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Comments to Semios-L

Katya Mandoki :
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 19:56:56 -0600

Your explanation is precise and simple. You must be a wonderful teacher.
There are a few doubts I would like to share with you in the context of
your 3 previous posts. I gather you are partly describing your article in
common with Gary Shank.

On Wed, 19 Jun 1996, Steven Skaggs (finally) wrote:
> A sign is a relation in which
> > _something_ (a vehicle)
> stands for _something else_ (its object)
> to _someone in some respect_ (the interpretant).
> a _light wave_ (vehicle)
> stands for _a certain color_ (its object)
> to _the cells in the visual cortex in the respect we call 'green'_ (the
> interpretant).

Fine. Here we go into details.
I still can see no difference between "light wave" which is already a
concept, and color, which is also a concept. But according to your last
post, if what Peirce is doing is mainly epistemology, and I totally agree
with you and Gary Shank in that (although you didn't explicitly put it
in these exact terms), so we must go all the way back to Kant. (BTW, all
I've been able to understand from Peirce has very clear kantian traces;
the third trichotomy, for instance, is pure Kant's modality table of

Why is *light wave* a vehicle and *color* the object? Why not the other way
 a color (sign- vehicle) is an effect of a particular light wave (object)

> a _light wave_ (vehicle)
> stands for _a change of condition_ (its object)
> to _a photosensor in the respect we call 'ON'_ (the interpretant).
here again:
a change in the photosensor (vehicle /sauss signifier) stands for a
change in the light condition (object/sauss signified). The interpreter
is always already defined by the signifier: change in photosensor and
stimuli in retina we call "color green". I think the category of the
interpreter is superfluous.  If the signifier (sign vehicle) is "color
green" it already means there is retina stimulus as its condition.

> or take the quotes in my sig....
> the thermostat is capable of three interpretants: "It is too cool in here",
> "It is just right in here", and "It is too hot in here". The sign vehicle
> in this case is the volume of molecules in the coil of the thermostat. As
> the molecules expand, the interpretation is "it is too hot in here". Well,
> the - it is too hot - refers to the referent "temperature of the room".
> That is the object.

A thermostat's changes are indexical sign vehicles only because you have
constructed the thermostat as such. Yet the saussurean code is
indispensable here as it is in every sign event. Under another code, say
for the Yaqui Indians, your thermostat may signify a fetish for black magic.
The variation depends less on the "interpretants" than on the code.

> Saussurian semiology gets outside the viewpoint of the participant through
> focusing on these disjunctures of sr-sd relations. The systems governing
> these relations are called codes. Cultures are then able to be studied
> through the technique of looking for patterns in their code structures.

Yes, Steve, there is no agency in Saussure, but it can be injected into
the signifier. My humble opinion is that this agency is superfluous as a
third in Peirce and lacking in Saussure. That is why I have proposed to
catapult it into the signifier. Also codes are perhaps overstated in
Saussure and almost wanting in Peirce (they condition the ground, the
object, the interpretant and the sign vehicle but are never explicit

to be continued...

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