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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 37, Issue 3/4, 2021
Addressing Precarity The New Prague School of Semiotics Visual Semiotics

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents


articles
1. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Deborah Eicher-Catt Peirce, Dewey, and the Aesthetics of Semioethics: Felt Qualities, Embodied Intensities, and the Precarity of Relational Fulfillment
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This essay interrogates the aesthetic ground of Ponzio and Petrilli’s 2003 concept “semioethics” as activated by what they call a “logic of otherness”. I take my lead from Charles S. Peirce’s assertion that “Ethics, or the science of right and wrong, must appeal to Esthetics for aid in determining the summum bonum" (1903: CP 1.191). Given that Peirce’s esthetics, depicted as the first of his normative sciences, “ought to repose on phenomenology” (ibid.: CP 1.191), I offer a communicological analysis (i.e., a phenomenological interpretation of the operative aesthetic sign actions of a semioethic). To accomplish this, I turn to fellow American philosopher and pragmatist John Dewey, whose experiential aesthetics offers insights into Peirce’s claims. Dewey’s understanding of the importance of semiotic “form” and existential or embodied “rhythm”, when applied to dialogic relations, reveals phenomenological “felt qualities” and their reflexive semiotic relation to what I call “embodied intensities”. We discover that, when mediated by emotional or energetic interpretants, felt qualities and embodied intensities provide both the necessary and sufficient conditions for a logic of otherness that makes an ethical stance even possible. I contend that our human relationality remains precarious in our global, digitalized environment as long as we disregard or fail to perceive, appreciate, and cultivate this aesthetic phenomenological ground of otherness.
2. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Susan Petrilli, Augusto Ponzio Precarity and Insecuritas, between Fear of the Other and Apprehension for the Other: From Semiotics to Semioethics
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The sense of precarity is specifically human. It accompanies the consciousness that “what is” is in becoming and can stop being. All lifeforms live through signs, but we humans are also endowed with a capacity for metasemiosis. As semiotic animals, we have self-consciousness, feel responsibility, and feel apprehension: we are consciously aware of our subjection to precarity. G. Semerari called it insecuritas, in relation to both self and others. Fear “of the other” entails a threefold genitive: object, subject, and ethical (“for” the other) genitives. When concern for the other becomes overwhelming, the self may pass from non-indifference to indifference, an escape through identity: given competing identities, the other is not my concern. Yet the other remains inextricably involved, especially in globalization. Apprehension for the other cannot be eliminated. Semiotics explains this in terms of sign-network interconnectivity while “semioethics” develops the relations between signs and values. It insists that life can only flourish in relation to the other (including nonhuman life) and calls for responsibility.
special section
3. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Martin Švantner Introduction: The New Prague School of Semiotics: Heritage and Outlook
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4. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Vít Gvoždiak Ivo Osolsobě on General Semiotics in the Czech Tradition
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This paper attempts to reconstruct Ivo Osolsobě’s criticism of the notion that the Prague Linguistic Circle stood for or did, in fact, introduce general semiotics to Czechoslovakia. In the first part, it presents the wider context of the origins of Osolsobě’s critique. In the second part, it discusses the definition and analysis of the main reasons for this criticism (which included a close connection with language and a lack of reflection on basic semiotic concepts in the works of the Prague School) and sketches an alternative for general semiotics in the form of cybernetics and theater semiotics. The final section deals with the position of the most important representatives of general semiotics (Charles Peirce, Ferdinand de Saussure, and Louis Hjelmslev) for the Czech tradition.
5. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Michal Karľa On Peirce’s Earliest Conception of Metaphysics
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In this paper, I explore Peirce’s initial conception of metaphysics as developed in his “Treatise on Metaphysics” (1861–2: W 1.57–84). Peirce claimed therein that the idea of metaphysics was three-fold, with its three perspectives consisting of its definition, object, and method. Since Peirce defined metaphysics as the “philosophy of primal truths” (1861: W 1.59), I initially focus on elaborating upon what these “primal truths” are and illustrate that they are analytical propositions resulting from the logical analysis of the general constitution of a mental state (an image) to its elements. Next, I give account of how Peirce’s thoughts regarding the justification of metaphysical propositions resulted in his concluding that in metaphysical knowledge, like in any other, there is an element of faith. Finally, I conclude with remarks regarding Peirce’s notion of reflexivity as it is employed in his metametaphysics.
6. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Martin Švantner Agency as Semiotic Fabrication: A Comparative Study of Latour’s ANT
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This text shows that Latour’s methodological displacement of the theory of sign into the realm of the general semiological narrative itself truncates his own theory of sign from its essential part, which is a tradition derived from the work of C. S. Peirce. This reduction of the general theory of sign is not just a matter of the given theoretical and methodological jargon or arbitrarily chosen expressions; it also has binding ontological suppositions and consequences. A debate on the semiotic-ontological aspects of actor-network theory (ANT) can be conducted beyond Latour’s general division into “the semiotics of discourse” and the “semiotics of things/material semiotics”, where the “semiotics of things” should be counter-positional, or at least complementary to, the discourse-centric concept of agency. This perspective (simply put: discourse vs. things) can be viewed in the context of the discussion of the realist and nominalist nature of a sign as a specific relation, which begs the question: By sign do we mean a phenomenon that is constructed solely by the power of the human mind, or do we mean an ontologically unique relation not reducible to human language?
7. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Šárka Kadavá, Jordan Zlatev Interview: Cognitive Semiotics as an Emerging Discipline: An Interview with Jordan Zlatev
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article: visual semiotics
8. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Francesco Buscemi The Aryan Race of Animals: The Role Played by Colour in the Visual Semiotics of Nazi Propaganda
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This article analyses the role of colour in the representation of animals in Nazi propaganda. It demonstrates that colour, as applied to animals, was a communicational strategy of paramount relevance in setting boundaries and creating differences between the Nazis and their enemies. Drawing on propaganda studies, colour studies, and representational zoosemiotics, it semiotically investigates visual items published from 1923 to 1945. The results show that Nazi propaganda created an Aryan race of animals via colours. In fact, white animals always supported the regime’s ideologies; dark animals, conversely, very often symbolised the enemy (the Soviet Union, the Jews, and others). Semiotically, Nazi propaganda represented these animals as symbols, even though the links between signifier and signified were not shared within a community but only within the racist ideology of the Nazis..
about the authors
9. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
About the Authors
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