Sep 2, 2009

Concepts

From Hjørland, B. (2009). Concept theory. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 60(8), 1519 - 1536:
Concepts are dynamically constructed and collectively negotiated meanings that classify the world according to interests and theories.

Four epistemologies can be employed to understand how concepts are formed: empiricism, rationalism, historicism, and pragmatism.

Empiricism - knowledge comes from theory-independent observations

Rationalism - knowledge is acquired by the development of logical structures prior to any experience

Historicism - knowledge comes from theory-laden and culturally based observations

Pragmatism - knowledge forms according to particular goals, values, and consequences

The main argument for using all this in LIS: the potential of simple searching techniques will soon be exhausted, so the future of information retrieval is in the possibility of re-establishing lost contexts that determine the meaning of words. It can be done by developing an understanding of concepts and how they work.

The question is - if there are at least four paradigms for understanding concepts, will we ever achieve this understanding of how concepts work?