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Mika Renvall :
TUT-questions;
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 00:58:12 -2100

About the two traditions:

I'm new on semios-l, so I think maybe I should introduce myself first. My
name is Mika Renvall and I am a post graduate student in University of
Tampere, Finland. I am a student of mass communication and journalism.

I've been interested in semiotics for some time now, but I suppose I
should consider myself as a beginner still. The discussion of Steven,
Katya and others has been very interesting from my point of view,
because I'm still struggling with the problem of the two branches in
the field. I hope you didn't finish yet! More likely everybody is on
holiday but I haven't noticed it. I have some questions below, and would
be very grateful if somebody had time to answer at least some of them.

After reading the postings I still feel that I can't orient myself. Is it
like Steven writes (along with Gary Shank) in the article posted in
semios-l, that all the attempts to unite the two traditions have
been only partially succesful and led one to feel that something is missing?
Or is it so, like I think Katya thinks, that at least in practise the
simpler system gives all the important results that the more complicated
could give? Because of my unease here I would ask Steve to tell, whose
attempts you are in fact referring to in the article and (if you have
time) what do you think is missing in them? Knowing this would be important
to me, since I would like to get to the bottom of this or gain at least 
some understanding of what I am doing before starting to use semiotic terms.

The saussurian chain-model Katya proposed made me wonder in what kind of
space this kind of chain could form. I mean how can a mental signified
turn to a physical signifier to form a chain (I suppose it is easier to 
see how physical signifier brings about a mental signified). Katya says 
that "I disagree signs produce an interpretant. It is the other way around:
intepreters produce signs qua signs." Is it then so, that there is
something which is outside the domain of semiotic phenomena, and
which produces a mental signified from the physical signifier and - in the
next phase - a new physical signifier from the mental and so on?

Somehow this interpreter remains me of Peirce's notion of dynamic object,
both seem to be some kind of absolute but unreachable grounds for semiosis.
And where's the difference? The interpreter probably is never producing 
signs totally "consciously" (whatever that could mean), so there is the 
mystery of the Unconscious which does look similar to the mystery of things
in themselves or dynamic objects - or the mystery of where the codes come
from. Anyway it seems to me, that Katya's dyadic signs actually carry with
them the reference to some ground, outer or inner, but leave this reference
implicit. So it would seem to me that what is "lost" is maybe just the
explicit reference to this ground.

Steven says there is a problem in speaking in terms of inner and outer, which
invokes dualism. But I wonder could one just say that "inner" refers to 
things like for example a "quality" embodied in the sign vehicle while
"outer" means about the same as the Secondness aspect of the sign vehicle,
it's ability to force me to perceive it as it is? So signifier is the sign
vehicle viewed from the point of view of Secondness, while signified
comprises the other points of view. Well, what I seem to come to is that
the distinctions made in saussurean definition of sign could be expressed
in the peircian system and that there is no contradiction. Rather the
former seems to me to be some kind of abbreviation of the latter.
This is why I would like to hear, where the core of the problem is. It
seems to evade me.

Thanks in advance, Mika Renvall
(My e-mail address is: timire@uta.fi)

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