Re: [xmca] signs and scientific activity

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Wed Oct 18 2006 - 13:43:23 PDT

HI to all of you who want to download the paper. You have to make
sure that you have the entire address, from the http to the .pdf
Otherwise the link does not work, it is only a partial link. Here again:

Make sure the whole thing is in your browser without spaces


On 18-Oct-06, at 12:24 PM, Jianwei Zhang wrote:

Hi Mickael,

Thanks for sharing with us this interesting article, which is very
closely related to my interest on the creation of epistemic artifacts
in knowledge building communities. Unfortunately, I found that the
link you provided does not work. Could you please help check it?



Jianwei Zhang, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow
Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology
OISE/University of Toronto

On 18-Oct-06, at 8:33 AM, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote:

> Hi all,
> Tony Whitson had asked me to make this paper available, which will
> appear some time next year in the special issue of SEMIOTICA edited
> by Don Cunningham. Michael Hoffmann is a philosopher who did his
> PhD in philosophy on Plato but then specialized on Peirce.
> I paste the abstract and the link below.
> Cheers,
> Michael
> Hoffmann_Roth_complementarity203.pdf
> The complementarity of a representational and an epistemological
> function of signs in scientific activity
> Abstract
> This contribution essentially is about the role of signs and sign
> systems in the construction
> of knowledge and understanding by social scientists (e.g.,
> educational researchers,
> psychologists) interpreting educational data and the constraints of
> relationship
> between the knowledge these scientists bring to the interpretation
> and the
> knowledge displayed in the data on the interpretative results.
> Signs do not only “represent”
> something for somebody, as Peirce’s definition goes, but they also
> “mediate”
> relations between us and our world, including ourselves, as has
> been elaborated by
> Vygotsky. By using signs we (a) make distinctions, (b) specify
> objects and relations
> we refer to in thinking and communication, (c) structure our
> observations and experiences,
> and (d) organize societal and cognitive activity. Based on the
> demand that a
> “semiotically inspired theory of teaching and learning” should
> conceptualize the relation
> between the semiotic approaches of Peirce and Vygotsky by the
> notion of
> “complementarity” (Seeger 2005), this paper attempts to achieve
> this goal in two
> steps. First, we show that the same model can describe the
> representational and the
> epistemological function of signs—by interpreting it in two
> different ways. This model
> emphasizes that both functions of signs can only be fulfilled if we
> presuppose what
> Peirce called “collateral knowledge,” that is, a network of
> different, mediating
> knowledge forms. The central problem becoming visible in this way
> is that the interpretation
> of signs as well as the knowledge generating organization of our
> world by
> means of signs can be radically different depending on different
> collateral knowledge.
> This problem is the starting point for our second step. By
> reflecting on examples
> of our own scientific activity we will show (a) that this problem
> causes the very
> dynamics of scientific activity, and (b) that this dynamics can
> best be described by a
> dialectical process resulting from the complementary of the two
> sign functions.
> Keywords: epistemology; activity theory; collateral knowledge;
> dialectic; Peirce; Vygotsky
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