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Steven Skaggs :
Re: TUT: Specificity;
Wed, 26 Jun 1996 21:41:52 -0400

Oh, I forgot that there were a few comments that asked for responses...

> He then goes on to explain firstness, secondness
>and thirdness and leave Saussure waiting at the "threshold".

Gary and I like Peirce's categories. I tend to be swayed by some of
Hjelmslev, more of Eco, but am pretty deeply Peircian in these
'existential' matters. Peirce's architecture is really beautiful to me. But
as mentioned sarlier, we don't really intend to get into a Peirce vs.
Saussure thing.

>  I personally don't find
>denotation as equivalent to deduction.

We don't claim that they are equivalent, but that they share a position
toward the 'manifest' end of the field of semiosis (apropo of specificity).

>Denoting is pointing at, isolating
>an item from its context by an act of refering, while deduction is a chain
>process, causal from one utterance to the next, and in this sense
>motivated by previous statements.

Denotation is a product of interpreting an expression in a particular way.
The expression is itself a product of previous sign events (ie: even a
percept is a provisional interpretant of a host of sensory data). So the
chain is inescapable at any level. The Schrodinger Cat parable tries to
make this point - that what might appear to be a simple observation is
really a 'collapse of wave function' from two equipotential states.

In my discussion of expression, denotation and connotation in which
denotation and connotation are considered interpretations along an axis of
greater to lesser specificity, one might draw parallels to Hjelmslev's
expression and content planes. However, I do not see expression as being
divorced from content, but rather the state of previous expression/content
exchanges (kind of like Barthes' 'connotation').

>On the other hand, in denotation the
>relation between signified and signifier is not motivated.

Gotta tell you, I am having a bigger problem all the time with the idea of
motivation. All that one need consider is how definite something seems to
be. Deduction seems motivated (by rules of logic) yet what is really
happening is that the words or thoughts that make up the premises, thoughts
etc are all semiotically implicated themselves and so cannot escape the
issue. Said another way, motivation has no sacrosanct position on the
outside of the sign exchange process itself. Motivation is simply a
condition in which folks are 'pretty damn sure'. So I would agree with you
that the relation of expression/denotation/connotation can never be
universal (although it can get pretty nearly so, defacto).

>deduction is a purely mental process in the sense
>that develops from previous statements or premises.

...which of course does not relinquish it from its semiotic vows...

>Denotation is a direct connection between two entities...

...which connection seems direct only because it seems certain or definite
(ie: highly specific - 'manifest')


>...of a wholly different nature: a signifier
>(aural, graphic, visual, kinesic i.e. perceptual)...

...which expression is itself the bundling of previous
expression/interpretation exchanges....

>and a signified (mental)....
>Katya Mandoki

...which signified is the 'coming to a decision' (collapsing the wave
function, if you will) to locate an interpretation Q along an axis called
the semiosic field which has a degree of specificity 'n'.

Drawing the distinction between perceptual (signifier) and mental
(signified) is not an approach that I would take. The percept might be a
mental thing, The signified might take place in a silicon chip... It's easy
to fall into that easy frame reference but one of the advantages of Peirce
is that one can begin to see sign exchange as an independent system.
[Indeed, the things that carry on (according to Peirce) are interpretants
(as if 'ideas' have their own life!). See also the phsychologist Wundt who
had the idea about the same time as Peirce of 'apperceptive mass': idea
chunks that lie outside the actual flow of perception. One thinks of the
analogy of whirlpools in a stream: can they be said to have a life of their
own, to be 'objects'? Well, there I go rambling off into the blue
again....I'll stop now].

Steven Skaggs

anyone, practical, software, faulty, defects
(five randomly chosen words from a computer manual)

pardon, brought, rum, falling, fruit
(five randomly chosen words from the Bible)

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