This tag is associated with 25 posts

This man has a sign

The semiotic philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce said enigmatically that “man is a sign” (54). I’ve referred to this in a previous post. This statement hints at something significant about the use of language. We humans are capable of profound transformation under the operations of the sign. But I find it easier to think in terms … Continue reading

Hustle, twitter, bells and banter

Free beer! C.S. Peirce and semioticians make much of the meaningful call out of someone like a street vendor. A cry or call out from someone giving away, selling or hustling goods at a market fits one of Peirce’s sign categories. To be precise, it is a kind of dicent indexical legisign. The sign is complete … Continue reading

Rhematic architecture

For the non-linguist, the rheme is one of the most difficult concepts in semiotics. It is not in architecture’s lexicon, and it’s had to think of its relevance outside of language study. In fact, in material culture (e.g. architecture) we are more comfortable with the structure of metaphor than with the theme-rheme structure, as I … Continue reading

Full indexical jacket

Art in the 1970s shifted to the indexical, according to Rosalind Krauss, and away from the symbolic. “As distinct from symbols, indexes establish their meaning along the axis of a physical relationship to their referents. They are the marks or traces of a particular cause, and that cause is the thing to which they refer, … Continue reading

Indexical architecture

The idea of evidence is obviously important in a juridical context. Evidence comes to the fore when architects deal with compliance (codes and regulations), and get caught up in legal matters, such as contract disputes, liability and compensation claims, and as witnesses. Evidence is also important in any kind of research context, as in the … Continue reading

On being a detective

As evidence of crimes and misdemeanours mount and circulate around the US president and his entourage, attention turns to matters of fact. Fact-checking is a major media sub-industry. See factcheck.org, politifact.com, and fullfact.org. It’s also an exercise in semiotic indexicality. I’m investigating how C.S. Peirce’s theories about signs relate to his theory of abduction, i.e. … Continue reading

Signs in architecture and music

Architecture is an art of signs. C.S. Peirce introduced the idea of the sign vehicle, that encourages the architectural scholar to think beyond standard architectural elements as channels of communication. The communicative elements of a building are not restricted to components such as columns, chimneys, windows, staircases, and doors, but the aspects and qualities of … Continue reading

Invisible icons

An icon is a likeness; something that resembles the thing it refers to — its referent. Iconography is a branch of study that deals with such resemblances, i.e. drawings or other pictorial representations of things. That’s the OED definitions, but in spite of such generality, we mostly reserve the word icon for use in particular … Continue reading

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.” These 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

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