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Terry Prewitt :
Re: towards a unified terminology;
Fri, 14 Jun 1996 14:37:05 CDT

Wow. That will teach me to not look at mail for 48 hours.  I'll try to spend
some time this week-end digesting the many threads of this conversation, but
have a couple of quick points which will just about spend all the time I have
right now.  I like Maranda's emphasis of clusters, since such paradigm
treatments give us the best chance to agree on the discriminations between
terms used similarly but not identically in different systems.

Second, and very quickly, Katya's equations are very interesting, but far
from satisfying within the range of terms I active use or pursue. Specifically,
the rough equation of signifier/signified with representamen/object simply
obscures the Peircean distinction, as I believe several notes have already
observed. Nor can signified connect with interpretant.... What is compelling
about that whole line of discussion is the expression of unlimited semiosis,
the chain of signifying processes whereby signs accrue and what I call
the "interpretant" (READ: "the meaning here and now") emerges and then fades
into some memory, or perhaps into oblivion.

Perhaps if we push the idea that language (as a secondary system of tools
serving some aspects of human cognition) and technology (another secondary
system of tools serving some aspects of human cognition) co-evolve, then we
can leave the real/ideal, material/ideal, objective/subjective, explanatory/
interpretive discussion as an unnecessary backdrop for semiotic analysis.
(or, as some will probably say, perhaps not).

And, for the moment, though I have no difficulty with our inability to
perceive an anthropomorphic god from the perspective of the dominant
philosophical traditions of our time, the interpretants of "God" or "gods" are
all too real in all our experience, and the closeness of gods as families of
representamen constructs with material/cognitive consequence (or "object"-ness)
is something I cannot falsify.  Hume started with some similar questions...
If we don't encounter miracles do it mean they don't exist? (Hume had never
met a neo-classical economic theorist, obviously.)  The question for this
discussion is not how to define one set of terms, it seems to me, but rather
to understand the many shapes signifying systems take.  In such direction, the
Saussurean term-duals "physiolocial phenomenon/idea" and "physical phenomenon/
object" set in discursive models enable a more reliable occlusion with Peircean
categories than do  as the "sign" proper. For there is no
"interpretant" without discourse or recursive discourse (reflection?).

Finally, look back at Cunningham's initial suggestion to take on the term
"sign"..... does "sign" refer to "representamen" or to the relation of
"signifier-signified" or to the full play of the "representamen/object/
interpretant".  And WHEN IT REFERS TO ONE OF THESE, can its interpretant at
that moment have anything to do with the alternatives?

Dog bless us each and every one|   Tiny Terry

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