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Human Lifeworlds

The Cognitive Semiotics of Cultural Evolution

Edited By David Dunér and Göran Sonesson

This book, which presents a cognitive-semiotic theory of cultural evolution, including that taking place in historical time, analyses various cognitive-semiotic artefacts and abilities. It claims that what makes human beings human is fundamentally the semiotic and cultural skills by means of which they endow their Lifeworld with meaning. The properties that have made human beings special among animals living in the terrestrial biosphere do not derive entirely from their biological-genetic evolution, but also stem from their interaction with the environment, in its culturally interpreted form, the Lifeworld. This, in turn, becomes possible thanks to the human ability to learn from other thinking beings, and to transfer experiences, knowledge, meaning, and perspectives to new generations.
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David Dunér - Chapter Nine : Science: The Structure of Scientific Evolutions


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David Dunér

Chapter Nine

Science: The Structure of Scientific Evolutions

Scientific thinking is a result of time and history. It has slowly emerged in bio-cultural coevolution where human beings interact with artefacts and the surrounding environment. Fundamental conditions for the emergence of scientific thinking are that the human mind is embodied, environmentally situated and using external objects to extend its senses and cognition. But also important is the prerequisite and urge to communicate and have encounters with other thinking and living beings. Taken together, this amounts to the human ability to understand and share knowledge, beliefs and perspectives, and to do so in a context beyond that of the intimate group. This chapter discusses how science emerged through interaction between human cognitive abilities and changing environmental conditions, in other words, how it depends on an extensive bio-cultural coevolution. “Science” is here understood in a broad sense, as the systematic organisation of knowledge by human beings with the aim of understanding, explaining, and handling the world around us, as applied to nature as well as to culture and society. It is a disciplined way of studying the human Lifeworld, by using certain cognitive and cultural abilities that have evolved through a bio-cultural coevolution. Even if scientific thought, as we shall see, resembles human thinking in general, it tries to transcend the subjectively and culturally coloured Lifeworld, aiming to an intersubjective, shared Lifeworld, grounded in universal features of human consciousness.

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