Epistemic and dialectic pathway to knowledge, meaning and language advancement.

  • Maria Tarantino University of Bari

Abstract

The paper emphasises the propositional and heuristic nature of scientific discourse and relates the meaning-making process to epistemic, procedural and dialogic strategies shared by members of disciplinary communities. It suggests that this sphere of communication is in constant evolution due to the informative and innovative thrust that each contribution provides to a common explanatory endeavour. The discussion traces the foundation of the knowledge-making approach to discourse in Aristotle’s work. The Greek philosopher defines scientific research as a journey from what is more obscure by nature towards what is more clear and knowable through investigation. He roots the process of discovery in the intertwining of experience and observation of phenomena with actions, cognitive and verbal strands internal to disciplinary worlds. Moreover, Aristotle maintains that advancement in any field should be filtered through a discussion among people sharing concepts and knowhow in the particular area of knowledge or craft. In this framework, the members of a task-based community transform, convert and develop existent knowledge through a dialogic approach which involves the individual researcher, systematic analysis of physical events, considerations and contributions of other experts in the field. The study then explains that since the Renaissance, scientists have followed and expanded Aristotle’s approach to knowledge and discourse. The advancement has thriven on the fusion of empirical and scientific research sustained by mathematics, geometry, technical props and systematic experiments. This method has rendered the investigation, modelling and description of natural phenomena more reliable and open to verification by the expert-community. At the same time, it has enriched scientific terms, texts and language with disciplinary semantic and pragmatic dimensions, thus, making the genre universal, objective, rational, true and open ended. Through reference to actual scientific discoveries, the paper demonstrates that technical concepts, terms and texts build on accumulated knowledge, independent thinking, principles, theories, practices, verbal and non-verbal codes of research domains. It indicates that scientific writing has its own goals, problems and constraints which rule questions of precision, clarity, truthfulness, familiarity, imagery and fluidity of expression. The discussions provide support for models of language study which challenge linguistic determinism and argue for descriptive approaches which include humans who think, act and discuss in order to understand nature, improve living and work conditions and facilitate communication.
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