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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 23, Issue 1/4, 2007

Semiotics in the Chinese Umwelt

Hans-Georg Moeller
Pages 243-252

Presence, Representation, and Significance
An Analysis of Semiotic Structures and Corresponding Conceptions of Nature and Culture

This article introduces a semiotic methodology that can be applied in Comparative Philosophy as an alternative to still dominating content-based methods. I suggest distinguishing between three semiotic structures that operate on the basis of different relations between the signifier and the signified. These are the structures of “presence”, “representation”, and “significance”. I argue that ancient Chinese philosophy tends to employ the first structure whereas traditional Western philosophy tends toward the second. Postmodern philosophy, however, gives preference to the third one. In accordance with these different semiotic structures, culturally and historically different conceptions of nature and culture have emerged.

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