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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 30
Peirce and the Cenoscopic Science of Signs

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1. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
John Deely, Christopher Morrissey Ninth Sebeok Fellow: Introduction
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thomas a. sebeok fellow address
2. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
Paul Cobley Enhancing Survival by Not Enhancing Survival: Sebeok’s Semiotics and the Ultimate Paradox of Modelling: 9th Sebeok Fellow Address
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Tom Sebeok lives in recent memory partly because of his phenomenal networking, administration, editing and promotion of individuals in semiotics as well as the disciplinary field in general. Yet this must not be allowed to obscure a body of published writings that is as original as it is eloquent. One of Sebeok’s most penetrating insights arises from his consideration of a fundamental paradox in modern intellectual life, one that traverses the bridge between the ‘hard’ and ‘human’ sciences. Sebeok’s 1979 review of investigations into animals’ aesthetic behaviour, originally cast as an early chapter of a much larger book, contains the key observation which drives contemporary, twenty-first-century semiotics. Sebeok’s abduction of the riddle posits that “aesthetic sensibility plays the part of a delicate sieve” among animals. In so doing, it not only clarifies the modelling process as a whole, across verbal and averbal modes, but also provides an agenda for re-thinking tertiary modelling, the humanities and global arts policy.
articles
3. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
Paul Cobley What the Humanities Are For: A Semiotic Perspective
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In the wake of both 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008, the humanities have been offered as constituents of higher education which, if more prominent and more strenuously promoted, might have prevented both events. At the same time, the humanities have undergone an assault from governments in the West, with massively reduced or wholly cut funding as part of an attempt to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in universities. The response from parts of the humanities to these government initiatives has been strident, insisting that a thriving humanities or liberal arts curriculum is crucial to democracy, ethics and citizenship, and that the humanities should be an essential ingredient of science and business education. Contemporary semiotics’ deployment of the concept of Umwelt demonstrates that the contribution the humanities might make to theory, practice and social life remains indispensable. Yet this contribution is of a rather different character to that portrayed in the traditional defence of ‘humanistic’ study. Indeed, the example of semiotics reveals that the humanities themselves are regularly misconceived.
4. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
Paul Cobley To Be Means to Communicate
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This paper explores the idea that ‘structure facilitates’. It argues that the idea is central to contemporary semiotics and refers to two traditions that exemplify the idea in respect of subjectivity. The first tradition stems from ‘sociosemiotics’ and the work of Bakhtin, Halliday, Kress, Ponzio and Petrilli; the second stems from ‘biosemiotics’ and the work of Hoffmeyer, Deely and, especially, Sebeok. The paper argues that, ultimately, the two traditions are closely related in their framing of the subject. This conclusion is reached not just because culture is a part of nature but because the inescapable facts of subjectivity, dialogue and semiosis suffuse the biosphere.
5. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
About the Author
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review article
6. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3/4
John Deely The Cenoscopic Science of Signs: Reflections on Cornelis de Waal’s Book Peirce: A Guide for the Perplexed
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articles
7. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Priscila Borges Experience and Cognition in Peirce's Semiotics
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Peirce’s system of sixty-six classes as represented in the Signtree visual model is considered in order to show the strong relation between experience and cognition in semiotics. In this Signtree model we find twenty-four different classes of sinsign, in which we can observe signs of experience, and thirty-six classes of legisign, in which we find general types or laws. Sinsigns and legisigns are predominant in the system of sixty-six classes and they are closely related. Ordinary experiences are used to illustrate the relations and dependencies among these classes and show how a set of experiences may lead to a certain set of cognitions. They also point out one way to use the Signtree to conduct a semiotic analysis.
8. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Garnet C. Butchart Haunting Past Images: On the 2006 Documentary Film Description of a Memory in the Context of Communicology
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Dan Geva and Noit Geva’s 2006 documentary film, Description of a Memory, is examined from a communicology perspective (philosophy of communication). My analysis integrates Roland Barthes’s semiotic phenomenology of photography with recent scholarship on the monstration and hauntology of motion picture images. This integrated philosophical approach deepens our understanding of the phenomenality and temporality of mediated visual images as related to our conscious experience of them as meaningful. I show how Description of a Memory offers a visual exemplar for communicology by way of its interrogation of the embodied effect of visual images on personal memory at the same time as it brings awareness of its own complicity in shaping the possible meanings viewers may make of its unique semiotic expression.
9. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Gilad Elbom Glossematic Narratives; Or, Superfluous Information of Little Consequence: A Semiotic Approach to Literary Uselessness
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Often addressed in paradoxical terms—innovative but incomprehensible, logical but impractical, impressive but obscure—glossematics, “a science of theoretical possibilities and not of manifest realities” (Trabant 1987: 96), proves particularly useful when applied to literary texts. This study offers a brief outline of glossematic principles, followed by specific cases that examine works of literature—metafiction, murder mysteries, doppelganger narratives, novels within novels, and biblical literature—as self-referential systems of “interdependent terms in which the value of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of the others” (Saussure 1916: 114). Special attention is paid to the recombinant nature of paradigmatic and syntagmatic dimensions, transcendent and immanent approaches to the text, and the tension between form and substance. Rejecting the notion of mimetic art, a glossematic approach based on the treatment of literary narratives as autonomous networks of intersecting functions has the capacity to register the complexity of the text with a high level of precision.
10. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Lars Elleström Material and Mental Representation: Peirce Adapted to the Study of Media and Arts
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The aim of this article is to adapt Peirce’s semiotics to the study of media and arts. While some Peircean notions are criticized and rejected, constructive ways of understanding Peirce’s ideas are suggested, and a number of new notions, which are intended to highlight crucial aspects of semiosis, are then introduced. All these ideas and notions are systematically related to one another within the frames of a consistent terminology. The article starts with an investigation of Peirce’s three sign constituents and their interrelations: the representamen, the object, and the interpretant. A new approach to the interrelations of these three sign constituents is then suggested and manifested in a distinction between representation and neopresentation. This is followed by a critical discussion of Peirce’s three types of representation—iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity—and their interrelations, which sets the stage for a presentation of what is referred to as the material and mental representation (MMR) model. This model aims to illuminate the problematic relation between material and mental facets of signification triggered by media and art products, and other material things and phenomena.
11. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Richard L. Lanigan Charles S. Peirce on Phenomenology: Communicology, Codes, and Messages; or, Phenomenology, Synechism, and Fallibilism
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Peirce uses the covering term Semiotic to include his major divisions of thought and communication process: (1) Speculative Grammar, or the study of beliefs independent of the structure of language (i.e., unstable beliefs); (2) Exact Logic, or the study of assertion in relation to reality (i.e., stable beliefs); and (3) Speculative Rhetoric, or the study of the general conditions under which a problem presents itself for solution (i.e., beliefs dependent on discourse). This division previews Peirce’s famous triadic models of analysis. Peirce goes on to make the phenomenological distinction between communication (a process) and signification (a system). Signification or the doctrine of Synechism is the analysis of possibilities where codes contain messages. Peirce is noted for his philosophic Realism, or the belief that probability and possibility are linked to the actual existence of things or that which can become actual. Hence, people inherit the association of Pragmatism with a test of real-world application that Peirce called the doctrine of Fallibilism, derived from the qualitative logic of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology that combines apposition (reflexivity)with apperception (intentionality).
12. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Donna E. West Peirce's Matrix of Individuation: The Work of Pronouns in Attentional Phenomena
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Peirce’s distinction between individuals and singulars is examined in light of developmental advances in pronoun use. While singulars individuate tokens of types/kinds, individuals assert their utter uniqueness. Components of individuals include: qualification as generals, determinateness, and instantaneous imposition into the context; those defining singulars entail: continuity of existence, self-contradiction, and boundaries of cognition. Early appearance in ontogeny, attention-securing status, and amplified application suggest the primacy of individuals over singulars. Its primacy is grounded in the Object’s influence over the sign and the Interpretant, requiring attentional devices in Secondness, or turning to symbolic representations in Thirdness. Findings indicate that pronouns first materialize as individuals—“that” referring to any Object of focus (Dynamical Objects); later comparisons among Objects control pronoun use (Immediate Objects). In short, increased use of pronouns to refer to Immediate Objects facilitates Origo and orientational shifts, critical to symbolic reasoning.
review essay
13. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
Donald R. Frohlich Biology, Peirce, and Biosemiotics: Commentaires 'Cénoscopic' d'un Biologiste
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14. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1/2
About the Authors
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