Nelson Goodman’s general theory of symbols: can it help characterise some educational concerns?

COLDRON, J. (2010). Nelson Goodman’s general theory of symbols: can it help characterise some educational concerns? In: European conference of education research, Helsinki, 25-27 August 2010. 1-18. (Submitted)

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Nelson Goodman was active between 1941 and the end of the century. From 1968 he was Professor of Philosophy at Harvard. He died in 1998 at the age of 92 having made contributions in the field of logic and analytical philosophy. His unremitting nominalism led to a radical constructivist or irrealist position. He was a constructivist not only in the sense of acknowledging the constitutive nature of our classifications of things, ultimately amounting to versions of the world, but also in the way that, following Carnap, he saw it as part of the responsibility of philosophy to construct robust and consistent systems of statements that serve as correctives to the logical disarray of natural language. He also took to its logical conclusions another of Carnap’s principles namely that the truth of a statement is dependent on a particular frame of reference... In this paper I consider how Goodman's analysis of the forms of reference might fruitfully be applied to some educational concerns. He identifies two main species of reference, denotation and exemplification, and two main sub-species, representation and expression. Symbols may be labels or samples. I first present his theory of notation and then the operation of labels and samples in turn and consider how we might use them to describe teaching and learning. I further apply them to explain the role that experience plays in a teacher’s professional development and how they might help to characterise the personal dimension of teaching. I then present his theory of metaphor and expression and finally suggest ways in which these and his other concepts may help theorise parental choice of school as part of a re-conceptualised theory of social practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This is the author's version of a paper presented at the European conference of education research on 26 August 2010.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Page Range: 1-18
Depositing User: Ian Chesters
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2010 08:12
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 13:51

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