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Philippe Descola “Diversité biologique et diversité culturelle”

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Descola, Philippe 1999. Diversité biologique et diversité culturelle. Aménagement et nature 135: 25-37. http://hdl.handle.net/2042/49113.

Car il ne faut pas se cacher que l’ idée même de protection de la nature est propre à l’Occident moderne en ce qu’elle suppose une dualité clairement établie entre deux domaines ontologiques clairement distingués, les humains d’une part, les non-humains d’autre part, les premiers étant investis de la mission d’assurer la survie des seconds . Autrement dit, une telle conception implique la croyance dans l’ existence d’une nature séparée des activités sociales , peuplée d’ entités soumises à des lois universelles, dont les humains se rendent comme «maîtres et possesseurs », pour reprendre la fameuse expression de Descartes, afin d’en exploiter les ressources et, depuis peu, d’en assurer la préservation. (26)

Protéger les environnements et les espèces menacées en imposant aux humains des devoirs à leur égard – ou en octroyant des droits aux non-humains, comme le souhaitent les avocats de la deep ecology -ne fait qu’ étendre à une nouvelle classe d’êtres les principes juridiques régissant les personnes, sans remettre fondamentalement en cause la séparation moderne entre nature et société. La société est source du droit, les hommes l’ administrent, et c’est parce que les violences à l’ égard des humains sont condamnées que les violences à l’ égard de la nature deviennent condamnables . Rien de tel pour nombre de sociétés prémodernes qui, considérant les plantes et les animaux non pas comme des sujets de droit en tutelle, mais comme des personnes morales et sociales pleinement autonomes, ne se sentent pas plus tenues d’ étendre sur eux leur protection qu’elles ne jugent nécessaire de veiller aux bien-être de distants voisins. (35)

L’idée de protection de l’ environnement porte pourtant en elle, sans doute de façon non intentionnelle, les ferments d’une dissolution du dualisme qui a si longtemps marqué notre vision du monde. Car la survie d’un ensemble sans cesse croissant de non humains, désormais mieux protégés des dommages causés par l’action humaine, devient de plus en plus subordonnée à cette même action humaine, c’est-à­dire aux dispositif s de protection et de prévention élaborés dans le cadre de conventions nationales et international es. Autrement dit, le dualisme de la nature et de la société n’ est plus étanche en ce que les conditions d’existence du panda, de la baleine bleue, de la couche d’ ozone ou de l’Antarctique ne seront bientôt guère plus ‘naturelles’ que ne sont à présent naturelles les conditions d’ existence des espèces sauvages dans les zoo ou des gènes dans les banques de données génétiques . La manière paternaliste dont nous envisageons la protection de la nature s’en trouvera probablement modifiée d’autant, et avec elle l’ idée que le gouvernement des hommes et le gouvernement des choses relèvent de sphères séparées. (36)

[…] Davi, par exemple, un chaman yanomami, lorsqu’il déclare : « nous, nous n’utilisons pas la parole ‘environnement’ . On dit seulement que l’on veut protéger la forêt entière. ‘Environnement’, c’est la parole d’autres gens, c’est une parole de Blancs. Ce que vous nommez ‘environnement’, c’est ce qui reste de ce que vous avez détruit». Une remarque d’une terrible lucidité, qui met à nu la bonne et la mauvaise conscience de l’Occident dans son rapport à une nature-objet constamment partagé entre un discours ‘conservationniste’ et un discours productiviste. (37)

Donna Haraway “When Species Meet”

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Haraway, Donna J. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis; London: Univesity of Minnesota Press.3. Sharing Suffering

[…] human beings are not uniquely obligated to and  gifted with responsibility; animals as workers in labs, animals in all their worlds, are response-able in the same sense as people are; that is, responsibility is a relationship crafted in intra-action through which entities, subjects and objects, come into being. People and animals in labs are both subjects and objects to each other in ongoing intra-action. If this structure of material-semiotic relating breaks down or is not permitted to be born, then nothing but objectification and oppression remains. The parties in intra-action do not admit of preset taxonomic calculation; responders are themselves co-constituted in the responding and do not have in advance a proper checklist of properties. Further, the capacity to respond, and so to be responsible, should not be expected to take on symmetrical shapes and textures for all the parties. Response cannot emerge within relationships of self-similarity. (71)

I am arguing that instrumental relations of people and animals are not themselves the root of turning animals (or people) into dead things, into machines whose reactions are of interest but who have no presence, no face, that demands recognition, caring, and shared pain. Instrumental intra-action itself is not the enemy; indeed, I will argue below that work, use, and instrumentality are intrinsic to bodily webbed mortal earthly being and becoming. Unidirectional relations of use, ruled by practices of calculation and self-sure hierarchy, are quite another matter. Such self-satisfied calculation takes heart from the primary dualism that parses body one way and mind another. (71)

To be in a relation of use to each other is not the definition of unfreedom and violation. Such relations are almost never symmetrical (“equal” or calculable). Rather, relations of use are exactly what companion species are about: the ecologies of significant others involve messmates at table, with indigestion and without the comfort of teleological purpose from above, below, in front, or behind. (74)

4. Examined Lives

I believe that ethical veganism, for example, enacts a necessary truth, as well as bears crucial witness to the extremity of the brutality in our “normal” relations with other animals. However, I am also convinced that multispecies coflourishing requires simultaneous, contradictory truths if we take seriously not the command that grounds human exceptionalism, “Thou shalt not kill,” but rather the command that makes us face nurturing and killing as an inescapable part of mortal companion species entanglements, namely, “Thou shalt not make killable.” There is no category that makes killing innocent; there is no category or strategy that removes one from killing. Killing sentient animals is killing someone, not something; knowing this is not the end but the beginning of serious accountability inside worldly complexities. Facing up to the outrage of demands on the more-than-human world and also radically reducing the number of human beings (not by murder, genocide, racism, war, neglect, disease, and starvation – all means that the daily news shows to be common as sand grains on the beach). (105-106)

5. Cloning Mutts, Saving Tigers

Flourishing, not merely the relief of suffering, is the core value, one I would like to extend to the emergent entities, human and animal, in technocultural dog worlds. Compassionate action is, of course, crucial to an ethics of flourishing. (134)

[…] the crucial ethical issues now in human cloning are the biological matters. In a very short program in which even the rudiments of the biological techniques and developmental and genetic processes could barely be sketched, he [Hogness] was repeatedly asked to interview “a bioethicist”. Society was on one side; science on the other. But the biologists wanted to savor a mutated metaphor that let them stress what is really at stake in processes such as nuclear reprogramming in cloning, because that is where many of the conditions for flourishing lie. The ethics is in the whole apparatus, in the thick complexity, in the nature-cultures of being in technoculture that join cells and people in a dance of becoming. (138)

At the turn of the millennium, “saving the endangered [fill in the category]” emerged as the rhetorical gold standard for “value” in technoscience, trumping and shunting other considerations of the apparatus for shaping public and private, kin and kin, animation and cessation. “Endangered species” turned out to be a capacious ethical bypass for ontologically heterogeneous traffic in dogland. (153)

6. Able Bodies and Companion Species

The corpse is not the body. Rather, the body is always in-the-making; it is always a vital entanglement of heterogeneous scales, times, and kinds of beings webbed into fleshly presence, always a becoming, always constituted in relating. The corpse’s consignment to the earth as ashes is, I think, a recognition that, in death it is not simply the person or the soul who goes. That knotted thing we call the body has left; it is undone. (163)

Every species is a multispecies crowd. Human exceptionalism is what companion species cannot abide. In the face of companion species, human exceptionalism shows itself to be the specter that damns the body to illusion, to reproduction of the same, to incest, and so makes remembering impossible. Under the material-semiotic sign of companion species, I am interested in the ontics and antics of significant otherness, in the ongoing making of the partners through the making itself, in the making of bodied lives in the game. Partners do not pre-exist their relating; the partners are exactly what come out of the inter- and intra-relating of fleshly, significant, semiotic-material being. (165)

8. Training in the Contact Zone

Many critical thinkers who are concerned with the subjugation of animals to the purposes of people regard the domestication of other sentient organisms as an ancient historical disaster that has only grown worse with time. Taking themselves to be the only actors, people reduce other organisms to the lived status of being merely raw material or tools. The domestication of animals is, within this analysis, a kind of original sin separating human beings from nature, ending in atrocities like meat-industrial complex of transnational factory framing and the frivolities of pet animals as indulged but unfree fashion accessories in a boundless commodity culture. (206)

The kind of “domestication” that [Vinciane] Despret explores adds new identities; partners learn to be “affected”; they become “available to events”; the engage in a relationship that “discloses perplexity”. The personal pronoun who, which is necessary in this situation, has nothing to do with derivative, Western, ethnocentric, humanist personhood for either people or animals, but rather has to do with the query proper to serious relationships among significant others, or, as I called them elsewhere, companion species, cum panis, messmates at table together, breaking bread. The question between animals and humans here is, Who are you? And so, Who are we? (207-208)

[…] it is essential for a human being to understand that one’s partner is an adult (or puppy) member of another species, with his or her own exacting species interests and individual quirks, and not a furry child, a character in Call of the Wild, or an extension of one’s intentions or fantasies. (213)

I insist “with” is possible. (222)

I rather like the idea that training with an animal, whether the critter is named wild or domestic, can be part of disengaging from the semiotics and technologies of compulsory reproductive biopolitics. That’s a project I like to see in human schools too. Functionless knowing can come very close to the grace of play and a poiesis of love. (222-223)

The coming into being of something unexpected, something new and free, something outside the rules of function and calculation, something not ruled by the logic of reproduction of the same, is what training with others is about. That, I believe, is one of the meanings of natural that the trained people and dogs I know practice. Training requires calculation, method, discipline, science, but training is for opening up what is not known to be possible, but might be, for all the intra-acting partners. Training is, or can be, about differences not tamed by taxonomy. (223)

Disarmed of the fantasy of climbing into heads, one’s own or others’, to get the full story from the inside, we can make some multispecies semiotic progress. To claim not to be able to communicate with and to know one another and other critters, however imperfectly, is a denial of mortal entanglements (the open) for which we are responsible and in which we respond. Tehcnique, calculation, method – all are indispensable and exacting. But they are not response, which is irreducible to calculation. Response is comprehending that subject-making connection is real. Response is face-to-face in the contact zone of an entangled relationship. Response is in the open. Companion species know this. (226-227)

I suggest people must learn to meet dogs as strangers first in order to unlearn the crazy assumptions and stories we all inherit about who dogs are. Respect for dogs demands at least that much. (232)

I am not uninterested in the lively theoretical work and empirical research going on these days in regard to questions about language touching human and nonhuman animals. There is no doubt that many animals across a wide range of species, including rodents, primates, canids, and birds, do things few scientists expected them to be able to do (or had figured out how to recognize, partly because hardly anyone expected anything interesting to show up, at least not in testable, data-rich ways). (234)

Figuring out how to do the needed sorts of experimental work, in which heterogeneous material-semiotic entanglements are the norm, should be great fun and scientifically very creative. That such acute work largely remains to be done gives a pretty good idea about how abstemious, if not frightened of otherness, researching and philosophizing humans in Western traditions have been. (236)

Play is the practice that makes us new, that makes us into something that is neither one nor two, that brings us into the open where purposes and functions are given a rest. Strangers in mindful hominid and canid flesh, we play with each other and become significant others to each other. The power of language is purported to be its potentially infinite inventiveness. True enough in a technical sense (“discrete infinity”); however, the inventive potency of play redoes beings in ways that should not be called language but that deserve their own names. Besides, it is not potentially infinite expressiveness that is interesting for play partners but, rather, unexpected and nonteleological inventions that can take mortal shape only within the finite and dissimilar naturalcultural repertoires of companion species. Another name for those sorts of inventions is joy. (237)

If “desire” in the psychoanalytic sense is proper only to human language-constituted subjects, then sensuous “joy” is what play-constituted beings experience. Like copresence, joy is something we taste, not something we know denotatively or use instrumentally. Play makes an opening. Play proposes. (240)

9. Crittercam

[…] technologies are not mediations, something in between us and another bit of the world. Rather, technologies are organs, full partners, in what Merleau-Ponty called “infoldings of the flesh.” […] What happens in the folds is what is important. Infoldings of the flesh are worldly embodiment. (249)

But perhaps most striking of all is the small amount of actual Crittercam footage amid all the other underwater photography of the animals and their environments that fills the episodes. Actual Crittercam footage is, in fact, usually pretty boring and hard to interpret, somewhat like an ultrasound recording of a fetus. Footage without narration is more like an acid trip than a peephole reality. Cameras might be askew on the head of the critter or pointed down, so that we see lots of muck and lots of water, along with bits of other organisms that make precious little sense without a lot of other visual and narrative work. Or the videocams might be positioned just fine, but nothing much happens during most of the sampling time. Viewer excitement over Crittercam imagery is a highly produced effect. Home movies might be the right analogy after all. (258)

But the Crittercam people offered a means to got with the animals into places humans otherwise could not go to see things that change what we know  and how we must act as a consequence, if we have learned to care about the well-being of the entangled animals and people in those ecologies. (259-260)

There is no general answer to the question of animals’ agential engagement in meanings, any more than there is a general account of human meaning-making. […] Human bodies and technologies cohabit each other in relation to particular projects of lifeworlds. “In so far as I use a technology, I am also used by a technology.” […] Hermeneutic potency is a relational matter; it’s not about who “has” hermeneutic agency, as if it were a nominal substance instead of a verbal infolding. Insofar as I (and my machines) use an animal, I am used by an animal (with its attached machine). I must adapt to the specific animals even as I work for years to learn to induce them to adapt to me and my artifacts in particular kinds of knowledge projects. (262)

They touch; therefore they are. It’s about the action in contact zones. That’s the kind of insight that makes us know that situated human beings have epistemological-ethical obligations to the animals. […] The animals make demands on the humans and their technologies to precisely the same degree that the humans make demands on the animals. […] That part is “symmetrical”, but the contents of the demands are not symmetrical at all. […] The privilege of people accompanying animals depends on getting these asymmetrical relationships right. (263)

12. Parting Bites

Encounterings do not produce harmonious wholes, and smoothly preconstituted entities do not ever meet in the first place. Such things cannot touch, much less attach; there is no first place; and species, neither singular nor plural, demand another practice of reckoning. In the fashion of turtles (with their epibionts) on turtles all the way down, meetings make us who and what we are in the avid contact zones that are the world. Once “we” have met, we can never be “the same” again. Propelled by the tasty but risky obligation of curiosity among companion species, once we know, we cannot not know. If we know well, searching with fingery eyes, we care. That is how responsibility grows. (287)

[…] killing well is an obligation akin to eating well. […] There is no rational or natural dividing line that will settle the life-and-death relations between human and nonhuman animals; such lines are alibis if they are imagined to settle the matter “technically”. (297)

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)

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)

Winfried Nöth “Ecosemiotics and the Semiotics of Nature”

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Nöth, Winfried 2001. Ecosemiotics and the Semiotics of Nature. – Sign Systems Studies 29.1: 71-81

At the interface between semiotics and ecology, ecosemiotics is the study of environmental semioses, i.e., the study of sign processes which relate organisms to their natural environment. (71)

Communication, defined as a sign process which involves a sender and a receiver, occurs not only among humans, but also between all other organisms throughout the whole biosphere. Not only cultural semiotics, but also bio- and zoosemiotics are hence concerned with processes of communication. Signification, by contrast, which concerns sign processes without a sender, predominates in ecosemiotics, where organisms interact with a natural environment that does not function as the intentional emitter of messages to the interpreting organism. (72)

Ecosemiotics will have to be an approach to semiosis based on the assumption of a very low „semiotic threshold“ between signs and non-signs if it does not reject such a threshold altogether. (72)

Ecosemiotics in this vein [for example the structuralist tradition] is hence the study of the culturalization of nature. Let us call this approach cultural ecosemiotics. (73)

Mind, thought, and semiosis are basically synonyms to Peirce. His radical thesis is: wherever there is semiosis, there is mind. Mind is not only in humans, but also in their natural environment. Peirce did not even believe in a dualism between matter and mind. Instead, he defended the general principle of continuity from nature to mind, which he called synechism. Instead of an opposition, there is continuity between the mind and the natural environment. (75)

But how can teleology be at work in the interpretation of natural signs without a sender? In communication, as we have seen, teleology is rather evident since there is a purpose of a sign producer and an interpreter’s effort to understand as the guiding principles of semiosis. In the interpretation of natural signs, the teleological effect comes from the dynamical object, from the semiotic control which the natural object exerts on the outcome of sign interpretation, the interpretant. (77-78)

[…] Jakob von Uexküll […]abandoned the dualism between the inner and the outer world with his constructivist thesis that the organism’s inner world contains a cognitive model of its outer world so that the natural environment can so to speak be found within, and not, outside of the organism. (78)

Frans C. Verhagen “Worldviews and Metaphors …”

September 8, 2011 1 comment

Verhagen, Frans C. 2008. Worldviews and Metaphors in the Human-Nature Relationship: An Ecolinguistic Exploration Through the Ages. – Language & Ecology vol. 2 no. 3

THE ANTHROPOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW

Nature as scala naturae

Generally translated as the Chain of Being, scala naturae, which literally means the Ladder or Stairway of Nature, goes back to classical Greek culture. (4)

Nature as machine

This metaphor, which also represents human dominion over Nature, separates pre-modern and modern views of the human-Nature relationship. It may be considered to construe and communicate the major content of the present day worldview in the Western world.  (5)

In sum, the Nature as machine metaphor views the Earth not as an animate creature, but as a vast machine which, initially, was believed to be created and maintained by the Great Engineer, but which was later explained to be maintained by scientific processes. With the advancement of the industrial age and its factory system, the machine metaphor and its several variants became ever more entrenched in the predominantly mechanistic mode of thinking of Western societies. (6-7)

THE BIOCENTRIC WORLDVIEW

Nature as mother

While the metaphor of Nature as mother had mostly disappeared by the 17th century, today it has re-emerged in the Gaia theory, named after the Greek Earth goddess, Gaia. The Gaia theory considers the Earth to be a self-organizing or autopoietic organism, not an object, but a subject. It assumes that life is characterized by a striving against the pressures of entropy and, therefore, that it organizes itself to overcome entropy and disorder. (7)

Nature as web

Nature as web refers to the interdependence of all Earth beings or, considering Nature in its cosmic dimension, the interdependence of all Being. […]Implicit in the metaphor, Nature as web, is the notion of biocentric equality. Similar to Thoreau’s vast community of equals, it holds all organisms and entities in the biosphere to be parts of an interrelated whole and, therefore, equal in intrinsic worth. (8-9)

Nature as measure

Nature as measure is a metaphor that has been used throughout the ages to characterize Nature as a guide for human endeavor or as a standard against which to measure human endeavor. (9)