Literature/1975/Eco

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Authors
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z &

Eco, Umberto (1975). A Theory of Semiotics. London: Macmillan, 1976.
Original
Trattato di Semiotica Generale

Excerpts[edit]

The semiotic study of content[c 1] is often complicated by recourse to an over-simplified diagram which has rigidified the problem in an unfortunate way. [c 2] The diagram in question is the well-known triangle, diffused in its most common form by Ogden and Richards (1923): [c 3]
(1)

REFERENCE
Equilateral biped.png
SYMBOL REFERENT

The triangle apparently translate Peirce's: [c 4]
(2)

INTERPRETANT
Equilateral biped.png
REPRESENTAMEN OBJECT

and is often considered to be equivalent to Frege's (1892): [c 5]
(3)

SINN
Star polygon 3-1.svg
ZEICHEN BEDEUTUNG

The first point to be made absolutely clear is that such triangles can indeed be useful in discussing a theory of sign production and particularly a theory of 'mentioning' (see 3.3), but they become something of an embarrassment when studying the problem of codes. As a matter of fact a model of a sign-function (such as the Saussurean dichotomy 'signiicant-signifie' and the Hjelmslevian model outlined in 2.2) only concerns the left side of triangles (1) and (2), and can be of relevance to the whole of triangle (3) if and only if the notion of 'Bedeutung' is not taken as strictly extensional.

The semiotics of Saussure and Peirce is a theory of the conventional (or at any rate strictly semiosical) relation between symbol and reference (or meaning) and between a sign and the series of its interpretants (see 2.7). Objects are not considered within Saussure's linguistics and are considered within Peirce's theoretical framework only when discussing particular types of signs such as icons and indices (for the elimination of the object within the framework of a theory of codes, even in such cases see 2.6. and 3.5.). Objects can be considered in the light of a 'narrow' Fregian reading only when the Bedeutung is understood as the real and actual object to which the sign can refer: inasmuch as the Bedeutung is regarded as a 'class' of actual and possible objects, not a 'token' but a 'type' object, it becomes very akin to the content in the sense that will be outlined in 2.6. From this intensional point of veiw the Bedeutung becomes something to be studied by a theory of interpretants (see 2.7)

It must be absolutely clear that the following argument has nothing to do with a theory of the t-values of an expression, that is, with an extensional semantics; within this framework, even if the meaning of an expression is independent of the actual presence of the objects it refers to, the verification of the actual presence of these objects (or states of the world) is necessary in order to satisfy the t-value of the given expression and thus to consider it within the framework of propositional calculus. .... (p. 60)


Wikimedia[edit]

w: Umberto Eco

Chronology[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Comments[edit]

  1. What is the meaning of "content"? How synonymous is it to "meaning"? Is it what is contained in a symbol, representamen, Zeichen, signifier, word, text, expression, or the like? It may be that nothing or no meaning is contained in language such that "words ... 'mean' nothing by themselves" (Ogden & Richards 1923, p. 9). It is just an arbitrary recurring stimulus such as the chow-chow ding-dong for dogs to salivate as a conditioned reflex. What is the meaning or "content" contained in that ding-dong at all? Nothing at all! Starting from this major thesis, semiotics or whatever could start to take off. Ogden & Richards voiced this thesis against the myth of "word magic" most revolutionarily and eloquently perhaps to the greatest dismay of analytic philosophers and biblical literalists in particular. It is noteworthy that Russell (1926) agonizingly reviewed their book again! As such it was politically doomed to be overtly ignored but covertly embraced. Such was exactly the case since 1975 when Eco wrote this book. (He is such a disciple as to translate their book into Italian.) For example, Ogden and Richards were cited by Ricoeur (1975), but not by Riceour (1976) and perhaps the later.
  2. It is unclear what Eco is talking about. Why and how often was "recourse to an over-simplified diagram"? What of such a diagram has unfortunately rigidified what problem? No reproachment without right reasoning. Otherwise, it would sound an evil slander. Any diagram is destined as valuable or valueless as any symbol. It's all up to cognitive, subjective, interpretive subjects. This is practically the whole point the triadic diagram would really make and show up, however simple it may be. It is not designed for sudden, rootless and mindless semiotics to swagger otherwise than linguistics. It is designed to destroy an almost undestroyable myth that words mean things by themselves. (Perhaps that's all.)
    minds
    Equilateral biped.png make
    words mean things
    To the contrary, words mean nothing by themselves. Or, it is minds that make words mean things. The diagram as a symbol means nothing by itself, but something so good indeed to some minds. So, it is too hard to keep silent that Eco says as if a diagram or the like had any definite worth. But certainly he appears on the revolutionary tide around 1975. 
    
  3. This diagram is far simpler than the original:
    Ogden semiotic triangle.png

    The original rather than the simpler should be used in complaining of any "over-simplified diagram." However "over-simplified," however, the message or meaning of a diagram is most vital. The simpler the stronger more often than not. Thus, over-simplification itself barely matters, as far as it is meaningful.

  4. Peirce may not have drawn the trigon specially with the base line dotted, which is vitally significant to Ogden & Richards but not so to Peirce.
      "Objects ... are considered within Peirce's ... framework only when discussing ... icons and indices" (below)
    The dots are to suggest the uncaused, imputed, indirect, hence ambiguous relation between words (other than "icons and indices") and objects. "The triangle apparently translate Peirce's" but maybe not transparently!
  5. It could be said that Ogden & Richards' triangle "is often considered to be equivalent to Frege's (1892)" if and only if Frege truly drew a triangle in Frege (1892). Painfully misleading, if not!

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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."