|Abstract||Many scholars have equated the 20th century with the 17th century as an era that brought forth a new paradigm or pattern of thought and belief. The 17th century saw the emergence of the modern paradigm. It is postulated that placing the innovations and discoveries of the 20th century in proper context results in the emergence of a new framework for thought, understanding and the creation of meaning. This new framework is characterized as the postmodern paradigm.^The goal of this dissertation is to perform a critical examination of the intellectual innovations of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century in order to derive an epistemological basis for the design of learning experiences: curriculum and instruction.^The methodology of the dissertation is influenced by postmodern thought in the sense that it is structured as a heterachy consisting of the analysis of systems of thought in diverse domains, and is relationally connected in the conclusions chapter in order to create an emergent structure which represents a synthesis of these diverse domains. The methodology also borrows an idea from Einstein of relating not only the conclusions between domains but also relating the frameworks or contexts within which those conclusions were derived. The domains investigated include psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, linguistics, education, physics and mathematics.^The dissertation characterizes human activity as the equilibration of a nonlinear systemic relationship between the motivated goals, mental organizations and behavioral actions of the individual. Goal influences the context in which meaning is created.^Context, in turn, controls the nature of the metrics employed in the meaning creation process, the type of relationships that can be created, the nature of the meaning that can be constructed, the depth and breadth of the meaning constructed and the logical level of the meaning. Additionally it was found that context is necessary for the creation of meaning, must allow for an unambiguous description of phenomena, cannot possess the quality of logical necessity and does not control the nature of relationships actually existent within the "thing in and of itself." Context is not a static entity. When elements are placed into relationship, a context is emergent.^With phylogenetic and ontogenetic progression, a context can be expressed as an emergent pattern with time. The creation of meaning can be defined as the construction of a stable equilibrated relationship between elements representative of objects and events of consideration.^Meaning is imparted by and derived through relationship. Equilibration occurs within the context of the aggregate of an individual's mental organizations. As this is an open system subject to adaptational ontogeny, we can consider these equilibrations as nonlinear self organizations.^The structure emergent through the relationship of the aforementioned knowledge domains implies the following: 1) Similarity is the fundamental mental construct, 2) The teleos of human cognitive function is rule (concept, theory) building, 3) The human mind can be characterized as a language-enabled rule builder connected to a statistically driven, associational mechanism, 4) The predicate for human logic and deduction is the semantic expressed in stabilized relational structures.^The dissertation makes the hypothesis that there are four forms of mental representation: connected actions or motor/procedural sequences (algorithms), physical images, connected physical images summarized through concrete rules and words expressing abstract rules or metaphorical forms of relationship. These representations are an articulation of the neurological structures that enable them. The type of representation determines the form of thought and problem-solving process that can be undertaken.^While developmental, these forms of representation persist throughout life. They are variously invoked contingent upon the individual's perception of the requirements of a mental task. The dissertation presents a model for the design of rule-based (concept, theory) learning. It affirms the principles of postmodernism and a constructivist paradigm for teaching. Research, which is felt to support the hypotheses of the dissertation, is cited.^The dissertation also concludes that the most effective instructional strategies will be the ones most congruent with and supportive of the mind's natural and inherent mechanisms for creating meaning from experience.