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101. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Dinda L. Gorlée Hints and guesses: Legal modes of semio-logical reasoning
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Legal semiotics is an internationally proliferated subfield of general semiotics. The three-step principles of Peirce’s semiotic logic are the three leading categories: firstness, secondness and thirdness, grounded on the reverse principles of logic: deduction, induction and — Peirce’s discovery — abduction. Neither induction nor abduction can provide a weaker truth claim than deduction. Abduction occurs in intuitive conclusions regarding the possibility of backward reasoning, contrary to the system of law. Civil-law cultures possess an abstract deductive orientation, governed by the rigidity of previous written law, whereas the actual fragility of a common-law system with cases and precedents inclines to induction, orienting its habituality (habits) in moral time and space. Customary law gives credit to abductive values: relevant sentiments, beliefs and propositions are upgraded to valid reasoning. The decision-making by U.S. case law and English common-law is characterized as decision law with abductive undertones.
102. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Daniele Monticelli From globality to partiality: Semiotic practices of resistance to the discourse of war
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This paper examines the discourse of war from a semiotic point of view and suggests some ideas for the development of practices of resistance to it. The discourse of war can be considered symptomatic in respect to underlying discourses of totality such as globalisation. By aiming at explanatory simplification, this kind of discourse takes the paradoxical form of an exhaustive paradigm which always engenders a residuum to be eliminated. Semiotics can develop practices of resistance to the discourse of war by operating on the syntagmatic chains generated by its mediatic agencies. These practices are based on the postmodernist critique of totalising discourses. A process in which details are disconnected from the mediatic chains where they vanish might trigger the opening of a space of community that makes the residuum of war discourse presentable through metaphorical substitutions. Semiotic practices of resistance to the discourse of war presuppose a shift in theory from the paradigm of globality to that of partiality. Partiality must be understood both from a political and an epistemological point of view and it could therefore represent an important element in the development of a semioethics.
103. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Janelle Reinelt National signs: Estonian identity in performance
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Since Estonia is in the midst of a national redefinition and examination of past traditions and future aspirations, it makes an excellent case study for the potentiality of theatre as an arbiter of national identity. The changing value of the institution itself is part of the equation (will Estonians continue to appreciate and attend the theatre in coming years?). In addition, the historical role of Estonian theatre as a repository for national narratives, especially literary ones, makes it a significant site for struggles around print and technology, and between embodied performances and archival performatives.This essay introduces a series of articles that address how Estonia and its theatre might be regarded and understood in light of its history, memories, present experiences, and future possibilities. The idea of pretence that lies at the heart of theatricality itself provides an ideal means for interrogating national identity in a time of great instability and flux. The examples of productions discussed in these three essays share more than a deliberate utilization of the rubrics of theatricality. It seems no coincidence that the reworking of national classics, Estonian national myths, and ethnic folk songs and ceremonies takes place concurrently with the representation of new technologies, commodity capitalism, and diasporic collisions. Embodying precisely the predicament of culture in a country reassessing its past and confronting its future, the theatre is an important institution for national resignification.
104. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Anneli Saro Von Krahl Theatre revisiting Estonian cultural heritage
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In the 1990s Estonia underwent a process of radical socio-political changes: a periphery of the Soviet conglomerate became a country with an independent political and economic life. The new situation also brought about a revision of cultural identity, which in the Soviet Union had been grounded primarily on the dichotomy between national and Soviet culture. Since these oppositions were rendered unimportant with the changed politico-economic conditions, a time of ideological vacuum followed. Estonia as an independent state and a cultural island between the East and the West turned its face toward Europe, questioning for its new or true identity in the postmodernising and globalizing society. In this article three productions of Estonian theatre as examples of identity construction will be analysed, investigating the rewriting of cultural heritage, intercultural relationships and implicit ideologies.
105. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Ester Võsu, Alo Joosepson Staging national identities in contemporary Estonian theatre and film
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This paper focuses on the ways in which national identities are staged in recent film and theatre productions in Estonia. We want to complement the prevalent approaches to nationality (Anderson 1983; Gellner 1983; Bhabha 1990), where the role of theatre and film as modellers of national identity are undervalued. National identity is a complex term that presupposes some clarification, which we gave by describing its dynamics today; its relation to ethnic identity, a thread between the lived and declared national identities, and the relevance of culture-based national identity. Herein we consider the concept of staging to have two implications: (1) as an aesthetic term it incorporates an artistic process, comprising several devices and levels; (2) as a concept in cultural theory it describes cultural processes in which something is set on stage for public reflection. Accordingly, in our analysis we considered national identities in theatre and film stagings in both senses. The results of our analyses demonstrated that our hypothesis about emerging new national identities in Estonia was valid, though deconstructed and hybrid national identities are not exactly and absolutely new types of identities but rather strategies of creating space for new identities to develop. A deconstructed national identity refers to the state of high self-reflexivity in which the existing elements of national identity are re-examined, recontextualised and re-evaluated. Further, a hybrid national identity demonstrates the diversity and coexistence of the components of national identity. Both strategies of staging are characteristic of the transformation of national identities, confirming that a single homogenous staging of national identity seems to be replaced by bringing multiple new self-models on stage.
106. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Leonid Tchertov Spatial semiosis and time
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Spatial semiosis differs from temporal one by its structural and functional peculiarities. Meaningful relations between units of spatial texts are not ordered along of temporal axe and do not need time in their form of expression. However time remains an important factor for both: being of the spatial semiosis in the external time and being of time in the spatial texts as object of representation. In the contrast to temporal communication, where acts receiving of texts must be synchronized with the acts of their (re)production, spatial semiosis is built as a diachronic process, dividing in time from two separate acts: creating and perceiving. This structural peculiarity allows to connect people from different temporal periods and gives to spatial semiosis the function of irreplaceable means for cultural memory. Excluding time from the semiotic form of their plane of expression, spatial texts have some rules of presentation in time and semiotic means for representation of temporal order and duration in their plane of contents. There are different means of representation of time in the spatial forms: the projection of temporal structures on the spatial ones, concentration of different moments in one state, etc.
107. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
João Queiroz, Floyd Merrell Semiosis and pragmatism: Toward a dynamic concept of meaning
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Philosophers and social scientists of diverse orientations have suggested that the pragmatics of semiosis is germane to a dynamic account of meaning as process. Semiosis, the central focus of C. S. Peirce’s pragmatic philosophy, may hold a key to perennial problems regarding meaning. Indeed, Peirce’s thought should be deemed seminal when placed within the cognitive sciences, especially with respect to his concept of the sign. According to Peirce’s pragmatic model, semiosis is a triadic, time-bound, context-sensitive, interpreter-dependent, materially extended dynamic process. Semiosis involves inter-relatedness and inter-action between signs, their objects, acts and events in the world, and the semiotic agents who are in the process of making and taking them.
108. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Andrew Stables From semiosis to social policy: The less trodden path
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The argument moves through three stages. In the first, the case is made for accepting ‘living is semiotic engagement’ as ‘a foundational statement for a postfoundational age’. This requires a thoroughgoing rejection of mind-body substance dualism, and a problematisation of humanism. In the second, the hazardous endeavour of applying the above perspective to social policy begins with a consideration of the sine qua non(s) underpinning such an application. These are posited as unpredictability of outcomes and blurring of the human/non-human boundary. In the third stage, the case is developed for a policy orientation that is both liberal-pragmatic (with some caveats relating to ‘liberal’) and post-humanist, and the paper concludes with some speculation concerning the precise policy outcomes of such an orientation.
109. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Göran Sonesson The meaning of meaning in biology and cognitive science: A semiotic reconstruction
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The present essay aims at integrating different concepts of meaning developed in semiotics, biology, and cognitive science, in a way that permits the formulation of issues involving evolution and development. The concept of sign in semiotics, just like the notion of representation in cognitive science, have either been used too broadly, or outright rejected. My earlier work on the notions of iconicity and pictoriality has forced me to spell out the taken-forgranted meaning of the sign concept, both in the Saussurean and the Peircean tradition. My work with the evolution and development of semiotic resources such as language, gesture, and pictures has proved the need of having recourse to a more specified concept of sign. To define the sign, I take as point of departure the notion of semiotic function (by Piaget), and the notion of appresentation (by Husserl). In the first part of this essay, I compare cognitive science and semiotics, in particular as far as the parallel concepts of representation and sign are concerned. The second part is concerned with what is probably the most important attempt to integrate cognitive science and semiotics that has been presented so far, The Symbolic Species, by Terrence Deacon. I criticize Deacon’s use of notions such as iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity. I choose to separate the sign concept from the notions of iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity, which only in combination with the sign give rise to icons, indices, and symbols, but which, beyond that, have other, more elemental, uses in the world of perception. In the third part, I discuss some ideas about meaning in biosemiotics, which I show not to involve signs in the sense characterised earlier in the essay. Instead, they use meaning in the general sense of selection and organisation, which is a more elementary sense of meaning. Although I admit that there is a possible interpretation of Peirce, which could be taken to correspond to Uexküll’s idea of functional circle, and to meaning as function described by Emmeche and Hoffmeyer, I claim thatthis is a different sense of meaning than the one embodied in the sign concept. Finally, I suggest that more thresholds of meaning than proposed, for instanceby Kull, are necessary to accommodate the differences between meaning (in the broad sense) and sign (as specified in the Piaget–Husserl tradition).
110. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Andres Luure The duality of understanding and the understanding of duality in semiotics
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In the view of the author, the main problem of semiotics is the understanding and advancing of understanding. To contribute to the solution of this problem, a distinction is suggested between two types of understanding: enlogy and empathy. The subject of enlogy reduces what he understands to himself as a code: he hears only what he is himself. The subject of empathy reduces what she understands to herself as a text: she sees only what she is striving to become. Enlogy is possible due to the identity of the communicants as a present unified code. Empathy is possible due to the identity of the communicants as a future common text. Mastering the code is a by-product of empathy; the texts rests on the enlogy that already is possible. Enlogy and empathy do not pereceive each other as understanding. Therefore their mutual understanding remains the hardest problem of understanding. To fulfil its task, semiotics has to address this problem.
111. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Han-liang Chang Disaster semiotics: An alternative ‘global semiotics’?
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Thomas A. Sebeok’s global semiotics has inspired quite a few followers, noticeably Marcel Danesi, Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio. However, for all the trendiness of the word, the very concept of global should be subject to more rigorous examination, especially within today’s ecological and politico-economic contexts. With human and natural disasters precipitating on a global and almost quotidian basis, it is only appropriate for global semioticians to pay more attention to such phenomena and to contemplate, even when confined to their attics, the semiotic consequences of disasters. The paper probes into the semiotic implications of the tsunami disaster that claimed quarter of a million lives in South and Southeast Asia during the Christmas holidays in 2004, and proposes a semiotics of disaster, developed from the discussions of the eighteenth-century British Empiricist philosopher Thomas Reid and the contemporary semiotician David S. Clarke, Jr. As the word’s etymology indicates, disaster originally referred to a natural phenomenon, i.e., ‘an obnoxious planet’, and only by extension was it later used to cover man-made calamities, be it political or economic. Although the dichotomy of nature versus culture no longer holds good, the author uses theword disaster in the traditional sense by referring to ‘natural’ disasters only.
112. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Олег Борисович Заславский Структурные парадоксы русской литературы и поэтика псевдооборванного текста
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Oleg B. Zaslavskii. Structural paradoxes of Russian literature and poetics of pseudobroken text. Traditionally, the Pushkin’s work “My provodili vecher na dache…” is considered to be uncompleted. However, on the basis of structural arguments, we show that, in fact, it is completed as an artistic whole. Taking also into account the results of previous analysis of works by Pushkin, Lermontov and Gogol’, we introduce a new notion of “pseudobroken texts”. Their distinctive feature consists in the structural correspondence between the break of a plot and a break as the theme of the text — such, that it is the break of a text which confirms that the text is finished. From the general viewpoint, such a paradoxical phenomenon can be viewed as modeling the impossibility to destroy art and culture.
113. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Jaan Valsiner The semiotic construction of solitude: Processes of internalization and externalization
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Human beings create their private worlds of feelings and thoughts through immersion in the semiosphere created through situated activity contexts. Processes of internalization/externalization are at the center of development of human beings through the whole of their life courses. We consider the contexts of schooling as organized through Semiotic Demand Settings (SDS) for development of intrinsic motivation of the students. Intrinsic motivation is a process mechanism that operates as internalized and hyper-generalized feeling at the most central layer of internalization. It is a result of integration of social suggestions, hyper-generalized as an affective field, and turned into a value that directs future actions.
114. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Irene Machado Impact or explosion? Technological culture and the ballistic metaphor
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The term ‘impact’ has become the kind of word which, when it relates to the evaluation of technological advances in contemporary culture, suggests signs of erosion, debilitation and evasion. The misinformed and indiscriminate use of the term in the most varied of contexts has created an impasse in the cultural semiotic approach, where sign systems are viewed in terms of borders and relations. The objective of this article is to examine the trivialisation of the use of the ballistic metaphor in this explosive moment of the culture. For this, we will refer to the formulations presented by the semiotician, Juri Lotman, in his book, appropriately entitled Culture and Explosion. To what degree is the concept of explosion presented as a counterpart to the notion of impact? The desire to find answers to this question is what motivated this inquiry.
115. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Guido Ipsen From environment to culture: Aspects of continuity
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The conceptualization of the lifeworld of any species includes a reformation of the matter found in the environment into concepts which make up the species-specific Umwelt. This paper argues that the human agency in conceptualising the Umwelt necessarily transforms what we usually call “nature” into so-called “culture”. Ultimatively, this human activity has two consequences which we cannot escape, but which have an influence not only on our perception of the environment, but also on our theorising about what has been called the “nature-culture divide”, the “semiotic threshold” respectively: First, any environmental perception is at once conceived of in cultural terms. Second, whatever “nature” may be, our including it into the cultural discourse removes it from our immediate cognition.
116. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Sungdo Kim Semiotics of natural disaster discourse in post-tsunami world: A theoretical framework
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The study of natural disaster and its discursive dimensions from a semiotic perspective can provide a theoretical frame for the scientific communication of global catastrophes. In this paper I will suggest two models; one is a semiotic model on the natural catastrophic events and the other is a hexagon model composed of semiotic dimensions of natural disaster discourse. The six main modules include narration, description, explication, visualization, prevention, and recovery action.
117. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 1
Louis Armand From materiality to system
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This paper seeks to address the relation of materiality to structure and phenomena of signification or semiosis. It examines the logical consequences of several major lines of argument concerning the status of semiosis with regards to the human or broadly “organic” life-world and to the “zero degree” of base materiality — from Peirce to Lotman and Sebeok — and questions the classificatory rationale that delimits semiosis to the exclusion of a general treatment of dynamic systems. Recent investigations into neurosemiotics have provided salient arguments for the need to treat semiosis as a characteristic of systems in general, and to establish a more transverse understanding of signifiability upon the basis of what makes dynamic structures, as such, possible.
118. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 2
Eric Landowski L’épreuve de l’autre. — Testing the other
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Testing the other. It is nowadays a commonplace of academic discourse on social sciences, especially when it comes to such disciplines as anthropology and semiotics, to oppose the old (and old-fashioned) methods of the “structuralists” to post-modern and post-structural epistemological attitudes. Structuralism, it is said, was based on the idea that it is possible to apprehend the meaning of cultural productions from an exterior and therefore objective standpoint, just by making explicit their immanent principles of organization. Today, on the contrary, a totally distinct approach of cultural productions would stem from the consciousness of a strict interdependence, or even of an identity in nature between subject and object at all levels of the process of knowledge, at least in the area of the humanities. However, such a crude opposition proves insufficient when one observes the effective practices of current research. The example here analysed is the account given by the American anthropologist Paul Rabinow of his first mission abroad: Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. The analysis, based on the use of a semiotic modelling of interaction, consists in exploring the variety of positions respectively adopted by the anthropologist and his informants according to circumstances and contexts. Four regimes are in principle distinguishable: programmation, based on regularity and predictability of the actors’ behaviour, manipulation, based on some kind of contractualization of their relationships, adjustment, based upon reciprocal sensitivity and various strategies permitting to both partners of the interaction to test one another, and a regime of consent to the unexpected or the unforeseeable. The main result of the analysis resides in the possibility of showing that at each of these styles of pragmatic interaction corresponds a specific regime at the cognitive level as well. This leads tostressing the complexity, if not heterogeneity, of the strategies of knowledge involved at various stages of anthropological research, from the collection ofdata to the cooperative production of new forms of understanding. Taking the risk of generalization, one might also consider the interactional device, which ishere tested through the reading of P. Rabinow’s report as a metatheoretical model describing the various epistemological stances at work and at stake in thepractices of research in social sciences at large.
119. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 2
Michael Rinn Naming the body of nobody: The topic of truth in Victor Klemperer’s diaries
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Victor Klemperer, German philologist and Professor at the University of Dresden, bears testimony to his survival during the Nazi years in his Diaries (1933–1945). Progressively excluded from all social life because of his Jewish religion, Klemperer is forced to recognize himself as a non-subject by the end of the war, calling himself “Nobody” in reference to Ulysses with Polyphemus, the Cyclops. Our article aims to show the mental — cognitive and corporal — process underlying this recognition. Our study will explore the two-pronged thrust of this process: faced with the inexorable destruction of his self, Klemperer has to acknowledge the limits of his analytical capacities. But this extreme experience will enable him to create somatic knowledge destined to recognize what he calls “thought of extinction”. To conclude, we show how this reasoning is based upon action language which consists in naming the body.
120. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 34 > Issue: 2
Peeter Torop Semiotics, anthropology and the analysability of culture
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For each culture-studying discipline, the problem of culture’s analysability stems from disciplinary identity. One half of analysability consists of the culture's attitude and the ability of the discipline's methods of description and analysis to render the culture analysable. The other half of analysability is shaped by the discipline’s own adaptation to the characteristics of culture as the object of study and the development of a suitable descriptive language. The ontologisation and epistemologisation of culture as the subject of analysis is present in each culture-studying discipline or discipline complex. Culture analysts are therefore scholars with double responsibilities. Their professionalism is measured on the basis of their analytical capability and the ability to construct (imagine, define) the object of study. The analytical capability and the ability to construct the object of study also determine the parameters of analysability. Be the analyst an anthropologist or a culture semiotician, the analysability of culture depends on how the analyst chooses to conduct the dialogue between him/herself and his/her object of study.