What is reductionism? -- Who is reading the book of life? -- Genetics : from grammar to meaning making -- A point for thought : why are organisms irreducible? -- A point for thought : does the genetic system include a meta-language? -- Immunology : from soldiers to housewives -- A point for thought : immune specificity and Brancusi's kiss -- A point for thought : reflections on the immune self -- Meaning making in language and biology -- A point (...) for thought : meaning : bridging the gap between physics and semantics -- The rest is silence -- The polysemy of the sign : a quantum lesson -- Recursive-hierarchy : a lesson from the tardigrade -- Context and memory : a lesson from funes the memorious -- Transgradience : a lesson from Bakhtin -- The poetry of living. (shrink)
Many philosophers of education emphasise the impossibility to really ‘solve’ philosophical—and with that, educational—problems these days. Philosophers have been trying to give philosophy a new, constructive turn in the face of this insolvability. This paper focuses on irony-based approaches that try to exploit the very uncertainty of philosophical issues to further philosophical understanding. We will first briefly discuss a few highlights of historical uses of irony as a philosophical tool. Then we concentrate on two different interpretations of irony, formulated by (...) Bransen and Rorty, that aim at gaining insight into how we make meaning of the world, while at the same time recognising that such an understanding would be impossible. After discussing some problematic aspects of these interpretations a third interpretation of irony is developed, based on a third view of the nature of meaning-making. Following these three interpretations, we will discuss their philosophical merits and the different kinds of insight they can produce for philosophy of education. (shrink)
This paper attempts to do two things. First, it recounts the problem of intentionality, as it has typically been conceptualized, and argues that it needs to be reconceptualized in light of the radical form of externalism most commonly referred to as the extended mind thesis. Second, it provides an explicit, novel argument for that thesis, what I call the argument from meaning making, and offers some defense of that argument. This second task occupies the core of the paper, and in (...) completing it I distinguish _active _ _cognition_ from _cyborg fantasy arguments_ for externalism, and develop the analogy between the extended mind thesis in the cognitive sciences and developmental systems theory in developmental biology. The rethinking of the problem of intentionality on offer leads not so much to a solution as to a dissolution of that problem, as traditionally conceived. (shrink)
Living systems are characterized by unique properties that make them resistant to the ``information-processingperspective'' of traditional cognitive science.This paper details those unique properties andoffers a new theoretical framework forunderstanding the behavior of living systems.This framework leans heavily on ideas fromgeneral systems theory (specifically Bateson'sinteractionist perspective), semiotics, andMerleau-Ponty's phenomenology. The benefits ofusing this framework are illustrated withexamples from two different domains: immunologyand verbal interaction.
A natural resource is not given, but depends on human knowledge for its exploitation. Thus a ‘unit of resource’ is, to a significant degree, a ‘unit of meaning’, and education is potentially important not only for the use of resources but also for their creation. The paper draws on poststructuralism to confirm the intuition that it would be misleading to conceive of ‘units’ of meaning. However, it is commonly acceptable to conceive of ‘units’ of resource, as in much discussion around (...) sustainability; but, if the latter concept is suspect, then so is the former. The error seems to arise from the assumption of identifiable points in space-time, already problematised by quantum mechanics and poststructuralism. Conceiving of ‘now’ as a moving in and with time, rather than as a point in time, human survival is construed as an ongoing process of meaning-making constrained though not determined by the carrying capacity of the planet. The Second Nature conception of John McDowell is critiqued with respect to this. (shrink)
How is linguistic communication possible? How do we come to share the same meanings of words and utterances? One classical position holds that human beings share a transcendental “platonic” ideality independent of individual cognition and language use (Frege 1948). Another stresses immanent linguistic relations (Saussure 1959), and yet another basic embodied structures as the ground for invariant aspects of meaning (Lakoff and Johnson 1999). Here we propose an alternative account in which the possibility for sharing meaning is motivated by four (...) sources of structural stability: 1) the physical constraints and affordances of our surrounding material environment, 2) biological constraints of our human bodies, 3) social normative constraints of culture and society, and 4) the local history of social interactions. These structures and constraints interact in dynamical ways in actual language usage situations: local dialogical and social dynamics motivate and stabilize the profiling of a conceptual space already highly structured by our shared biology, culture, and environment. We will substantiate this perspective with reference to recent studies in experimental pragmatics and semiotics in which participants interact linguistically to solve cooperative tasks. Three main cases will be considered: The dynamic grounding of linguistic categories, the construction of conceptual models to relate entities in a scene, and the construction of shared conceptual scales for assessing and appraising subjective experiences. (shrink)
The epistemic stances of both Whitehead and the Book of Changes are founded on the assumption that process is reality; there are important resonances with respect to perception, meaning and significance. Such a process-oriented approach is productive for developing non-representational and non-dualistic theories in the fields of epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. An exploration of these resonances will further provide an appropriate foundation for dialogue between the philosophy of the Book of Changes and that of contemporary Euro-American (...) philosophy. The important differences between the Book of Changes and Whiteheadian philosophy will also become apparent. (shrink)
The reason the title of my paper is not Making Meaning Together Bridging Theory and Practice is that there is nothing to bridge. Theory and practice are simply sub-functions within the larger function of making meaning, knowledge, and value in our lives, although few thinkers have ever conceived it as such. The philosophy of John Dewey is a striking exception. Theory and practice unite within his account of production, or if you prefer, his account of construction and reconstruction. It indicates (...) a constructivism far beyond anything found in the contemporary educational conversation. In “Construction and Criticism,” Dewey writes, “I have used the word construction rather than creation because it seems less .. (shrink)
This article explores the activity of writing in higher education as a mediational means for student meaning making. From a dialogic perspective, writing is not about learning and applying formulas and making fixed kinds of texts, but about ways of working and ways of acting that brings writers, readers, resources and contexts into trajectories. The argument is that processes of writing enhance student meaning making and that these processes are formed by complex interaction. Contextual interpretation and use of mediational means (...) is constituted in social systems of activities that depend on and promote particular kinds of texts. We need insights in contextual trajectories to understand the relationship between writing and student meaning making . Empirically, I draw on a study investigating portfolio writing as a pedagogical tool in a nursing program in Norway. The rationale of the study was an identified need for information about how processes of writing develop, how texts come into being and how institutional tasks of writing are being unpacked. The aim of the paper is to explore a dialogical approach to the activity of writing and to discuss possible methodological implications from the theoretical framework. The empirical study is used as an illustration. (shrink)
In this article, the formation and transformation of knowledge and the role of designs for learning will be elaborated and discussed in relation to the introduction of national curricula and school textbooks during the beginning of the industrialized era vs. the introduction of individual curricula and new digital learning resources in the post-industrialized era of globalization and multiculturalism. Quite different teaching and learning strategies have been emphasized, which I will call here “designed information and teaching” vs. “designs for learning”. It (...) seems obvious that our current society is in a stage of change that requires a new understanding of knowledge, learning and identity formation. The new position and role of the learner underlines the productive and constructive aspect of learning. Pupils not only read texts, they also produce texts, pictures, film and music and they compile and edit virtual texts. Multimodal texts, as well as the information flow of the Internet, are the consequences of, and at the same time a vehicle for, new social patterns. “Learning Design Sequences” (LDS) is introduced as a theoretical map for the purpose of analyzing critical incidents in (a creative) learning process, using different genres, modes and media in a process of meaning-making. (shrink)
Context: Although the relationship between communication and culture has received significant attention among communication scholars over the past thirty or more years, there is still no satisfactory explanation as to how these two are related and how culture evolves in communication. It forces the author to turn to Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory, which is one of the main hypotheses of how social systems emerge. Problem: Unfortunately, Luhmann’s concept of meaning is too weak to explain the autopoiesis of communication. In (...) looking for a solution, the author suggests that it is necessary to distinguish between personal sense structures and socio-cultural meanings and to introduce the concept of shared meaning to the systems-theoretical approach. The paper conceptualises “meaning” as a phenomenon that evolves in communication and defines “culture” as a pattern of structurally related meanings. Findings: (1) According to Luhmann, social systems do not consist of static objects, but of dynamic operations, and for a social system to emerge, its elements – communications – must be connected to one another. The author argues that culture equips the momentary elements of the social system – communications – with the capacity for connection, and makes the social system operationally closed, self-referential, and autopoietic. (2) The problem of adaptation does not lose its importance if we understand cognition as a “self-founding activity” of operationally closed systems but transforms into a question of whether the “reality” construed by the media favours or restricts the coping of the system in the ever changing environment. (3) From the perspective of adaptation of the social system to its internal and external environments, an important condition of the continuous process of creation of shared knowledge to which individuals orientate themselves in their activities is the existence of variations. (shrink)
: Prenatal and preconceptual testing and screening programs provide information on the basis of which people can choose to avoid the birth of children likely to face disabilities. Some disabilities advocates have objected to such programs and to the decisions made within them, on the grounds that measures taken to avoid the birth of children with disabilities have an "expressive force" that conveys messages disrespectful to people with disabilities. Assessing such a claim requires careful attention to general considerations relating meaning, (...) intention, and social practices; it has only begun to receive such attention. Building on work by Allen Buchanan, who has challenged this claim, I further consider the disabilities advocates' objection, ultimately concluding that it is misplaced; neither individual actions nor general practices of this type necessarily express disrespectful messages. (shrink)
The immune self is our reified way to describe the processes through which the immune system maintains the differentiated identity of the organism and itself. This is an interpretative process, and to study it in a scientifically constructive way we should merge a long hermeneutical tradition asking questions about the nature of interpretation, together with modern understanding of the immune system, emerging sensing technologies and advanced computational tools for analyzing the sensors' data.
By analysing original sources and evaluating conceptual frameworks, this book discusses the idea proclaimed in the Preamble to the Constitution that Australia is a federal commonwealth. Taking careful account of the influence which the American, Canadian and Swiss Constitutions had upon the framers of the Australian Constitution, the author shows how the framers wrestled with the problem of integrating federal ideas with inherited British traditions and their own experiences of parliamentary government. In so doing, the book explains how the Constitution (...) came into being in the context of the groundswell of federal ideas then sweeping the English-speaking world. In advancing an original argument about the relationship between the formation of the Constitution, the representative institutions, configurations of power and amending formulas contained therein, fresh light is shed on the terms and structure of the Constitution and a range of problems associated with its interpretation and practical operation are addressed. (shrink)
Van den Belt recently examined the notion that synthetic biology and the creation of ‘artificial’ organisms are examples of scientists ‘playing God’. Here I respond to some of the issues he raises, including some of his comments on my previous discussions of the value of the term ‘life’ as a scientific concept.
The aim of this paper is to challenge the claim that the neural activity commonly referred to as 'readiness potential' constitutes evidence for the unconscious initiation of action. Although I accept that such neural activity seriously challenges the commonly held view that one's sense of volition is causally efficacious, I nevertheless contend that much of our everyday engagement with the world is consciously initiated. Thus, a distinction is made between awareness and what the awareness is of: the latter constituting the (...) conscious decision to act in accordance with one's goal, or what I have termed intentional project. Initiation of an action in accordance with one's intentional project grounds the action in meaning, something that would be lacking in an exclusively unconscious decision to act. (shrink)
There is a growing movement to increase access to palliative care by declaring it a human right. Calls for such a right—in the form of articles in the healthcare literature and pleas to the United Nations and World Health Organization—rarely define crucial concepts involved in such a declaration, in particular ‘palliative care’ and ‘human right’. This paper explores how such concepts might be more fully developed, the difficulties in using a human rights approach to promote palliative care, and the relevance (...) of such an enterprise to public health ethics. (shrink)
This commentary discusses the dynamic systems (DS) approach to communication over an information-processing (IP) model. The commenters suggest that the authors of the target article, in their treatment of the issue, do not identify the central failing of the IP model. Further, it is suggested that the DS approach should include examination of mechanisms in the emergence of symbolic communication.