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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 2, 2001

Ivan Mladenov
Pages 441-460

Unlimited semiosis and heteroglossia (C. S. Peirce and M. M. Bakhtin)

The article draws paralles between Bakhtin's literary theory and some of the Peirce's philosophical concepts. The comparisons with Bakhtin go beyond the theory of heteroglossia and reveal that related notions were implicitly originated by Dostoevsky. The elaboration of the concepts of dialogue, "self" and "other" continue into the ideas of consciousness, iconic effects in literature, and the semiotic aspect of thought. Especially important in this chapter is the aspect of Peirce's theory concerned with the endless growth of interpretation and sign building, or unlimited semiosis. Peirce's discussion of unlimited semiosis is not among the less elaborated ones. Quite on the contrary, it is one of the most important of his ideas of sign. As a semiotic notion it is widely exploited in many related areas. However, it is not often used as an analytical tool to examine literature or to other works of art. Here, we will employ this notion in conjunction with Bakhtin's doctrine of heteroglossia.

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