Multisemiosis and Incommensurability

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Abstract:

Central to Kuhn's notion of incommensurability are the ideas of meaning variance and lexicon, and the impossibility of translation of terms across different theories. Such a notion of incommensurability is based on a particular understanding of what a scientific language is. In this paper we first attempt to understand this notion of scientific language in the context of incommensurability. We consider the consequences of the essential multisemiotic character of scientific theories and show how this leads to even a single theory being potentially 'internally incommensurable'. We then discuss Kuhn's lexicon-based approach to incommensurability and the problems associated with it. Finally we argue that this approach by Kuhn has interesting overlaps with the problem of meaning associated with multisemiosis, particularly the challenge of understanding the process of symbolization in scientific theories.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698590903197773

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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