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Juri Lotman “Semiotics of Personality and Society”

Lotman, Juri 2008. Semiotics of Personality and Society. – Lepik, P. Universals in the Context of Juri Lotman’s Semiotics. Tartu: Tartu University Press, 225-244

Semiotics deals with issues of signification and communication. But what is it, when we talk about man, that justifies us thinking about communication at all? To what extent is the concept of me connected to signification and communication? (225)

A single being cannot be made to coincide with an „atom“ in a given system. The understanding that a single being in human society corresponds with a being that possess clear boundaries is far from universal. (226)

Approximately, there are two categories of communication: a) within an organism; b) between organisms; within [organisms] takes place signless [communication]; between [organisms] takes place sign [communication]. (Communcating with oneself via signs cannot be considered communication within an organism). (226)

Moving within one culture we consider much to be „innate“, „natural“, etc. Much of what we consider natural proves to be a characteristic of speaking with oneself. The problem of personality is a problem of language as the connection system between me and you. (227)

Existing is a vital element of self. But it is apparent that the concept of „existing“ is itself signified and does not correspond to the concept of biological existence. (227)

The situation forces upon [its own] language. But the thing is that any social behaviour whatsoever is speaking in many languages. (231)

It seems natural that man strives to be successful. But the concept of „success“ depends on the language. (233)

An action is that vital behavioural act that is used to violate a certain prohibition. […] The action is the violation of some kind of social prohibition. (234-235)

A person himself has no meaning, what is meaningful is his place in the system. (236 – of syntagmatic relations)

Social function must be differentiated from social texts! If we say that science has replaced religion, this generally means the replacement of texts, because the religious function has been preserved in society. (238)

Religious attituteds are disastrous for both art and science! (241)

[…] literary scholar: which language is used by the author?; sociologist: into which language is it translated by the reader? (242)

The listener always demands the habitual; he is always annoyed by the speaker’s „philosophizing“. This is why every new system usually starts with a scandal, it is received as something indecent, until it becomes habitual, and therefore, banal. This is why art always disturbs us. If it does not disturb us then it is not working. If Beethoven is „pleasant“, „non-disturbing“, then we are not actually accepting him any more. Therefore, the state of the listener is a state of dissatisfaction with the speaker. (243)

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