The aim of the 2008 Roundtable was to focus on the progress to date in the many facets—methodological, epistemological and conceptual—of the field of legal semiotics, specifically the contribution of different schools and forms of semiotics as well as emerging and emergent semiotics approaches which can be used in researching and interpreting law and legal phenomena. The participants sought primarily to engage with the epistemological and methodological challenges which the field currently faces and to discuss the implications (...) of these. (shrink)
The history and effects of British imperialism in Fiji created a model for analyzing the semiotics of cultural identity. Following the acquisition of land in Fiji, the British recruited impoverished people from India and relocated them as indentured servants to do work on sugar cane plantations that natives refused to do. When Fiji became independent nearly 100 years later, the island nation had nearly equal populations of native Fijians and people of Indian decent. Fiji experienced three military coupes between (...) 1987 and 2000 while the two ethnic and culturally distinct groups competed for jobs and political power. As a small, island nation, identity-based communication in Fiji represents a microcosm of other more complex multicultural societies. This study examines the semiotics of cultural identity among the people of Fiji. (shrink)
The present paper examines three parts of ancient school rhetoric: the issues, the topics, and the questions of style from the perspective of legal semiotics. It aims (1) to demonstrate the roles these have played and can play in the interpretation of legal discourses; and (2) to summarise what insights have been and can be gained from this classical tradition by contemporary legal research. It is argued that the promise of legal semiotics for rhetorical investigations is that it (...) may help to make sense of the functioning of the system of ancient rhetoric, and contribute to our understanding of how rhetorical tradition works, while the research of ancient rhetoric can explore a range of semiotic devices essential for lawyerly thinking, resulting in the knowledge of a richer framework of interpretation. (shrink)
This paper shows how Peirce's semeiotic could be turned into a powerful science. The New Science of Semiotics provides not only a new paradigm and an empirical justification for all these applications, but also a rational and systematic procedure for carrying them out as well. Thus the New Science of Semiotics transforms the philosophy of law into the science of legal scholarship, the discipline that I call jurisology.
The European Union is one of the ‘big ideas’ of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and has been built on the idea of the European Community, which it supersedes. Seen in this light the emergent law of the European Union is becoming omnipresent in so many ways and yet it does not appear to have been the subject of as much semiotic study as it deserves. This paper takes a multilingual stance and explores emerging EC and EU law from a (...) perspective of a lawyer-linguist practitioner in the field. The purpose is to describe a range of practitioner ‘realities’ and to explore how semiotics provides a tool for analysis and insights for a better understanding and awareness of EU law, with particular emphasis on the legislative, or law-making aspects. (shrink)
The essay seeks to harness the diverse and innovative work to date of legal semiotics. It seeks to bring together the cumulative research traditions of these related areas as a preclusion to identifying fertile avenues for research.
The jurisprudent Jack M. Balkin introduced the analogy of memes as a semiotic device for understanding the law. His notion of cultural software into which this device was inserted is developed first, followed by a development of memetic analysis and its several semiotic dimensions. After a brief treatment of the position of ideology in view of memetic analysis, and the corresponding notion of transcendence, Balkin’s explicitly semiotic setting for this doctrine is displayed. This method is then briefly applied to the (...) civilian doctrine of patrimony, to supplement Balkin’s application of it to common law institutions. (shrink)
The essay seeks to single out, describe, and analyze the main semiotic features that compose the fundamentalist understanding of authoriality. Given a definition of authoriality as the series of semiotic dynamics that induce a reader to posit a genetic relation between an author and a text, the fundamentalist authoriality is characterized as displaying six main traits. First, centrality of the written text: in order to postulate a perfect coincidence between a transcendent intentio auctoris (intention of the author) and an immanent (...) intentio lectoris (intention of the reader), fundamentalist exegetical and juridical hermeneutics must be anchored to a stable message, canonized into a written verbal text or into a corpus of written verbal texts. Second, fundamentalist authoriality rests on the assumption of the immutability and mono-centrism of the religious semiosphere that irradiates from the written text. Third, literalism, infallibility, and non-contradiction are attributed to the relation between the written text, its exegetical hermeneutics, and the pragmatic normative orders to which it gives rise. Fourth, fundamentalist authoriality rules out any potential duplicity of the operations that ‘extract’ meaning from religious texts. Fifth, the assumption of the immutability of the religious text leads to exclusion of any operation that might alter the form of both its expression and content, hence to stigmatization of translation. The sixth feature of fundamentalist authoriality encompasses all the previous ones: in fundamentalism, a religious text is not actually a text anymore, but a mirror, whose passive reflection of the exegete’s mind undermines the semiotic nature of the relation between the reader and the text. (shrink)
The subject of this book is the thought of the American pragmatist and founder of semiotics, Charles Sanders Peirce. The book collects the papers presented to the International Conference Semiotics and Philosophy in C.S. Peirce (Milan, April 2005), together with some additional new contributions by well-known Peirce scholars, bearing witness to the vigour of Peircean scholarship in Italy and also hosting some of the most significant international voices on this topic. The book is introduced by the two editors (...) and is divided into three sections, corresponding to the three main areas of the most interesting contemporary reflection on Peirce. Namely, Semiotics and the Logic of Inquiry (part I); Abduction and Philosophy of Mathematics (part II); Peirce and the Western Tradition. (part III). The analysis is carried out from a semiotic perspective, in which semiotics should not be understood as a specific doctrine but rather as the philosophical core of Peirce’s system. As we read in the introduction: “it is semiotics and philosophy or, rather, semiotics as philosophy and philosophy as semiotics, which emerge from a reading of these papers”. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to show the relevance of an ‘effective semiotics’; that is, a field study based upon Peirce's semiotics. The general context of this investigation is educational semiotics rather than semiotics of teaching: I am concerned with a general approach of educational processes, not with skills and curricula. My paper is grounded in a field study that I carried out in a school, L'Ecole de la Neuville, implementing Institutional Pedagogy in France. I (...) first investigate the relevance of Peirce's semiotics in such a context. I then propose several definitions for the word ‘institution’, referring to the core concepts of this particular pedagogy, before describing the concept of ‘institution-sign’, which is considered a useful tool for making effective connections between several aspects of semiotics. I finally assert that an institution constitutes a tool that allows teachers to favour semiosis in educational contexts. (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to describe how certain theoretical constructions of semiotics could be applied in educational theoretical work. First I introduce meaning as a basic concept of semiotics, thus also touching on concepts such as action, competence and causality. I am then able to define learning as a change of competences, and also refer to the pedagogical concept of learning i.e. Bildung, which can be roughly defined as valuable human learning. I then take up the problem (...) of education as pedagogical direction and communication. Finally, I conclude with some considerations on the famous Greimassian semiotic square. (shrink)
Medical semiotics in the 18th century was more than a premodern form of diagnosis. Its structure allowed for the combination of empirically proven rules of instruction with the theoretical knowledge of the new sciences, employing the relation between the sign and the signified.
Does Duncan Kennedy successfully cannibalize jurisprudence? He attempts to do it by demonstrating the inexistence of rightness in legal argumentation. If there is no right legal argument, then there is no right answer in adjudication, adjudication is not a rational enterprise and legal doctrine cannot be said to be a science. It can be shown that skepticism is self-defeating. Duncan Kennedy can avoid self defeat only because he actually believes in a lot of legal arguments. His thesis that judges decide (...) questions of policy without any methodology that distinguishes them from legislators does not hold. Judicial reasoning is subject to constraints that do not affect legislators. It must be based on the sources of law and is limited by rules of procedure. Even when the judges have ‘interstitial’ legislative powers they are, unlike the legislator, bound to fit the system and their decisions are considered in procedure from the perspective of the right answer doctrine. The only work that can convincingly refute the skeptic argument against legal science is the reconstruction of jurisprudence as a scientific enterprise. Such work is beyond the scope of any single paper. The article aims to give some inspirations for such a task. (shrink)
How can philosophy or science claim to discover objective truth when their arguments originate from subjective beings? In Intentionality and Semiotics , John Deely offers a controversial solution to the problem of subjectivity in inquiry. He creates an interface between semiotics and the concept of intentionality, as it appears in Aquinas’s work, to demonstrate that every sign is irrevocably linked to the reality of relations. In the process, Deely builds a bridge between classical thinkers such as Aristotle and (...) modernists such as Heidegger and Peirce in this innovative volume. (shrink)
This special issue on the semiotics of perception originates from two workshops arranged in Tartu, Estonia, in February 2009. We are located at the junction of nature and culture, and of semiotics and phenomenology. Can they be reconciled? More particularly, can subfields such as biosemiotics and ecophenomenology be mutually enriching? The authors of the current special issue believe that they can. Semiotic study of life and the living can emerge as properly informed only if it is capable of (...) incorporating observations made in natural science, philosophy and cultural studies. The semiotic study of nature entails an experiential turn in the study of life processes. Perception is—or should be—at the heart of the life sciences. (shrink)
This article serves as a demonstration of how certain models of literary analysis, used to theorize and analyze fiction and narrative, can also be applied to scientific communication in such a manner as to promote the accessibility of science to the general public and a greater awareness of the methodology used in making scientific discovery. The approach of this article is based on the assumption that the principles of structuralism and semiotics can provide plausible explanations for the divide between (...) the reception of science and literature. We provide a semiotic analysis of a scientific article that has had significant impact in the field of molecular biology with profound medical implications. Furthermore, we show how the structural and semiotic characteristics of literary texts are also evident in the scientific papers, and we address how these characteristics can be applied to scientific prose in order to propose a model of scientific communication that reaches the public. By applying this theoretical framework to the analysis of both scientific and literary communication, we establish parallels between primary scientific texts and literary prose. (shrink)
Drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce, Robinson develops a ‘semiotic model’ of the Trinity and proposes a new theology of nature according to which the evolving cosmos may be understood as bearing ‘vestiges of the Trinity in ...
In this text I concentrate on semiotic aspects of the theory of political identity in the work of Ernesto Laclau, and especially on the connection between metaphors, metonymies, catachreses and synecdoches. Those tropes are of ontological status, and therefore they are of key importance in understanding the discursive “production” of identity in political and educational practices. I use the conceptions of both Laclau and Eco to elucidate the operation of this structure, and illustrate it with an example of the emergence (...) of the “Solidarność” movement in Poland, expanding its analysis provided by Laclau. I focus on the moment when one of particular demands assumes the representation of totality, which, in Laclau, is left to “circumstantial” determination. This moment inspires several questions and needs to be given special attention if Laclau’s theory is to be used in theory of education. It is so because theory of education cannot remain on the level of the ontological (which is the core of Laclau’s achievement), but has to theorize “non-ontological” dimensions as well, that is the ontic (i.e. “content” of education), the deontic (duty, obligation, and the normative in general), as well as what I call the deontological—the very relation between “what there is” and “what there is not” (including that which should be) as the locus of education. (shrink)
Mimicry and deception are two important issues in studies about animal communication. The reliability of animal signs and the problem of the benefits of deceiving in sign exchanges are interesting topics in the evolution of communication. In this paper, we intend to contribute to an understanding of deception by studying the case of aggressive signal mimicry in fireflies, investigated by James Lloyd. Firefly femmes fatales are specialized in mimicking the mating signals of other species of fireflies with the purpose of (...) attracting responding males to become their prey. These aggressive mimics are a major factor in the survival and reproduction of both prey and predator. It is a case of deception through active falsification of information that leads to efficient predation by femmes fatales fireflies and triggered evolutionary processes in their preys’ communicative behaviors. There are even nested coevolutionary interactions between these fireflies, leading to a remarkable system of deceptive and counterdeceptive signaling behaviors. We develop here a semiotic model of firefly deception and also consider ideas advanced by Lloyd about the evolution of communication, acknowledging that deception can be part of the explanation of why communication evolves towards increasing complexity. Increasingly complex sign exchanges between fireflies evolve in an extremely slow pace. Even if deceptive maneuvers are played out time and time again between particular firefly individuals, the evolution of the next level of complexity—and thus the next utterance in the dialogue between species—is likely to take an immense amount of generations. (shrink)
In this original work of psychoanalytic theory, John Muller explores the formative power of signs and their impact on the mind, the body and subjectivity, giving special attention to work of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. Muller explores how Lacan's way of understanding experience through three dimensions--the real, the imaginary and the symbolic--can be useful both for thinking about cultural phenomena and for understanding the complexities involved in treating psychotic patients. Muller develops Lacan's (...) perspective gradually, presenting it as distinctive approaches to data from a variety of sources, such as cognitive, social and developmental psychology, literature, history, art, and psychoanalytic treatment. The book's first four chapters present Muller's reading of selected data from child development research, psychology and linguistics, approximating a semiotic model of "normal" development. The following three chapters examine in a Lacanian framework the structural basis of psychotic stages as indicative of massive semiotic failure in development. The final chapters on human narcissism suggest reasons that "normal" development may be impossible. (shrink)
This paper was originally delivered orally at a meeting of the Semiotic Society of America in Lubbock, Texas in 1980 and first published in Semiotics 1980, eds. Michael Herzfeld and Margot Lenhart (New York: Plenum Press, 1982), 427-438. The present version is only lightly revised from the original but a more extensive revision is in process.
This paper proposes a semiotic theory of norms—what I term normative semiotics. The paper’s central contention is that social norms are a language. Moreover, it is a language that we instinctively learn to speak. Normative behaviour is a mode of communication, the intelligibility of which allows us to establish cooperative relationships with others. Normative behaviour communicates an actor’s potential as a cooperative partner. Compliance with a norm is an act of communication: compliance signals cooperativeness; noncompliance signals uncooperativeness. An evolutionary (...) model is proposed to explain how this comes about: evolution has generated an instinctual proficiency in working with these signals much like a language—a proficiency that manifests in an emotional context. We see these social rules as possessing a certain ‘rightness’ in normative terms. This adaptive trait is what we call internalization. Internalization enhances the individual’s ability to speak this code. Because these signals communicate who is and who is not a reliable co-operator, sending and receiving cooperation signals is crucial to individual survival. Individuals who internalized the entire process and thus became more adept at speaking the language were at an advantage. Law seeks to shape the language of norms by maintaining the collective standards of society; as such, understanding how and why this normative language emerges is critical to understanding a core function of law. (shrink)
How anything acts depends upon what it is, both as a kind of thing and as a distinct individual of that kind: “agere sequitur esse” — action follows being. This is as true of signs as it is of lions or centipedes: therefore, in order to determine the range or extent of semiosis we need above all to determine the kind of being at stake under the name “sign”. Since Poinsot, in a thesis that the work of Peirce centuries later (...) confirmed, the proper being of signs as signs lies in a relation, a relationship irreducibly unifying three distinct terms: a foreground term representing another than itself — the representamen or sign vehicle; the other represented — the significate or object signified; and the third term to or for whom the other-representation is made — the interpretant, which need not be a person and, indeed, need not even be mental. The action of signs then is the way signs influence the world, including the world of experience and knowledge, but extending even to the physical world of nature beyond the living. It is a question of what is the causality proper to signs in consequence of the being proper to them as signs, an indirect causality, just as relations are indirectly dependent upon the interactions of individuals making up the plurality of the universe; and a causality that models what could or might be in contrast to what is here and now. To associate this causality with final causality is correct insofar as signs are employed in shaping the interactions of individual things; but to equate this causality with “teleology” is a fundamental error into which the contemporary development of semiotics has been inclined to fall, largely through some published passages of Peirce from an essay within which he corrects this error but in passages so far left unpublished. By bringing these passages to light, in which Peirce points exactly in the direction earlier indicated by Poinsot, this essay attempts a kind of survey of the contemporary semiotic development in which the full vista of semiosis is laid out, and shown to be co-extensive with the boundaries of the universe itself, wherever they might fall. Precisely the indirect extrinsically specificative formal causality that signs exercise is what enables the “influence of the future” according to which semiosis changes the relevance of past to present in the interactions of Secondness. Understanding of this point (the causality proper to signs) also manifests the error of reducing the universe to signs, the error sometimes called “pansemiosis”. (shrink)
Faces challenge the sender-receiver model as the major scheme of thought for appropriately understanding interaction between human individuals. The openness and indeterminacy of faces lead to establish a semiotically relevant distinction between interaction and interactivity. The latter is our proposed articulation of the dynamic energy that thrives through the existence of signs and the uses of a semiotics. Facial expressions sustain and express the vital dynamism of making meaning in life. This often occurs at a bewildering distance to legal (...) life and discourses established by legal terminologies. (shrink)
The present essay examines the conflicting ontological assumptions that one can find behind the word dao in the texts of the Laozi and Zhuangzi and argues that the relative indifference to these texts toward whether or not dao has an ontic reality should not be considered a flaw of early Daoism. Rather, the historical process by which the term dao collects various possible ontological implications can be thought of as a philosophical stance in its own right. That is, if the (...) terms which one is obliged to use in discussing the immaterial necessarily hide, at least as much as they explain, the nature of Being, then it is a reasonable response to decline to ground one’s ethics in an ontology, and that while the resulting philosophy may not qualify as a fully-adumbrated system, this does not diminish its potential usefulness. (shrink)
Semioticians traditionally honor Russian linguistics of the early 20th century, and study Jakobson, Vinogradov, Vinokur or the early Trubetzkoy. They do, however, seldom consider Russian philosophers of the same period. Gustav Shpet is an important representative of Russian philosophers in discussion with Hegel, Neo-Kantian thinkers and contemporaries in Russia and abroad, among them Edmund Husserl, originator of transcendental phenomenology. Shpet introduced Husserl’s phenomenology in Russia and expanded those ideas in his 1914 Appearance and Sense. A triangle “Hegel—Husserl—semiotics” emerged where (...) Shpet emphasized the concept of discourse in phenomenology: a philosophical challenge to modern semiotics. (shrink)
This paper applies semiotic analysis to issues arising from the recent Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. City of New London [545 U.S.469] (2005). The author uses the tools of semiotics to explore the evolution of language and speech and their relationship to the terms, “private property” and “public use” as used by the Supreme Court and the general public in the years leading up to the Kelo decision. This paper will first provide an overview of the field of (...)semiotics, describing the prevailing thought and the methods utilized by semioticians to find meaning. Second, the tools of semiotics will be applied to Supreme Court cases, beginning with Bauman v. Ross [167 U.S. 548] (1897) and continuing to Kelo v. City of New London. Utilizing these tools, the author will show how, within the span of approximately 100 years, the speech of the court has affected the language of legal discourse. The signs to which both Bauman and Kelo seek to attach meaning are found in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which provides, in relevant part, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”(emphasis added) (U.S. Const. Amendment 5). This dialectic activity resulted in the development of two different languages. One was used by the layperson, whereas the other was found in relevant legal/political institutions such as the US Supreme Court. This paper will focus on the fundamental change in the meaning of the sign/expression “public use.”. (shrink)
The application of semiotics in trade mark law is an interdisciplinary endeavour in its infancy. The author traces its genesis in recent years and situates it within the context of general theoretical approaches, in particular of an interdisciplinary kind, appearing in the trade mark law literature in the past. The purposes for which such theories are applied, and questions of methodology arising from this, are examined. In particular, it is observed that semiotic theory has, by and large, been used (...) for the purpose of debating legal policy in trade mark law (especially in the United States), and that this has given rise to argument about the extent to which semiotic theory can exert any normative force of its own upon the law. This article offers a different perspective. It is sought to demonstrate the usefulness of theoretical semiotics in solving trade mark law questions in practice. The author emphasises that this involves no threat to orthodox legal problem-solving methodology (whatever one may think of the orthodoxy), and in particular does not require the normative use of semiotic theory. Taking as a starting point the concept of ‹trade mark use’, and having regard to trade mark law and literature in Europe, the United States and Australia, the author proceeds to demonstrate the proposed approach by reference to some current problems in trade mark infringement. (shrink)
Stasis is a process of classical rhetoric that identifies the core issue in a trial or a similar debate. Hermagoras of Temnos included the first comprehensive analysis of stasis in his second-century BCE treatise on rhetoric, now lost. Modern scholars tend to echo George Kennedy, who maintains that Hermagoras’ inspiration for the hierarchical structure of stasis is indeterminate. This article, however, employs scholarship in legal semiotics, including the work of Miklós Könczöl and Bernard S. Jackson, to argue that Hermagoras (...) based stasiastic structure on Aristotle’s first-figure syllogism. Ideally, knowledge of that structure can enhance modern applications of stasis. (shrink)
A pioneer in the field, Christian Metz applies insights of structural linguistics to the language of film. "The semiology of film . . . can be held to date from the publication in 1964 of the famous essay by Christian Metz, 'Le cinema: langue ou langage?'"--Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Times Literary Supplement "Modern film theory begins with Metz."--Constance Penley, coeditor of Camera Obscura "Any consideration of semiology in relation to the particular field signifying practice of film passes inevitably through a reference to (...) the work of Christian Metz. . . . The first book to be written in this field, [ Film Language ] is important not merely because of this primacy but also because of the issues it raises . . . issues that have become crucial to the contemporary argument."--Stephen Heath, Screen. (shrink)
After deconstructing the thermodynamic concepts of work and waste, I take up Howard Odum’s idea of energy quality, which tallies the overall amount of energy needed to be dissipated in order to accomplish some work of interest. This was developed from economic considerations that give obvious meaning to the work accomplished. But the energy quality idea can be used to import meaning more generally into Nature. It could be viewed as projecting meaning back from any marked work into preceding energy (...) gradient dissipations that immediately paved the way for it. But any work done by an abiotic dissipative structure, since it would be without positive economic significance, would also be difficult to mark as a starting point for the energy quality calculation. Furthermore, any (for humans) destructive work as by hurricanes or floods, with negative economic significance, would not seem to merit the quality calculation either. But there has been abiotic work of keen interest to us—that which mediated the origin of life. Some kind(s) of abiotic dissipative structures had to have been the framework(s) that fostered this process, regardless of how it might come to be understood in detail. Since all dissipative structures have the same thermodynamic and informational organization in common, any of them might provide the material context for the origin of something. So we can pick any starting point we wish, and calculate backward what sequence of energy usages would have been necessary to set it up. Given such an open ended project, we could not find an obvious place in any sequence to stop and start the forward the calculation, and so we would need to take it right back to an ultimate beginning, like the insolation of some area, or the outpouring of Earth’s thermal energy. Any energy dissipation might be the beginning of something of importance, and so Nature is as replete with potential meanings as it is with energy gradients. (shrink)
Kevelson remains an important figure in legal semiotics, a co-founder, along with Bernard Jackson, of the International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law, and of course a valuable and seminal commentator on Peirce in the legal domain. This paper will examine her claim, that through his collaboration with and influence on Oliver Holmes, Peirce should be regarded as a foundational figure in a history of legal realism and modern jurisprudence, and that a legal semiotic can be identified in (...) and not only extrapolated from his seminal writings. This paper will contend that the relationship between Peirce and Holmes should be seen as perplexed and disputatious, rather than close and directly influential, as Kevelson argues. However, regardless of its limitations, Kevelson’s historical inquiry helps provide the ground for a contemporary and historical account of the full picture of a Peircean based legal semiotic and jurisprudence. (shrink)
The paper will discuss the role of the visual in French urban space. It will reveal the close connections between visual and semiotics where the visual dimension is central rather than marginal. We will evaluate altogether the psychological, legal and social impacts of the new shapes of our own environment. Rethinking our public space shapes our identities, unveils the ‘hidden’ powerful discourse behind these new urban models.