Knowledge and Knowing in Library and Information Science: A Philosophical Framework

Knowledge and Knowing in Library and Information Science : A Philosophical Framework
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We can call this change a Copernican revolution. Instead of considering knowledge something static and permanent in the center of a library system, we are now aware of the constitutive role played by the interpreter and user of such schemes. This means a dynamic view of knowledge schemes as something which is "in-between" the members of a professional community, i.

The delimitation of a subject field also implies the use of a specialized vocabulary or language game Wittgenstein. The study of the structure and use of such vocabularies including the use of logical devices in modern expert systems is a major concern of information science. The concept of information in information science includes these three dimensions: a professional community, i.

Philosophy at the Library: Learning InThe Digital Age

The following quotation by Martha Williams summarizes, I believe, this hermeneutic paradigm of information science:. Databases bibliographic, numeric, factual etc. Their scope or horizon is supposed to be the correlate of the one shared by a professional community. This must be clearly stated before the input of the information items into the computer takes place.

Information systems are basically related to outside parameters. There is no absolute system as there is no absolute information. Classification schemes, indexing methods etc. The online dialogue can be considered as a special kind of hermeneutic process. On the one side we have the fixed horizon of the system, while on the other side there is the open or existential horizon ofthe inquirer. During the dialogue a "fusion of horizons" H. Gadamer takes place on different levels descriptors, descriptive categories, contents of abstracts, classification etc. In the case of bibliographic databases such a solution usually means some references to relevant documents.

Thus, bibliographic databases only offer a very limited possibility for a "fusion of horizons" with regard, for instance, to expert systems.

Knowledge and Knowing in Library and Information Science : A Philosophical Framework -

Our capacity to build more intelligent information systems depends on our insight on the pre-understanding of a professional community. Swanson remarks, the retrieval process can be compared to a trial-and-error process in scientific research. He states, following Popper's ideas, the following analogy:. The question of relevance in information retrieval must take these different levels into account. Saracevic 46 has summarized this matter some years ago. Salton states a difference between an objective or system-oriented and a subjective or user-oriented relevance 47 Of course it would be wrong to identify the process of information retrieval with the conception of scientific research as a trial-and-error process.

Stephen P. Harter 48 has recently emphasized the limits of this analogy. The motivation and the subsequent treatment of the results differ significantly in online searching and in scientific inquiry. Boths aspects are "subjective and equivocal" though "no less important in system evaluation".

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Finally we should be aware that the scientific process of testing hypothesis is related to truth and falsity of theories, while there is no such specific intention in online searching. The underlying purpose is to search and find presumably relevant information.

The concepts of error and truth as used in scientific methodology would prove, in this context, to be misleading. Online searching is not restricted to scientific information but concerns different kinds of pragmatic interests. The concept of relevance has to embrace all possible levels of the process, which thus can only partially be explained with the analogy of scientific inquiry.

The result. To be intelligent means, for men and information systems, to be able to make conjectural inferences from a bulk of foreknowledge. This is an old truth. Aristotle writes:. The first part is based on my doctoral dissertation: Information Munich In the second and third parts I develop some ideas published later in my post-doctoral dissertation: Hermeneutik der Fachinformation Freiburg See also:.

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This paper deals with epistemological foundations of information science. The first part is dedicated to the analysis of the roots of the information concept particularly in everyday English. I give an example of the technical use of the term in medieval epistemology Thomas Aquinas and compare it with the concept of representation in modern cognitive science.

In the second part, I discuss the paradigm of human understanding as developed by hermeneutics. The third part deals with the relation between hermeneutics and information science. We understand the meaning of words, as Wittgenstein reminds us 3 , when we know how they are used. I will take as an example the medieval concept of informatio in Thomas Aquinas' theory of knowledge which I shall compare with the modern concept of representation in cognitive science.

In the second part I will discuss some arguments developed by hermeneutics which in its reflection on human understanding rejoins, on a more general level, the results attained by modern philosophy of science concerning the structure of scientific thought. Finally, I consider information science, information retrieval and the meaning of the information concept within the framework of hermeneutics.

In his famous English dictionary dated , Dr Johnson 4 mentions three uses of the word information , namely:. The second meaning is a special application in the field of law of the first epistemological sense.

PART 1: Development of Basic Concepts and Framework

The third use refers to ontology which has not changed since ancient times. Both meanings have their roots in Greek philosophy but I shall not deal with the ontological meaning in this lecture. As we can hear, information is familiarly related to concepts such as: to reason with somebody, to listen to what somebody has to say, to a messenger and to his message. There is a context of ignorance and expectation but also of common knowledge to which the information is supposed to be significant.

Information is a concept situated in the field of human language and intersubjectivity. It refers to the process of telling something to somebody and to the content being transmitted.

Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science

In short, it indicates a major human characteristic. The three last meanings are related to the special application in the legal field. Key senses are again the process of communicating something to somebody as well as the content of the message. When Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver develop their mathematical theory of communication , they explicitly refer to this epistemological meaning.

One would imagine our knowledge representing something observed or assumed in the external world or our knowledge being represented by something going on or retained in our brain or nervous system; or our knowledge being represented by some expressions visual, auditory and tactile , artifacts sings, signals, symbols and codes , or various kinds of action meaningful and communicable to others.

Assuming that the stingy economyzers of prepositions mean not representation by knowledge but representation of knowledge, we rule out the first of the three possible meanings; considering that most users much of the time do their research using computers, we rule out the second meaning. Thus, we conclude that representations in question are largely in terms of computer programs. The difference between the traditional epistemological meaning of informatio and information and the modern use of representation is commented upon in a letter by the psychologist George A.

Miller to Machlup, in which he refers to the importance of this concept in the rationalist epistemological tradition since Descartes. He writes: "The cognitive sciences are those scientific disciplines sharing an interest in the representation and transformation of knowledge read information in the present context. You are certainly right Historically, philosophers since Descartes have assumed that the mind somehow copies, reflects, or represents the real world, so representation is hardly a new idea. The philosophers, however, immediately raised the question of how we can possibly know whether or not the mental representation of the real world is correct, true, valid.

At this point Hume, then Kant, then dozens of others were able to create professional philosophy out of the epistemological metaphysical problems that resulted. When cognitive scientists revert to the problem of representation, therefore, one assumes or at least hopes they have a better strategy in mind than the philosophers did, that there are other more important questions to ask about representations other than their accuracy, since that question is known to lead straight out of empirical science.

Part 2: Theoretical and philosophical issues

Within the context provided by this essay, we can see data in two more precise ways. A deeper understanding may then result by the process user drawing all sorts of conclusions from the information received. By Paula DuPont. The information is the pattern of organization of the material, not the material itself. Let us consider a human example. Many new ideas in science and the arts took a long time to emerge because, despite our great intelligence as a species, something about those ideas so violated conventional thinking, that we were unable to develop that emergent understanding. In the second section, he argues against the dilemmas that surface from the heritage of modern science, then argues for an interpretive approach to knowledge in LIS, an approach rooted in hermeneutical phenomenology.

This relevance is, according to Margaret Boden 14 , debatable when we consider the differences between our embodiment and a machine, between human behavior and computer programs or between the social dimension of human perception and action. The modern concept of representation refers to three kinds of problems:. Cognitive science, as Machlup remarks, concentrates on the two first questions. The third question points to a basic problem, as it states that knowledge representations cannot be considered as such because of the fact that knowledge is being represented but because these representations are related to an interpreter.

This raises the question of human understanding as an interpretation process and particularly as interpretation of represented knowledge. This is the key issue of the hermeneutic approach. Margaret Boden explicitly refers to hermeneutic and intentional theories as a conceptual basis for the discussion about the analogy between human subjectivity and computational performances Hermeneutics as a philological discipline dealing with the problems of text interpretation has a very long tradition that I cannot evoke here I shall concentrate on the paradigm developed by philosophical hermeneutics that is an attempt to explore the complex issue of human understanding including the question of text interpretation.

See a Problem? Knowledge and Knowing in Library and Information Science: A Philosophical Framework (): John M. Budd: Books. Knowledge and Knowing in Library and Information Science: A Philosophical Framework. Reviewer(s). Birger Hjørland (Royal School of Library and Information.

Let us examine now the hermeneutic paradigm on the basis of two discourses which I call the existential and the contextual-critical discourse. This argument was originally developed by Husserl's phenomenology and Heidegger's existential analytics.