The epistemic objects focus on issues that are currently beyond the agents’ knowledge and understanding and at the edge of the epistemic horizon (Rheinberger, 1997; see also Miettinen & Virkkunen, 2005). Simultaneously, epistemic objects are grounded in historically developed, experimental systems and practices. These objects function as generators of novel conceptualization and innovative solutions because they represent hypothetical states of affairs that are only anticipated but not yet known with any certainty. The creative nature of knowledge work appears to be characterized by sustained work at the edge of the unknown: Epistemic objects guide – and are shaped by – the sustained processes of iterative conceptualization and experimental manipulation.

Cf. Shared object (in trialogical learning), Knowledge object


Miettinen, R. & Virkkunen, J. (2005). Epistemic Objects, Artefacts and Organizational Change. Organization 12(3), 437-456.

Rheinberger, H.-J. (1997). Toward a History of Epistemic Things. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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