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There remains the problem of the relationship between this world and the world of the knowing subject. This is a problem similar to the one posed by the representation paradigm. In its materialistic version, information science studies information as far as it is materialized in carriers outside the brain, in the form of documents or of their electronic surrogates.

The idealistic version considers information as an objective but non-material entity. Belkin's theory refers to an "anomalous state of knowledge" as the basis of the information retrieval process. The knower is originally a non-knower. This is a Socratic insight as well as a hermeneutic one. The non-knower is a partial-knower i.

The affinity of these terms to some basic ideas of hermeneutics, for example pre-understanding , is evident, and it was very soon identified as such [Hollnagel, ]. The cognitive turn led also to a specification of the traditional paradigms in our field. Knowledge becomes, even more emphatically, a world in itself. This emphasis becomes manifest for instance in Brookes' foundation of information science. On the basis of Popper's ontology Brookes proposed his "fundamental equation of information science", where a knowledge structure is modified by information. Information is to be found objectively as "extra-physical entities which exist only in cognitive [mental or information] spaces.

This is, on the hand, an idealistic version of the Platonistic paradigm. On the other side, Brookes considers the interaction between subjective and objective knowledge as being reflected in the changes to be observed in the knowledge structure caused by new information. Hermeneutics and Wittgenstein's late philosophy criticize some presuppositions underlying ontological dichotomies and trichotomies, without taking the path of monism, i.

By questioning the presuppositions of a "capsule-like psyche" [Boss, ] and of a re-presented outside world, hermeneutics offers a new insight into the question of how knowledge is being pragmatically constituted and socially shared by human beings, whose being is basically a being-in-the-world-with-others. The empirical study of this phenomenon is at the core of information science. These few references to the "cognitive viewpoint in information science" [Belkin, ] show a tendency in recent discussion of the foundations of our discipline: information is intrinsically connected to the knowledge structure of human beings.

The cognitive viewpoint brings out a founding dimension of our field but it remains unsatisfactory as far as the user is considered primarily as a knower. One of the key insights of hermeneutics is the holistic not monistic approach to the relationship betwenn man and world. This approach is a social and a pragmatic one. We are not isolated monads, having first a private or subjective cognitive sphere, separated from the objective one. Language is not something occurring in the inner sphere of a subject, whose interactions with an outside object lead to inner representations, to be communicated through signs to other receiver-minds.

Wittgenstein's private language argument has clearly refuted this thesis [Wittgenstein ]. Instead of the modern presupposition of subjectivity as a "psyche-capsule" which was established in order to describe a theoretical or objective view on things belonging to a real world, hermeneutics refers to the founding dimension of our being-in-the-world-with-others , in the sense of a historical dimension of disclosure of meaning, which conditions but does not fully determine our understanding of the world including our theories of it.

It is the open context of possibilities within which our inter-personal life as well as our dealing with things and with nature reveals a possible horizon of meaning. Our being-in-the-world is such that we are not first within our subjectivity and look afterwards for ways of getting out of it, but we are basically open, i. At the same time we grasp this openness as a finite one, given our posterior knowledge of birth as well as our prior knowledge of death. The term existence is an indicator of this difference, by stressing the sense of being outside ek-.

This being outside is originally a being-outside-with-others. Communication in the sense of sharing together a common world is a specific trait of our being-in-the-world. Here lies the existential foundation of information science. Information, in an existential-hermeneutic sense, means to thematically and situationally share a common world.

If we ask for the conditions of possibility of communicating to each other the possible meaning of things within specific horizons of understanding, then the hermeneutic answer is that we can do this because we already share a world. Thus, information is not the end product of a representation process, or something being transported from one mind to the other, or, finally, something separated from a capsule-like subjectivity, but an existential dimension of our being-in-the-world-with-others.

Information is, more precisely, the articulation of a prior pragmatical understanding of a common shared world. This prior understanding, or pre-understanding , remains to a great extent tacit even when we articulate it in spoken or written form just because, given our finite being, we can never make it fully explicit. One important consequence of this is that, in the case of scientific thematization of the world, we can never render a full foundation of knowledge.

Human knowledge is, as theory of science stresses, always tentative. This tentative character means, as I argue in [], that knowledge, being basically shared knowledge necessarily refers to limited horizons of pre-understanding as well as to a community which shares this pre-understanding. Hermeneutics stresses the pragmatic dimension of human existence in the sense that we primarily live within a tacit context before we get the undisturbed freedom to look at things as if!

But, indeed, "primum esse, tum philosophari" Seneca.

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We were not asked beforehand whether we like to be or not. We can use this term to denotate a fundamental characteristic of our being-in-the-world, i. This is also the meaning of Wittgenstein's "forms of life", which are the basis for our "language games" [, p. The cognitive turn in information science presupposes this pragmatic dimension of our being-in-the-world, but it does not make it explicit. This pragmatic dimension is not a practical as opposed to a theoretical one, because also in our actions we are not void of all pre-understanding but already informed i.

Thus, information is neither a mentalistic nor just a mind-related concept but expresses a characteristic of our pragmatic way of being. When we say: 'we store, retrieve, exchange etc. But it is, on the contrary, we who are there , sharing a common world and therefore able to share explicitly with others, in a process of partial disclosure, the conditions and limits of our understanding. I take the term information in this existential meaning as a basic concept of information science. Scientific knowledge is the classical field where the creation of a common pre-understanding is an essential aim in itself.

It is not by chance that information science, since its very beginning, considered the processes of technological manipulation of scientific or, more generally speaking, professional-oriented knowledge, as its paradigmatic model of shared knowledge, i. Roberts looks for a behaviourist approach to "information man". Wersig considers the "actors" within "problematic situations". The "rational-cognitive treatment of problems" constitutes for Wersig only one aspect of the problem of rationalization.

Bringing together Philosophy and Sociology of Science

I believe that these ideas lead to a hermeneutic and rhetorical foundation of information science. Instead of asking: 'what is information? The pragmatic fields of open possibilities are shared contexts, also in the linguistic sense of the word con-texts , i. The aim of information science is to thematize this con-textual dimension taking into consideration primarily all technical forms of communication as parts of other forms of life.

This scientific thematization can take place in a formal-methodological as well as in a cultural-historical or pragmatic perspective. I call the first an information heuristics or ars quaerendi ' and the second information hermeneutics. All methods of information retrieval belong to the first one and are an essential part of our science.

But a mere formalist or substantialist view leaves aside the existential groundings i. An information economy that seeks to reduce information to an exchange value without taking into account the different forms of life in which it is grounded is no less dangerous than a blind exploitation of nature. In designing tools we are designing, as Winograd and Flores remark [, p. This, I think, is a key insight with far-reaching implications for information science studies, which do not forget the pragmatic dimension of their subject matter. Aristotle connects rhetoric not only to other linguistic-methodological disciplines such as logic, dialectic and topic, but also with ethics and politics.

It is easy to see that the negative forms of the informative speech, to which Schrader refers, cannot be considered as an essential part of information science as long as such a science is not seen as a sub-discipline of rhetoric. The crucial point underlying the hermeneutic-rhetorical paradigm of information science is neither the analogy of information as something physical nor the representation of reality within an inner sphere, but the recognition of the interwovenness of information and misinformation as an existential dimension, i.

Information and misinformation are, in some way, pseudonyms, i. By grasping information and misinformation as a dimension of human existence, I am suggesting a distinction with regard to other uses of these terms. This anthropologic or ontologic distinction does not imply an anthropocentric view. It criticizes a worldless subjectivity representing the things of the outside world in an encapsulated mind.

To exist means, for human beings, to be thrown into a field of possibilities with the capacity of conceiving and misconceiving not only our own technological projects, but also the nature of things that bring themselves forth. One fundamental reason for the interwovenness of information and misinformation is precisely the finite structure of human existence, our facticity or thrownness Heidegger's "Geworfenheit".

Science remains fallible and all the information we are supposed to store, retrieve etc. According to the classical physical paradigm these situations should be avoided in order to get relevant results. For the hermeneutic-rhetorical approach they are a basis for users constructions. The rhetorical distinctions do not intend to separate informative and deliberative speech from the other forms of speech nor to isolate all of them from ethics and politics. In order to see these connections, for instance between informative, persuasive and pleasant speech in our field, we have but to recall questions of data security and copyright, or the persuasive efforts of a host marketing division or, finally, the efforts to create user-friendly systems.

The ideology of a pure informative speech rests upon the disregarding of its rhetorical roots. Many of our so-called information systems are remnants of a pre-pragmatic, utopian view of an ideal language, although or, more precisely, because our field has been considering itself as a practical one, i.

Information science, as a sub-discipline of rhetoric, studies the different forms of handling artificially i. But such handling is, as in the case of other forms of rhetoric, not just a formal-methodological question, completely independent from ethical and political dimensions. Rhetoric and topic play a basic role in the construction of hypertext databases.

For, as Wallmannsberger remarks [], non-linearity and associativity imply a conception of human knowledge, where analogy and probability are the key aspects. Contrary to the idea of information as a decontextualized or situation-independent sphere, a hermeneutic and rhetorical view stresses the contextuality including cultural, aesthetic, ethical, and political dimensions of meaning.

The pragmatic turn in philosophy, as carried out by hermeneutics and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations , has decisive implications for our field. Hypertext and hypermedia as well as other kinds of intelligent databases and systems, can be called intelligent as far as they take into consideration dialectical, topical and rhetorical figures. On the background of rhetoric it is also possible to thematize the connections of these technological mediations to ethics and politics.

The question: What is information science for? It must accomplish a self-reflection in a formal-interpretative as well as in a cultural-historical way. It has to resist the temptation to become just a technical heuristics or a metadiscipline embracing ethics and politics. As a sub-discipline of rhetoric it belongs to other deliberative techniques. As one part of them it is different from juridical and literary forms of speech, but it certainly implies aspects of persuasion and pleasure. This relationship between rhetoric and aesthetics within information science needs to be more strongly emphasized than I am doing it here.

It does not only imply the user-friendliness or the ergonomic design of information systems, i. We should study how information technologies influence the bodily possibilities of the users. We need, in other words, an information science aesthetics closely related to an information science ethics i. One way of doing this is, as Frohmann proposed [], through discourse analysis. Information science is a hermeneutic science just because there is no definite separation between information and misinformation. Information science is the science of information and misinformation.

We are concerned, as Popper suggested [], with problems and not with subject fields precisely because problems always arise within changing cultural and historical horizons or fields! The linear model of human knowledge and action from "facts" to "decisions", suggested by Hayes [], is an idealized description of human understanding, which must take decisions in order to establish facts, thus being involved in a hermeneutic, i. Ars rhetorica. Oxford Belkin, N.

ASK for Information Retrieval. Part I. Background and Theory. Journal of Documentation 38, 2, pp. The cognitive viewpoint in information science. Journal of Information Science 16, pp. Boss, M. Grundriss der Medizin und der Psychologie. Brookes, B. The foundations of information science.

Capurro, R. Hermeneutik der Fachinformation. Techne und Ethik. Concordia 10, Informatics and Hermeneutics. Budde, Chr. Floyd, R. Science is a method that allows a person to possess, with the highest degree of certainty possible, reliable knowledge justified true belief about nature.

The method used to justify scientific knowledge, and thus make it reliable, is called the scientific method. I will explain the formal procedures of the scientific method later in this essay, but first let's describe the more general practice of scientific or critical thinking. When one uses the scientific method to study or investigate nature or the universe, one is practicing scientific thinking. All scientists practice scientific thinking, of course, since they are actively studying nature and investigating the universe by using the scientific method.

But scientific thinking is not reserved solely for scientists. Anyone can "think like a scientist" who learns the scientific method and, most importantly, applies its precepts, whether he or she is investigating nature or not. When one uses the methods and principles of scientific thinking in everyday life--such as when studying history or literature, investigating societies or governments, seeking solutions to problems of economics or philosophy, or just trying to answer personal questions about oneself or the meaning of existence--one is said to be practicing critical thinking.

Critical thinking is thinking correctly for oneself that successfully leads to the most reliable answers to questions and solutions to problems.

The philosophy of information as an underlying and unifying theory of information science

In other words, critical thinking gives you reliable knowledge about all aspects of your life and society, and is not restricted to the formal study of nature. Scientific thinking is identical in theory and practice, but the term would be used to describe the method that gives you reliable knowledge about the natural world. Clearly, scientific and critical thinking are the same thing, but where one scientific thinking is always practiced by scientists, the other critical thinking is sometimes used by humans and sometimes not.

Scientific and critical thinking was not discovered and developed by scientists that honor must go to ancient Hellenistic philosophers, such as Aristotle, who also are sometimes considered the first scientists , but scientists were the ones to bring the practice of critical thinking to the attention and use of modern society in the 17th and 18th centuries , and they are the most explicit, rigorous, and successful practitioners of critical thinking today. Some professionals in the humanities, social sciences, jurisprudence, business, and journalism practice critical thinking as well as any scientist, but many, alas, do not.

Scientists must practice critical thinking to be successful, but the qualifications for success in other professions do not necessarily require the use of critical thinking, a fact that is the source of much confusion, discord, and unhappiness in our sociey. The scientific method has proven to be the most reliable and successful method of thinking in human history, and it is quite possible to use scientific thinking in other human endeavors.

For this reason, critical thinking--the application of scientific thinking to all areas of study and topics of investigation--is being taught in schools throughout the United States, and its teaching is being encouraged as a universal ideal. You may perhaps have been exposed to critical thinking skills and exercises earlier in your education.

The important point is this: critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill a student can learn in school and college, since if you master its skills, you know how to think successfully and reach reliable conclusions, and such ability will prove valuable in any human endeavor, including the humanities, social sciences, commerce, law, journalism, and government, as well as in scholarly and scientific pursuits.

Since critical thinking and scientific thinking are, as I claim, the same thing, only applied for different purposes, it is therefore reasonable to believe that if one learns scientific thinking in a science class, one learns, at the same time, the most important skill a student can possess--critical thinking. This, to my mind, is perhaps the foremost reason for college students to study science, no matter what one's eventual major, interest, or profession.

What is scientific thinking? At this point, it is customary to discuss questions, observations, data, hypotheses, testing, and theories, which are the formal parts of the scientific method, but these are NOT the most important components of the scientific method. The scientific method is practiced within a context of scientific thinking, and scientific and critical thinking is based on three things: using empirical evidence empiricism , practicing logical reasonsing rationalism , and possessing a skeptical attitude skepticism about presumed knowledge that leads to self-questioning, holding tentative conclusions, and being undogmatic willingness to change one's beliefs.

These three ideas or principles are universal throughout science; without them, there would be no scientific or critical thinking. Let's examine each in turn. Empirical evidence is evidence that one can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell; it is evidence that is susceptible to one's senses. Empirical evidence is important because it is evidence that others besides yourself can experience, and it is repeatable, so empirical evidence can be checked by yourself and others after knowledge claims are made by an individual.

Empirical evidence is the only type of evidence that possesses these attributes and is therefore the only type used by scientists and critical thinkers to make vital decisions and reach sound conclusions. We can contrast empirical evidence with other types of evidence to understand its value.

Hearsay evidence is what someone says they heard another say; it is not reliable because you cannot check its source. Better is testimonial evidence, which, unlike hearsay evidence, is allowed in courts of law. But even testimonial evidence is notoriously unreliable, as numerous studies have shown. Courts also allow circumstantial evidence e. Revelatory evidence or revelation is what someone says was revealed to them by some deity or supernatural power; it is not reliable because it cannot be checked by others and is not repeatable.

Spectral evidence is evidence supposedly manifested by ghosts, spirits, and other paranormal or supernatural entities; spectral evidence was once used, for example, to convict and hang a number of innocent women on charges of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century, before the colonial governor banned the use of such evidence, and the witchcraft trials ended.

Emotional evidence is evidence derived from one's subjective feelings; such evidence is often repeatable, but only for one person, so it is unreliable. The most common alternative to empirical evidence, authoritarian evidence, is what authorities people, books, billboards, television commercials, etc. Sometimes, if the authority is reliable, authoritarian evidence is reliable evidence, but many authorities are not reliable, so you must check the reliability of each authority before you accept its evidence.

In the end, you must be your own authority and rely on your own powers of critical thinking to know if what you believe is reliably true. Transmitting knowledge by authority is, however, the most common method among humans for three reasons: first, we are all conditioned from birth by our parents through the use of positive and negative reinforcement to listen to, believe, and obey authorities; second, it is believed that human societies that relied on a few experienced or trained authorities for decisions that affected all had a higher survival value than those that didn't, and thus the behaviorial trait of susceptibility to authority was strengthened and passed along to future generations by natural selection; third, authoritarian instruction is the quickest and most efficient method for transmitting information we know about.

But remember: some authoritarian evidence and knowledge should be validated by empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and critical thinking before you should consider it reliable, and, in most cases, only you can do this for yourself. It is, of course, impossible to receive an adequate education today without relying almost entirely upon authoritarian evidence.

Teachers, instructors, and professors are generally considered to be reliable and trustworthy authorities, but even they should be questioned on occasion. The use of authoritarian evidence in education is so pervasive, that its use has been questioned as antithetical to the true spirit of scholarly and scientific inquiry, and attempts have been made in education at all levels in recent years to correct this bias by implementing discovery and inquiry methodologies and curricula in classrooms and laboratories.

It is easier to utilize such programs in humanities and social sciences, in which different yet equally valid conclusions can be reached by critical thinking, rather than in the natural sciences, in which the objective reality of nature serves as a constant judge and corrective mechanism. Another name for empirical evidence is natural evidence: the evidence found in nature. Naturalism is the philosophy that says that "Reality and existence i. Another popular definition of naturalism is that "The universe exists as science says it does. This is not bad, however, for, whether naturalism is ultimately true or not, science and naturalism reject the concept of ultimate or absolute truth in favor of a concept of proximate reliable truth that is far more successful and intellectually satisfying than the alternative, the philosophy of supernaturalism.

The supernatural, if it exists, cannot be examined or tested by science, so it is irrelevant to science. It is impossible to possess reliable knowledge about the supernatural by the use of scientific and critical thinking. Individuals who claim to have knowledge about the supernatural do not possess this knowledge by the use of critical thinking, but by other methods of knowing. Science has unquestionably been the most successful human endeavor in the history of civilization, because it is the only method that successfully discovers and formulates reliable knowledge.

The evidence for this statement is so overwhelming that many individuals overlook exactly how modern civilization came to be our modern civilization is based, from top to bottom, on the discoveries of science and their application, known as technology, to human purposes. Philosophies that claim to possess absolute or ultimate truth invariably find that they have to justify their beliefs by faith in dogma, authority, revelation, or philosophical speculation, since it is impossible to use finite human logic or natural evidence to demonstrate the existence of the absolute or ultimate in either the natural or supernatural worlds.

Scientific and critical thinking require that one reject blind faith, authority, revelation, and subjective human feelings as a basis for reliable belief and knowledge. These human cognitive methods have their place in human life, but not as the foundation for reliable knowledge.

Scientists and critical thinkers always use logical reasoning. Logic allows us to reason correctly, but it is a complex topic and not easily learned; many books are devoted to explaining how to reason correctly, and we can not go into the details here. However, I must point out that most individuals do not reason logically, because they have never learned how to do so. Logic is not an ability that humans are born with or one that will gradually develop and improve on its own, but is a skill or discipline that must be learned within a formal educational environment.

Emotional thinking, hopeful thinking, and wishful thinking are much more common than logical thinking, because they are far easier and more congenial to human nature.

Boolean algebra and set theory - Math Foundations 259 - N J Wildberger

Most individuals would rather believe something is true because they feel it is true, hope it is true, or wish it were true, rather than deny their emotions and accept that their beliefs are false. Often the use of logical reasoning requires a struggle with the will, because logic sometimes forces one to deny one's emotions and face reality, and this is often painful.

Logical positivism | philosophy |

But remember this: emotions are not evidence, feelings are not facts, and subjective beliefs are not substantive beliefs. Every successful scientist and critical thinker spent years learning how to think logically, almost always in a formal educational context. Some people can learn logical thinking by trial and error, but this method wastes time, is inefficient, is sometimes unsuccessful, and is often painful.