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Pragmatic Semiotics and Knowledge Management :
Introducing the Knowledge Profile as a Tool for
Knowledge Managing the Meaning of Scientific Concepts

Torkild Thellefsen
Assistant Professor, Ph.D.


Usually, it is corporate businesses or more generally speaking organisations that are the centre of interest when working with knowledge management. This is not a surprise, since most knowledge management theories concern planning and decision making based on available knowledge about the surrounding fiscal, social, political, etc. world in order to enable a given organisation to navigate and in the end to ensure its survival in a situation of fierce competition. However, the contribution to knowledge management I would like to give is not restricted to organisations. I believe that we also are able to (and need to) use knowledge management in order to secure the development of scientific concepts in certain theoretical directions. The way of managing knowledge that I advocate for is based on a Peircean inspired realistic approach.<1> This approach, which will be accounted for in the following, enables us to determine the knowledge development in a given concept in a certain way.<2> Constructing and managing knowledge by implanting a telos in a concept e.g. biosemiotics, cybersemiotics, zoosemiotics etc. where bio, cyber and zoo function as telos', determine the meaning of semiotics, is called semiotic constructivism (Thellefsen 2004).

Whether our interests are organisations or development of scientific concepts the basic theme remains the same. Based on Peirce's doctrine of pragmaticism every action has consequences and the sum of these consequences is the meaning of the action. Thus, the meanings of scientific concepts reside in their conceived consequences. Peirce defines pragmaticism in the following way: "Pragmaticism consists in holding that the purport of any concept is its conceived bearing upon our conduct." (CP 5.442) And further: "... pragmatism does not undertake to say in what the meanings of all signs consist, but merely to lay down a method of determining the meanings of intellectual concepts, that is, of those upon which reasonings may turn." (CP 5.8) Furthermore, Peirce writes: "Now pragmaticism is simply the doctrine that the inductive method is the only essential to the ascertainment of the intellectual purport of any symbol." (CP 8.209). And in this rather lengthy quote Peirce writes:

Since I have employed the word Pragmaticism, and shall have occasion to use it once more, it may perhaps be well to explain it. About forty years ago, my studies of Berkeley, Kant, and others led me, after convincing myself that all thinking is performed in Signs, and that meditation takes the form of a dialogue, so that it is proper to speak of the 'meaning' of a concept, to conclude that to acquire full mastery of that meaning it is requisite, in the first place, to learn to recognize the concept under every disguise, through extensive familiarity with instances of it. But this, after all, does not imply any true understanding of it; so that it is further requisite that we should make an abstract logical analysis of it into its ultimate elements, or as complete an analysis as we can compass. But, even so, we may still be without any living comprehension of it; and the only way to complete our knowledge of its nature is to discover and recognize just what general habits of conduct a belief in the truth of the concept (of any conceivable subject, and under any conceivable circumstances) would reasonably develop; that is to say, what habits would ultimately result from a sufficient consideration of such truth. It is necessary to understand the word 'conduct,' here, in the broadest sense. If, for example, the predication of a given concept were to lead to our admitting that a given form of reasoning concerning the subject of which it was affirmed was valid, when it would not otherwise be valid, the recognition of that effect in our reasoning would decidedly be a habit of conduct." (CP 6.481)

Pragmaticism is concerned with investigating the meaning of intellectual signs, which are scientific concepts, based on the consequences of the given sign. This may imply that we also are able to construct or create signs and thereby control the reasonable consequences and thereby control the development of meaning in a certain direction in the sign.<3> This is what knowledge profiling is about, I will return to this point later on.

Peirce does stress that pragmaticism is not concerned with explaining the meanings of all signs, however, I would like to expand the definition of pragmaticism also to include organisations. Thus, we may say that the meaning of the actions of an organisation also resides in the consequences of its actions, since the outcome of such an action of an organisation almost always is a product either as an artefact or as an idea carrying the unique qualities of a certain organisation. However, the meanings of such products reside in the identifiable consequences. Here, knowledge management becomes interesting, because if we are able to manage and control the consequences of a given product, concept or a knowledge domain for that matter, we are able to control the development of meaning in the object. Naturally, it is very difficult to control the development of a product, since the meaning of the product develops in the use and experience of the consumers and the use resulting in experiences can differ substantially from the organisation's intended use of the product (Vetner & Thellefsen 2004). When the product leaves the assembly line, it leaves the control of the producer so to speak. When the mobile phone was introduced, no one could have imagined that it contained the potential for being the central part of a complete new youth society that has created its own habits and (SMS) language, etc. No one could have imagined the impact the Internet has had and has on our private and professional lives. In a pragmatic semiotic view these knowledge producing and knowledge determining artefacts proofs the realistic angle of the semiotic doctrine true. Namely, when an idea (e.g. the idea of the mobile phone or the Internet) has been brought to life, it begins its own life; the idea contains a potential independent of the individual mind. It grows as its knowledge potential is transformed into interpretative actions; the ideas become symbols. The knowledge potential can be understood as the energy of the idea. When the energy is transformed into action the quantum of potentiality is lessened. However, the transformation of the potential slows down the development of the idea as the idea becomes hidebound with habits. Moreover, when the idea runs out of potential it either dies or is transformed into other ideas widening the potential. This makes the direction of development very hard to predict; consequently, it is difficult to predict the future meaning of artefacts. Once the scientific idea or the product alters into a symbolic state, when it becomes hidebound with habits, it is less vulnerable to its anarchistic potentiality. It is the aim of the symbolization process of the idea to remove potentiality that can disturb the intended use of the given idea or product. Consequently, when introducing an idea or a product to a given community, the basic work of knowledge profiling and clarifying the ideas or products is vital in order to avoid misinterpretations of scientific ideas or misuse (from the producer's point of view) of products. This task is considerably easier when developing scientific terminology, since scientific concepts not as often as consumer artefacts fall victims to different whims of fashion.

However, as is the case with consumer artefacts, the development depends on the potential of these products. Some products may not have much potentiality either because the potentiality of the products has been used or simply because the artefacts have been defined in a way that leave no room for development e.g. it is very hard to use a toaster to anything else but to toast bread.

Consequently, not all artefacts have the same amount of potentiality. This diversity also is the case when dealing with scientific concepts. Some scientific concept are defined much more precise than others. However, the aim of this article is to show that by managing the knowledge of concepts we are able to maintain a certain control over the concepts. In order to get more into depth with the development of ideas, we have to make a detour to Peirce's hyperbolic philosophy since it provides an excellent insight into the lifeline of an idea, from the first hesitant iconic beginning to the state of symbolicity.

The hyperbolic development of ideas

Peirce's hyperbolic philosophy is very apt to describe the development of an idea, whether this idea is a scientific theory or an artefact. Peirce defines hyperbolicity in the following way:

This theory is that the evolution of the world is hyperbolic, that is, proceeds from one state of things in the infinite past, to a different state of things in the infinite future. The state of things in the infinite past is chaos, tohu bohu, the nothingness of which consists in the total absence of regularity. The state of things in the infinite future is death, the nothingness of which consists in the complete triumph of law and absence of all spontaneity. Between these, we have on our side a state of things in which there is some absolute spontaneity counter to all law, and some degree of conformity to law, which is constantly on the increase owing to the growth of habit. The tendency to form habits or tendency to generalize, is something which grows by its own action, by the habit of taking habits itself growing. Its first germs arose from pure chance. There were slight tendencies to obey rules that had been followed, and these tendencies were rules which were more and more obeyed by their own action. There were also slight tendencies to do otherwise than previously, and these destroyed themselves. To be sure, they would sometimes be strengthened by the opposite tendency, but the stronger they became the more they would tend to destroy themselves. As to the part of time on the further side of eternity which leads back from the infinite future to the infinite past, it evidently proceeds by contraries. (CP 8.318, my underlining)

And further:

In regard to the principle of movement, three philosophies are possible.

1. Elliptic philosophy. Starting-point and stopping-point are not even ideal. Movement of nature recedes from no point, advances towards no point, has no definite tendency, but only flits from position to position.

2. Parabolic philosophy. Reason or nature develops itself according to one universal formula; but the point toward which that development tends is the very same nothingness from which it advances.

3. Hyperbolic philosophy. Reason marches from premisses to conclusion; nature has ideal end different from its origin." (CP 2.582 my underlining)

The main points in these quotes are:

1. The general movement of evolution tends to move from spontaneity towards habit formation and in this movement the object of evolution becomes hidebound with habits reducing the amount of potentiality.

2. The general nature of evolution is a sign's tendency to become habitual.

Following Peirce, we can replace the state of spontaneity with iconicity and the habitual state with symbolicity. This is important since any idea, whether we are discussing scientific theories or artefacts, starts from an iconical level and gradually develops (as the idea become used) into a symbol.

        The hyperbolic philosophy is, as far as I can see, the most salient parts of Peircean metaphysics consisting of irregularity and the tendency to take habits or to generalize. However, as Peirce writes in CP 8.318 then these two elements form the infinite past and the infinite future creating a time span we cannot grasp. This form of semiosis we can call a metasemiosis or metaevolution, this is the universal principle of movement. However, what lies between these two distant and infinite points? Infinite billions of evolutionary processes each evolving by the same principle of hyperbolicity. Moreover, because these infinite evolutionary processes share the same evolutionary principle, they all functions as habit makers intending to removing or lessening the room for spontaneity and creating stable structures. This principle is the same whether we discuss sign processes in the universe, nature or within the intelligible sign of culture. However, consider an ordinary object e.g. a baseball cap. Looking at the cap, the degree of interpretive freedom is very limited. I cannot just begin calling the cap 'lemonade' or 'lollipop'. If I did, it would not help me when I wanted to buy a cap. When I refer to an object as a cap, then I have created another sign to represent the first sign (the object is in fact also a sign), the sign in itself is capable of being anything from a lollipop to a baseball cap, since it has a meaning potential. It is the sign I bring to life that carries the meaning of the sign that holds limited interpretive freedom. This sign is created on the background of the culture I am part of. This culture interprets this specific sign to be a baseball cap, no more and no less. Consider the concept of activity stemming from occupational therapy. The sign in itself has a knowledge potential that is unlimited but within the boundaries of occupational therapy, the knowledge potential is limited, and the actualisation of the knowledge potential - the creation of a new sign holds no interpretive freedom. Here, the symbol dictates how it is to be interpreted. In both examples, the degree of interpretive freedom is small, which according to the hyperbolic developmental principle is the result of a reduced potential of development. Symbols grow and habits unfold their interpretive powers upon further interpretations. This, however, is only true in cases where we have stable contexts. In the case of the baseball cap, we have a stable culture that interprets the sign to be a baseball cap. In the case of activity that stems from a knowledge domain, we also consider the context to be stable. Therefore, the interpretive freedom is small. The more stable the context gets, the less the room for spontaneity becomes. The contexts occur because habits produce habits or as Peirce puts it, "The tendency to take habits is something which grows by its own action, by the habit of taking habits itself growing." (CP 8.318) However, this does not mean that signs cannot alter meaning during the course of evolution; it simply means that signs tend to create stable structures of meaning, and stability is the opposite of spontaneity. The creation of stable structures is a process that grows by its own action. Again, it is the movement from spontaneity towards regularity based on the formation of habits. Consequently, when introducing the world for a new scientific idea or a new product and being able to manage its knowledge, we have to reduce the element of spontaneity. In order to make this discussion less abstract consider figure 1:

Figure 1. The life of an idea. The timeline of an idea is the movement from its iconic state into its symbolic state.

Again, we have to remember that Peirce did not distinguish between ideas and artefacts. According to Peirce both entities are signs (cf: Charles Lock), this means that we can discuss scientific theories and artefacts as ideas or signs. Figure 1 depicts the life of an idea. In the iconic state of the idea, that is when the idea is introduced, it contains a vast amount of potentiality, and its development can take any direction. The oblique lines suggest the decrease in potentiality as the idea moves from an iconic state into a symbolic state. Furthermore, the oblique lines have to be understood as the use of the idea resulting in experiences that create the symbol. The core element in Peirce's pragmaticism is that the meaning of an idea is the sum of its reasonable consequences. The more we learn from an idea, the less potential the idea contains and the more symbolic the idea gets. However, the oblique lines never meet leaving room for further development. Even the most ingrown habit contains an element of spontaneity, which enables the symbol to develop. Peirce even suggested that the laws of nature are habits that may contain room for development. In Vetner and Thellefsen (2004) we discuss three cases of different artefacts: the automobile, the mobile phone, and electricity. Consider these cases in relation to the evolution of ideas in figure 1, it seems to be a fact that the automobile and electricity have been symbolized, they only contain a small amount of potential to further development. In figure 1, they would be placed to the right (see figure two)

Figure 2. Examples of ideas that are at a symbolic state containing only a small amount of potentiality.

The mobile phone is still at an iconic state moving towards a symbolic state, see figure 3. I will not discuss these cases in details, instead I will refer to Vetner and Thellefsen 2004 for a detailed discussion of these cases.

Figure 3. The mobile phone placed in its timeline. We are still learning the consequences of the mobile phone. I foresee that we have only learned a small amount of the consequences of the artefact.

Figure 1 is very interesting when dealing with scientific concepts. My hypothesis is that if we introduce a new scientific concept and have made a thorough preliminary work we are able to knowledge manage the concept. See figure 4:

Figure 4 Introducing a scientific concept based on a thorough preliminary work.

If we do not apply the preliminary work, we may introduce the concept at this point in its timeline:

Figure 5. Introducing a scientific concept without having made a thorough preliminary work.

What is the difference one may ask? If we do not make a thorough preliminary work, which consists in, in detail to clarify the concept, we may introduce a concept that is not fledged and which may be misinterpreted and misused. However, if we in detail clarify our concept we may be able to manage the development in the concept. Naturally, it can be necessary to introduce a concept containing a vast amount of potential, the point is that we have to be aware of the consequences of not clarifying the concept and the consequences of clarifying the concept. In the first case we cannot manage the development of the concept in the latter case we are able (to a certain degree) to manage the development of the concept.

In the following, I will concentrate upon how to knowledge profile scientific ideas.

Knowledge profiling a scientific concept

The knowledge profile is a result of my research into Peircean pragmaticism and knowledge organisation. In several articles I have defined and discussed the knowledge profile and instead of defining it again, I refer to these articles (Thellefsen 2004b and 2004c). The central case in the knowledge profile is to identify the core qualities of e.g. a scientific concept. The profile of a concept is the epistemological constraints that define the meaning of the concept. Such constraints can be understood as the habits that maintain the meaning of the concept. These habits occur in the use of the concept. Basically, when using the knowledge profile in knowledge management, we aim to create the constraining habits before the concept becomes exposed to the public. This can be done by adding prefixes or suffixes to the concept. However, before we get to this, we have to discuss two important Peircean concepts: efficient causation and final causation. Peirce defines them in this way:

Efficient causation…is a compulsion determined by the particular condition of things, and is a compulsion acting to make that situation begin to change in a perfectly determinate way; and what the general character of the result may be in no way concerns the efficient causation. For example, I shoot at an eagle on the wing; and since my purpose -- a special sort of final, or ideal, cause -- is to hit the bird, I do not shoot directly at it, but a little ahead of it, making allowance for the change of place by the time the bullet gets to that distance. So far, it is an affair of final causation. But after the bullet leaves the rifle, the affair is turned over to the stupid efficient causation, and should the eagle make a swoop in another direction, the bullet does not swerve in the least, efficient causation having no regard whatsoever for results, but simply obeying orders blindly. It is true that the force of the bullet conforms to a law; and the law is something general. But for that very reason the law is not a force. For force is compulsion; and compulsion is hic et nunc. It is either that or it is no compulsion. Law, without force to carry it out, would be a court without a sheriff; and all its dicta would be vaporings. Thus, the relation of law, as a cause, to the action of force, as its effect, is final, or ideal, causation, not efficient causation. The relation is somewhat similar to that of my pulling the hair trigger of my rifle, when the cartridge explodes with a force of its own, and off goes the bullet in blind obedience to perform the special instantaneous beginning of an act that it is, each instant, compelled to commence. It is a vehicle of compulsion hic et nunc, receiving and transmitting it; while I receive and transmit ideal influence, of which I am a vehicle. (CP 2.212)

The 'eagle" example used by Peirce in this quote is very precise. Efficient causation is a causation of brute force that abides to the laws of nature. It is a so-called stupid causation (cf. CP ). The force of the bullet as it is shot out of the riffle barrel is efficient causation; whereas final causation is a causation that evolves in a certain kind of direction. It is a causation that depends on reasoning; e.g. in order to shoot at the eagle the hunter has to compensate for the speed and movement of the eagle. So, what has efficient and final causation to do with knowledge management? The short answer is: everything. The lengthier one forces me to explain these modes of causation in relation to knowledge profiling. However, I can answer the question in this rather general way: When exposing the world for a new concept or a new product without making the necessary preliminary work it is still a situation of final causation albeit a final causation that resembles the stupid causation since it is rather stupid not to conduct this important preliminary work Basically, the better the preparing work is done before a concept or a product is exposed in public, the greater the chance is to determine the development of the concept or product. If I were to introduce a new product to a market, first, I would investigate if there is a need for the product in the first place, second, I would investigate if there already were a related product in the marked. The main point is that we have to make a thorough study whether or not the product stand a chance in the given market situation. The same is the case when introducing a new scientific concept. Here, we also have to investigate whether there already exists concepts that cover the knowledge in the new concept, if such concepts already exist, there may not be any real need of our "new" concepts, thus, we may not bring the concepts forth. Peirce made an ethics of terminology, which set up basic norms for developing scientific concepts. In Thellefsen 2003, I added three new rules to this codex. These new rules concern how to combine concepts stemming from different knowledge domain and therefore containing different epistemological values. In the following I quote Peirce seven rules for terminological ethical behaviour an underneath in italic is the rules added.

First. To take pains to avoid following any recommendation of an arbitrary nature as to the use of philosophical terminology.

Second. To avoid using words and phrases of vernacular origin as technical terms of philosophy.

Third. To use the scholastic terms in their anglicised forms for philosophical conceptions, so far as they are strictly applicable; and never to use them in other than their proper senses.

Fourth. For ancient philosophical conceptions overlooked by the scholastics, to imitate, as well as I can, the ancient expression.

Fifth. For precise philosophical conceptions introduced into philosophy since the middle ages, to use the anglicised form of the original expression, if not positively unsuitable, but only in its precise original sense.

Sixth. For philosophical conceptions which vary by a hair's breadth from those for which suitable terms exist, to invent terms with a due regard for the usages of philosophical terminology and those of the English language but yet with a distinctly technical appearance. Before proposing a term, notation, or other symbol, to consider maturely whether it perfectly suits the conception and will lend itself to every occasion, whether it interferes with any existing term, and whether it may not create an inconvenience by interfering with the expression of some conception that may hereafter be introduced into philosophy. Having once introduced a symbol, to consider myself almost as much bound by it as if it had been introduced by somebody else; and after others have accepted it, to consider myself more bound to it than anybody else.

Seventh. To regard it as needful to introduce new systems of expression when new connections of importance between conceptions come to be made out, or when such systems can, in any way, positively subserve the purposes of philosophical study.

Eight. When combining concepts be careful to examine the epistemological basis of the concepts in order to ensure that the concepts are compatible.

Nine. Always be sure to use the most precise state of the concept either as a concept combination e.g. biosemiotics or as a precision phrase in order to express the meaning of the concept or phrase.

Ten. Always return to selected concept combinations and be ready to sharpen the meaning of the combination if the focus of the concept alters.

The point of having an ethic code for developing terminology is to ensure that scientific theories, which are the main product of science, gets a kind of morally copyright: we do not steal each other's scientific ideas. Instead, when we use other researchers scientific ideas we quote the scientists and by referring to a given researcher we build upon and add further to what Peirce would call the growth of the concrete reasonableness. In fact, Peirce main motivation for making the ethics of terminology was to mature philosophy so that it would reach the same degree in scientific status as the natural sciences. This never happened to philosophy, mainly because of the unwillingness of philosophers to share ideas, as is the case in the natural sciences. Consequently, Peirce's struggle did not succeed. However, the ethics of terminology in its revised version offers a platform for developing scientific concepts that easily can be combined with how to knowledge manage scientific concepts

In the following, we shall take a closer look at how to knowledge manage scientific concepts by implantation of telos' into concepts.

Knowledge profiling a concept by implanting a telos

Consider the concept semiotics, this concept is very broad and abstract. It contains any kind of semiotics both the Saussurian inspired sémiologie and the pragmatic semeiotics of Peirce. So, it is obvious that semiotics in this state is close to being useless. We have to narrow down its meaning to be able to manage the concept.

Figure 6. The idea of the figure is to show the knowledge potential of semiotics. Naturally, it is difficult to depict a knowledge potential of a concept, since the potential is only a mere positive possibility. However, consider the knowledge potential of semiotics to cover all kinds of semiotics, this should provide an idea of how abstract this concept is.

In order to narrow down semiotics in a way, where we can handle it, and where it becomes more precise, we may add a prefix to semiotics. In this case such a prefix could be bio, cyber, psyko, zoo, etc.

Figure 7. By adding the prefix bio, a lot of the knowledge potential of semiotics is removed. And as the figure suggests, to semiotics a telos has been added, namely bio.

We are able to reduce the knowledge potential of a given concept by adding prefixes. Biosemiotics is a more precise concept than semiotics. Consequently, we are able to manage concepts by prefixing syllables to abstract concepts.<4> Returning to Peirce's definition of final causation. Adding a prefix to a concept is a matter of implanting a telos, and it is a matter of final causation. Consequently, adding a telos to a concept is a way of determining the development of the concept in a certain direction, indeed, it is a way of managing the knowledge contained in the concept. However, prefixing bio to semiotics creates a new abstract concept: biosemiotics, which shares epistemological qualities with semiotics. But, biosemiotics also rule out most of the structuralistic semiologie and it adds knowledge to the basic concept: semiotics.
Returning to Peirce's definition of final causation. Final causation is not the purpose of a development; it is the development in a certain direction, as Peirce notes:

we must understand by final causation that mode of bringing facts about according to which a general description of result is made to come about, quite irrespective of any compulsion for it to come about in this or that particular way; although the means may be adapted to the end. The general result may be brought about at one time in one way, and at another time in another way. Final causation does not determine in what particular way it is to be brought about, but only that the result shall have a certain general character. (CP 2.211)

Based on this definition of final causation the telos of a concept makes the concept develop in a certain and general direction. The general result of the final causation of a concept is the transformation of potentiality to facts resulting in general knowledge. Let us return to biosemiotics to clarify the final causation.

Figure 8. Biosemiotics is created within the knowledge potential of semiotics sharing the same qualities as semiotics. However it has been granted a telos making biosemiotics develop in a certain direction ruling out most of the structuralistic inspired sémiologie.

The lines in the figure suggest that the development of the concept is out and forwards. This idea of movement is in fact similar to Peirce's concept of prope-positivism. The following passage from Chiasson 2001 describes this particular type of positivism:

Peirce's brand of Prope-positivism allows for realities that are general concepts, including values, potentials, and possibilities. Peirce holds that even things you cannot touch, such as general concepts, purposes, and values, are real things. Just because you cannot speak of something does not mean that it is not real. For Peirce, any subject is real as long as it possesses qualities sufficient to characterize it, whether or not anyone ever knows what those qualities are. His concept of reality holds that something can be true even if it has never occurred and even if it is an idea no one has previously thought. (: 75)

Consequently, when adding a telos to a concept that demarks the prope-development in the given concept, we are able (however, only to a certain degree) to manage the knowledge development of the concept, thus we are able to decide the general direction of development. However, as figure 3 suggests, the development of biosemiotics is still very unmanageable. If we are to manage our concept we must make a more precise definition of the concept, metaphorically speaking, we must tighten the lid of the concepts eye.<5>

The eye of the concept

The eye metaphor is very important because it suggests that we are able to focus the meaning of a concept, that is, narrow or broaden the lines in the concept according to our particular scientific purpose. If we want to develop a concept that has to be very precise not allowing much room for unnecessary interpretations the lines becomes closer, we close the eye (see figure 4).

Figure 9. The closing of the eye suggest that we make a very precise definition of the particular concept, reducing the power of the knowledge potential.

And if we want our concept to be interpreted in a broader sense, we open the lines, thus we open the eye of the concept (see figure 5).

Figure 10. The opening of the eye suggests that we make an imprecise definition of a particular concept, expanding the knowledge potential and making the concept in danger of falling victim to the chaotic knowledge potential.

In some situations it is useful to be able to manage concepts in both way. In several cases where the knowledge profile has been applied it has been used to make researchers in the knowledge domains focus upon the purposes, ideals and goals of the knowledge domains. By focussing and tighten the eyelids, the actors in the knowledge domain are forced to make epistemological choices, which can be scientific descriptions of central concepts in the knowledge domain. This forces the actors to be aware of the concrete meaning of concepts. In my experience, this can be a problem especially within the humanities, where concepts are defined much more loosely, if defined at all. However, since the knowledge profile is developed within the doctrine of pragmaticism I do believe that concepts have to be defined in a precise way in order to make our ideas clear.


<1> Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), American philosopher, founder of pragmaticism, pragmatic semiotics, etc.

<2> I stress the word certain to emphasize that the development is not understood in a deterministic way.

<3> Even though it is scientific concepts that are my primarily interest in this article, I will try to involve consumer artefacts as signs in the discussions, since it seems clear to me that knowledge management can benefit from the same way of clarifying meanings as scientific concepts namely the knowledge profile.

<4> Peirce was not happy with the way his concept pragmatism evolved. Therefore, he added the extra syllable ic to pragmatism getting pragmaticism. The renaming of the scientific theory was an attempt to determine the development of pragmaticism in a certain direction. I believe this was a deliberate attempt to knowledge manage a scientific concept.

<5> A colleague of mine, Ellen Christiansen suggested, when I presented the figure at a seminar, that it (figure 3) resembles an eye. I think this metaphor is very strong, since it describes the process of narrowing down the knowledge potential of a concept as the process of focussing the eye upon some specific detail. In this process the detail dominates and other information is removed. The metaphor also suggests that the eye is the telos of the concept, it look forwards in a certain direction towards a goal.

END OF:  Torkild Thellefsen, "Pragmatic Semiotics and Knowledge Management"


CONTRIBUTED BY: Torkild Thellefsen
Posted to Arisbe website March 13, 2005

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