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Comments to Semios-L

Esa Pikkarainen :
Fri, 14 Jun 1996 11:39:33 GMT+0300

Mortelmans Dimitri  wrote:
> Steven Skaggs wrote:
> > _________________________________
> > Think of a number between 1 and 5.
> > Type it on the screen.
> > <4>
> > I read a 4.
> > __________________________________
> > When I read '4' that's my interpretant.
> > The number on the screen was the representamen or sign vehicle.
> > Your thought was the object.
> > Your thought was itself an interpretant (of a preceding semiotic event).
> > __________________________________
> > The lesson here is that objects are not 'real' (and certainly not
> > necessarily physical), but are position markers in the semiosic chain.

> I do not agree with this argument.

Neither do I. I have thought that the object the same as referent.
The referent or object of sign '4' is a mathematical entity named
"4". The reality of these mathematical entities is a mathematical
philosophical problem. I don't want to get into it. I agree that it
is obviously not physical.

> You read '4' that is: you got a visual impression by your senses showing
> three black lines on a white background (at least at my screen). That is
> your signifier or representamen.

Hey, what avout Hjemslevian terms? This could then be _expression_.
An other problem is, must this be physical? It must be observable, at

> Because you are culturally socialized to it and because you find yourself in
> a certain context, you have a concept in mind that gives this combination of
> lines a certain meaning. This could be called the interpretant or the
> signified.
> The thought that combines these two makes this combination of three
> lines signify 'four' which establishes a sign.

This could then be callec _content_ (by Hjemslev). It is the code
that "makes" us connect certain expression and content together. One
problem is that we can change codes: connect differently. Code does
_not_ have (absolute) coercive power.
The concept of thought here is anthropomorfism, like Katya (?) said.
Even I can connect the halves of a sign in mys behavior without
thought. Or then the concept of thought is very vague.

> What about the object then ? I wrote before that even the 'something where
> the sign refers to' needs to be physical. Dr. Reinheimer correctly stated
> that this was maybe too all encompassing but in this example there is a real
> (and even physical) object. There is on the surface of your screen a certain
> combination of color changing substances (phosphor a specialist told me).
> [It is more obvious if we take the case in which the '4' is printed on
> paper. In that case the object would be a certain amount of ink on a paper
> surface.]

Like I said, i don't think that the physical carrier of
expression/Sr/representamen can be object. Sometimes it seems so: the
sound of a car is a Sr referring to object car; but the physical
carrier of sound is the vawes in air not the physical car.

> As a whole the sign is off course a mental construct. It is a thought that
> combines the components of the sign. However, its components could be
> physical.

Yes, Saussure said so. Sr in spoken language is a sound image, not
the physical vawes themselves. And Sd is the concept the Sr "creates"
in your mind. I think there can be still some problems with the
concept of "mental".

> What happened in your example was the communication of a sign. The one who
> thought about a number between 1 and 5 communicated his thought into a
> visual sign (he also could have spoken it). At the other side you received a
> visual image which you decoded as a sign, meaning '4'. It is not certain
> both the coding and the decoding were the same. That depends on the context
> sender and receiver are situated in and the codes they possess. I do not
> believe the other one's thought is included in the sign '4'. That could be a
> further interpretation of the sign in your mind.

This is an important view. I think that in a certain sense Peirces
semiotic is more "communicative" or "dialogical" than Saussures
structural approach. Although it is well said that Saussure is more
"social" and Peirce more "logical". They cross in a difficultly
understandable manner. Peirce is more processual and Saussure more
structural (synchronic).
I agree wery much with Katyas Sr -> Sd/Sr -> Sd schema. The Peircean
triangle is a slippery one. It will never stop for while so that we
could clearly analyse what is what there.

Have a nice times. I start my summer holiday (rainy!). See/read/write
you later.

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