics), 1991.
  • Dr.Phil.H.C., University of Klagenfurt, 1997.
  • Pour le Mérit Scientifique (Scientific Merit Award), University of Québec, Montreal, 2003.
  • Gregory Bateson Prize, Heidelberg Institute for Systems Research, 2005.