Lecture 2 Semiotics History

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Published on February 5, 2008

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Lecture 2. History of Semiotics: Lecture 2. History of Semiotics “The history of semiotics as a whole yet remains to be written”, (Morris) Subdivision of the history: Subdivision of the history Ancient Medieval Renaisasance theories and later period until 20th cent. Modern Ancient theories: Ancient theories Plato Aristotle The Stoics The Epicureans Plato 380 B.C.E : Plato 380 B.C.E I (…) cannot convince myself that there is any principle of correctness in names other than convention and agreement; … CRATYLUS http://www.4literature.net/Plato/Cratylus/ Plato, wider context of the citation: Plato, wider context of the citation Hermogenes. I have often talked over this matter, both with Cratylus and others, and cannot convince myself that there is any principle of correctness in names other than convention and agreement; any name which you give, in my opinion, is the right one, and if you change that and give another, the new name is as correct as the old- we frequently change the names of our slaves, and the newly-imposed name is as good as the old: for there is no name given to anything by nature; all is convention and habit of the users;- such is my view. But if I am mistaken I shall be happy to hear and learn of Cratylus, or of any one else. Socrates. I dare say that you be right, Hermogenes Commentary on Plato: Names are conventional, arbitrary signs Aristotle 350 B.C.E : Aristotle350 B.C.E Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience and written words are the symbols of spoken words. Just as all men have not the same writing, so all men have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experiences are the images. On Interpretation. Part 1. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/interpretation.1.1.html On Aristotle’s theory of abstraction: On Aristotle’s theory of abstraction By a 'sense' is meant what has the power of receiving into itself the sensible forms of things without the matter. This must be conceived of as taking place in the way in which a piece of wax takes on the impress of a signet-ring without the iron or gold; we say that what produces the impression is a signet of bronze or gold, but its particular metallic constitution makes no difference: in a similar way the sense is affected by what is coloured or flavoured or sounding, but it is indifferent what in each case the substance is; what alone matters is what quality it has, i.e. in what ratio its constituents are combined. On Soul Form and theory of abstraction: Form and theory of abstraction … it is not the stone which is present in the soul but its form. [De Anima. Chapter 8. Classics in the History of Psychology. [http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Aristotle/De-anima/index.htm]. Slide 9: Aristotle himself could have avoided the deficiency if he had developed more completely his theory of the sign and had connected it to his analysis of perception. Jeffrey Barnouw, Propositional Perception: Phantasia, Predication and Sign in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics.   Lanham, MD:  University Press of America, 2002.  Pp. 383. ISBN 0-7618-2341-7. The Stoics 300 B.C. – A. D. 200 : The Stoics 300 B.C. – A. D. 200 The main idea of the stoic theory of signs: A sign consists of three components: The material signifier; The signified (meaning); The external object. Semiosis is a process of syllogistic induction: From the observable signifier we infer (draw a conclusion) by mediation of the signified about what the sign stands for. (Note: SEMIOSIS – a process of functioning of a sign) The Epicureans 300 B.C. – 0: The Epicureans 300 B.C. – 0 Dyadic (materialistic) model of sign (rejected the meaning) Rejected inferential account of semiosis Medieval semiotics: Medieval semiotics One of the ideas: “omne symbolum de symbolo” Aurelius Augustine Late antiquity, 354 – 430: Aurelius Augustine Late antiquity, 354 – 430 “the greatest semiotician of antiquity and the real founder of semiotics” The writings: De magistro De Doctrina Christiana Principiae dialecticae Main ideas of Aurelius Augustine: Main ideas of Aurelius Augustine The concept of sign defined in terms of a triadic relation (a sign is always a sign of something to some mind). (Noeth) “a sign is something which, offering itself to the senses, conveys something other to the intellect (Signum … est res praeter speciem quam ingerit sensibus, aliud aliquid ex se faciens in cogitationem venire) (Augustine De doctr. chr. II 1, 1963, 33). (Stanf. Enc.) Augustine divides the sign into the two main classes of natural signs (signa naturalia) and given signs (signa data). “Natural signs are those which, apart from any intention or desire of using them as signs, do yet lead to the knowledge of something else”, as, for example, smoke when it indicates fire, the footprint of an animal passing by, or the countenance of an angry or sorrowful man. “Conventional signs, on the other hand, are those which living beings mutually exchange in order to show, as well as they can, the feelings of their minds, or their perceptions, or their thoughts.” (Stanf. Enc.) Signs are things employed to signify something (res … quae ad significandum aliquid adhibentur) (Augustine De doctr. chr. I 1, 1963, 9). (Stanf. Enc.) John Poinsot: John Poinsot Iberian philosopher of Portuguese birth, John Poinsot was the first systematically to demonstrate the unity of the subject matter of semiotics as an area of possible inquiry in his Treatise on Signs (1632) Sign is a relational being: Signs are relative beings whose existence consists solely in presenting to human awareness that which they themselves are not. Poinsot's formula (1632a: 126/3-5): "It suffices to be a sign virtually in order to signify in act". John Poinsot: John Poinsot Deely, John and R.A. Powell (1985). Tractatus de Signis. The Semiotic of John Poinsot (bilingual edition). Berkeley: University of California Press. Original text published at Alcalá de Henares (Complutum), Iberia, 1632. Renaisasance theories: Renaisasance theories John Locke (1690): John Locke (1690) AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. Chapter XXI. Of the Division of the Sciences. http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/locke.html AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. Chapter XXI. Of the Division of the Sciences: AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. Chapter XXI. Of the Division of the Sciences 1. Science may be divided into three sorts. All that can fall within the compass of human understanding, being either, First, the nature of things, as they are in themselves, their relations, and their manner of operation: or, Secondly, that which man himself ought to do, as a rational and voluntary agent, for the attainment of any end, especially happiness: or, Thirdly, the ways and means whereby the knowledge of both the one and the other of these is attained and communicated; I think science may be divided properly into these three sorts:- 2. Physica. First, The knowledge of things, as they are in their own proper beings, their constitution, properties, and operations; whereby I mean not only matter and body, but spirits also, which have their proper natures, constitutions, and operations, as well as bodies. This, in a little more enlarged sense of the word, I call Phusike, or natural philosophy. The end of this is bare speculative truth: and whatsoever can afford the mind of man any such, falls under this branch, whether it be God himself, angels, spirits, bodies; or any of their affections, as number, and figure, &c. 3. Practica. Secondly, Praktike, The skill of right applying our own powers and actions, for the attainment of things good and useful. The most considerable under this head is ethics, which is the seeking out those rules and measures of human actions, which lead to happiness, and the means to practise them. The end of this is not bare speculation and the knowledge of truth; but right, and a conduct suitable to it. 4. Semeiotike. Thirdly, the third branch may be called Semeiotike, or the doctrine of signs; the most usual whereof being words, it is aptly enough termed also Logike, logic: the business whereof is to consider the nature of signs, the mind makes use of for the understanding of things, or conveying its knowledge to others. For, since the things the mind contemplates are none of them, besides itself, present to the understanding, it is necessary that something else, as a sign or representation of the thing it considers, should be present to it: and these are ideas. And because the scene of ideas that makes one man's thoughts cannot be laid open to the immediate view of another, nor laid up anywhere but in the memory, a no very sure repository: therefore to communicate our thoughts to one another, as well as record them for our own use, signs of our ideas are also necessary: those which men have found most convenient, and therefore generally make use of, are articulate sounds. The consideration, then, of ideas and words as the great instruments of knowledge, makes no despicable part of their contemplation who would take a view of human knowledge in the whole extent of it. And perhaps if they were distinctly weighed, and duly considered, they would afford us another sort of logic and critic, than what we have been hitherto acquainted with. 5. This is the first and most general division of the objects of our understanding. This seems to me the first and most general, as well as natural division of the objects of our understanding. For a man can employ his thoughts about nothing, but either, the contemplation of things themselves, for the discovery of truth; or about the things in his own power, which are his own actions, for the attainment of his own ends; or the signs the mind makes use of both in the one and the other, and the right ordering of them, for its clearer information. All which three, viz, things, as they are in themselves knowable; actions as they depend on us, in order to happiness; and the right use of signs in order to knowledge, being toto coelo different, they seemed to me to be the three great provinces of the intellectual world, wholly separate and distinct one from another. Locke’s interpretation: Locke’s interpretation Science = Physica , Practica , Semeiotike Semiotics = doctrine of signs Leibniz 1646-1716: Leibniz 1646-1716 Defining a sign followed sholastic tradition: A sign is that which we now perceive and, besides, consider to be connected with something else, by virtue of our or someone ellse experience (Noeth). Proposed the creation of a characteristica universalis or "universal characteristic," built on an alphabet of human thought in which each fundamental concept would be represented by a unique "real" character (Gottfried Leibniz, Wikipedia). "It is obvious that if we could find characters or signs suited for expressing all our thoughts as clearly and as exactly as arithmetic expresses numbers or geometry expresses lines, we could do in all matters insofar as they are subject to reasoning all that we can do in arithmetic and geometry. For all investigations which depend on reasoning would be carried out by transposing these characters and by a species of calculus." (Preface to the General Science, 1677. Revision of Rutherford's translation in Jolley 1995: 234. Also W I.4). (Gottfried Leibniz, Wikipedia) Assignment: Assignment Topic: History of Semiotics. Choose one or more semioticians from the history of semiotics Compile a text from the internet search results, including full bibliographic descriptions of the entries. Analyze the text and formulate your own opinion on the topic Present it in a verbal and printed form during the seminar. Due: next week Links: Links History of Semiotics Ryder (2004) Semiotics: Language and Culture (includes a brief history) Plato (360 B.C.E.) Cratylus mirror mirror mirrors Gans (1997) Plato and The Birth of Conceptual Thought Aristotle (350 B.C.E) On Interpretation mirror mirror mirror mirror mirror Vogt (1998) Semiotics of Human Body and Character: Aristotle's Logical Foundation of Physiognomics Medieval Semiotics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Wheeler (1999) The Semiosis of Francis Bacon's Scientific Empiricism mirror Murphy (1994) Language, Communication, and Representation in the Semiotic of John Poinsot Chang (1998) The Rise of Semiotics and the Liberal Arts: Reading Martianus Capella's The Marriage of Philology and Mercury pdf Chang (2002) The Paradox of Learning and the Elenchos: Plato's Meno, Augustine's De Magistro, and Gongsunlong's Jianpailun (On Hardness and Whiteness) pdf Chang (1998) Controversy over Language: Towards Pre-Qin Semiotics pdf Brough (2001) Misinterpretation in Augustine.s Confessions Fanger (1999) Things Done Wisely by a Wise Enchanter: Negotiating the Power of Words in the Thirteenth Century Ott (2004) Locke's Philosophy of Language pdf Locke Coins 'Semeiotike' (From 1690: Essay Concerning Human Understanding) Vogt (1998) Semiotics of Human Body and Character: Aristotle's Logical Foundation of Physiognomics Danesi and Perron Analyzing Cultures (includes a secion on history) Cozma (1998) The Ethical Values of the Music Art of the Ancient Greeks: A Semiotic Essay

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