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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 2, 2001

Floyd Merrell
Pages 385-414

Lotman's semiosphere, Peirce's categories, and cultural forms of life

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.

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