The changes from the original version are relatively minor, but enough to make it necessary to treat the present version as a distinct text for purposes of exact reference. Since there is no normal pagination on a web page, I assign in lieu of that paragraph numbers, included in brackets and placed flush right, just above the paragraph, for purposes of scholarly reference.
Robert Brandom’s expressivism argues that not all semantic content may be made fully explicit. This view connects in interesting ways with recent movements in philosophy of mathematics and logic (e.g. Brown, Shin, Giaquinto) to take diagrams seriously - as more than a mere “heuristic aid” to proof, but either proofs themselves, or irreducible components of such. However what exactly is a diagram in logic? Does this constitute a semiotic natural kind? The paper will argue that such a natural kind does (...) exist in Charles Peirce’s conception of iconic signs, but that fully understood, logical diagrams involve a structured array of normative reasoning practices, as well as just a “picture on a page”. (shrink)
The body of philosophical knowledge concerning the relations among language, the senses, and deafness, interpreted as a canon of key ideas which have found their way into folk metaphysics, constitutes one of the historically sustained conditions of the oppression of deaf people. Jonathan Rée, with his book I see a voice, makes the point that a philosophical history, grounded in a phenomenological and causal concern with philosophical thought and social life, can offer an archaeology of philosophy's contribution to the social (...) oppression of deaf people.This article offers support for such a project while being critical of Rée's philosophical phenomenology, since it presumes, àpriori, two ideas about deafness and sign language: firstly, that deaf experience is like hearing experience but without hearing; and secondly, that the iconic qualities of sign languages are strictly superficial phenomena. Both presumptions, it is argued here, derive from the same philosophical knowledge which has linked deafness to the sense of hearing and the voice, and in doing so secured an intellectual basis for the oppression of deaf people in social life. (shrink)
We argue that some sign language loci (i.e. positions in signing space that realize discourse referents) are both formal variables and simplified representations of what they denote; in other words, they are simultaneously logical symbols and pictorial representations. We develop a 'formal semantics with iconicity' that accounts for their dual life; the key idea ('formal iconicity') is that some geometric properties of signs must be preserved by the interpretation function. We analyze in these terms three kinds of iconic (...) effects in American and French Sign Language (ASL and LSF): (i) structural iconicity, where relations of inclusion and complementation among loci are directly reflected in their denotations; (ii) locus-external iconicity, where the high or low position of a locus in signing space has a direct semantic reflex, akin to the semantic contribution of gender features of pronouns; and (iii) locus-internal iconicity, where different parts of a structured locus are targeted by different directional verbs, as was argued by Liddell and Kegl. The resulting semantics combines insights of two traditions that have been sharply divided by recent debates. In line with the 'formalist camp' (e.g. Lillo-Martin and Klima, Neidle, and Sandler and Lillo-Martin), our theory treats loci as variables, and develops an explicit formal analysis of their behavior. But we also incorporate insights of the 'iconic camp', which emphasized the role of iconic constraints in sign language in general and in pronominals in particular (e.g. Cuxac, Taub, Liddell). However, this synthesis is only possible if formal semantics makes provisions for iconic requirements at the very core of its interpretive procedure. (An Appendix discusses relevant data from Italian Sign Language [LIS].). (shrink)
Facial expressions are used by humans to convey various types of meaning in various contexts. The range of meanings spans basic possibly innate socio-emotional concepts such as ‘surprise’ to complex and culture specific concepts such as ‘carelessly’. The range of contexts in which humans use facial expressions spans responses to events in the environment to particular linguistic constructions within sign languages. In this mini review we summarize findings on the use and acquisition of facial expressions by signers and present (...) a unified account of the range of facial expressions used by positing three dimensions; semantic, iconic and compositional. (shrink)
This book, officially a contribution to the subject area of Charles Peirce’s semiotics, deserves a wider readership, including philosophers. Its subject matter is what might be termed the great question of how signification is brought about (what Peirce called the ‘riddle of the Sphinx’, who in Emerson’s poem famously asked, ‘Who taught thee me to name?’), and also Peirce’s answer to the question (what Peirce himself called his ‘guess at the riddle’, and Freadman calls his ‘sign hypothesis’).
From a semiotic perspective biological mimicry can be described as a tripartite system with a double structure that consists of ecological relations between species and semiotic relations of sign. In this article the focus is on the mimic who is the individual benefiting from its resemblance to the cues or signals of other species or to the environment. In establishing the mimetic resemblance the question of mimic’s activity becomes crucial, and the activity can range from the fixed bodily patterns (...) to fully dynamic behavioural displays. The mimic’s activity can be targeted at two other participants of the mimicry system—either at the model or at the receiver. The first possibility is quite common in camouflage and there are several possibilities for mimic’s activity to occur: selecting a resting place or habitat based on conformity with the environment, changing body coloration to correspond to the surrounding environment, covering oneself with particles of the soil. In its activity aimed at the model, the mimic develops a strong semiotic connection with its specific perceptual environment or part of it and obtains a representational character. In the second possibility the activity of a mimetic organism is aimed at the receiver who is confused by the resemblance, and between the two participants an active communicative interaction is established. Such type of mimicry can be exemplified by abstract threat displays found in various groups of animals, for instance a toad’s upright posture as a response to the presence of a snake. From the semiotic viewpoint it can be interpreted as the motive of fear in the predator’s Umwelt being entered into the mimic’s subjective world and manifested in its behaviour. The mimetic organism ends up in an ambiguous position, where it needs to pretend to be something other than it is. In the final part of the article it is argued that the mimetic sign is basically a false designator as the mimic’s activity to become a sign is aimed at a specific type of signs. Rather than signifying belonging to its own species or group, a mimetic sign indicates that its carrier belongs to the type of some other species. The tension between the form and behaviour of mimetic organisms arises from the discrepancy between the type of organism that it essentially is and the type of organism that the mimetic sign it carries imposes on it. (shrink)
Property is a complex sign in semiotics. It is also the source of tension and conflict in law. This paper examines property in triadic terms consisting of what Charles S. Peirce would identify as the icon (firstness), the index (secondness), and the symbol (thirdness). From this perspective the paper explores the ideas of place, space, and time at the iconic level of the sign of property. Discussion addresses the way in which property serves as a coded system (...) for communicating information about a given community’s values and its cultural-interpretive hierarchy. Much like an aboriginal songline, property functions as a way of imprinting the land with impressions of social ordering related to place, space, and time. In the context of global trade we therefore observe property conflicts which are sometimes not so much about the technical language of property as they are about tensions among the embedded values in competing signs of property. (shrink)
In this paper, we try to shed light on the ontological puzzle pertaining to models and to contribute to a better understanding of what models are. Our suggestion is that models should be regarded as a specific kind of signs according to the sign theory put forward by Charles S. Peirce, and, more precisely, as icons, i.e. as signs which are characterized by a similarity relation between sign (model) and object (original). We argue for this (1) by analyzing (...) from a semiotic point of view the representational relation which is characteristic of models. We then corroborate our hypothesis (2) by discussing the conceptual differences between icons, i.e. models, and indexical and symbolic signs and (3) by putting forward a general classification of all icons into three functional subclasses (images, diagrams, and metaphors). Subsequently, we (4) integratively refine our results by resorting to two influential and, as can be shown, complementary philosophy of science approaches to models. This yields the following result: models are determined by a semiotic structure in which a subject intentionally uses an object, i.e. the model, as a sign for another object, i.e. the original, in the context of a chosen theory or language in order to attain a specific end by instituting a representational relation in which the syntactic structure of the model, i.e. its attributes and relations, represents by way of a mapping the properties of the original, which hence are regarded as similar in a relevant manner. (shrink)
To Aristotle, spoken words are symbols, not of objects in the world, but of our mental experiences related to these objects. Presently there are two major strands of interpretation of Aristotle’s concept of the linguistic sign. First, there is the structuralist account offered by Coseriu (Geschichte der Sprachphilosophie. Von den Anfängen bis Rousseau, 2003 , pp. 65–108) whose interpretation is reminiscent of the Saussurean sign concept. A second interpretation, offered by Lieb (in: Geckeler (Ed.) Logos Semantikos: Studia Linguistica (...) in Honorem Eugenio Coseriu 1921–1981, 1981) and Weidemann (in: Schmitter (Ed.) Geschichte der Sprachtheorie 2. Sprachtheorien der abendländischen Antike, 1991), says that Aristotle’s concept of the linguistic sign is similar to the one presented in Ogden and Richard’s (The meaning of meaning: A study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism, 1970 ) semiotic triangle. This paper starts off with an introductory outline of the so-called phýsei-thései discussion which started during presocratic times and culminated in Plato’s Cratylus. Aristotle’s concept of the linguistic sign is to be regarded as a solution to the stalemate position reached in the Cratylus. Next, a discussion is offered of both Coseriu’s and Lieb’s analysis. We submit that Aristotle’s concept of the linguistic sign shows features of both Saussure’s and Ogden and Richards’s sign concept but that it does not exclusively predict one of the two. We argue that Aristotle’s concept of the linguistic sign is based on three different relations which together evince his teleological as well empiricist point of view: one internal (symbolic) relation and two external relations, i.e. a likeness relation and a relation katà synthéken. (shrink)
There are two main approaches to the problem of donkey anaphora (e.g. If John owns a donkey , he beats it ). Proponents of dynamic approaches take the pronoun to be a logical variable, but they revise the semantics of quantifiers so as to allow them to bind variables that are not within their syntactic scope. Older dynamic approaches took this measure to apply solely to existential quantifiers; recent dynamic approaches have extended it to all quantifiers. By contrast, proponents of (...) E-type analyses take the pronoun to have the semantics of a definite description (with it ≈ the donkey, or the donkey that John owns ). While competing accounts make very different claims about the patterns of coindexation that are found in the syntax, these are not morphologically realized in spoken languages. But they are in sign language, namely through locus assignment and pointing. We make two main claims on the basis of ASL and LSF data. First, sign language data favor dynamic over E-type theories: in those cases in which the two approaches make conflicting predictions about possible patterns of coindexation, dynamic analyses are at an advantage. Second, among dynamic theories, sign language data favor recent ones because the very same formal mechanism is used irrespective of the indefinite or non-indefinite nature of the antecedent. Going beyond this debate, we argue that dynamic theories should allow pronouns to be bound across negative expressions, as long as the pronoun is presupposed to have a non-empty denotation. Finally, an appendix displays and explains subtle differences between overt sign language pronouns and all other pronouns in examples involving ‘disjunctive antecedents’, and suggests that counterparts of sign language loci might be found in spoken language. (shrink)
Practically all theories of iconicity are denunciations of its subject matter (for example, those of Goodman, Bierman and the early Eco). My own theory of iconicity was developed in order to save a particular kind of iconicity, pictoriality, from such criticism. In this interest, I distinguished pure iconicity, iconic ground, and iconicsign, on one hand, and primary and secondary iconic signs, on the other hand. Since then, however, several things have happened. The conceptual tools that (...) I created to explain pictoriality have been shown by others to be relevant to linguistic iconicity. On the other hand, semioticians with points of departure different from mine have identified mimicry as it is commonly found in the animal world as a species of iconicity. In the evolutionary semiotics of Deacon, iconicity is referred to in such a general way that it seems to be emptied of all content, while in the variety invented by Donald the term mimesis is used for a particular phase in the evolution of iconic meaning. The aim of this article is to consider to what extent the extension of iconicity theory to new domains will necessitate the development of new models. (shrink)
The claim of this paper is that Peirce's conception of the iconicsign provides the key conceptual element required to solve the major problem traditionally associated with the doctrine of representative perception, according to which all perceptual awareness of things is mediated through representations or "ideas" of them. The problem this has generated in the philosophical tradition is based on construing the representation not merely as..
This article explores the role of the Deaf child as peer educator. In schools where sign languages were banned, Deaf children became the educators of their Deaf peers in a number of contexts worldwide. This paper analyses how this peer education of sign language worked in context by drawing on two examples from boarding schools for the deaf in Nicaragua and Thailand. The argument is advanced that these practices constituted a child-led oppositional pedagogy. A connection is drawn to (...) Freire’s (1972) theory of critical pedagogy. Deaf children’s actions as peer educators are framed as an act of resistance towards the oppression of their language and culture. A contrast is drawn between oralist pedagogy that is historically associated with punitive practices and didactic methods and the experiential and dialogic interaction that characterised peer learning of sign languages. The argument is made that the peer teaching and learning processes enabled the self-actualisation of the Deaf children whereas the oralist methods were based on a deficit model that focused on modifying deaf children according to the norms of hearing society. The implications of this for current policy and practice are inferred to be about access to sign languages and the importance of Deaf communities in deaf children’s education. The argument is made that space needs to be created for deaf children to engage in peer learning. (shrink)
In his well-known essay, ‘What Is a Sign?’(CP 2.281, 285) Peirce uses ‘likeness’ and ‘resemblance’ interchangeably in his definition of icon. The synonymity of the two words has rarely, if ever, been questioned. Curiously, a locus classicus of the pair, at least in F. M. Cornford’s English translation, can be found in a late dialogue of Plato, namely, the Sophist. In this dialogue on the myth and truth of the sophists’ profession, the mysterious ‘stranger’, who is most likely Socrates’ (...) persona, makes the famous distinction between eikon (likeness) and phantasma (semblance) (236a,b). For all his broad knowledge in ancient philosophy, Peirce never mentioned this parallel; nor has any Peircean scholar identified it. There seems to be little problem with eikon as likeness, but phantasma may give rise to a puzzle which this paper will attempt to solve. Plato uses two pairs of words: what eikon is to phantasma is eikastikén (the making of likeness [235d]) to phantastikén (semblance making [236c]). In other words, icons come into being because of the act of icon-making, which is none other than indexicality. Witness what Peirce says about the relationship between photographs and the objects they represent: “But this resemblance is due to the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature.” (Ibid.) Thus the iconicity which links the representamen (sign) and its object is made possible not only by an interpretant, but also by idexisation. Their possible etymological and epistemological links aside, the Peircean example of photographing and the Platonic discussion of painting and sculpturing in the Sophist, clearly show the physio-pragmatic aspect of iconicity. The paper will therefore reread the Peircean iconicity by closely analysing this relatively obscure Platonic text, and by so doing restore to the text its hidden semiotic dimension. (shrink)
This article examines the contention that the central concepts of C. S. Peirce’s semeiotic are inherently communicational. It is argued that the Peircean approach avoids the pitfalls of objectivism and constructivism, rendering the sign-user neither a passive recipient nor an omnipotent creator of meaning. Consequently, semeiotic may serve as a useful general framework for studies of learning processes.
It is being increasingly recognized that the Saussurean dictum of “the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign” is in conflict with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon commonly known as “sound symbolism”. After first presenting a historical overview of the debate, however, we conclude that both positions have been exaggerated, and that an adequate explanation of sound symbolism is still lacking. How can there, for example, be (perceived) similarity between expressionsand contents across different sensory modalities? We offer an answer, based on (...) the Peircian notion of iconic ground, and G. Sonesson’s distinction betweenprimary and secondary iconicity. Furthermore, we describe an experimental study, in a paradigm first pioneered by W. Kohler, and recently popularized by V.Ramachandran, in which we varied vowels and consonants in fictive word-forms, and conclude that both types of sounds play a role in perceiving an iconic ground between the word-forms and visual figures. The combination of historical conceptual analysis, semiotic explication and psychological experimentationpresented in this article is characteristic of the emerging paradigm of cognitive semiotics. (shrink)
A construction is found in American Sign Language that we call a Question–Answer Clause. It is made of two parts: the first part looks like an interrogative clause conveying a question, while the second part resembles a declarative clause answering that question. The very same signer has to sign both, the entire construction is interpreted as truth-conditionally equivalent to a declarative sentence, and it can be uttered only under certain discourse conditions. These and other properties of Question–Answer Clauses (...) are discussed, and a detailed syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic account is provided. Question–Answer Clauses are argued to be copular clauses consisting of a silent copula of identity connecting an interrogative clause in the precopular position with a declarative clause in the postcopular position. Pragmatically, they instantiate a topic/comment structure, with the first part expressing a sub-question under discussion and the second part expressing the answer to that sub-question. Broader implications of the analysis are discussed for the Question Under Discussion theory of discourse structuring, for the analysis of pseudoclefts in spoken languages, and for recent proposals about the need for answerhood operators and exhaustivity operators in the grammar and the consequences for the syntax/semantics/pragmatics interface. (shrink)
Previous studies have shown that iconic gestures presented in an isolated manner prime visually presented semantically related words. Since gestures and speech are almost always produced together, this study examined whether iconic gestures accompanying speech would prime words and compared the priming effect of iconic gestures with speech to that of iconic gestures presented alone. Adult participants (N=180) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions in a lexical decision task: Gestures-Only (the primes were iconic (...) gestures presented alone); Speech-Only (the primes were auditory tokens conveying the same meaning as the iconic gestures); Gestures-Accompanying-Speech (the primes were the simultaneous coupling of iconic gestures and their corresponding auditory tokens). Our findings revealed significant priming effects in all three conditions. However, the priming effect in the Gestures-Accompanying-Speech condition was comparable to that in the Speech-Only condition and was significantly weaker than that in the Gestures-Only condition, suggesting that the facilitatory effect of iconic gestures accompanying speech may be constrained by the level of language processing required in the lexical decision task where linguistic processing of words forms is more dominant than semantic processing. Hence, the priming effect afforded by the co-speech iconic gestures was weakened. (shrink)
This commentary supports MacNeilage's dismissal of an evolutionary development from sign language to spoken language but presents evidence of a feature in sign language (echo phonology) that links iconic signs to abstract vocal syllables. These data provide an insight into possible mechanism by which iconic manual gestures accompanied by vocalisation could have provided a route for the evolution of spoken language with its characteristically arbitrary form–meaning relationship.
It has been a long time since the concept of iconic signs was proposed by C. S. Peirce. From that time on, we have been increasingly realizing that semiotic systems are for the most part established just on some type of similarity. But the more we see the sphere of analogical signification expanding its realm, themore we become aware of how inadequate is the notion of a simple relationship connecting locally a physical object with a second object, or with (...) a mental entity.There is, on the other hand, the more refined theory of sign conceived by Ferdinand de Saussure, but this theory, by its very definition, addresses a restricted domain, and definitely does not include the field of those signs which rest on analogical associations.The main purpose of this article is then to show how the more polished Saussurean model can act as a starting point for a general restatement, primarily intended to embrace the signs that rest on an analogical basis. We may so speak of a “neoclassical”, innovative semiotic theory, able to join the latest “sociosemiotic” approach with the most precious foundations of our discipline. (shrink)
This paper is broadly concerned with Deleuze’s distinction between ‚la loi et les lois’ on the one hand, and jurisprudence on the other. Jurisprudence is the␣creative action of legal practice, the process by which it is forced to think constructively and anew. In such circumstances legal thought is akin to Deleuze’s concept of the event. I explore the distinction between law and jurisprudence by way of Deleuze’s comments on control societies, arguing that, under control, law ceases to be a juridical (...) hierarchy conforming to disciplinary modes to become a regulatory practice of interminable modulation. In order to begin to explore the relations and connections between law/jurisprudence and control, the paper will look to the semiotics of C.S. Peirce (who influenced Deleuze’s work on cinema). In particular it will argue that control operates predominantly through icons. As a consequence I argue that the proper ground of the sign, the event, is co-opted and, following from this, that control functions through the confusing of sense and meaning. (shrink)
Prodi's semiotics theory comes into being to answer a radical question: if a sign is a cross-reference, what guarantees the relation between the sign and the object to which it is referring? Prodi rebukes all traditional solutions: a subject's voluntary intention, a convention, the iconic relation between sign and object. He refutes the fIrst answer because the notion of intention, upon which it is based, is, indeed, a fully mysterious entity. The conventionalist answer is just as (...) unsatisfactory for it does nothing but extends to a whole group that which cannot be explained for a single component; the iconic one, finally, is rejected toosince in this case the notion of "likeliness", as the basis of the concept of "iconicity", is not explained. Prodi's answer is to locate the model of semiotic relations in the figure of the circle. The circle is life, which is nothing else but an infinite chain of translation and recognition relations amidst ever more complex systems. The circle has neither a beginning nor an end. It has no foundation, no established rule. It holds no cause that cannot become, in turn, effect. Semiosis, then, is based upon life for life, itself, is intrinsically semiotic. We can put the world in signs, that is we can come to know it, because we, ourselves, are a part of that very worldthat through us is made known. Finally, what this implies is that being inside the circle of semiosis-life, an issue arises what is beyond that circle: that is both an aesthetic and a religious problem. (shrink)
Jakobson, in his essays, has tried to insert Peirce’s typology of signs (icon, index, symbol) in his own binary logic, in which every feature of a text may be considered or dismissed either with a 0 or with a 1 (absent, present). In so doing, he used the features “similarity versus contiguity” and “imputed versus factual”, and discovered that the notion of “imputed similarity” was not covered by Peirce’s triad. Hence the search for it. In this article, whose ideological basis (...) and quotations are mostly from Jakobson’s essays, the author tries to show that the notion of “translation” may be the missing link. Starting from Peirce’s main triad, and its initial incomprehension among Western scholars influenced by Saussure, the interpretant is then viewed as the subjective, affective component of sign and its interpretation. Syntax, considered in Peircean and Jakobsonian terms, is iconic. The evolution of meaning, characterizing all communication, is possible thanks to construction and thanks to metaphoric and metonymic connections. In the last part of the article, cultural implications of communication — and translation — are considered. (shrink)
: In his landmark book, Peirce's Theory of Signs, T. L. Short argues that music signifies as a pure icon. A pure icon, according to Peirce, is not a likeness. It "does not draw any distinction between itself and its object" (EP2:163), and it "serves as a sign solely and simply by exhibiting the quality it serves to signify" (EP2:306). In music, this quality consists of the specifically musical feelings or ideas contained in the piece in question, and such (...) musical feelings are properly interpreted by means of an emotional interpretant rather than an energetic or logical one. Short, following Peirce, is correct in maintaining that music primarily signifies feeling-content whose proper means of expression is musical and whose proper interpretation by the listener involves the generation of a corresponding feeling. Nonetheless, musical signification is not purely iconic. Responding to the musical feelings presented in a work requires previous acquaintance with its style tradition, and this acquaintance involves logical interpretants. In addition, the integral temporality of music calls into question the possibility of its being purely iconic. (shrink)
Walter Benjamin foreshadowed many of the aesthetic theories, currently playing a fundamental role in the production and interpretation of art. By emphasising the role of the expressive character of art, or rather the category of expressivity itself, Benjamin defined art as a language. His aesthetics was characterised by the continuous interaction of two almost reciprocal projects: the theoretical critique of art which is based on an understanding of historical processes, and the understanding of historical processes which is formed by the (...) critical experience of art. We find a fundamental similarity between Benjamin’s dialectical character of the aesthetic sign and Lotman’s double-sidedness of the artwork. In classifying the system of art as a language, both theoreticians space out the structure ofart and determine it as the intersection of the synchronic and the diachronic aesthetic discourse. The paper follows the traces of the transition of modern painting from its representational status to an autonomous signification, that is, from being a symbolic expression to a discourse in the grammatological meaning of écriture. Parallel to this transition which resulted into the process of abstraction in painting, there can be observed a shift in the cultural values of art which had its critical bearing upon the world secured not by connections of likeness, but by virtue of the very independence of its values. The abstract form of the modern painting has been the declaration of the language of art as an exemplary realm. What must be expressed and experienced within this realm was (1) the critical reflection on the human condition, and (2) representing the society in so far as art maintained a moral independence from those conditions. This dialectic between the autonomous and social character of art has left deep impacts on the language of painting, a complexity, which has been made transparent through the various semiotic analytic approaches of the aesthetic sign. The paper discusses the processual character of the modern painting and demonstrates briefly the deficiency in the structural analysis of the painting language, encouraging its synthesis with the dynamical character of cultural products as we find it in the Lotmanian culture theory. (shrink)
This paper tries to combine Peirce’s cosmology and metaphysics with current understanding in physics of the evolution of the universe, regarded as an ongoing semiotic process in a living cosmos. While the basic property of Life is viewed as an unexplainable Firstness inherent in the initial iconic state of the vacuous continuum we shall consider and exemplify two sign developing processes: (a) the transition from icon to index is considered as a symmetry breaking emergence of order actualising one (...) among the possibilities of the iconic vacuum; (b) the transition from index to symbol, regarded as a habit formation — an adaptation of the surroundings to the order that has emerged. While the iconic state is characterized by fractal self-similarity the transitions to index and symbol are modelled by the mean field theory of second order phase transitions. (shrink)
The article deals with the relationships between the concepts of life process and sign process, arguing against the simplified equation of these concepts. Assuming that organism (and its particular case — cell) is the carrier of what is called ‘life’, we attempt to find a correspondent notion in semiotics that can be equalled to the feature of being alive. A candidate for this is the textual process as a multiple sign action. Considering that biological texts are generally non-linguistic, (...) the concept of biotext should be used instead of ‘text’ in biology. (shrink)
The article draws paralles between Bakhtin's literary theory and some of the Peirce's philosophical concepts. The comparisons with Bakhtin go beyond the theory of heteroglossia and reveal that related notions were implicitly originated by Dostoevsky. The elaboration of the concepts of dialogue, "self" and "other" continue into the ideas of consciousness, iconic effects in literature, and the semiotic aspect of thought. Especially important in this chapter is the aspect of Peirce's theory concerned with the endless growth of interpretation and (...)sign building, or unlimited semiosis. Peirce's discussion of unlimited semiosis is not among the less elaborated ones. Quite on the contrary, it is one of the most important of his ideas of sign. As a semiotic notion it is widely exploited in many related areas. However, it is not often used as an analytical tool to examine literature or to other works of art. Here, we will employ this notion in conjunction with Bakhtin's doctrine of heteroglossia. (shrink)
The expression "image" is characterized, starting with the Greek language, by a certain ambiguity, since it can point to an iconicsign or to an allegoric-figurative sign. However it is possible to find out in the history of ancient thought an acceptation of "image" where these features are both present, that is agalma whose first meaning in the lexicon of classic Greek is "sacred image". Neoplatonism particularly uses this expression as one of the key term of its (...) doctrine about the methods through which it is possible to reveal the divine. Agalma in that way was conceived as an iconicsign (a statue or a mimetic figure) whose morphological elements are the vehicle of allegoric meanings; these meanings then are able to refer to transcendent realities. So the capacity to reveal the God's nature is attributed to iconic image that becomes a sign no longer bound exclusively to material dimension (as it has been described, for instance, by Augustine and other late ancient and medieval thinkers). (shrink)
In biosemiotics, life and living phenomena are described by means of originally anthropomorphic semiotic concepts. This can be justified if we can show that living systems as self-maintaining far from equilibrium systems create and update some kind of representation about the conditions of their self-maintenance. The point of view is the one of semiotic realism where signs and representations are considered as real and objective natural phenomena without any reference to the specifically human interpreter. It is argued that the most (...) basic concept of representation must be forward looking and that both C. Peirce’s and J. v. Uexküll’s concepts of sign assume an unnecessarily complex semiotic agent. The simplest representative systems do not have phenomenal objects or Umwelten at all. Instead, the minimal concept of representation and the source of normativity that is needed in its interpretation can be based on M. Bickhard’s interactivism. The initial normativity or natural self-interest is based on the ‘utility-concept’ of function: anything that contributes to the maintenance of a far from equilibrium system is functional to that system — every self-maintaining far from equilibrium system has a minimal natural self-interest to serve that function, it is its existential precondition. Minimal interactive representation emerges when such systems become able to switch appropriately between two or more means ofmaintaining themselves. At the level of such representations, a potentiality to detect an error may develop although no objects of representation for the system are provided. Phenomenal objects emerge in systems that are more complex. If a system creates a set of ongoingly updated ’situation images’ and can detect temporal invariances in the updating process, these invariances constitute objects for the system itself. Within them, a representative system gets an Umwelt and becomes capable of experiencing triadic signs. The relation between representation and its object is either iconic or indexical at this level. Correspondingly as in Peirce’s semeiotic, symbolic signs appear as more developed — for the symbolic signs, a more complex system is needed. (shrink)
The present article discusses different basic semiotic-scientific postulates regarding mammals’ sign activity. On the one hand, there are arguments denying animals sign activity, according to which mammals are not capable of semantic generalization on the basis of conventional linguistic values. According to another approach, mammals’ sign activity can be considered as means of ecological adaptation, that is, the features of animal behaviour based on the information, received by them through their habitat characteristics without direct visual contacts with (...) their kind. Movement elements, behavioural reactions of similar motivation and parameters of the sign field, which represents an animal’s sign-information environment, may have some numerical expression and can becalculated depending on the research tasks. Formalization of the animal activity implies simultaneous consideration of the following parameters: magnitude,intensity, anisotropy and the value of a given sign object. (shrink)
This paper offers an expressivist account of logical form, arguing that in order to fully understand it one must examine what valid arguments make us do (or: what Achilles does and the Tortoise doesn’t, in Carroll’s famed fable). It introduces Charles Peirce’s distinction between symbols, indices and icons as three different kinds of signification whereby the sign picks out its object by learned convention, by unmediated indication, and by resemblance respectively. It is then argued that logical form is represented (...) by the third, iconic, kind of sign. It is noted that icons uniquely enjoy partial identity between sign and object, and argued that this holds the key to Carroll’s puzzle. Finally, from this examination of sign-types metaphysical morals are drawn: that the traditional foes metaphysical realism and conventionalism constitute a false dichotomy, and that reality contains intriguingly inference-binding structures. (shrink)
Translator's introduction: The germinal structure of Derrida's thought -- Translator's note -- Introduction -- Sign and signs -- The reduction of indication -- Meaning as soliloquy -- Meaning and representation -- The sign and the blink of an eye -- The voice that keeps silent -- The originative supplement.
This paper considers the extent to which the earliest stages of learning about systems of inscription requires not just individual mental effort, but effort that is distributed across a wide physical and intellectual environment. It is particularly concerned with how children under the age of three learn about notational systems, including writing, and examines parallels with the evolution of written systems. It considers the position that children gain knowledge incrementally over the early months and years of life, supported by a (...) commonly accepted view that learning is a mental activity in which knowledge accumulates hierarchically in the minds of individual children, starting with smallest parts of the system. The paper presents evidence to the contrary, suggesting that the early learning of inscriptional systems is associated not just with individual minds, but with social and cultural cognition that is dispersed across minds, bodies, tools, and material environments. It presents data and evidence from a small study of the sign-making of children under the age of three that indicates that children of this age already use notations purposefully in the construction of signs that are intentional, multimodal, and unbounded, and that already have features associated with conventional systems of inscription. In their early sign-making they use certain underlying principles of symbolic reference associated with conventional systems, including the use of ‘generic’ structures derived from social, bodily, and material experience. Central to this process are networks of interactions between co-participants, tools, materials, and the physical environment. (shrink)