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1. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Gary Shank Arisbe Two: Joseph Ransdell (5 June 1931–2010 December 27)
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articles
2. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Baranna Baker Mrs. Dalloway and the Semiotics of a First Sentence
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How does fiction work? How can mere words create realities that exist only in the mind of the writer and the reader, yet seem so tangible in their realness? How can the first sentence of a novel transport one into a very real, yet purely objective, world — literally word-by-word? How do the subjective worlds of the writer and reader interact with the words on the page to create similar, yet always highly individualized, objective worlds? How can semiotics function as a means to analyzing a written text in order to answer these questions about how the processes of writing and reading work? These, amongst others, are the questions explored in this paper, “Mrs. Dalloway and the Semiotics of a First Sentence”. In it I analyze Virginia Woolf ’s classic novel from a semiotic stance. Through exploring the semiotics of the novel’s first sentence, I attempt to show how we can read even the first nine words of a book and find ourselves transported to a whole, new, highly detailed world — the world of fiction.
3. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Marcel Danesi A Semiotic Note on Accuracy and Precision in Mathematics
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The concept of accuracy in mathematics is something that is rarely discussed. It is taken for granted, mainly because the various symbolic tools of the discipline, such as the digits and its equations, are meant to have a precise interpretation within the primary referential field. Yet, mathematics is full of inaccuracies and imprecise notions and techniques. The science of limits or the calculus, for example, is the science of imprecision, since it is based on the notions of “approximation”. Yet, the calculus is a marvelous tool of science and discovery. This paper looks at this paradox in a general way considering the relation between mathematics as a sign system and its ability to glean discoveries from within its own system.
4. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Jonathan Griffin Foundations of Rhetoric within the Semiosis of Life
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Despite popular consensus or relativist sentiments, rhetoric is not a purely subjective phenomenon but is firmly grounded in semiotic reality. The same definite semiosic nature of the universe that makes geology and archaeology work is also operant within rhetoric — as are syntactic configurations and the semantic situations that proceed from them. Inasmuch as semiosis extends throughout all the universe, from organic life in its most complex forms all the way to the most basic structures of physical matter, so rhetoric finds its roots extending along these pathways. While language use falls partially within the multistability of the universe, with the result that there can be pliability in its use and perception, nevertheless the roots of rhetoric as semiotic ensure that syntax, the subsequent semantic content, and the rhetorical sense this semantic content presents within communication — all these are never fully nor finally reducible to human subjectivity. As the semiotic spiral in principle makes all that occurs within the universe discoverable and read-able, seen especially in forensic studies of physical structures, in just the same way we find that rhetoric and all instances of its usage are also discoverable and read-able. All that is needed is that the one reading has access to the semiosic traces, especially the relevant interpretants. Such is a very sobering ethical accountability grounded upon semiosis itself, extending to all anthroposemiotic life.
5. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Elvira K. Katić Working the Waistcoat: Teacher Threads on a Semiotic Runway
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Different social scientists have looked at the ways in which dress and appearance may be semiotically understood and how these meanings are interpreted by members of a common culture. Dress is but one factor that informs the initial impressions members may make about an individual as they speculate on the motivations or message that the individual (intentionally or unintentionally) broadcasts based on their external appearance. This study analyzed teacher drawings (by students) for teacher dress and appearance. Results of visual, semiotic analyses showed that teachers were most often dressed in casual, uncomplicated clothing in hues of blue and black. These dress choices may transmit particular messages regarding teachers and the teaching profession, not only with regard to the preservice teachers who drew them, but arguably to the larger culture to which these preservice teachers belong. These externally-fashioned messages about teachers may also contribute to ideologies which may affect preservice teacher recruitment, morale, and self-identity.
6. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Alexandros Ph. Lagopoulos Saussure and Derrida: The Semiotics of Limitlessness
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The aim of the paper is to discuss and compare major aspects of Saussure’s linguistic theory — including his recently discovered manuscript, published as Écrits de linguistique générale — and Derrida’s philosophy, focusing on its structuralist (not Kantian or phenomenological, or supposed pragmatist) foundations, in order to show the radical debt of Derrida to Saussure. To see Derrida as a structuralist is crucial for the understanding of his work. A major Saussurean concept, adopted by Derrida as the foundation of his deconstruction, is the concept of “value”; this concept leads to the impossibility of a positive and stable delimitation of signification, which thus is shown to be a phantasmatic entity emerging from the nodes of a network of differences. In this context, I focus on three issues concerning limits, the one leading to the other: the above limitlessness of the linguistic signified, the ensuing limitlessness of linguistic semiosis, in the sense that there is no clear limit between it and the referent, and thus the limit imposed by semiosis in preventing the possibility of knowledge of material reality. I examine Saussure’s ambiguous view on this issue and argue that Derrida’s approach is contradictory, since he occasionally reintroduces the referent in the form of empirical evidence with no theoretical justification.
7. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Christoph Prang On Dr. Seuss the Semiotician: Tracing The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
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One of the most popular books of Dr. Seuss is The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. While seemingly written for children, the story broaches important semiotic issues. It will be shown how Dr. Seuss artistically appropriated key aspects of Derridean thought about the functioning of signs even prior to their proper formulation to create a story around them. In so doing, Dr. Seuss provides a salient example of what has been defined as semiomimesis.
8. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Paul Wesley Scott Semiotic Phenomenology and the Relational Constitution of Signs and Experience
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Basic, key concepts of semiotic are surveyed en route to establishing signs, units of signification, as always dealing in relations. These relations are triangular and mediate. Signs span and mediate between the internality and externality of things, thing being defined as a composite of subjectivity and objectivity. Because signs are relational and mediate, identicality is postulated as the limit of the sign. Identicality is aligned with things-in-themselves, which are assigned to meta-reality, to associate semiotic and metaphysic. Mind, thought, world, and reality are conceptualized in such a way as to link signs with experience. Experience is explained as being founded in relations and practices between things. These relations and practices are formulated in significations. From these signification relations experience is founded, and through experience identities are situated and selves emerge. Holding experience as being formative of and fundamental to reality, it is concluded that reality is best described as being constituted in signs and ultimately bound by significations and relations between things.
9. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
Donna E. West The Semiosis of Indexical Use: From Degenerate to Genuine
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This article demonstrates how Peirce’s core definition of Index extends even to Objects which do not co-occur in space and time with their referent. Although the arguments are philosophical in nature, they are supported by developmental and empirical findings. The case of absent Objects as constituting Objects of indexical use is the primary focus; and rationale is offered from Peirce’s early and later work to bolster this claim. The analysis proffers the bold assertion that Index, especially in its Degenerate use without an Interpretant, qualifies as the most primary sign vehicle, and that Index to absent Objects determines whether indexical use is Degenerate or Genuine.
review articles
10. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 28 > Issue: 3/4
John Deely Analytic Philosophy and The Doctrine of Signs: Semiotics or Semantics:  What Difference Does It Make?
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Thomas A. Sebeok (†2001) considered Charles Peirce as “our lodestar” in the contemporary semiotic development, and what he called “the Dominican tradition” (the Thomistic works of Aquinas, Poinsot, and Maritain in particular) as ‘a vein of pure gold’ yet to be mined in the contemporary semiotic development. By contrast, many contemporary authors look to what is called “Analytic philosophy” (as if there were such a thing as “non-analytic philosophy”) for their interpretation both of Peirce and of Sebeok’s “Dominican tradition”. Tzvetan Todorov, however, has pointed out that semiotics as the doctrine of signs in fact compromises the very foundation upon which the ‘founding fathers’ of “Analytic philosophy” relied in their linguistic reduction of philosophical analysis. Using the works of two contemporary authors, one from the Peircean side (Thomas Short) and one claiming to represent Thomistic thought (John O’Callaghan), this review essay explores the distortive consequences for semiotics that result from adopting the standpoint of Analytic philosophy when treating matters of semiosis. Hence the sub-title “Semiotics or Semantics: What Difference Does It Make [for the doctrine of signs]?”