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51. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Paul Bouissac On signs, memes and MEMS: Toward evolutionary ecosemiotics
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The first issue raised by this paper is whether semiotics can bring any added value to ecology. A brief examination of the epistemological status of semiotics in its current forms suggests that semiotics' phenomenological macroconcepts (which are inherited from various theological and philosophical traditions) are incommensurate with the complexity of the sciences comprising ecology and are too reductive to usefully map the microprocesses through which organisms evolve and interact. However, there are at least two grounds on which interfacing semiotics with ecology may prove to be scientifically productive: (a) the very looseness of semiotic discourse can be an important catalyser for multidisciplinary interactions, an important condition for the emergence of truly holistic ecology; (b) the present semiotic conceptual apparatus is not carved in stone. All its notions, frames of reference and types of reasoning can evolve in contact with the problems encountered in evolutionary ecological research. Semiotics, as an open-ended epistemological project, remains a proactive intellectual resource. The second issue raised by this paper is precisely to call attention to the opportunity provided by recent developments for rethinking and furthering semiotic inquiry. An attempt is made to show that counterintuitive theories such as memetics and new frontiers in teclmology such as nanotechnology, could help recast ecosentioticsalong more intellectually exciting lines of inquiry than the mere rewriting of ecological discourse in terms of the traditional semiotic macroconcepts. It goes without saying that memetics and nanotechology are not presented here as definitive solutions but simply as indicative of possible directions toward acomprehensive evolutionary ecosentiotics that would radically transform the basis of the 20th century sentiotic discourse and its ideological agenda.
52. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Marlen Tonnessen Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology
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Traditionally, ontology, or at least western ontology, bas been an anthropocentric enterprise, that takes only human experiences into account. In this paper I argue that a prolific biocentric ontology can be based on UexkülI's Umwelt theory. UexkülI offers the basis of an ontology according to which the study of experiences is a much wider field than it is as depicted by classical ontology and contemporary philosophy of consciousness. Based on the thoughts of the contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel I claim that there might very well be Iifeforms that are totally unimaginable to us. I argue that this view is compatible with the Umwelt theory, and that it should be adopted by biosemioticians. Furthermore, I argue that a biosemiotic possibilism should be implemented. Followingly, one should not claim to know which characteristics of living beings are universally and necessarily valid, but restrict oneself to statements about life as we know it.
53. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Larissa Naiditch Remarks on semantic peculiarities of numerals and on usage of numerals in several kinds of texts
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The paper deals with the general peculiarities of numerals. Cases where the sense of numeral cannot simply be explained by the idea of counting, of number, or of order are considered. Special types of texts folklore on the one band, propaganda on the other hand - are analyzed. For the latter the examples from two Soviet central official newspapers - Pravda and lzvestija of May 1986 have been chosen. These texts partially reflect common stylistic features of Soviet propagandistic discourse of the "period of stagnation"; their specificity is caused by the special situation, which obtained in the country in those days - the catastrophe in the atomic power station in Chemobyl. It is claimed that all the considered examples reflect several aspects of meaning of numerals contained in their general semantics. Thus, the development of the evaluative meaning is explained by the semantics of degree contained in the numerals. These data contribute to Frege's idea of relativity of number, but from another, purely linguistic, point of view.
54. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
John Deely A sign is what? A dialogne between a semiotician and a would-be realist
55. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Floyd Merrell Lotman's semiosphere, Peirce's categories, and cultural forms of life
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This paper brings Lotman's semiotic space to bear on Peirce's categories of the universe's processes. Particular manifestations of cultural semiotic space within the semiosphere are qualified as inconsistent and/or incomplete, depending upon the cultural context. Inconsistency and incompleteness are of the nature of vagueness and generality respectively, that are themselves qualified in terms of overdetermination and underdetermination, the first being of the nature of the category of Firstness and the second of the nature Thirdness. The role of Secondness is unfolded by acts of distinguishing the possibilities of Firstness into this and that, here and there, there and then, and all the distinctions that follow. Secondness, then, with respect to cultural semiotic space, gives rise to hegemony, to dominance and subervience, superordination and subordination. Commensurate with this interpretation of Secondness, the realms of overdetermination and underdetermination are labeled homogeny and heterogeny respectively. These theoretical assumptions will then be used as a modeling device providing an interpretation for various key aspects of Latin American cultures.
56. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Marina Grishakova Metaphor and narrative
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The paper examines linguistic, cognitive, communicative approaches to metaphor and its functioning in the narrative text. Special attention is paid to the problem of iconicity and the Wingensteinian notion of "aspect seeing" as relevant to the metaphor srudies. It is shown that the extended understanding of metaphor as "trope" or "figure" in the post-structuralist literary theory allows to see metaphor as a textual "interpretation machine". In the process of interaction of narrative and figurative patterns, metaphor functions as a means of perspectivization, i.e. representation of consciousness. In the literary text, perspective changes permanently and the subsequent configurations have an impact on the previous ones: there occurs a permanent "feedback" and correlation.
57. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Paul Cobley Analysing narrative genres
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There can be little doubt that human consciousness is now suffused with narrative. In the West, narrative is the focus of a number of lucrative industries and narratives proliferate as never before. The importance of popular genres in current narrative is an index of the demise of authorship in the face of new media and has necessitated the renewal of the term "genre" in narrative analysis over the last hundred years or so. However. this article attempts to make clear that the concept of genre and the notion of a textual formula in narrative are not the same thing. Genre, in contrast to formula, is concerned precisely with the issue of how audiences receive narrative conventions; however, much genre theory has treated genre as a purely textual entity. The current article argues that genre should properly be considered as an "idea" or an "expectation" barboured by readers and identifies in textual-based genre theory of the last two thousand years the perpetuation of ahistoricality and canonisation.
58. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Mihhail Lotman The semiotics of culture and the phenomenology of fear
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The semiotics of culture and the phenomenology of fear. In the paper fear is treated as semiotical phenomenon. The semiotical speciality of fear is that while being a strong semiotical factor, its semiotical nature is often overshadowed and fear is treated proceeding from the scheme of stimulus-reaction. In the paper fear is analysed in the context of both Peirce's semiotics and Saussure's semiology and it will be demonstrated that these approaches allow to open up different aspects of fear: while in Peircean perspective frightful evokes fear, then proceeding from the Saussure's approach we could say that fear creates the frightful, fear appears to be creative; we could even speak of fear as semiosis.
59. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Irene Machado Projections: Semiotics of culture in Brazil
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Projection is a dialogical mechanism that concerns the relationship among things in the world or in various systems, both in nature and culture. Instead of isolating these systems, projection creates an ecosystem without borderline. Projection is a way to comprehend how different cultures can link, enrich and deveop one another by understanding the relationship among different culture traditions can be related to one another by considering the nature of their sign system. That is why it is that the object of semiotics of culture is not culture but its sign systems. That is why we understand the nature of relationship among sign system as projection. In this article, we are interested in a particular kind of projection: that one in which the formulations of semiotics of culture of Slavic tradition project themselves onto the Brazilian culture. The conceptual field of Russian semiotics - dialogism, carnivalization, hybridity, border, outsideness, heteroglossia, textuality and modelling semiotic sign system - projects itself on the equally defining aspects of the semiotic identity of the Brazilian culture. I will refer here to two sets of projections: the concept of textual history, as a possibility to reach internal displacement within the culture, and the notion of semiodiversity produced by the meeting of different sign systems.
60. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 29 > Issue: 2
Han-liang Chang Naming animals in Chinese writing
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Naming, according to Sebeok, constihttes the first stage of zoosemiotics. This special but common use of language acrually inaugurates more complicated procedures of human discourse on non-human kingdom, including classification of its members. Because of language's double articulation in sound and sense, as well as the grapheme's pleremic (meaning-full) rather than cenemic (meaning-empty) characteristic (according to Hjelmslev). Chinese script is capable of naming and grouping animals randomly but effectively. This paper attempts to describe the said scriptorial "necessity of naming" (Kripke) in classical Chinese by citing all the creatures, real or fabulous, with a /ma/ (horse) radical.