The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning

The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning

The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning

The Nature and Ontogenesis of Meaning

Synopsis

Throughout its evolution, Piaget's theory has placed meaning at the center of all attempts to understand the nature and development of knowing.

For Piaget, all knowing - whether sensorimotor, representational, or reasoned, and whether directed toward successful problem solutions or toward general understanding - is necessarily a construction which arises out of meaning making activity. It was in this context that the editors of this volume approached the board of directors of the Jean Piaget Society with a proposal to organize a recent annual symposium around the topic of the nature and development of meaning. In forming this symposium and in moving from symposium to integrated text, the editors wanted to insure both a breadth and depth to the analysis of the topic.

Addressing philosophical, theoretical, and empirical perspectives, this issue-oriented volume provides an integrated exploration of the current understanding of the nature and development of meaning. Contemporary issues that frame alternative understandings of the nature of meaning - nativist vs. constructivist positions, and computational vs. embodied mind contexts - are examined as they impact on the investigation of meaning. Comparative, cognitive, and linguistic developmental dimensions of meaning are described and discussed.

Excerpt

Piaget's theory, throughout its evolution, has placed meaning at the center of all attempts to understand the nature and development of knowing. the continuity of this project is evident from early works, such as the Origins of Intelligence, where Piaget repeatedly describes assimilation (i.e., the act of meaning making) as the fundamental process of all intelligent activity, to his last writings, such as Toward a Logic of Meanings, where acts of meaning describe the foundation for the development of logical deductive systems. For Piaget all knowing, whether sensorimotor, representational, or reasoned, and whether directed toward successful problem solutions or toward general understanding, is necessarily a construction and this construction arises out of meaning-making activity.

It was in the context of this centrality of the concept of meaning that the editors of this volume approached the board of directors of the Jean Piaget Society with a proposal to organize its 1991 annual symposium around the topic of the nature and development of meaning. in forming this symposium, and in moving from symposium to integrated text, we wanted to insure both a breadth and depth to the analysis of the topic. Meaning making arises in social, affective, cognitive, as well as linguistic contexts. Consequently, one of our aims was to insure that the symposium and this text reflected each of these contexts rather than being limited to a specifically linguistic context. To this end we invited Ken Gergen, a social psychologist, to discuss the social interdependency of individuals in the creation of meaning (chapter 2). Terry Brown brought a psychiatric background to the task and explores affective dimensions in the creation of meaning (chapter 7). and Jonas Langer (chapter 8) examines the developmental movement from instrumental or sensorimotor meaning making to symbolic or representational meaning making, from a comparative cognitive perspective.

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