[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: The Social and the Semiotic

Well, Condillac was a semiotician, but he wasn't a particularly good one.
Like Smith, he was very taken with the idea that words were coins--they
could be exchanged, hoarded, clipped and debased, replaced with promissory
notes, and so on. It's really half an idea, not an idea.

When you get a bright, shiny little analogy like that you should
immediately think how words are NOT like coins, and then you have an idea.
Words, unlike coins, are mainly use values not exchange values; they can't
be hoarded in any physical form, the phonological forms may be "clipped"
but this doesn't appear to debase the value in any way, and, unlike Kant's
thalers, imaginary words seem to work as well as real ones. But the main
difference for me is that coins do not beget other coins, or create
moneto-genic chains.

Capital does, of course, and here the analogy is much more exact. But
understanding capital really required Marx. Marx turns out to be a hidden
presence in a lot of linguistics (e.g. the distinction between use value
and exchange value underlies Saussure's distinction between "signification"
and "valeur"--Bloomfield is said to have remarked that Capital reads like a
linguistics text.)

Henry--thanks for the snippet on Peirce. I think there are two sources of
confusion in it. First of all, Peirce uses "sign" for the whole triad, and
"sign vehicle" for the element which conveys the idea of the ground to the
intepretant. It's easy to conflate the two, particularly since a sign-triad
can function as an element in another sign-triad. (The same thing happens
when people read Saussure, and they imagine that a concept-image and/or a
sound-image is a sign, when in theory it's only the relation between the
two that is the sign.)

I think, actually, that the idea of "unlimited semiosis" only arises
because the social origins of the semiotic are being ignored. In general,
once the social purpose of semiosis is achieved, the theoretically infinite
chain of meaning is no longer interesting to the participants. What struck
me, though, was the idea of semiosis for the sheer bloody fun of it all,
which seems to happen even in whales. Of course, here too there is no
"unlimited strip tease"--when talking stops being fun, even whales stop

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

"The Great Globe and All Who It Inherit:
Narrative and Dialogue in Story-telling with
Vygotsky, Halliday, and Shakespeare"

Free Chapters Downloadable at:


Recent Article: Thinking of feeling: Hasan, Vygotsky, and Some Ruminations
on the Development of Narrative in Korean Children

Free E-print Downloadable at:


On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 3:06 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>

> Andy et al,
> Found this description of the key point of Taylor's essay. Seems very
> relevant. Here is a snippet of that summary:
> "Taylor maintains that the causal theory of action is inherently atomist,
> while the qualitative theory comprehends and includes actions that are
> irreducibly collective, in short *ours*, that cannot be reduced to or
> analyzed as a collection of actions that are *mine*.
> Finally, Taylor observes that for Hegel there is a crucial level of
> activity which is not only more than individual, but more than merely
> human. Some of what we do we can understand more deeply as the action of
> spirit through us. Thus we have to transcend our ordinary
> self-understanding. To the extent that our common-sense view of ourselves
> is atomist, we have to make two transpositions or decenterings: in the
> first we come to understand that some of our actions are those of
> communities; in the second we see that some are the work of spirit. The
> latter includes the individual, his community, and their relation to the
> divine."
> Andy, would Hegel use the term "the divine" or is this Taylor's (or this
> author's) term for something like Hegel's "Universal"?
> Full summary is here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/hegel-on-action/
> -greg
> On Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 10:00 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> > I'm actually reading it in hard copy, James!
> >
> > It is a reprint of an article written in 1983 called "Hegel and the
> > Philosophy of Action," and it is included in the volume "Hegel on Action"
> > ed. Arto Laitinen and C. Sandis published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2010.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > Andy Blunden
> > http://home.mira.net/~andy
> > http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
> > On 29/06/2017 1:47 AM, James Ma wrote:
> >
> >> Could you forward the article to me, Andy?
> >> Thanks, James
> >>
> >> 2017年6月28日 下午4:37,"Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
> >> ablunden@mira.net>>写道:
> >>
> >>     I have just been reading an article by Charles Taylor
> >>     in which he refers to theories (plural) of signs
> >>     formulated by Enlightenment philosophers, mentioning
> >>     Condillac in particular. It never occurred to me that
> >>     semiotics stretched back to the 18th century. I
> >>     thought that Peirce invented it! Something new every day.
> >>
> >>     andy
> >>
> >>     ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>     Andy Blunden
> >>     http://home.mira.net/~andy <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy>
> >>     http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
> decision-making
> >>     <http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-
> >> decision-making>
> >>
> >>     On 29/06/2017 1:19 AM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
> >>
> >>         Here is a link to a text for which I find no
> >>         author, but I found it enlightening in the context
> >>         of the chat with constant collaborative efforts to
> >>         determine what we mean when we communicate and
> >>         how, despite the dialog’s endlessness, gets us
> >>         somewhere because we collaborate and how we
> >>         collaborate. If this short text is of any use to
> >>         the subject line, please let me know.
> >>
> >>         http://courses.logos.it/EN/2_20.html
> >>         <http://courses.logos.it/EN/2_20.html>
> >>         <http://courses.logos.it/EN/2_20.html
> >>         <http://courses.logos.it/EN/2_20.html>>
> >>
> >>         Henry
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>             On Jun 27, 2017, at 8:24 PM, Andy Blunden
> >>             <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>
> >>             wrote:
> >>
> >>                 Eco's "unlimited semiosis"
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson