Some Epistemological Implications of Semiosis in the Social Domain *

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Loet Leydesdorff

Science & Technology Dynamics

Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)

Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX  Amsterdam, The Netherlands;





The semiosis of the social domain is shaped by the specificities of language and symbolic communication among human beings. Language can be considered as the evolutionary achievement of the capacity to communicate at two levels simultaneously: humans can communicate both uncertainty and meaning. The operation of giving meaning to the uncertainty is recursive since the interaction among meanings generates uncertainty. Scientific communication can be considered as a next-order mechanism of social coordination using meaning that is codified into (paradigmatic) jargons. Potentially incommensurable paradigms entertain different hypotheses about realities and thereby they provide the system with a variety of expectations. This system can operates in terms of exchanging expectations by translating them. The scientific communication guides the advancement of knowledge endogenously, that is, as an evolving subsystem of translations among ever more specific and differentiated expectations.





* A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2nd Conference on Semiotics, Evolution, and Energy, Toronto, 6-8 October 2001. The paper is under submission for publication in the SEED Journal (Semiotics, Evolution, Energy, and Development); see at