Displaying: 81-100 of 530 documents

0.253 sec

81. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Torsten Rüting History and significance of Jakob von Uexküll and of his institute in Hamburg
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This paper aims to give an insight into developments that contributed to the significance of the work of Jakob von Uexküll and stresses the importance of his occupation in Hamburg. A biographical survey pays tribute to the implication of the historical pretext and context. A scientific survey describes findings and ideas of Uexküll that proved important for the development of biology and the cognitive sciences. In addition, this paper sets out to reject the common notion that Uexküll’s concepts were ideas of a purely theoretical and philosophical character. It confirms that in fact the central aims of his work were to sustain the empirical method in biology and to give biology a sound epistemological basis. Some examples show how historical and theoretical developments converged at Uexküll’s Institut für Umweltforschung in Hamburg and ignited a productive research activity.
82. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Tobias Cheung From protoplasm to Umwelt: Plans and the technique of nature in Jakob von Uexküll’s theory of organismic order
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
For Uexküll, biology is the science of the organization of living beings. In the context of Entwicklungsmechanik, he refers to Driesch’s and Spemann’s experiments on the development of embryonic germ cells to prove that self-differentiating processes constitute organisms as natural objects. Uexküll focuses on the theory of such self-differentiating processes or organizations. The notion of organization implies for him a “technique of nature” that is capable of structuring organic and inorganic material according to plans and rules. These plans and rules are part of the overall order of the world. As preformed sign systems or codes, they determine and regulate the development and existence of individual animal subjects in their specific Umwelten.
83. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Andreas Weber Mimesis and Metaphor: The biosemiotic generation of meaning in Cassirer and Uexküll
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
In this paper I pursue the influences of Jakob von Uexküll’s biosemiotics on the anthropology of Ernst Cassirer. I propose that Cassirer in his Philosophy of the Symbolic Forms has written a cultural semiotics which in certain core ideas is grounded on biosemiotic presuppositions, some explicit (as the “emotive basic ground” of experience), some more implicit. I try to trace the connecting lines to a biosemiotic approach with the goal of formulating a comprehensive semiotic anthropology which understands man as embodied being and culture as a phenomenon of general semioses.
84. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Jui-Pi Chien Schema as both the key to and the puzzle of life: Reflections on the Uexküllian crux
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Jakob von Uexküll’s problematic is manifested in his paradoxical portraiture of form within the plan of nature: the one a sensual schema and the other a transsensual ideal form. At first sight, Uexküll’s belief in the Platonic and the Reformational notions of the immobile becoming of form seems to be a resignation from the heated debates among his contemporary materialists, vitalists, dynamists, and evolutionists. However, in terms of the Kantian subjective teleology, Uexküll’s appropriation of the ancient philosophy reinstates the invisible, static, but repetitive cycle as his regulating principle in the observation of the activity of animals. This regulating principle distinguishes itself from the rule of resemblance established by the appearances and fossil remains of animals, which is linear, incomplete, and digressive. In the light of Michel Foucault, the transition from the visible to the invisible recoups the study of nature from the living beings (les êtres vivants) to the life itself (la vie), from natural philosophy to biology. My study suggests that we recast Uexküll’s sign theory from his observations on the crux that models and triggers an animal to action in its Umwelt. Bracketing Uexküll’s transcendental configuration of form and image, we still find that schema, in itssensual and functional context, evolves from a reflection of the objects to a summary of their features plus an ignorance of their proper names. Uexküll's erasure of proper names (in different languages) that directs our attention to the presentation in its pure form (Gestalt) not only constitutes an important step in epistemology, but also in a life science that meticulously delves into the genotypes.
85. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Dario Martinelli The musical circle: The umwelt theory, as applied to zoomusicology
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The purpose of the present article is to illustrate the crucial role played by the Umwelt theory in zoomusicological (and, more generally, zoosemiotic) studies. Too much, in fact too little, has been written on the relationship between non-human animals and music. Most of these writings do not explicitly aim at contributing to the actual problem (a good example being the reflections on birdsong contained in John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding). Some are, so to speak, a little folkloristic, quite a few broach the problem in strictly scientific terms, and very few take a clearly zoomusicological approach. In an attempt to understand all the possible ways in which the problem can be analysed, it turns out that all these contributions — in spite of their reciprocal diversity — have points in common, leading to three main categories of approach: discontinuity, gradualism, and pluralism (or Umwelt theory). The discontinuist attitude is by definition opposed to the intent of a zoomusicological research, which in fact defends the thesis that music is not specific only to humans. On the other hand, one might share the gradualist assumption that musicality departs from a basis common to many animal species (at least, all those provided with vocal apparatuses). However, such a basis cannot be interpreted as monolithic (i.e., as having developed in a unique and indivisible way), carrying, as a result, qualitative differences in music between species. For the above-mentioned reasons, and for others to be illustrated in the present paper, it becomes clear that the approach to zoomusicology must necessarily be pluralistic. The most suitable framework seems to be that postulated by Jakob von Uexküll, and known as the theory ofUmwelt.
86. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Jakob von Uexküll, Thure von Uexküll The Eternal Question: Biological variations on a Platonic dialogue
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The reinterpretation of Nature by biology, which will prevail in spite of all obstacles, has brought our thinking closer to antiquity, giving us the chance to reinvigorate our perused terminology with the help of the resources to be found in the thoughts of the greatest minds of mankind. The way to Plato thus being cleared, I perceived the idea to seek enlightenment on pressing biological questions from the great Sage. As means to this end, I chose to make Socrates continue one of his dialogues, with the adjustment of giving him the knowledge of our contemporary biological problems. Thus some kind of interaction between the Ancients and ourselves is created, to our considerable benefit.
87. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Mathias Gutmann Uexküll and contemporary biology: Some methodological reconsiderations
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Philosophical anthropology and philosophical biology were both very powerful and influential movements in the German academic discussion of the early 20th century. Starting with a similar conceptual background (particularly with reference to Hans Driesch’s bio-Aristotelism) they aimed at a synthetic philosophy of nature, which was supposed to include human nature into the realm of a monist description of nature itself. Within this field of biophilosophical reasoning, Jakob von Uexküll’s theory of organism and his theoretical biology hold a central place. In this paper, Uexküll’s theoretical biology is reconsidered as a resumption and reformulation of a theory of knowledge from a “Kantian” provenience. Its specific structure as a generalized theory of knowledge is reconstructed and the pitfalls of a biological interpretation of the condition of the possibility of knowledge are outlined. The theory of organism is reconstructed as a centrepiece of Uexküll’sapproach. The last section of this paper presents a proposal of engineering morphology which allows the full application of Uexküll’s insights into the relativity of organismic constitution. The usefulness of functional modeling for evolutionary reconstructions on the basis of a theory of organism of uexküllian type and its relevance for biological research is evaluated.
88. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/2
Florian Mildenberger Race and breathing therapy: The career of Lothar Gottlieb Tirala (1886–1974)
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The historiography of life, work and visions of Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944) has grew up during the last years. But up to now lifes of his important followers in science are still unknown. This article ist devoted to life and work of Lothar Gottlieb Tirala (1886–1974), who studied psychology and medicine in Vienna and started cooperation with Uexküll in 1914. They stayed in contact during the following decades, although Tirala began a career in race hygiene and neo-darwinistic scientific thought. He organised the contact between Uexküll and Houston Stewart Chamberlain and got support from the Wagner-family in 1933 to become professor for race biology in Munich. After his booting out in 1936 because of massive faults in teaching Tirala changed his scientific interests and began to stretch Uexkülls “Reflexlehre” into healing of blood pressure diseases in men. He became a favourite researcher in German natural cure community after 1945. Even today his studies are integrated in efforts to fight hypertonia.
89. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Kalevi Kull Semiosphere and a dual ecology: Paradoxes of communication
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This article compares the methodologies of two types of sciences (according to J. Locke) — semiotics, and physics — and attempts thereby to characterise the semiotic and non-semiotic approaches to the description of ecosystems. The principal difference between the physical and semiotic sciences is that there exists just a single physical reality that is studied by physics via repetitiveness, whereas there are many semiotic realities that are studied as unique individuals. Seventeen complementary definitions of the semiosphere are listed, among them, semiosphere defined as the space of qualitative (incommensurable) diversity. It is stated that, paradoxically, diversity, being a creation of communication, can also be destroyed due to excessive communication.
90. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Leonid Tchertov Perceptographic code in visual culture
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Visual culture can be considered from semiotic point of view as a system of visual codes. Several of them have natural routs. So the perceptual code is formed already on biological level mediating translation of sensory data into perceptual images of the spatial world. The means of natural perceptual code are transformed in culture, where they are involved in communication by depictions. The depiction on the flat performs the function of a “perceptogram”, which, on one hand, is an external record of an internal perceptual image or an idea, and, on the other hand, serves as a program for a spectator’s visual perception. The means of this “perceptography” form an artificial code, which is, on the contrary to the perceptual code, communicative, deliberately used and transformed in various ways at different periods of time in diverse kinds of practical and artistic activity. Not all perceptograms become pieces of art, but all history of pictorial arts can be considered as a process of development and mastering with the different versions of this perceptographic code. The changes of this code in visual culture are connected with the intrinsic development of “vision forms” as well with invention of external means of communication.
91. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Juri Lotman, Wilma Clark On the semiosphere
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This article, first published in Russian in 1984 in Sign Systems Studies, introduces the concept of semiosphere and describes its principal attributes. Semiosphere is the semiotic space, outside of which semiosis cannot exist. The ensemble of semiotic formations functionally precedes the singular isolated language and becomes a condition for the existence of the latter. Without the semiosphere, language not only does not function, it does not exist. The division between the core and the periphery is a law of the internal organisation of the semiosphere. There exists boundary between the semiosphere and the non- or extra-semiotic space that surrounds it. The semiotic border is represented by the sum of bilingual translatable “filters”, passing through which the text is translated into another language (or languages), situated outside the given semiosphere. The levels of the semiosphere comprise an inter-connected group of semiospheres, each of them being simultaneously both participant in the dialogue (as part of the semiosphere) and the space of dialogue (the semiosphere as a whole).
92. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Stephen Jarosek The semiotics of sexuality: The choice becomes the association of habits becomes the desire becomes the need
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Pragmatism is the idea that we attribute meaning to things that matter to us. Ultimately, the things that matter are intercepted by our bodies — our eyes, ears, nose, hands, feet, skin — right down to our sex differences. Our bodies are the tools with which we interface with the world — the cultural world. Sex differences provide major insights into how the body impacts on experience and thus, personality and ultimately culture’s gender roles. In my earlier paper, I discuss what Peirce identified as fundamental aspects of cognition — habits and associative learning — and I place them in the context of Heidegger’s Dasein. In this current paper, I develop on these ideas in order to apply them to understand gender roles. From the inextricable connection between habits, associative learning andDasein, we can infer the following: (1) Gender roles are habits; (2) Gender roles are chosen; (3) Men and women “like” the roles to which they have beenassigned (this is a fundamental expression of Dasein). That is to say — the choice becomes the association of habits becomes the desire becomes the need. Hence arise the needs by which gender roles are identified.
93. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Richard L. Lanigan The semiotic phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Postmodern methodology in the human sciences and philosophy reverses the Aristotelian laws of thought such that (1) non-contradiction, (2) excluded middle, (3) contradiction, and (4) identity become the ground for analysis. The illustration of the postmodern logic is Peirce’s (1) interpretant, (2) symbol, (3) index, and (4) icon. The thesis is illustrated using the work of Merleau-Ponty and Foucault and the le même et l’autre discourse sign where the ratio [Self:Same :: Other:Different] explicates the communicology of Roman Jakobson in the conjunctions and disjunctions, appositions and oppositions of discours, parole, langue, and langage.
94. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Peeter Torop Semiosphere and/as the research object of semiotics of culture
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Since 1984 when J. Lotman’s article “On semiosphere” was published, this concept has been moving from one terminological field to another. In the disciplinary terminological field of the Tartu–Moscow School semiotics of culture, ‘semiosphere’ is connected with terms ‘language — secondary modelling system — text — culture’. From interdisciplinary terminological fields, the associations either with biosphere and noosphere, or with logosphere, are more important. As a metadisciplinary concept, semiosphere belongs to the methodology of culture studies and is associated with the concepts of holism and the part and the whole. In this context, semiosphere marks the complementarity of disciplines studying culture, the movement towards the creation of general culture studies and “understanding methodology”. On the background of the contemporary trends of science it has to be remembered that semiosphere is simultaneously an object- and a metaconcept. The dynamism of culture as a research object forces science to search for new description languages but the new description languages in turn influence the cultural dynamics as they offer new possibilities for self-description. Often, however, from a historical perspective, a new description language is nothing but a methodological translation. Thus also the term semiosphere joins together several concepts that are related to semiotics of culture and that have gained new relevance on the background of the culture’s developmental dynamics. The concept of semiosphere brings semiotics of culture again into contact with its history, as it also brings applicational cultural analysis into contact with the history of culture and with the newest phenomena in culture. These contacts determine the place of the semiotics of culture among the sciences studying culture.
95. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Jorge Conesa Sevilla The realm of continued emergence: The semiotics of George Herbert Mead and its implications to biosemiotics, semiotic matrix theory, and ecological ethics
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This examination of the often-inaccessible work and semiotics of George Herbert Mead focuses first on his pivotal ideas of Sociality, Consciousness, and Communication. Mead’s insight of sociality as forced relatedness, or forced semiosis, appearing early in evolution, or appearing in simple systems, guarantees him a foundational place among biosemioticians. These ideas are Mead’s exemplar description of multiple referentiality afforded to social organisms (connected to his idea of the generalized other), thus enabling passing from one umwelt to another, with relative ease. Although Mead’s comprehensive semiosis is basically sound, and in concordance with modern and contemporary semiotics (and biosemiotics), it nevertheless lacks a satisfactory explanation of how conscious organisms achieve passing into new frames of reference. Semiotic Matrix Theory (SMT), its pansemiosis, describes falsifiable existential and cognitive heuristics of recognizing Energy requirements, Safety concerns and Possibility or Opportunity as “passing” functions. Finally, another type of emergence, ecoethics, isan embedded constant in biosemiosis. Not all semiosis is good semiosis, not all text is good text. Because our species is moving away from ancient biosemiosisand interrelatedness, this historicity, even ductile enough to invent synthetic semiosis or capricious umwelten, is facing the ecological reality and consequences of an overly anthropocentric text.
96. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Linnar Priimägi The problem of the autocatalytic origin of culture in Juri Lotman’s cultural philosophy
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The origin of culture remains in the sphere of hypotheses. Although the hypotheses derive from two presumptions: first, how the structure of culture is envisaged, and secondly, how culture is thought to function. Juri Lotman dealt with both aspects of culture, initially the structural and typological and later the dynamic aspects. Thereby, he arrived at the culturalphilosophical hypothesis of the autocatalytic origin of culture. A catalyst is a component of a chemical reaction which itself doesn’t transform during the reaction, but whose presence is needed to guarantee the reaction (or to stimulate it). Thus, autocatalysis is a paradoxical situation in which the genesis of something presumes the pre-existence of the final product. The paradox of the autocatalysis of culture lies in the fact that culture cannot emerge from anything other than from culture itself, from its own germination. In 1988, speaking about the autocatalysis of culture, Lotman refered tothe cultural historicist Nikolai I. Konrad (1891–1970), who undoubtedly borrowed this idea from Jacob Christopher Burckhardt (1818–1897). This undiscovered connection reminds us of the fact, that a model for autocatalysis (or an autopoiesis) was basic to Naturphilosophie of the 19th century. In the 20th century, this was represented by Vladimir I. Vernadsky (1863–1945), from whom Lotman in 1982 received the impetus to formulate the concept of semiosphere as well as of the autocatalysis of culture. The autocatalysis model of culture is culturally diachronical, the semiosphere is, however, a synchronical one. In both cases, the natural philosophical cytology of the 19th century was Lotman’s semiotical meta-language.
97. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1
Marcel Danesi The Fibonacci sequence and the nature of mathematical discovery: A semiotic perspective
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This study looks at the relation between mathematical discovery and semiosis, focusing on the famous Fibonacci sequence. The serendipitous discovery of this sequence as the answer to a puzzle designed by Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci to illustrate the efficiency of the decimal number system is one of those episodes in human history which show how serendipity, semiosis, and discovery are intertwined. As such, the sequence has significant implications for the study of creative semiosis, since it suggests that symbols are hardly arbitrary products of human reason, but rather unconscious probes of reality.
98. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Олег Борисович Заславский Маленький человек в неевклидовом мире: о художественном пространстве в фильме и пьесе Т. Стоппарда “Розенкранц и Гильденстерн мертвы”
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Oleg B. Zaslavskii. The little in a non-Euclidean world: On the artistic space in Tom Stoppard's film and play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead”. It is shown that quite different aspects of Tom Stoppard’s work — spatial organization, relationship between reality and the conditional character of events, causality and narrative links, the problems of choice and personality — are united by the spatial one-sided model like the Möbius strip or Klein bottle. The artistic space turns out to be not orientable, the time being cyclic. This enables us to explain the mutual exchange of names between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and a number of other paradoxical features in the plot and composition. The model like the Möbius strip embodies the absence of a free choice: there is no other side in the world and there is no chance to escape from the fate indicated in the title of Tom Stoppard’s work. The relevance of topology, e.g. the property of a globalnature, is connected with the fact that a bearer of danger is the world as a whole. Apart from this, it points to the fact that such a structure of the world is essentially “non-Euclidean” and cannot be understood on the basis of observations from every-day life or “obvious” experiments like those carried out by Rosencrantz.
99. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Luule Epner Redefining national identity by playing with classics
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
National identities are to a great extent based on common mythical stories (re)produced by literature and arts; in the long run, the core texts of literature themselves start to function as cultural myths. Performing classical works theatre relates them to the changing social context and thus actualises their meaning. Theatrical representations of national characters and mythical stories participate in reinforcing or redefining national identity. In independent Estonia of the 1990s–2000s the need for reconsidering national values and myths that served to consolidate society in the Soviet period, has become evident. The article focuses on theatrical productions in the turn of the century, which are based on active rewriting of well-known Estonian classics (August Kitzberg, Oskar Luts, and the national epic Kalevipoeg). The article tries to answer two questions: how ingredients of national identity (for instance, the relation to the Other) are displayed and (de)constructed by adapting or rewriting of above-mentioned classics; how textual strategies aimed at semantic transformations are motivated and shaped by the principle of self-reflexive theatrical play.
100. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 33 > Issue: 2
Alexander V. Kozin Crossing over with the Angel
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This essay is an analytical extension of Roland Barthes’ structural analysis of an excerpt from the Old Testament (Genesis 32: 22–32), known as “The Struggle with the Angel”. It thus continues the search for “the third meaning” of this enigmatic passage. In this essay, “The Struggle with the Angel” is undertaken in the phenomenological (xenological) register which situates it in the liminal sphere at the crossing of disclosure and concealment. Subsequent semiotic analyses of three visual renditions of Genesis 32: 22–32, Rembrandt’s “Jacob’s Struggle with the Angel”, Sir Jacob Epstein’s “Jacob and the Angel”, and Marc Chagall’s “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel”, show the “third meaning” of the passage to be predicated on the foundational relation between naming and facing, pointing to the understanding of “The Struggle” as the face-to-face relationship of love and responsibility grounded in ethics.