(1) (The Symbol Theory, general abstract)


The symbol theory of knowledge is presented from the perspective of reality-congruence; it differs from traditional knowledge theory by viewing knowledge as a symbolic system linking nature & culture or society through the process of language & communication. The different stages in the development of societies are made possible by language communication & the human ability to act on learned knowledge at different levels of integration & to transmit knowledge in the form of symbols. The communication & orientation functions of language in knowledge are presented, & implications for the future of society are discussed. M. Malas


(2) The Symbol Theory: An Introduction, Part One,  Theory,-Culture-and-Society; 1989, 6, 2, May, 169-217.


Two clues are presented that may help clarify why words come to represent objects: visitors to a country with a language unknown to them need a third, common language to communicate with the inhabitants; & people experience themselves in a prototypical way in the more developed societies of our age. Two processes, with very different dynamics & structures - development & evolution - are discussed, & the distinction between them is explained. Human evolution is explored, & differences between human & ape communication are considered; linguistic communication is seen as a unique human property, & the human potential for language learning is delineated. The process of individual language acquisition, especially in children, provides evidence that runs counter to the one-sided analytical tendency that dominates speech & thought. The fact that particular sound-patterns have come to represent particular objects is based solely on social tradition. Human evolution is seen as a breakthrough of the evolutionary process to a new level, described as postanimalic; this breakthrough permitted human beings to develop communication by means of socially determined symbols. The concept of meaning is surveyed, & its social origins discussed. The interweaving of biological & social factors in the acquisition & use of language is noted, & the role of education in standardizing meanings is considered. Differences between a traditional philosophical & a sociological approach to language, particularly between the philosophy & the sociology of knowledge, are examined, & the development of concepts within human groups is discussed. Analysis of the triangular relationship between language sound-patterns as physical message carriers, as symbols of objects, & as these objects themselves is seen as a new field with great promise. 1 Reference. F. S. J. Ledgister


(2) The Symbol Theory: Part Two,  Theory,-Culture-and-Society; 1989, 6, 3, Aug, 339-383.


The symbolic nature, interrelationships, & limits of the concepts of language, thought, & knowledge are explored. All three are concerned with the manipulation of memory images: knowledge uses symbols as means of orientation, language as means of communication, & thought as means of exploration. The complexities & role of symbols in communication within human society are described. M. Malas


source: Sociological Abstracts Inc.