Archive for September, 2011

Felix Guattari “The Three Ecologies”

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Guattari, Felix 2000 [1989]. The Three Ecologies. London and New Brunswick: The Athlone Press

So, wherever we turn, there is the same nagging paradox: on the one hand, the continuous development of new techno-scientific means to potentially resolve the dominant ecological issues and reinstate socially useful activities on the surface of the planet, and, on the other hand, the inability of organized social forces and constituted subjective formations to take hold of these resources in order to make them work. (31)

It is in the context of break-up and decentralization, the multiplication of antagonisms and processes of singularization, that the new ecological problematics suddenly appear. (33)

Despite having recently initiated a partial realization of the most obvious dangers that threaten the natural environment of our societies, they are generally content to simply tackle industrial pollution and then form a purely technocratic perspective, whereas only an ethico-political articulation – which I call ecosophy – between the three ecological registers (the environment, social relations and human subjectivity) would be likely to clarify these questions. (27-28)

In the final account, the ecosophic problematic is that of the production of human existence itself in new historical contexts. (34)

Rather than speak of the ’subject’, we should perhaps speak of components of subjectification, each working more or less on its own. […] Vectors of subjectification do not necessarily pass through the individual, which in reality appears to be something like a ‘terminal’ for processes that involve human groups, socio-economic ensembles, data-processing machines, etc. Therefore, interiority establishes itself at the crossroads of multiple components, each relatively autonomous in relation to the other, and, if need be, in open conflict. (36)

Discourse, or any discursive chain, thus becomes the bearer of a non-discursivity which, like a stroboscopic trace, nullifies the play of distinctive oppositions at the level of both content and form of expression. It is only through these repetitions that incorporeal Universes of reference, whose singular events punctuate the progress of individual and collective historicity, can be generated and regenerated. (38)

It is not only species that are becoming extinct but also words, phrases, and gestures of human solidarity. A stifling cloak of silence has been thrown over the emancipatory struggles of women, and of the new proletariat: the unemployed, the ‘marginalized’, immigrants. (44)

While the logic of discursive sets endeavours to completely delimit its objects, the logic of intensities, or eco-logic, is concerned only with the movement and intensity of evolutive processes. […] This process of ‘fixing-into-being’ relates only to expressive subsets that have broken out of their totalizing frame and have begun to work on their own account, overcoming their referential sets and manifesting themselves as their own existential indices, processual lines of flight. (44)

Ecological praxes strive to scout out the potential vectors of subjectification and singularization at each partial existential locus. They generally seek something that runs counter to the ‘normal’ order of things, a counter-repetition, an intensive given which invokes other intensities to form new existential configurations. (45)

Post-industrial capitalism, which I prefer to describe as Integrated World Capitalism (IWC), tends increasingly to decentre its sites of power, moving away from structures producing goods and services towards structures producing signs, syntax and – in particular, through the control which it exercises over the media, advertising, opinion polls, etc. – subjectivity. (47)

I would propose grouping together four main semiotic regimes, the mechanisms [instruments] on which IWC is founded:

1) Economic semiotics (monetary, financial, accounting and decision-making mechanisms);

2) Juridical semiotics (title deeds, legislation and regulations of all kinds);

3) Techno-scientific semiotics (plans, diagrams, programmes, studies, research, etc.);

4) Semiotics of subjectification, of which some coincide with those already mentioned, but to which we should add many others, such as those relating to architecture, town planning, public facilities, etc. (48)

IWC forms massive subjective aggregates from the most personal – one could even say infra-personal – existential givens, which it hooks up to ideas of race, nation, the professional workforce, competitive sports, a dominating masculinity, mass-media celebrity … Capitalistic subjectivity seeks to gain power by controlling and neutralizing the maximum number of existential refrains. It is intoxicated with and anaesthetized by a collective feeling of pseudo-eternity. (50)

Ecology must stop being associated with the image of a small nature-loving minority or with qualified specialists. Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations, whose sweeping progress cannot be guaranteed to continue as it has for the past decade. (52)

The principle specific to mental ecology is that its approach to existential Territories derives from a pre-objectal and pre-personal logic of the sort that Freud has described as being a ‘primary process’. (54)

It will be less a question of taking stock of these practices in terms of their scientific veracity than according to their aesthetico-existential effectiveness. What do we find? What existential scenes establish themselves there? The crucial objective is to grasp the a-signifying points of rupture – the rupture of denotation, connotation and signification – from which a certain number of semiotic chains are put to work in the service of an existential autoreferential effect. (56)

The principle specific to social ecology concerns the development of affective and pragmatic cathexis [investissement] in human groups of different sizes. (60)

In the first instance, the Self and other are constructed through a set of stock identifications and imitations, which result in primary groups that are refolded on the father, the boss, or the mass-media celebrity – this is the psychology of the pliable masses upon which the media practices. In the second instance, identificatory systems are replaced by traits of diagrammatic efficiency. […] A diagrammatic trait, as opposed to an icon, is characterized by the degree of its deterritorialization, its capacity to escape from itself in order to constitute discursive chains directly chains directly in touch with the referent. (60)

Capitalist societies […] produce […] three types of subjectivity. Firstly, a serial subjectivity corresponding to the salaried classes, secondly, to the huge mass of the ‘uninsured’ [non-garantis] and finally an elitist subjectivity corresponding to the executive sectors. (61)

An essential programmatic point for social ecology will be to encourage capitalist societies to make the transition from the mass-media era to a post-media age, in which the media will be reappropriated by a multitude of subject-groups capable of directing its resingularization. (61)

Spontaneous social ecology works towards the constitution of existential Territories that replace, more or less, the former religious and ritualized griddings of the socius. (64)

[…] the question becomes one of how to encourage the organization of individual and collective ventures, and how to direct them towards an ecology of resingularization. (65)

There is a principle specific to environmental ecology: it states that anything is possible – the worst disasters or the most flexible evolutions. Natural equilibriums will be increasingly reliant upon human intervention, and a time will come when vast programmes will need to be set up in order to regulate the relationship between oxygen, ozone and carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. We might just as well rename environmental ecology machinic ecology, because Cosmic and human praxis has only ever been a question of machines, even, dare I say it, of war machines. (66)

[…] we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of:

–          a nascent subjectivity

–          a constantly mutating socius

–          an environment in the process of being reinvented. (68)

Their [the three ecologies] different styles are produced by what I call heterogenesis, in other words, processes of continuous resingularization. Individuals must become both more united and increasingly different. (69)

Bruno Latour “What is the Style of Matters of Concern?”

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Latour, Bruno 2008. What is the Style of Matters of Concern? Assen: Van Gorcum

[…] naturalisation is what happens when you try to transport, to transfer the “senseless hurrying of matter” from the nature bank to the social or human side. That is when you treat the human with the strange notion of primary qualities handed down to you by the already bifurcated nature. (15)

But remember that society is not a word specifying in advance the type of associations – as if human societies were different from plant, plankton, stellar or atomic societies – only that it’s necessary to associate with others in order to remain in existence. (16)

[…] the more you remain close to language, the further away you are from reference […] (18)

[…] we have to consider two more crucial inventions made by Tarde in his efforts to redefine sociology. The first is that there is, in fact, a difference between human and non-human societies. But this is not what you might think; it’s a difference of numbers not of kinds; paradoxically, non-human societies are much more numerous than human societies. […] we have a much more intimate knowledge of human societies than we have of other non-human societies viewed from the outside and so to speak in bulk, or statistically. […] when a society is seen from far away and in bulk it seems to have structural features, that is a set of characteristics that floats beyond, or beneath the multiplicity of its members. But when a society is seen from the inside, it’s made up of differences and of events and all its structural features are provisional amplifications and simplifications of those linkages. (18-19)

[…] the sciences (in the plural) are adding differences of equipment and attention to the world; they are not what allows us to jump to the other side of the bank smack in the middle of the primary qualities […] (23)

[…] how did we manage to behave as if Nature had “bifurcated” into primary qualities – which, if you remember, are real, material, without value and goals and only known through totally unknown conduits – and secondary qualities which are nothing but “psychic additions” projected by the human mind onto a meaningless world of pure matter and which have no external reality although they carry goals and values. How did we succeed in having the whole of philosophy reduced to a choice between two meaninglessnesses: the real but meaningless matter and the meaningful but unreal symbol? (36)

What we have to do, if we want to be faithful to what William James called radical empiricism, is to deny the claims of the “bifurcates” in the first place to represent common sense and to speak in the name of science. We don’t have, on the one hand, a harsh world made of indisputable matters of fact and, on the other, a rich mental world of human symbols, imaginations and values. The harsh world of matters of fact is an amazingly narrow, specialized, type of scenography using a highly coded type of narrative, gazing, lighting, distance, a very precise repertoire of attitude and attention […] (38)

A matter of concern is what happens to a matter of fact when you add to it its whole scenography, much like you would do by shifting your attention from the stage to the whole machinery of a theatre. (39)

It is the same world, and yet, everything looks different. Matters of fact were indisputable, obstinate, simply there; matters of concern are disputable, and their obstinacy seems to be of an entirely different sort: they move, they carry you away, and, yes, they too matter. (39)

Without the experience of being tricked by painting in taking a “plane variously coloured” for a “convex figure”, philosophers would never have sustained for long the idea that the world itself could be made of primary streams of causalities that our mind transforms into non existing secondary qualities. Similarly, without the obsessive metaphor of painting, epistemologists never would have imagined that in science there are only two steps – a copy and a model – and a mimetic relation between the two. To put it much too bluntly: the idea of a bridge between representation and the represented is an invention of visual art. (41)

The question before us is to see how can we suspend this “fraudulent export” of ways of knowing (in Ivins’s rendering: drawing in perspective) into the relations inter se among betting organisms. (46)

Specification one: Matters of concern have to matter. Matters of fact were distorted by the totally implausible necessity of being pure stuff of no interest whatsoever – just sitting there like a mummified limb – while at the same time being able to “make a point”, humiliate human subjectivity, speak directly without speech apparatus and quieten dissenting voices. (47)

Specification two: Matters of concern have to be liked. The great Act I scene I of table thumping realists was that matters of fact were there “whether you like it or not”. […] It is fair to say that the whole first wave of empiricism had an odd way of conceiving democracy and was rather a clever way of escaping controversies by putting a premature end to them. (47)

Specification three: Matters of concern have to be populated. (48)

Specifications four: Matters of concern have to be durable. […] Facts are not the ahistorical, uninterpreted and asocial beginning of a course of action, but the extraordinary fragile and transient provisional terminus of a whole flow of betting organisms whose reproductive means have to be made clear and paid to the last cent in hard currency. Endurance is what has to be obtained, not what is already given by some substrate, or some substance. (48-49)

Johann Gottfried Herder “Ideas for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind”

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Herder, Johann Gottfried 1969. Ideas for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind. – Herder, Johann Gottfried. Herder on Social and Political Culture. Cambridge University Press: 253-326

Whilst animals on the whole remain true to the qualities of their kind, man alone has made a goddess of choice in place of necessity. (256)

No creature, that we know of, has departed from its original organization or has developed in opposition to it. It can operate only with the powers inherent in its organization, and nature knew how to devise sufficient means to confine all living things to the sphere allotted to them. In man everything is adapted to the form he now bears; from it, everything in history is explicable; without it, we are left completely in the dark … (257 – of the uproght posture)

[…] the most casual reflection tells us that these faculties are not locally separated as if judgment resided in one part of the brain, memory and imagination in another, the passions and sense perceptions in a third. For the thought processes of our mind are undivided entities, producing in their totality the diverse effects or manifestations which we treat as separate faculties. (259)

If, then, we arrive at the conclusion that man’s superiority can be attributed to the structure of his brain, what can be said to determine the latter? Evidently, I would say, the more developed organization of his whole being, and, in the last analysis, his erect posture. (260-261)

For every creature is in all its parts one living co-operating whole (zusammenwirkendes Ganze). (261)

Art is the most powerful weapon; man is all art and in this sense the very personification of organized defence. To be sure, he lacks claws and teeth for attack; but, then, he was designed to be a peacable creature. Man was not meant to be a cannibal. (262)

Only by speech did the eye and the ear, nay the perceptions of all senses, become united, thus giving rise to creative thought, to which the hands and the other members were subservient tools … The delicate organs of speech must, therefore, be considered as the rudder of our reason, and speech itself as the heavenly spark that gradually kindled our thoughts and senses into flame … (263)

Far from being an innate automaton […] reason, in both its theoretical and practical manifestations, is nothing more than something formed by experience, an acquired knowledge of the propositions and directions of the ideas and faculties, to which man is fashioned by his organization and mode of life. (264)

Man’s reason is the creation of man. (264)

In error and in truth, in rising and in falling he still remains man: feeble indeed, but freeborn; not fully rational, though capable of reasoning. His human essence – Humanität – is not ready made, yet it is potentially realizable. (266)

All the instincts of a living being are reducible to self-preservation and sympathy. The whole organic structure of man is by superior guidance most carefully adapted to these two basic instincts. (268)

It must be conceded, however, that man’s body is primarily geared for defence and not for attack. In defence man is by nature the most powerful creature upon earth. But for purposes of attack he needs artificial aids. Thus his very structure teaches him to live in peace and not from robbery, murder and destruction. It is the first characteristic of humanity. (268)

The father becomes the instructor of his son, as the mother had been the nurse of the infant. In this way a new link in the chain of humanity is forged. Here lies the essential basis of human society, without which no man would grow and develop and no collectivity of men could emerge. Man, then, is born for society. (270)

It is the rule of true and false, of the idem et idem, of reciprocity, founded on the system of all our propensities, and attributable perhaps also to man’s upright posture. If I press someone to my bosom, he presses me also to his; if I risk my life for him, he risks his for mine. It is on this principle of reciprocity that the laws of man and of nations are founded … (270)

[…] man is actually formed in and for society, without which he could neither have come into existence, nor grown to maturity. He starts to be unsociable when his own natural interests clash with those of other men. (304)

Peace, then, and not war is the natural state of unoppressed humanity. War rises from exceptional pressures, from emergency situations, but not from a sense of enjoyment, a love of fighting. (305)

The very concept of ’happiness’ implies that man is capable of neither experiencing not creating pure and lasting bliss. He is the child of chance; it is a matter of luck where he comes to live, when and under what cisrcumstances. The country, the time, the total constellation of circumstances happen to decide both his capacity of enjoyment and the manner and measure of his joys and sorrows. (307)

Every living being enjoys its existence; it does not inquire into, or brood over, the reasons of its existence. Its purpose is intrinsic to itself. No savage commits suicide, no animal destroys itself. They propagate their species without knowing why, and submit to every toil and exertion under the severest climate merely in order to live. This simple, deep-rooted feeling of existence, this something sui generis is happiness … (308)

Father and mother, husband and wife, son and brother, friend and man: these are natural relationships in which we may be happy. The state can give us many ingenious contrivances; unfortunately it can also deprive us of something far more essential: our own selves. (310)

The very thought of a superior European culture is a blatant insult to the majesty of Nature. (311)

If happiness is to be found on this earth, it has to be looked for within every sentient being. Every man has the standard of happiness within himself. He carries it within the form in which he has been fashioned, and it is only within this sphere that he can be happy … (311)

Since our specific character derives from being born almost without instinct, it is only by training and experience that our lives as men take shape; they determine bot the perfectibility and the corruptibility of our race. Thus the history of mankind is necessarily a whole, i.e. a chain formed from the first link to the last by the moulding process of socialization and tradition. (312)

We can speak, therefore, of an education of mankind. Every individual only becomes man by means of education, and the whole species lives solely as this chain of individuals. (312)

Education, which performs the function of transmitting social traditions, can be said to be genetic, […] and organic, by virtue of the manner in which that is being transmitted is assimilated and applied. We may term this second genesis, which permeates man’s whole life, enlightenment, by the light it affords to understanding, or culture, in so far as it is comparable to the cultivation of the soil. (313)

The natural state of man is society. […] The first forms of government arose out of these natural social relationships. They were, essentially, family rules and regulations without which human groupings could not persist; laws formed and limited by nature. We could regard them therefore as representing natural government of the first order. It is the most basic political organization, and has proved the most lasting if not best. (317-318)

Where in these areas paternal and domestic governments cease to be effective, the extension of political organization usually takes the form of ad hoc arrangements contractually made for a given task. […] A political organization of this type we may classify as natural government of the second order. It will be found among those peoples whose chief concerns are common material needs and who are said to live therefore on a state of nature. (318)

Yet how different is the third type of political order, hereditary government! […] Nature does not distribute her noblest gifts in families. The right of blood, according to which one unborn has a legitimate claim to rule over others yet unborn by right of his birth, is to me one of the most puzzling formulae human language could devise. (318-319)

The inequality of men is, however, not so great in nature as it has become through education; the nature of the very same people under different political regimes clearly bears this out. Even the noblest nation loses its dignity under the yoke of despotism. (322)

Man is an animal as long as he needs a master to lord over him; as soon as he attains the status of a human being he no longer needs a master in any real sense. Nature has designated no master to the human species; only brutal vices and passions render one necessary. (323)

[…] all governments of man arose, and continue to exist, because of some human deficiency. (323)

It is nature which educates families: the most natural state is, therefore, one nation, an extended family with one national character. […] Nothing, therefore, is more manifestly contrary to the purpose of political government than the unnatural enlargement of states, the wild mixing of various races and nationalities under one sceptre. (324)

Mutual assistance and protection are the principal ends of all human associations. For a polity, too, this natural order is the best; it should ensure that each of its members be able to become what nature wanted him to become. (325)

Gianni Vattimo “Nihilism as Emancipation”

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Vattimo, Gianni 2009. Nihilism as Emancipation. – Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy vol. 5 no. 1: 20-23

Nihilism is understood in the sense inaugurally outlined by Nietzsche: the dissolution of all ultimate foundations, the awareness that—in the history of philosophy and Western culture in general—‘God is dead’ and ‘the real world has become a fable’. (20)

[…] with this nihilism becomes hermeneutics: a thought that knows it can aim at the universal only by passing through dialogue, agreement, or caritas, if you like it […] (21)

[…] truth is born in agreement and from agreement, and not vice versa, that we will reach agreement only when we have all discovered the same objective truth. (21)

Emancipation is for us the meaning of nihilism proper if we read this Nietzschean term in the light of another crucial expression of the German philosopher: ‘God is dead, and now we wish for many gods to live’. The dissolution of foundations […] is that which frees us […] (21)

[…] ‘truth is only that which frees you’; truth is thus first of all the ‘discovery’ that there are no ultimate foundations before which our freedom should stop, which is instead what authorities of every kind that want to rule precisely in the name of these ultimate foundations have always sought to make us believe. Hermeneutics is the thinking of accomplished nihilism, the thinking that aims at a reconstruction of rationality after the death of God, in opposition to any drift towards negative nihilism, that is, towards the desperation of those who continue to grieve because ‘there is no more religion’. (21)

[…] in order really to achieve the rights of freedom preached by liberalism, we should not let things take place ‘according to their own principles’, as for example, in the laws of the market (there is an unacceptable ‘naturalism’ in Adam Smith!). Rather, we must build conditions of equality that, indeed, are not given ‘naturally’. (22)

It is in nihilism thought in this way that equality finally establishes itself, and what Richard Rorty calls solidarity becomes possible—or better necessary—for life, the only possible basis for a truth that does not claim to evade the historical conditions in which existence is always ‘thrown’. (22)

Jean-Jacques Lecercle “Interpretation as Pragmatics”

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Lecercle, Jean-Jacques 1999. Interpretation as Pragmatics. New York: St. Martin’s Press

„Let Him Have It, Chris!”

Any interpretation is possible that addresses the text, that is that is constructed about and with the text. (31) An interpretation […] is false if it is either delirious, disregarding the constraints of the encyclopaedia, or incorrect, disregarding the constraints that language and the text impose on the construction of interpretation. (32) Justice […] is the meaningfulness that derives from respect of a pragmatic structure. […] A just interpretation is one that conforms to the constraints of the pragmatic structure that governs the interpretation of the text, and that does not seek to close the interminable process of reinterpretation. It is obvious from all that precedes that no interpretation can be said to be true, which would involve the recovery of the author’s intention as the unique source of the meaning of the text. (33)

This distance between intention and meaning is the specific field of interpretation. And the four moments of interpretation qua process involve the actors, or actants […] of a pragmatic contract, or of a situation of communication: glossing involves language and encyclopaedia, disclosure or solution the speaker’s (the author’s) constructed intention, translation the reader, in her relation to bot text and encyclopaedia, while intervention lies within the ambit of the reader’s powers. What we have here is the five actants of the situation of communication: speaker (author), text, language, encyclopaedia, heaer (reader). (34)

The text is not only the object of the reader’s solicitude, but also of her solicitation. Interpretation becomes intervention, as in psychoanalysis, or delirium, as with fous littéraries. (51)

[…] the author is only an actant, the concrete speaker being interpellated in that place by the structure. (53)

Alter Ego

[A <- [L -> [T] <- E] -> R]

Beyond the fact that this linearisation neatly provides a name for my model, ALTER, it also inscribes a number of characteristics: (1) The text is the centre of the structure, the most important actant. (2) Author and reader are effects of the text (the outward pointing arrows indicate this). (3) There is no direct relationship between reader and text, text and author: they are filtered (the square brackets indicate this) by language and by the encyclopaedia which have pride of place over author and reader. (4) In concrete situations of course the ALTER structure will interpellate subjects, let us call them EGOs, to occupy the A and R, but only one at a time. Through a necessary illusion in which we can perceive what Althusser calls ‚l’efficace de la structure’, the operation of the structure, this interpellation appears to come from the opposite pole of the structure. The reader is interpellated by the representation she constructs in the place of the author; the author is interprellated by the representation of the readers she fantasises. (75)

The text does not merely appropriate or use them, it is in an important sense sense produced by them. L and E are the internal filters that constrain the text, A and R are the outside layers of the structure by which it has an interface with the world in the interpellation of actors. They are induced by the text, they are the positions that T projects in order to acquire an author and a reader. (74-75)

[…] meaning is not in the centre, but at the margins of the structure: not what passes through the structure on its way from author to reader, but an effect of the structure. (76)


1)      maxim of indirection. The maxim of indirection overturns, or inverts, this mastery: the speaker means something different from what he says, or something more, or something less; and she says something different from what she means […] (76)

2)      maxim of vagueness. It separates the meaning constructed by the interpretation of the utterance from the meaning produced in the original author’s conjuncture. (77)

3)      maxim of recontextualization. If the utterer’s meaning […] is constitutively separated from the utterance meaning, then meaning, far from being changeless, is re-contextualized and therefore varies, even if ever so slightly, with each new reading. The conjuncture of the writing of the text from this point of view is only that of its first reading: the original author is her own first reader. (77-78)

4)      maxim of différance. […] writing belongs to the realm of the different (there is no iteration without alteration), of differing and deferring (the contact between speaker and hearer occurs in in praesentia; the absence of contact between author and reader is due, in the first instance, to a temporal gap), and of differends (the type of ‚dialogue’ that will ensue is agonistic, made up of verbal struggle and games rather than cooperative and irenic). Thus, the process of reading and interpreting involves the displacement inherent in the translation and intervention […] rather than the direct approach of a riddle-solving and the discovery of the truth. (78-79)

5)      maxim of interpretance. […] (1) meaning is the product of a dialogue between two texts, the interpreted text and the interpretation that reads it, and (2) the subjects involved, the author and the reader, are not free but assujettis in Althusserian parlance – in other words that they are effects of the structure. (79-80)

6)      maxim of placing. […] the operation through which an actor is captured at a place, is the specific task of the language actant. This will involve moving from the traditional concept of subject as centre […] to a concept of subject as assujetti, captured at a place. (80)

7)      maxim of metalepsis. It suggests that recontextualization is not merely an external process involving two occurrences of the same text, but an internal intratextual one. (80)

8)      maxim of conjuncture. It notes that there is a specific temporality of the ALTER structure, the temporality of recontextualization, which historicises it – that is, makes it dependent on the structure of the world at a given time. (81)

Kalevi Kull “Semiotic Ecology”

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Kull, Kalevi 1998. Semiotic ecology: different natures in the semiosphere. – Sign Systems Studies 26: 344-371

The ecological processes and dumping grounds enfold both Umwelt and Innenwelt, their real sphere is the semiosphere. Therefore, without understanding the semiotic mechanisms which determine the place of nature in different cultures, one has little hope of solving many serious environmental problems, and of finding the stable place of culture in nature. (346)

To describe the realm of biosemiotics, J. Hoffmeyer (1996a: 96) builds a triangle which consists of culture, external nature, and internal nature. According to Hoffmeyer, the relationship between culture and internal nature is the sphere of psychosomatics, the relationship between internal and external nature is the field of biosemiotics, and the relationship between culture and external nature is the environmental sphere. This latter can also be named an ecosemiotic area. (350)

Biosemiotics is defined as an analysis of living systems as sign systems, the origin of sign being one of the problems in its competence. It investigates semiosis in the living which is much broader than human life, i.e. which exists beyond the mental (conscious) life, assuming the semiotic threshold to be close to where life begins. (350)

Ecosemiotics can be defined as the semiotics of relationships between nature and culture. This includes research on the semiotic aspects of the place and role of nature for humans, i.e. what is and what has been the meaning of nature for us, humans, how and in what extent we communicate with nature. Ecosemiotics deals with the semiosis going on between a human and its ecosystem, or a human in ones ecosystem. (350)

Ecosemiotics can be considered as a part of the semiotics of culture, which investigates human relationships to nature which have a semiosic (sign-mediated) basis, whereas biosemiotics can be seen as different from the cultural semiotic field. (351)

Ecosemiotics describes the appearance of nature as dependent on the various contexts or situations. It includes nature’s structure as it appears, its classification (syntactics); it describes what it means for people, what there is in nature (semantics); and it finds out the personal or social relation to the components of nature, which can be one’s participation in nature (pragmatics). In all this, it includes the role of memory and the relationships between different types of (short-term, long-term, etc.) memory in culture. Due to considering the evolutionary aspect, ecosemiotics also extends to non-human systems. (351)

As a result of the differences humans can make, the nature in their Umwelt is distinguished into first, second, and third nature; what we think is outside the Umwelt, can be called zero nature. Zero nature is nature itself (e.g., absolute wilderness). First nature is the nature as we see, identify, describe and interpret it. Second nature is the nature which we have materially interpreted, this is materially translated nature, i.e. a changed nature, a produced nature. Third nature is a virtual nature, as it exists in art and science. (355)

Zero nature, at least when living, is changing via ontological semiosis, or via physiosemiosis if applying J. Deely’s term. The first nature is nature as filtered via human semiosis, through the interpretations in our social and personal knowledge. This is categorised nature. The second nature is changing as a result of ‘material processes’ again, this is a ‘material translation’ in the form of true semiotic translation, since it interconnects the zero and the first (or third), controlling the zero nature on the basis of the imaginary nature. The third nature is entirely theoretical or artistic, non-natural nature-like nature, built on the basis of the first (or third itself) with the help of the second. (355)

The logical relationships between the four natures (from zero to the third) can be represented as dealing with the (creation) processes between nature and its image (construct, or schema), through a simple combinatorics:

0 – zero nature is – nature from nature

1 – first nature is – image from nature

2 – second nature is – nature from image

3 – third nature is – image from image (357)

Timo Maran “Lokaalsuse ökosemiootilised alused”

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Maran, Timo 2002. Lokaalsuse ökosemiootilised alused. – Koht ja paik. Toim. Sarapik, Virve; Tüür, Kadri; Laanemets, Mari. Eesti Kunstiakadeemia Toimetised 10. Tallinn: Eesti Kunstiakadeemia: 81-92.

Lokaalsuse all mõistan ma siin semiootiliste struktuuride omadust seonduda ümbritsevaga nõnda, et neid pole võimalik oma keskkonnast eraldada, ilma et seejuures muutuks oluliselt nende struktuur või selles struktuuris sisalduv informatsioon. (82)

Juhul, kui me lähtume organismi ja keskkonna suhte vaatlemisel semiootilisest paradigmast, muutub elusorganismi lokaliseeritus konkreetses keskkonnas esmatähtsaks  ümbritseva keskkonna omadused saavad siin subjekti interpreteeriva tegevuse ehk semioosi allikaks ja mõjutajaks. Keskkond annab elusorganismile ette tunnusjooned, millest lähtudes saab organism kui subjekt keskkonnaelementidele enesekohaseid tähendusi omistada. (84)

Mehhanismina, mis lubab subjekti ja keskkonna vaheliste vastavuste kujunemist ehk adapteerumist, võib vaadelda iga tagasisidemel põhinevat subjekti ja keskkonna vahelist kommunikatsioonimudelit. (85)

Siinkohal on tarvilik rõhutada erisust mõistete semiootiline kohasus ja kohanemisvõime vahel. Erinevalt kohanemisvõimest, mis on subjekti omadus, näidates ta potentsiaali erinevate keskkondadega kohaneda, on semiootiline kohasus subjekti ja keskkonna seost iseloomustav suurus. Sidudes ennast konkreetse keskkonnaga, suureneb subjekti–keskkonna seose semiootiline kohasus, ent samas väheneb subjekti edasine kohanemisvõime (joon 2). Keskkonnaga kohanedes lokaliseerib subjekt ennast keskkonda, seega näitab semiootiline kohasus lokaliseerituse intensiivsust. Ühel poolt näitab semiootiline kohasus, kuivõrd on subjektil õnnestunud endapärast ja keskkonnapärast informatsiooni vastavusse viia, teisalt aga üsna paratamatult, kuivõrd muutub subjekti struktuur tema eraldamisel keskkonnast. (86)

Kontekst kui märki või teksti ümbritsev struktuursus mõjutab ja määratleb nii märgi vormilisi aspekte kui ka võimalike tähendusi, mida subjekt võib märgile omistada. Kontekst jääb väljapoole märki, määratledes seejuures märgi piiri ja omadusi nii semiootiliste seoste kui nende puudumise (välistav määratlus) kaudu. (87)

Konteksti määrava mõju kirjeldamisel on oluliseks piirangute (restraints) kontseptsioon, mis on semiootilisse paradigmasse laenatud küberneetikast. Selle vaate alusel toob kontekst endas sisalduva märgi suhtes kaasa informatsioonilise liiasuse (redundancy restraints), millest lähtuvalt on võimalik määratleda märgi võimalikke tähendusi, ent samuti võib märk kanda endas informatsiooni oma kasutamise konteksti suhtes. (87)

Samuti määrab igasugune juba toimiv semiootiline protsess osaliselt kindlaks sellesama protsessi edasised arenguvõimalused – ajalisele teljele laienduva konteksti mõju. (87)

Subjekt, kes oma semiootilise tegevusega kehtestab ümbritseva konteksti suhtes informatsioonilise liiasuse, muudab seeläbi ümbritseva konteksti enese jaoks väärtuslikuks. Semiootiline kohasus ja konteksti või keskkonna väärtuslikkus ei saa olla keskkonda iseloomustavad objektiivsed parameetrid, pigem tulenevad need subjekti eksisteerimisest ja semiootilisest tegevusest konkreetses keskkonnas. (88)

[..] nn liiase informatsiooni hulk, mis seob subjekti tema keskkonnaga, kasvab põliskultuuris aja jooksul. Informatsiooni kogunemisel muutuvad keskkonnaprotsessid indiviidile etteennustatavateks, mis teeb ka võimalikuks usalduse tekkimise keskkonna vastu. Mida kauem on kultuur või indiviid samas keskkonnas püsinud, seda suurem on keskkonna osa tema enesemäärangutes ja seda enam on ta kohanenud suhtlema paikkondliku keskkonnaga. (88)

Globaalne kultuur on eneseküllane, omandades identiteedi abstraktsete, enesest väljapoole projekteeritud ideede ja väärtushinnangute kaudu nagu üldinimlikud väärtused, sümbolid, ideaalid. Lokaalse kultuuri tähelepanu on seevastu enam suunatud ümbritsevale keskkonnale, teda iseloomustavad eripärasused tulenevad valdavalt seosest keskkonnaga. (89)

Sedavõrd kui kultuur haarab endasse loodust, teeb loodust enda omaks ja tähenduslikuks, muutub kultuur ise selle looduse ja tema konkreetsete paikade nägu. Niivõrd, kui on kultuur omistanud loodusele tähendust, on ta ise muutunud selle looduse päraseks. (90)