Acquiring ways of thinking and interpreting

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“When we learn a new semiotic domain in a more active way, not as passive content, three things are at stake: First, we learn to experience (see, feel, and operate on) the world in new ways. Second, ... we gain the potential to join this social group ... Third, we gain resources that prepare us for future learning and problem solving in the domain, and, perhaps, more importantly, in related domains. Three things, then, are involved in active learning: experiencing the world in new ways, forming new affiliations, and preparation for future learning (Bransford & Schwartz 1999; Gee 2000-2001).” (Gee, 2003, pg. 32)

“Certain rules are set up during the course of time by social groups as to how valid knowledge is to be acquired, and how propositions are to be logically operated with. The sociology of knowledge is interested in the social situations in which these rules were developed and the influence of those rules on social action.” (De Gre, 1970, pg 664-665 as quoted in Phillips, 1979, pg 120)

In order to engage in a culture, agents need to have an overall view of that culture. In order to participate in a historical course of actions, agents need to have a historical perspective. These views will, of course, be generally schematic but they will be synoptic in character.” (Sluga, 2011, pg 111) 

“[Wittgenstein] goes on to suggest that we need “a surveyable representation” that can generate “the comprehension that consists in ‘seeing connections.’” The concept of surveyable representation, he adds, “signifies our form of presentation, how we see things.” And he closes the section with the somewhat puzzling question: “Is this a ‘world view’?”” (Sluga, 2011, pg 99)

Example TLP 6.342: Similarly the possibility of describing the world by means of Newtonian mechanics tells us nothing about the world: but what does tell us something about it is the precise way in which it is possible to describe it by these means. We are also told something about the world by the fact that it can be described more simply with one system of mechanics than with another ... The different nets correspond to different systems for describing the world. Mechanics determines one form of description of the world by saying that all propositions used in the description of the world must be obtained in a given way from a given set of propositions - the axioms of mechanics. It thus supplies the bricks for building the edifice of science, and it says, ‘Any building that you want to want to erect, whatever it may be, must somehow be constructed with these bricks, and with these alone.”

“In order to act politically, for instance, agents require a comprehensive view of the political system. (Sluga, 2011)

“In order to have a systematic overview of a form of life, we would not only need to have that form of life itself to be surveyable but we would also need a surveyable grasp of the ways in which those engaged in that form of life in turn understand it. (Sluga, 2011, pg 146)

By a semiotic domain I mean any set of practices that recruit one or more modalities (e.g., oral or written language, images, equations, symbols, sounds, gestures, graphs, artifacts, and so forth) to communicate distinctive types of meanings.

“We come to our world picture not by being convinced of its correctness but being brought up into it. And that picture of the world serves then for us as ‘the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false’ (OC, 94). Language, which ‘did not emerge from some kind of ratiocination’ (OC 475), is grounded, rather, in practices and habits inculcated in us in childhood ... (Sluga, 2011, pg 69 - 70)

As pedagogy : “[Wittgenstein] says that his account in [Tractatus] is like a ladder that is necessary to reach a higher level of understanding that, once attained, provides a vantage point from which such ladders can be seen as flawed and unnecessary - once it has served its purpose for the ladder can (must) be thrown away ... We want to emphasise that this should be regarded as an educational argument: that it is exploring the question of how understandings and ways of seeing are changed. It has affinities with (among other things) Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. But most significant, it suggests that the means of argument and cognitive changes are (must be) extra-rational at key junctures.” (Burbles and Peters, 2010, pg 69 - 70)

"When children learn language, they are not simply engaging in one kind of learning among many; rather, they are learning the foundations of learning itself … Language is not a domain of human knowledge; language is the essential condition of knowing, the process by which experience becomes knowledge." (Halliday, 1993, pg. 93)


References  (back to top)

  • Bransford, J. D. & Schwartz, D. L. (1999) Rethinking transfer: a simple proposal with multiple implications, Review of Research in Education, 24, pp. 61–100.
  • Burbles, N. and Peters, M. (2010). Tractarian pedagogies. In M. Peters, N. Burbles, and P. Smeyers (Eds), Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. (pp. 65 - 80). London: Paradigm Publishers.
  • De Gre, G. (1970). The sociology of knowledge and the problem of truth. In J. Curtis & J. Petras (Eds) The sociology of knowledge. (pg 644 - 655). New York: Praeger. 
  • Gee, J. P. (2000–2001) Identity as an analytic lens for research in education, Review of Research in Education, 25, pp. 99–125.
  • Gee, J. P. (2003). Opportunity to learn: a language-based perspective on assessment. In Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, Vol 10, No. 1, pp 27 - 46
  • Halliday, M. (1993). Towards a language-based theory of learning. In Linguistics and Education. Vol 5, No. 2. pp 93 - 116 
  • Phillips, D. (1977) Wittgenstein and scientific knowledge.  London: MacMillan Press
  • Sluga, H. (2011). Wittgenstein. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Wittgenstein, L. (2001). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. London: Routledge.
  • _____________ (1969). On Certainty. Edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. Translated by D. Paul and G.E.M. Anscombe. New York: Harper Torchbooks.