Meaning' as a sociological concept: A review of the modeling, mapping and simulation of the communication of knowledge and meaning

  • Leydesdorff L
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Abstract

The development of discursive knowledge presumes the communication of meaning as analytically different from the communication of information. Knowledge can then be considered as a meaning which makes a difference. Whereas the communication of information is studied in the information sciences and scientometrics, the communication of meaning has been central to Luhmann's attempts to make the theory of autopoiesis relevant for sociology. Analytical techniques such as semantic maps and the simulation of anticipatory systems enable us to operationalize the distinctions which Luhmann proposed as relevant to the elaboration of Husserl's 'horizons of meaning' in empirical research: (1) interactions among communications, (2) the organization of meaning in instantiations, and (3) the self-organization of interhuman communication in terms of symbolically generalized media such as truth, love and power. Horizons of meaning, however, remain uncertain orders of expectations, and one should caution against reification from the meta-biological perspective of systems theory.

Author-supplied keywords

  • anticipation
  • communication
  • meaning
  • self-organization
  • semantic map

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