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1. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Thomas G. Winner Czech and Tartu-Moscow Semiotics: The Cultural Semiotics of Vladimir Macura (1945-1999)
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Among the national scientific groups, it was the Prague Linguistic Circle that had the most decisive affinity to the work of the Moscow-Tartu school. This paper examines the work of one of the most tireless contemporary Czech interpreters of the Lutman school, Vladimir Macura (1945-1999), whose work on Czech literary and historical texts are outstanding examples of the reverberation of Lotmanian semiotics of culture in the Czech Republic. This is particularly the case in Macura's reevaluations of the texts of the Czech National Revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, especially in two books, Znamení zrodu (Signs of Birth) (1995) and Český sen (The Czech Dream) (1998). In these works Macura looked at this critical period in Czech national history as a multi-layered semiotic text in both the verbal and visual spheres. The present paper is an attempt at an exploration of Macura's treatment in this manner of the following: the Czech language, the city of Prague, the question of Czech national self-identification in general and as part of a larger category, the world of the Slavs. An important aspect of this project is an examination of Macura's exploration of the value functions of symbolic animals and plants in Czech Revival culture, and its relation to the axiology of Czech (Slavic) cultural identity. The paper is dedicated to Macura's memory.
2. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Myrdene Anderson Sharing G. Evelyn Hutchinson's fabricational noise
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One of the seminal constructs in 20th-century biosemiotics is G. Evelyn Hutchinson's 'niche'. This notion opened up and unpacked cartesian space and time to recognize self-organizing roles in open, dynamical systems - in n-dimensional hyperspace. Perhaps equally valuable to biosemiotics is Hutchinson's inclusive approach to inquiry and his willingness to venture into abductive territory, which have reaped rewards for a range of disciplines beyond biology, from art to anthropology. Hutchinson assumed the fertility of inquiry flowing from open, far-from-equilibrium systems to be characterized by 'fabricational noise', followingSeilacher, or 'order out of chaos', following Prigogine. Serendipitous 'noise' can self-organize into information at other levels, as does the 'noise' of Hutchinson's contributions themselves.
3. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Linnart Mäll On the concept of humanistic base texts
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I elaborated the concept of humanistic base texts when I was translating lndian and Chinese classical texts into Estonian. At present, I would classify as such the following works: "Bhagavadgītā", a part of Buddhist text's, "Lunyu" by Confucius and the Gospels according to Luke, Matthew and Mark, to mention only a few. This article gives a general survey of the concept, to be specified in the papers to follow.
4. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Sabine Brauckmann Steps towards an ecology of cognition: A holistic essay
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The essay infonns on Gregory Bateson's holistic approach towards an epistemic view of nature. The ecology of mind relies upon a biological holism serving as a methodic tool to explain living "phenomena", like, e.g., communication, learning, and cognition. Starting from the idea, the smallest unit of information, Bateson developed a type hierarchy of learning that is based on a cybernetic view of mind. The communication model focuses on paradoxa caused by false signification. It leads to a pathogenesis of sckizophrenia that is subsumed under the conception of double binds. This ecosystemic perspective of living processes representsa truly (w)holistic theory of nature.
5. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
José Sanjinés The book at the outskirts of culture: Cortázar's first almanac
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The notion of intersemiosis suggests the game relationships between the multiple interacting signifying spheres of culture, but the term can also be fitly applied to the study of certain extraordinary artistic texts. This study makes use of one such book, Julio Cortazar's Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, to show how the sui generis interplay of the book's semantic spheres simultaneously models and renews the complex cultural processes of the production of meaning. This often reprinted and hard-tocategorize book that for years has remained at the outskirts of Latin American culture is also an ideal example to explore the dynamics between the center and periphery of culture as well as the writer's role in the creative renewal of cultural repertoires. By drawing a bridge over the apparent gap between the semiotics of culture and the semiotics of the artistic text, the present study attempts to approximate the critical-creative spirit of the late great theoretician Yurij Lutman.
6. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Marina Grishakova V. Nabokov's "Bend Sinister": A social message or an experiment with time?
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The paper examines V. Nabokov's "strange" novel ''Bend Sinister". The fictional space of the novel is regarded as a process of interaction of different languages or different versions of reality. The philosopher Krug's story unrolls in the imaginary totalitarian state whose ideology combines the elements of fascism, communism and the language of mass psychology. At this level the text is identical with a "social message". The protagonist has to choose between a "private autonomy" and a "bad solidarity". The paper offers the new facts and documents referring to the key symbols of the novel. The language of ''reality'' is deconstructed in the protagonist's idiosyncratical language, the language of his thoughts, recollections and dreams. Scientific metaphors are crucial in thedeconstruction and help to reveal metafictional nature of the text. The analogies with painting, relativist physics, logical paradoxes (Russell's and Gadel's theories) pemits to investigate the status of the fictional space, its development in time and the fiction of the Author.
7. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Dinda L. Gorlée Text semiotics: Textology as survival-machine
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Signifying practices by which living creatures communicate, are, according to Sebeok, the survival-machines. Accordingly, as represented by the semiotic text analysis or Bakhtin's textology, one can speak about a human survival-machine. This has been studied by different semiotic schools (including the Moscow-Tartu school) referring to language, culture, genre and, importantly, text ideology. In this article, the aspects of textology in Peirce's generalized theory of signs become analysed. After a discussion of the concept of text in Peirce's (published and unpublished) writings, its relationship with semiosis and other Peircean categories isshown. The project of elaborating Peirce-based text-semiotics expects that it must be dramatically different from other sign-theoretical text-theories. This may be a path towards more inter-subjective and creative textology.
8. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Roland Posner Semiotic pollution: Deliberations towards an ecology of signs
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This article compares the material pollution of life's elementary resources, i.e., water, soil, and air, with the semiotic pollution of the elementary resources of sign-processes, i.e., channel, sign-matter, and message; code, signifier, and signified; as well as context, sender, and recipient. It is claimed that semiotic pollution interferes with sign-processes as much as material pollution interferes with the fundamental processes of life; both types of pollution are similar in that they produce stress for human beings in current societies. It is argued that semiotics is able to provide the conceptual tools necessary to develop policies that can reduce semiotic pollution. As is shown, however, additional research is required to operationalize and metricize generalized concepts of semiotic pollutionsuch as "channel-related", "semiosis-related", and "situation-related noise".
9. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Aleksei Turovski The semiotics of animal freedom: A zoologist's allempt to perceive the semiotic aim of H. Hediger
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The works, views and ideas of Heini Hediger (1908-1992), one of the most distinguished and influential zoologist of the 20th century, had and still have an enormous impact on contemporary understanding of animal behaviour. His views on territorial, social, etc. aspects of animal behaviour are based on semiotic concepts derived from Umwelt-theory (J. v. Uexküll) and combined with ideas from modern ethology. Hediger's special attention was devoted to the area of animal-man communications; he treated these problematic phenomena as a system of semiosis-processes, in a mainly holistic way. Hediger's approach inspires the author to propose a notion "the need for impression" to be used in zoosemiotic analyses.
10. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Kalevi Kull An introduction to phytosemiotics: Semiotic botany and vegetative sign systems
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Asking, whether plants have semiosis, the article gives a review of the works on phytosemiotics, referring to the tradition in botany that has seen plants as non-mechanic systems. This approach can use the concept of biological need as the primary holistic process in living systems. Demonstrating the similarity between the need and semiosis, it is concluded that sign is a meronomic entity. A distinction between five levels of sign systems is proposed: cellular, vegetative, animal, linguistic, and cultural. Vegetative sign systems are those which are responsible for the morphogenesis and differentiation within an organism, thus belonging to all multicellular organisms.
11. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Anti Randviir, Eero Tarasti, Vilmos Voigt Finno-Ugric semiotics: Cultores and metacultores
12. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Winfried Nöth Umberto Eco's semiotic threshold
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The "semiotic threshold" is U. Eco's metaphor of the borderline between the world of semiosis and the nonsemiotic world and hence also between semiotics and its neighboring disciplines. The paper examines Eco's threshold in comparison to the views of semiosis and semiotics of C. S. Peirce. While Eco follows the structuralist tradition, postulating the conventionality of signs as the main criterion of semiosis, Peirce has a much broader concept of semiosis, which is not restricted to phenomena of culture but includes many processes in nature. Whereas Eco arrives at the conclusion that biological processes, such as the ones within the immune system, cannot be included in the program of semiotic research, Peirce's broader defmition of semiosis has meanwhile become thefoundation of semiotic studies in biology and medicine and hence in biosemiotics and medical semiotics.
13. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
John Deely Semiotics as a postmodem recovery of the cultural unconscious
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This essay explores the terminology of semiotics with an eye to the historical layers of human experience and understanding that have gone into making the doctrine of signs possible as a contemporary intellectual movement. Using an essentially Heideggerian view of language as a heuristic hypothesis, the name semiotics is examined in light of the realization that only with Augustine's Latin signum was the possibility of a general doctrine of signs introduced, and that first among the later Latins was the idea of sign as a general mode of being specifically verifiable both in nature and in culture in establishing the texture of human experience vindicated according to an explanation of how such a general mode of being is possible. The contemporary resumption through Charles Peirceof the Latin line of vindication completed especially by Poinsot is explored along these same lines in terms of considerations of why the term semiotics has emerged as, so to speak, the logically proper name of the global interest in signs.
14. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Marcel Danesi A note on Vico and Lotman: Semiotics as a "science of the imagination"
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The Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico foreshadowed many of the ideas currently being entertained by the modem cognitive and human sciences. By emphasizing the role of the imagination in the production of meaning, Vico showed how truly ingenious the fIrst forms of representation were. His view that these forms were "poetic" is only now being given serious attention, as more and more linguists and psychologists come to realize the role of metaphor in the generation of abstract systems of representation. The Estonian semiotician Yuri Lotman espoused a basically similar view, highlighting the role of the poetic imagination in the generation of the textuality that holds cultures together in meaningful ways. A comparison of these two exceptional thinkers has never been entertained. This note aims to do exactly that. Specifically, it takes a first glimpse at the parallels of thought and method that inhere in the main works of these two ground-breaking thinkers. Such a comparison will establish a theoretical framework to make semiotics a true "science of the imagination". It will show that semiosis and representation are not tied to any innate neural mechanisms, but rather to a creative tendency in the human species to literally "invent itself'.
15. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Frederik Stjernfelt Mereology and semiotics
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This paper gives a fIrst overview over the role of mereology the theory of parts and wholes - in semiotics. The mereology of four major semioticians - Husserl, Jakobson, Hjelmslev, and Peirce is presented briefly and its role in the overall architecture of each of their theories is outlined - with Brentano tradition as reference. Finally, an evaluation of the strength and weaknesses of the four is undertaken, and some guidelines for further research is proposed.
16. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Jaakko Hintikka Language as a "mirror of nature"
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How does language represent ("mirror") the world it can be used to talk about? Or does it? A negative answer is maintained by one of the main traditions in language theory that includes Frege, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Quine and Rorty. A test case is offered by the question whether the critical ''mirroring'' relations, especially the notion of truth, are themselves expressible in language. Tarski's negative thesis seemed to close the issue, but dramatic recent developments have decided the issue in favour of the expressibility of truth. At the same time, the "mirroring" relations are not natural ones, but constituted by rule-governed human activities a la Wittgenstein's language games. These relations are nevertheless objective, because they depend only on the rules of these "games", not on the idiosyncrasies of the players. It also turns out that the "truth games" for a language are the same as the language games that give it its meaning in the first place. Thus truth and meaning are intrinsically intertwined.
17. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 28
Felice Cimatti The circular semiosis of Giorgio Prodi
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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.
18. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Winfried Nöth Protosemiotics and physicosemiosis
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Protosemiotics is the study of the rudiments of semiosis, primarily in nature. The extension of the semiotic field from culture to nature is both necessary and possible in the framework of Peirce's semiotic theory. Against this extension, the critique of pansemiotism has been raised. However, Peirce's semiotics is not pansemiotic since it is based on the criterion of thirdness, which is not ubiquitous in nature. The paper examines the criteria of protosemiosis in the domain of physical and mechanical processes.
19. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Jesper Hoffmeyer S/E ≥ 1: A semiotic understanding of bioengineering
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Natural (non-cultivated) systems are nmed to economize their use of energy as much as possible, and thereby to produce minimal amounts of entropy. It is suggested that this has been obtained by optimizing the evolutionary creation of semiotic controls on all processes of life. As long as biological (ultimately photosynthetic) energy sources satisfied most human needs for energy consumption, these biosemiotic controls remained largely undisturbed, with the result that production systems remained sustainable. The industrial revolution instantiated a ruphure of this balanced situation. The semiotic control function (S) would no longer match the size of the energy flow (E). In the industrial production system, energy flows have dramatically been increased, while the S component has not been taken care of. This has created a dangerously low S/E ratio, and it is suggested that this low S/E ratio constitutes a fundamental explanation of the environmental crisis. In order to restore a sustainable production system, we will now have to develop technological means for a strong increase in the S factor of the production system. It is suggested that this can be obtained through a development of considerate, gentle, and clever forms of biosemiotic technology.
20. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Augusto Ponzio, Susan Petrilli Bioethics, semiotics of life, and global communication
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Ethical problems connected with biological and medical discoveries in genetic engineering, neurobiology and pharmaceutical research, reach a unified and critical point of view in bioethics as a specific discipline. But even before reaching this stage, ethical problems already belong to two totalities: the semiobiosphere. and the current social form of global communication. Coherently with its philosophical orientation, bioethics must necessarily keep accountof this double contextualisation. The semiobiosphere is the object of study of global semiotics or the semiotics of life. Global semiotics is of particular interest to bioethics not only because of the broad context it provides for the problems treated by bioethics, but also because it provides bioethics with an adequate contextualisation both in terms of extension, of quantity, as well as of quality. From this point of view, "contextualisation" also means critical reformulation. We are now alluding to the need of viewing bioethical problems in the light of today's socio-economic context, that is, in the context of global communication-production. These contextualisations are closely related from the viewpoint of ethics. Semiotics as global semiotics or semiotics of life must accept the responsibility of denouncing incongruencies in the global system, any threats to life over the entire planet inherent in this system.