Munich Personal RePEc Archive

On the Nature of Knowledge: An evolutionary perspective

Hanappi, Hardy (2008): On the Nature of Knowledge: An evolutionary perspective.


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Knowledge comes in two opposed forms – as structural property and as a process. Their interaction - in the time dimension as well as along a logical dimension - characterizes the evolution of knowledge. Knowledge only works, i.e. evolutes, via its presence in carrier media; be it books, hard disks or human brains. Embedding specifications and development of carrier media in an understanding of knowledge evolution is a pivotal step towards an understanding of what could be considered as progress in human societies. Indeed the impact of the ICT revolution of the last decades is now just only surfacing; it will show how important scientific advance in this field is. Knowledge comes in pieces, in units of something that could be called language (in a wider sense). As an over boarding science of linguistics points out these pieces are organized, they form an evolutionary network. The opposing network element types, nodes and (directed) links, reflect the above mentioned opposed forms. In a sense language still is a natural phenomenon, one that provides knowledge about nature. Nature as process as well as natural structure comes into perspective as knowledge.

The paper discusses these three aspects and will position them relative to major scientific contributions from various disciplines. In a final conclusion the consequences for the methodology of evolutionary economics will be drawn.

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