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semiotics

This tag is associated with 17 posts

Hermeneutics and logic

Winfried Nöth’s highly useful Handbook of Semiotics has a chapter on hermeneutics. There I saw a cogent account of something I suspected all along — a statement about the similarity between Peirce’s description of abductive inference and hermeneutics (the art of interpretation as discussed by Hans-Georg Gadamer). “For [] hermeneutics, textual understanding (and human knowledge in general) … Continue reading

Speak truth to power

“It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.” Theses are the words of Cambridge Analytica chief executive, according to a recent Guardian article. See the fascinating undercover recording of a sting within a sting. Is truth really under siege? Speak … Continue reading

A brief history of signs

“As his speech deteriorated, Hawking learned to make every sentence count” (597) wrote theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. A complete history of speech synthesis and semiotic systems has yet to be written. I formulated the following reflection before news broke of Stephen Hawking’s death this week. Signs in time Plato was suspicious of signs (or names). … Continue reading

What is pansemiotics?

Pansemiotics has not yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. The term crops up several times in Winfried Nöth’s expansive 1990 book, The Handbook of Semiotics. The term provides a means of describing the theological view that “the whole universe became [in the Middle Ages] signs of divine revelation” (382), as in the Old Testament statement, … Continue reading

When is a building like a bang?

There’s some theoretical support for the idea that a building is a kind of shock, or at least belongs in the same semiotic category as a sudden noise emitted from a machine. Articles by philosopher and semiotician Elisabeth Walther-Bense (1922-2018) are in German — unfortunately, not yet available in English translation, or even online in German … Continue reading

What post humanists want

I’m glad there are philosophers who wrestle with what there actually is in the world — for real. So the rest of us can deal with practical matters. That’s a glib summation of how I contrast C.S. Peirce’s pragmatism with adventures in contemporary ontology. The task for one such ontologist, Graham Harman, is to give … Continue reading

Hunch, symptom, clue

I sold most of my bit coin last November and made a bit of a profit. Should I buy some more now it’s gone down in price? How do you reason under uncertainty? From a hermeneutical perspective we are always in an uncertain condition, though you might as well call it “contingency.” How you interpret, … Continue reading

Marx on nonsense

“Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped” (Marx). I’ve been wrestling with C.S. Peirce’s idea that any moment of communication is potentially made up of three aspects that he labels firstness, secondness and thirdness. Here, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) comes to my aid. Deleuze invokes Marx  — not Karl Marx, but … Continue reading

Nonsensical signs

“A tweeting egg! This struck Alice as very odd; she had only ever heard of birds being able to tweet. But then again, birds did come from eggs, so it made sense they should have this ability from the outset” (52). That’s Alice’s first impression of Trumpty Dumpty sitting on a wall in the satirical … Continue reading

Semiotic shock

In his 1903 article “Nomenclature and divisions of triadic relations, as far as they are determined,” C.S. Peirce outlined 10 classes of signs based on 3 combinations of 3 terms. Whatever his classifications tell us about categories of signs and meanings, there’s a seductive geometry to his formulation, and some anomalies. His three semiotic terms … Continue reading

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