Re: "infra-semiotic" Re: [xmca] On Roth's "On Mediation"

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 12:13:16 PDT

Thanks, Paul,

Here is 2.231 in English

231. The Sign can only represent the Object and tell about it. It cannot
furnish acquaintance with or recognition of that Object; for that is what
is meant in this volume by the Object of a Sign; namely, that with which
it presupposes an acquaintance in order to convey some further information
concerning it. No doubt there will be readers who will say they cannot
comprehend this. They think a Sign need not relate to anything otherwise
known, and can make neither head nor tail of the statement that every Sign
must relate to such an Object. But if there be anything that conveys
information and yet has absolutely no relation nor reference to anything
with which the person to whom it conveys the information has, when he
comprehends that information, the slightest acquaintance, direct or
indirect--and a very strange sort of information that would be--the
vehicle of that sort of information is not, in this volume, called a Sign.

I wasn't denying the possibility of infra-semiotic information. I was
taking issue with the idea of "conveying information in themselves" as
criterial for semiotic / infra-semiotic. Peirce here is recognizing the
dialectical possibility of "a very strange sort of information" being
conveyed "in themselves" by vehicles that he would not recognize as signs.
So this is not actually in disagreement with the point that I was making.

One source of confusion that runs throughout Peirce is that sometimes
Peirce uses "sign" for the triadic relation, and sometimes (as here) for
the mediating element within that relation.

Another point for clarification has to do with how we understand what we
mean by "information." In a book review that's in the cue for MCA, I
distinguish between "info*mation" (the sort of thing that can be contained
and cnveyed in messages) and "in-formation" (by which something
semiosically participates in the formation of something else--possibly an
habituated operation in the CHAT sense). This was the earlier sense of the
word, which seems all but lost in the present "Information Age," at least
in English.

While I would acknowledge the possibility of infra-semiotic "info*mation,"
I wouldn't use that possibility to characterize operations as such.

On Thu, 25 Oct 2007, Paul Dillon wrote:

> Tony,
> I think Jay's notion of infra-semiotic information finds support in Peirce, an idea developed by Patrice Guinard in his study on Peirce who wrote (quoting from Guinard's spanish text):
> "Si existe una cosa que comunica una información sin tener absolutamente ninguna relación con nada de lo que conoce directamente o indirectamente la persona que comprende esta información cuando le es comunicada, (...) el vehículo de esta suerte de información no es denominada en este volumen, un signo." [Peirce, C. P. 2.231 ; G. D. p.124]
> In the underlined Peirce clearly points to information not communicated semiotically as he understood semiotics.
> Paul
> Tony Whitson <twhitson@UDel.Edu> wrote:
> Jay,
> I would just want to briefly take issue with the idea of "semiotic" that
> is presupposed in your gloss on "infra-semiotic."
>> From a Peircean perspective, I would argue that meaning is not something
> that signs convey. Meaning is what signs potentiate. Sign is triadic
> relation, potentiating interpretants in which the "object" of
> interpretation is interpreted through the mediation of representamena
> (including intermediate/intermediating interpretants). Meaning is the
> signification-thru-mediated-activity* potentiated by the triadic sign
> relation, rather than a positive (or structurally relative, as in
> Saussure) semantic content that may be contained and conveyed in or by
> "signs" as containers or conveyors of "meaning."
> In this view, operations qualify as fully semiotic (vs. infra-semiotic)
> sign-elements insofar as they participate in such triadically mediative
> activity.* The difference that you point to in terms of "meaningfulness"
> might be considered in terms of differences in how Thirdness is realized,
> as between actions and operations, but this would not be a differences of
> semiosis vs. non- (or infra-) semiosis.
> _______
> *"activity" here is not meant in the sense of differentiation from actions
> & operations.
> On Thu, 25 Oct 2007, Jay Lemke wrote:
>> I have always thought of
>> operations as "normally infra-semiotic" , i.e. under most conditions they do
>> not have or convey meaning in themselves. (Anything can be made meaningful by
>> some special framing, of course).
>> Jay Lemke
>> Professor
>> University of Michigan
>> School of Education
>> 610 East University
>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> Tel. 734-763-9276
>> Email.
>> Website.
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK DE 19716
> _______________________________
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> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

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Received on Thu Oct 25 12:22 PDT 2007

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