Throughout its evolution, Piaget's theory has placed meaning at the center of all attempts to understand the nature and development of knowing.
For Piaget, all knowing - whether sensorimotor, representational, or reasoned, and whether directed toward successful problem solutions or toward general understanding - is necessarily a construction which arises out of meaning making activity. It was in this context that the editors of this volume approached the board of directors of the Jean Piaget Society with a proposal to organize a recent annual symposium around the topic of the nature and development of meaning. In forming this symposium and in moving from symposium to integrated text, the editors wanted to insure both a breadth and depth to the analysis of the topic.
Addressing philosophical, theoretical, and empirical perspectives, this issue-oriented volume provides an integrated exploration of the current understanding of the nature and development of meaning. Contemporary issues that frame alternative understandings of the nature of meaning - nativist vs. constructivist positions, and computational vs. embodied mind contexts - are examined as they impact on the investigation of meaning. Comparative, cognitive, and linguistic developmental dimensions of meaning are described and discussed.
Contents: Preface. W.F. Overton, Contexts of Meaning: The Computational and the Embodied Mind. K.J. Gergen, The Communal Creation of Meaning. G. Lakoff, What Is a Conceptual System? M. Turner, Design for a Theory of Meaning. E.K. Scholnick, K. Cookson, A Developmental Analysis of Cognitive Semantics: What Is the Role of Metaphor in the Construction of Knowledge and Reasoning? R. Jackendoff, Word Meanings and What It Takes to Learn Them: Reflections on the Piaget-Chomsky Debate. J. Macnamara, The Foundations of Logic and the Foundations of Cognition. T. Brown, Affective Dimensions of Meaning. J. Langer, From Acting to Understanding: The Comparative Development of Meaning. L. Bloom, Meaning and Expression. K. Hirsh-Pasek, R.M. Golinkoff, L. Reeves, Constructivist Explanations for Language Acquisition May Be Insufficient: The Case for Language-Specific Principles. C. Feldman, J. Bruner, D. Kalmar, B. Renderer, Plot, Plight, and Dramatism: Interpretation at Three Ages. R.F. Kitchener, Semantic Naturalism: The Problem of Meaning and Naturalistic Psychology.