Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet


Cognitive Semiotics of Science: what?, why?, how?

The proposal here is that we should have something like a ”cognitive semiotics of science”, but what would that be, why should we bother, and how would we go about constructing such a domain of research? Something like a ”semiotics of science” have been proposed before e.g. by Charles Morris and by Michael Halliday, and the latter approach has been developed into a multimodal ”social semiotics” by Gunter Kress and others. These proposals are, however, theoretically flawed in different ways, and what I am proposing here is an interdisciplinary and empirical investigation associated with cognitive semiotics. After a brief discussion of these previous approaches, I will exemplify what kind of phenomena a cognitive semiotics of science might take up as research topics, and why this would be theoretically and practically relevant. These examples will be taken from the history of science as well as from the didactics of science, and they will focus on conceptual problems (e.g. in the discovery, articulation and understanding of scientific theories, models or experiments). I will mainly use examples from natural science and engineering, but a cognitive semiotics of science should include similar studies of social science and the humanities. Many recent and ”cognitively oriented” approaches to philosophy of science (e.g. Ronald Giere, Nancy Nersessian, Davis Baird) have a kind of ”proto-semiotic” formulation of their topics, i.e. they are almost a kind of cognitive semiotics, but not quite…  A last issue for discussion could be how a cognitive semiotics of sciences would be related to other ”genres”  in the history and philosophy of science (e.g. biographical studies of scientists, social studies of science, ”cognitive history” of science, ”scientific perspectivism” etc.).