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Juri Lotman “Kultuur kui subjekt ja iseenese objekt”

August 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Lotman, Juri 1999. Kultuur kui subjekt ja iseenese objekt. – Lotman, J. Semiosfäärist. Tallinn: Vagabund, 37-52.

[…] sedamööda, kuidas uurimisprotsess use üha enam uurimisobjektiks sai, muutus käsitus uurija asendist keerukamaks ja aktualiseerus traditsioon, mis saab alguse Kantist. Analüüsiobjektiks on nüüd analüüsi mehhanism, teadmine teadmisest. Küsimuselt, kuidas vaim tekstis kehastub, nihkub huvi küsimusele, kuidas auditoorium teksti vastu võtab. […] Kultuuri ajalugu kangastub evolutsioonina kultuuri tõlgendamises – ühelt poolt tema kaasaegse auditooriumi, teisalt järgmiste põlvkondade, k.a teadusliku tõlgendustraditsiooni poolt. Esimesel juhul toimub interpretatsioon kõnealuse kultuuri sünkroonias ja on otsekui osa sellest, teisel juhul on ta kandunud diakrooniasse ja tal tuleb tegemist teha kõigi ühest keelest teise tõlkimise raskustega. (39-40)

Uuteks tekstideks nimetame tekste, mis tekivad pöördumatute protsesside (Ilya Prigogine’i mõistes) tagajärjel, s.o tekste, mis on teatul määral ennustamatud. (41)

Tähendust tekitava struktuuri töö teine iseärasus on ta võime siseneda omaenese sisendisse ja iseend transformeerida. Omaenda vaatepunktist paistab ta kui tekst teiste seas ja on seega endale normaalseks semiootiliseks „toiduks”. Siit tuleneb monaadi loomupärane võime enesekirjelduseks (eneserefleksiooniks) ja iseenese tõlkimiseks metatasandile. (42)

Mittetasakaaluliste olukordade iseärasuseks on see, et dünaamilisele trajektoorile ilmuvad Prigogine’i sõnutsi bifurkatsioonipunktid, s.o punktid, kust edasi võib liikumine võrdse tõenäosusega kulgeda kahes (või enamas) suunas, ning pole võimalik ennustada, millises ta tegelikult läheb. Neis tingimustes kasvab järsult juhuslikkuse, kõrvaltegurite osa, mis võivad protsessi edasist kulgu mõjutada. (48)

Kui valiku bifurkatsioonipunktis määrab juhus, siis on ilmne, et mida keerukam oma sisemise korralduse poolest on arenguseisundis viibiv objekt (ja järelikult, mida rohkem ta tekstina sisaldab „juhuslikku”), seda ennustamatum on tema käitumine. (48)

„Subjekti-objekti” kategooriad saavad siin tekkida vaid hetkel, mil enesekirjelduse tasandini tõusnud üksikmonaad modelleerib end kui isoleeritud ja ainsat intellekti. (50)

Niisiis iga kokkupuude ruumiga, mis asub väljaspool kõnealuse semiosfääri piire, nõuab selle ruumi eelnevat semiotiseerimist. (50)

Kuid ka tõeline välismaailm on semiootilises vahetuses aktiivne osaline. Semiosfääri piir on kõrgenenud semiootilise aktiivsuse ala, kus töötavad paljud „metafoorse tõlke” mehhanismid, „pumbates” kummaski suunas vastavalt transformeeritud tekste. Tegelikult käib siin seesama töö mis monaadi erisuguse korraldusega osade piiril ja igasugusel muul semiosfäärisisesel piiril. (51)

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Andrew Garnar “Power, Action, Signs: Between Peirce and Foucault”

Garnar, Andrew 2006. Power, Action, Signs: Between Peirce and Foucault. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42(3): 347-366.

I argue that any understanding of the subject must account for the subject being distributed through a field of power. (347)

I think it is clear that Foucault’s target here is the semiology of the Structuralists, but his point might also hold for Peirce. Yet Peirce should be able to escape this challenge since he is concerned with far more than significa-tion. For such an attempt to work though, I believe it necessary to accept, at least in part, Foucault’s agonistic account of human relations. (350)

Foucault kirjutas kuskil, et semiootika tegeleb kommunikatsiooniuuringutega. Kui semiootikat niiviisi (teadete edastamise ja vastuvõtmise teadusena) mõista, välistab see uurimisvaldkonnana võimu. Kuid semiootikat saab kenasti võimusuhete uurimisele laiendada. Siin ei tohiks vastuolu tekkida, kui tuleme foucault’likust vaatepunktist kaugemale.

Our habits guide our conduct. Habits are performed without thought, though thought is key for their development. “What the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act. As for the when, every stimulus to action is derived from perception; as for the how, every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result.” (CP: 5.400) So there are two key parts to any habit. First, the conditions under which we are lead to use the habit. Second, what actions result from the habit, what it causes us to do. This is not just the mechanics of the habit, what motions are gone through, but also the aim, the purpose, of that action. (350-351)

Power is about structuring habits. Power encourages or discourages certain habits. Power acts through the development and transformation of habits. By inciting, seducing, encouraging, discouraging, prohibiting, or mandating habits, one subject creates the field of possible actions in another. To return to the previous example, teachers create the environment in which habit-production occurs. (352)

Kas õpetaja-subjekt tõepoolest loob õpilaste keskkonna? Foucault eesmärgiks on ju olnud läbi oma töö näidata, et üks subjekt ei oma teise üle võimu, vaid et subjektid paigutuvad võimusuhete võrgustikku, milles nad peavad tegutsema. Õpetaja keskkond on juba institutsionaalselt, diskursiivselt ja ruumiliselt struktureeritud. Kui läheme tagasi valemi juurde “subjekt praktiseerib võimu teise subjekti üle”, ei ole me Foucault’ võimukäsitlust mõistnud.

Unlike traditional discussions of power, Foucault argues that power is not simply repressive, involved with limiting freedom. Instead, power rewards the development of some habits and punishes others. Power is involved at every stage in “constructing” the individual. This point is significant, since Peirce sees habit as a key aspect of being. Habits are what ground the subject in the world, connecting it to the world. Habits allow the subject to successfully navigate through the world. (352)

Power creates knowledge and knowledge sustains power. Knowledge creates spaces for power to operate, while power provides sites for knowledge to be produced. In producing a field of knowledge, one develops techniques for transforming the actions of subjects that fall within that field. Furthermore, every power relation presupposes a body of knowledge about the subjects on which that power is operating. (353)

Iga võimusuhe eeldab teadmist subjektide kohta. See on juba lähemal ja täpsem. Võimusuhe ei ole vägivald, kahene suhe, vaid, Peirce’i järgi, sümboolne. Kokkuleppeline, seaduspärane suhestatus. Ehk ühiskondlikult institutsionaliseeritud. Minnes näitega edasi, õpetaja tegutseb alati juba võimusuhete võrgustikus, mitte pelgalt ei aseta sellesse õpilasi.

The representamen is “something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity.” (CP: 2.228) The object is that thing the representamen stands in for. The interpretant makes the connection between the object and the representamen, determining in what capacity the representamen stands in for the object. In making this connection, the interpretant generates the representamen for the next triad and so on. Thus, we are forever caught up in semiosis. Meaning arises out of this semiotic process. Meaning is never present within a sign. It is derived from later signs. (355)

Siit leiame jälle semiootika põhitõe: märk ei ole iseendaga identne: peab viitama alati millelegi endast väljaspoolsele, olgugi et see väljaspoolne võib olla loodud märgi poolt. Märk kui väljaspoolsust loov protsess. Edaspidi sama ka subjekti puhul, kui subjekt ligikaudselt võrdub märgiga. Subjekt loob piiri sisemise ja välise vahel, subjekt on see piiritlemistegevus, mis loob subjektiivse ja objektiivse eristuse ning seetõttu ei ole meil kunagi võimalik subjekti kui entiteeti fikseerida. Subjekt ei ole lihtsalt keha maailmas, üksus ühiskonnas, vaid piiritlemistegevuse jätkuv rada. Subjektil saab olla ainult ajalugu, mitte positsioon.

So, what then is the status of “truth” now? It would appear that “truth” is an interpretation of a sign, which means it is another sign among others. It is a Peircian symbol, a linguistic sign, which is a sign that has “no existence although it has a real being, consisting in the fact that existents will con-form to it.” (CP 2.292) (356-357)

Tõde kui märk teiste seas. Foucault: diskursus loob omaenese tõe, kustutades oma ajaloolisuse, kontingentsuse. Tõde, mõistetuna diskursuseväliselt, muutuks mitte-märgiks, lõplikuks tähistatavaks, mis jõustaks meie diskursuse (olgu selleks siis subjekti teadvus, keskaegne jumal või teaduslik kindlus). “Fixation of Beliefs” loob aga nt just sellise diskursuse (Peirce’i puhul uskumuste/harjumuste-) välise kinnistamise vastandina teadusliku uuringu, mis peab alati püsima kriitiline, kahtlema uskumustes ja teadmistes, mitte viitama lõplikule tähistatavale.

The truth of a sign will be borne out in action. It this through this process that the sense of which signs are true is produced. Power is in play here because the meaning of signs, what actions result from them, is in question. Power channels those meanings in particular directions. (357)

Through the operations of power, communication by way of symbols becomes possible. By communicating in a field where interpretations are constrained, shared meanings are possible. (357)

„Two things here are all-important to assure oneself of and to remember. The first is that a person is not absolutely an individual. His thoughts are what he is “saying to himself,” that is, is saving [sic] to that other self that is just coming into life in the flow of time. When one reasons, it is that critical self that one is trying to persuade; and all thought whatsoever is a sign, and is mostly of the nature of language. The second thing to remem-ber is that the man’s circle of society (however widely or narrowly this phrase may be understood) is a sort of loosely compacted person, in some respects of higher rank than the person of an individual organism.“ (CP: 5.421) (359)

I propose that habits are a species of symbols. In terms of semiosis, this means that whenever a particular repre-sentamen and object comes up, the same interpretation or translation of the

sign occurs. A habit is a stabilized interpretant, such that the same meaning is always derived from the sign.7 These particular symbols make up a large portion of the self≈sign. They form the battery of meanings we deploy throughout much of our lives. (360)

In point of fact, if I am correct in proposing that power relations are important for symbolic communication, then power is a necessary part of human existence. (361)

Häiring: võimu kasutatakse liialt enesestmõistetavalt ning seetõttu omandab väga laialivalguva kuju, samastudes juba nietzscheliku “jõuga”, mis juhib kõike ja kõiki. Samas, võimu sidumine harjumuste formeerimisega annab sellele üsna täpse ja jälgitava kuju. Samas: igasugune harjumus kehtestatud võimusuhte kaudu?

Why is this significant? I think in large part because Peirce offers a non-Cartesian philosophy of the subject. Or, more properly, a sketch of such a philosophy. Let us return to the 1868 essay “Some Consequences of Four Incapacities.” The essay is one of the single most devastating assaults on Cartesianism. This becomes clear from the first incapacity: “We have no power of Introspection, but all knowledge of the internal world is derived by  hypothetical reasoning from our knowledge of external facts.” (CP: 5.265) (363)

We do not have such open access to the mind. Instead, when we reflect on ourselves, this is reasoning about those things “commonly called external.” This is the reason why the self is not given. The self must be inferred. (363)

Foucault üritas subjektifilosoofiast väljuda. Peirce pakub mitte-kartesiaanliku subjektifilosoofia. Kas need on omavahel ühendatavad? Kreeka-loengud annavad alust mõelda, et on. Kas Foucault mitte ise ei arendanud teatavat subjekti(ajaloo)filosoofiat?

Mihhail Lotman “Struktuur ja vabadus I”

February 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Lotman, Mihhail 2012. Struktuur ja vabadus I: semiootika vaatevinklist. I.I, Tartu-Moskva koolkond: tekstist semiosfäärini. Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikooli Kirjastus.

 

Peirce, Saussure ja semiootika alused

Peirce’i lähenemist märkidele võiks nimetada atomistikuks. Tähelepanu keskmes on (üksik)märk, veelgi enam, need eeltingimused, mis teevad märgi märgiks. Peirce’i semiootika seisukohalt on märk elementaarne ja semiootiliselt väikseim element. […] „Märk või esitis on midagi, mis esindab kellelegi midagi mingis suhtes või ulatuses.“ Ehkki niisugune definitsioon on puhtrelativistlik (märgi moodustab suhete süsteem), on märk semiootilises mõttes siiski elementaarne objekt, koosnemata mingisugustest väiksematest koostisosadest. […] Et märk on ükskõik missugune objekt (midagi), võib see olla oma ehituselt üpris keeruline jne, olles semiootilises mõttes ikkagi elementaarne, st see ei koosne väiksematest semiootiliselt relevantsetest elementidest. (52)

Saussure’i jaoks ei eksisteeri isoleeritud märki üldse. Tema seisukohalt on kogu Peirce’i semioosi skeem ebakorrektne, märgi loob mitte selle seos objektiga või märgi kasutajaga, vaid sidemed teiste märkidega, mis kuuluvad samasse märgisüsteemi. (53)

[…] Peirce’il ja Saussure’il tähistab üks ja sama sõna ’märk’ täiesti erinevaid asju. Peirce’i märk on konkreetne objekt, see on substituut, mis asendab teist, samuti konkreetset objekti, Saussure’il aga abstraktne, mis realiseerub konkreetses substantsis, ja mis kõige huvitavam, antud realisatsioon õõnestab teatud määral selle märgilisust: kõnes realiseeritud märk ei ole enam üldse märk selle sõna otseses mõttes. (54)

Ehkki tavaliselt saussure’ilikus traditsioonis semioosist juttu ei ole ja seda terminit ei kasutata, võib siiski öelda, et just märgi funktsioon on märgi moodustuse (st semioosi) aluseks. Niisiis on erinevalt Peirce’ist Saussure’i märk esiteks abstraktne ja teiseks (semiootiliselt) kompleksne objekt. (55)

Arbitraarsus iseloomustab märgi tähendust, absoluutne determineeritus aga väärtust. Tähendus tekib tähistaja ja tähistatava omavahelisest seosest, väärtus iseloomustab elemendi positsiooni süsteemis, s.o väärtus on antud süsteemi elemendi kõikide süsteemisiseste seoste kompleks. (56)

Kui me läheneme sellele probleemile Saussure’i vaimus, peame arvesse võtma, et kõik, mida Peirce vaatleb, iseloomustab mitte keelt, vaid kõnet; kõik keelemärgid on Saussure’i süsteemis samatüübilised. […] kõik Peirce’i märgitüübid iseloomustavad üksnes kõnet, samas kui keelemärgid baseeruvad põhimõtteliselt teistsugusel loogikal, mis rajaneb märgi väärtusel, mitte selle seostel teiste objektidega. (59)

Émile Benveniste rõhutas, et kõnel on oma semiootilised omadused, mis ei tulene keelest. Teiseks, kõne võib olla ka suletud ja stabiilne süsteem. Sellist süsteemi hakati nimetama tekstiks. […] Seega on tekst immanentne süsteem, teksti elemendid moodustavad struktuuri ning igal tekstil on oma kindel väärtus. (60)

Peirce, mitteortodoksne pragmatist, lähtub arusaamast, et mitte keegi ei saa tõeni jõuda teisiti kui praktika kaudu. (61)

Kui me püüame defineerida märki, lähtudes samast loogikast, millega defineerime ükskõik millist teist empiirilist objekti (ent see ongi täpselt, mida Peirce üritab oma fenomenoloogias või faneroloogias teha), libiseb märk lihtsalt minema. See ei ole objekt nagu teised asjad. Märk ei ole „mingiasi“ (something), see pole üldse mingi asi (thing). (64)

[…] Saussure’i jaoks ei ole märk algusest saadik empiiriline fenomen. Tema implitsiitselt platonistlikus süsteemis on märgil sama loomus nagu Platoni ideel. See ei ole mingi objekt, vaid see realiseerub objektis. Teisisõnu, ka Saussure’i puhul peame järeldama sama mis Peirce’i puhul: märke ei saa käsitleda sarnaselt teiste asjadega. Asjade maailmas pole kohta märkidel, märkide maailmas pole kohta asjadel. Semiootika püüab leida ja rajada teid nende maailmade vahel. (65)

Märgi identiteet ei ole temas endas, vaid on täiesti teises objektis, mida nimetatakse märgi tähenduseks. Märk ei ole identne ei iseenda ega objektiga, mida ta tähistab. Märki identifitseerib tema tähendus, kuid märk ei ole identne ka oma tähendusega, need on põhimõtteliselt erinevad fenomenid. Seega ei kehti märgimaailmas identsuse seadus. Semiootika aluseks on sisemine paradoks: A ≠ A. (65-66)

Mis on eneseidentiteedi alus jõe või ükskõik millise teise objekti puhul? See on märk, mis tähistab vastavat objekti. (67)

 

Semiootika, kultuur ja kultuurisemiootika

Peirce’i klassikalise definitsiooni järgi on märk „miski, mis esindab kellelegi midagi mingis suhtes või mingil määral“ (CP 2.228), st märgil enesel ei ole mingit n-ö märgilisuse tunnust, märgilisus on nelja muutujaga funktsioon ning märgiks saamise protsessi nimetatakse Peirce’i õpilase Charles Morrise terminit kasutades semioosiks. (68)

Peirce’i semiootikat võiks nimetada substitutiivseks: märk on objekti asendaja; Peirce nimetbki märki esitiseks (representaameniks), kasutaja on see, kes selle asenduse sooritab (kas adressandina teksti luues või adressaadina seda dešifreerides). (69)

Võiks arvata, et mitte-semiootiline ala on primaarne, semiootiline ala aga tekib selle semiotiseerimise käigus. Kuid semiootika seisukohalt on see suhe vastupidine: mittesemiootiline ala on sekundaarne ja tekib kultuuri teatud semiootilise arengu etapil. Loodus osutub asendatuks kultuuri poolt, niisamuti on mittesemiootiline valdkond välja arendatud semiootilisest. (72-73)

[…] nagu tekst saab eksisteerida ainult tekstivälise reaalsuse taustal, sellest eraldudes, on ka tekstiväline reaalsus spetsiifiline igale tekstile. Jakob von Uexkülli terminoloogiat kasutades võiks öelda, et tekstiväline reaalsus on teksti omailm (Umwelt). Tekst on suletud ja suveräänne struktuur ning just niisugusena tuleb seda tundma õppida. (75)

 

Sekundaarne modelleeriv süsteem

[…] primaarne märgisüsteem on primaarne ainult antud sekundaarse süsteemi suhtes ja sekundaarne süsteem on sekundaarne ainult antud primaarse süsteemi suhtes. See, et luule on sekundaarne märgisüsteem loomuliku keele suhtes, ei tähenda, et loomulik keel ei saa olla sekundaarne mingi muu süsteemi suhtes. (105)

Tihtipeale figureerib keel semiootilise süsteemi sünonüümina. Ma tahan need mõisted lahutada – keel on vaid üks komponent igas semiootilises süsteemis. Teine kohustuslik komponent on väli. Seega defineerime semiootilist süsteemi S paarina ’keel ja väli’: S = {L,F}. Keel  tähendab edaspidi paari ’leksikon ja grammatika’: L = {A,G}, kus L on keel, A on leksikon ja G grammatika. […] Konstruktsioonid, mis on moodustatud baaselementides reeglite abil, moodustavad antud keele lausete hulga. Tekst on ühe või mitme lause realiseerimina a) kindlas aines – materialiseeritud lauset nimetame ütluseks ja b) kindlal väljal (taustal) […] Väli – erinevalt ütlusest – ei ole tuletatav keelest, kuigi neid seob vastastikune sõltuvus; erinevates semiootilistes süsteemides on keel ja välja vahelised seosed erinevad. Väli ei ole üksnes konkreetne materiaalne fenomen – nagu keeleski, võib väljas eristada abstraktset ja materialiseeritud plaani. (106-107)

Autonoomseteks nimetame keeli, mis ei vaja oma realiseerimiseks mõnda teist keelt; nad võivad realiseeruda ka teiste keelte kaudu (st kasutada teist keelt oma väljana), kuid samas võivad esineda iseseisvalt. Need keeled, mis saavad realiseeruda ainult mõnd teist keelt väljana kasutades, on mitteautonoomsed. (111)

Robert Castel, Francoise Castel, Anne Lovell “The Psychiatric Society”

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Castel, Robert; Francoise Castel; Anne Lovell 1982. The Psychiatric Society. New York: Columbia University Press.

 

Part Three: Psychamerica

With the advent of mental medicine, the lunatic came to be seen as a patient suffereing from a malady. For the first time, a distinction was made between the mentally ill individual and others belonging to such miscellanous categories as social deviants, delinquents, vagabonds, vagrants, debauchees, wastrels, idiots, criminals, and others guilty of violating social and sexual norms. (171)

The nosographic classifications of mental illness have always been dubious, however. They are based on the assumption that there is a clear divdiding line between people who are „ill“ and therefore within the purview of psychiatry, on the one hand, and people who are „normal“ – though they may come under the jurisdiction of some other repressive agency, such as the courts – on the other hand. (171)

The people who seek these new services exhibit symptoms that are signs not so much of a specific pathology as of a malaise in daily life: exaggerating somewhat, one might say that what must be cured is normality. Now that we have reached the point of „therapy for the normal“, virtually all of social space has been opened up to the new techniques of psychological manipulation. (172)

 

Chapter 6: The Psychiatrization of Difference

In many police departments social workers are on call around the clock. There are „roving medical teams“ which include a psychologist and an intern who work for the police. This gives mental health personnel access through the police to people who would never have thought of seeking psychiatric help on their own, particularly in the ghettos and other poor areas. (177)

American courts confront a basic contradiction. Unable to mete out the prison sentences provided for by law, they discharge their responsibilities by sending lawbreakers to community treatment programs, most of which the judges know to be shams. What makes this deceit credible is that the concept of „treatment“ is invoked – in other words, the contention is that techniques based on medicine will be used to rehabilitate delinquents. Were it not for this safety valve, perhaps the fiction that justice is being done by the courts would have been exploded long ago, and people might then have been willing to look more closely at the foundations of a legal system (and a society) so conceived that nearly a third of the nation’s young people violate its laws. Rather than raise basic questions about the system, people have cast about for dubious alternative to what are ostensibly the most brutal forms of punishment. What is paradoxical about all but a few of these „alternatives“ is that they have done nothing to empty the prisons while augmenting the number of people mixed up with the courts. (183)

[…] the legal criterion for accepting or rejecting experimentation of this sort turned on the degree to which the technique in question was genuinely „medical“. (188)

According to some estimates, however, the number of addicts was most likely higher in the early twenties than it is today, perhaps nearly as high as one million. But addiction was not yet recognized as a social scourge. What has happened lately is not so much a drug „epidemic“ – a term suggestuve of the medicalization of the problem – as a stepping up of coordinated efforts to control certain social groups. (190)

In retrospect, the nineteenth and realy twentiet centuiries have been called a „drug addicts’ paradise“: morphine and heroin were widely used both for medical purposes (in the treatment of alcoholicm, as sedatives, and for „women’s troubles“) and simply for pleasure. The definition of a substance as a drug is a social act and goes hand in hand with efforts to restrict its use. (191)

[…] methadone has two decisive advantages in connection with drug control policy: there is no withdrawal, so users are less likely to be drive to violent crime in search of drugs or money to satisfy their craving, and users become dependent on methadone and are thereby forced to submit to daily scrutiny by the medical personnel who dispence the drug. Official documents recognize the fact that methadone users are in a dependent state and hold that this is one key to its effectiveness. One stated that many addicts have difficulty forming close relationships, and if they were not dependent on metadone, they would find it difficult if not impossible to go to the dispensary every day and establish a long-term relationship with the staff. Thus the dependence created by methadone is crucial to establishing a potentially therapeutic and rehabilitatice relationship with the addict. (197)

The new techniques have made it possible to tighten surveillance and control and extend their range. If prisons are beginning to look like hospitals, this means that their claim to provide therapy is not incompatible with their repressive function. (202)

For children even more than adults, psychiatric labels are often thin disguises for difficulties in adjusting to specific social, family, or scholastic situations rather than descriptions of clear-cut pathologies. (202)

The present goal is not merely to segregate abnormal individuals but also to detect potentially troublesome cases early on. One element of the new stategy is to examine everyone belonging to certain specific social groups or age categories. (204)

Schools are increasingly being used to separate the wheat from the chaff, the normal from the pathological, and growing numbers of specialists are being trained to assist, cousel, and treat what might be calles „abnormal pupils.“ (206)

Thus it seems clear that the real target of the treatment is the child’s disruptive behavior per se. The therapeutic excuse for the use of these drugs has been abandoned, and they are now openly accepted as instruments of control. As one pediatrician has put it, the object of medication is to improve the functioning of the brain so that the child becomes more normal in his thinking and responses. (209)

[…] childhood in general has become the prime target of an indiscriminate hunt for anomalous behavior. (210)

William Ryan has used the phrase blaming the victim to describe the ideologies and practices that have been used in the United States against deprived groups and individuals suspected of menacing law and order. This is how it works: „First, identify a social proble,. Secon, study those affected by the problem and discover in what ways they are different from the rest of us as a consequence of deprivation and injustice. Third, define the differences as the cause of the problem itself. Finally, of course, assign a government bureaucrat to invent a humanitarian action program to correct the difference.“ (210-211)

If we are right in thinking that we are now witnessing a transition to a new and more effective level of technological manipulation of marginal social groups, hten criticism of social control policies must also shift its ground to focus on the manipulative uses of the „scientific“ approach. (213)

 

Chapter 8: Psy Services and Their New Consumers

One comes away with an impression that everyday life is utterly suffused with interpretations stemming from medical psychology; the methods are now so flexible that nothing further stands in the way of their unlimited proliferation. The political implications of this colonization of social life by psychology are enormous. (257)

The same society that welcomed Freud as the messiah continues to celebrate his lesser epigones. Why? Because the role that psychoanalysis played in the United States was not limited to dominating, as it once did, the narrow field of mental medicine. Psychonanalysis was the main instrument for the reduction of social issues in general to questions of psychology. (261-262)

With the arrival of the post-psychoanalytic era it has become possible to speak of „therapy for the normal“ on a much wider scale. This is an important change, for it implies that anyone and everyone now falls within the purview of one of the new types of therapy. (264)

[…] behavior modification has been used as a way of imposing scientifically designed controls on the daily routine of many people; it therefore lends itself to a virtually unlimited range of applications. With some exaggeration, perhaps, it might be said that behavior modification turns all of life into an educational and disciplinary institution. (266)

„Therapy for the normal“, then, uses an array of mental and, particularly, physical tehcniques to maximize the „human yield“ of each individual; it is not aimed at healing, as standard therapies presumably are. The goal is not to get well, but to become healthier (that is to experience more pleasure, to „get in touch with one’s feelings“, to become aware of one’s body, etc.). Medical healing gives way to personality growth: Encounter groups are designed for people who are functioning normally but who wish to impove their relationships with others. (282)

To earn the right to treatent (as psychoanalysis had suspected), the normal individual must exhibit neurotic symptoms. But what is a symptom? „A psychic symptom today is no longer a symptom but a sign that life lacks joy.“ Normal life – social life – is sick, it requires therapy, therapy for nomrality, and techniques to develop human potential and foster autonomy and enhance pleasure in a sad and alienated world. Adjustment, then, has been supplanted by a normative notion of normality – normality seen, in this new light, as the product of „working on“ one’s own personality. (282-283)

If a man’s social status is merely a product of the way he lives his life, then it is possible to use technical means to manipulate the factors that enter into his choices. With regard to relations between social groups, this outlook has led unions, for wxample, to take a particular line, namely, to make demands aimed at enabling the category of worker they represent to „play the game“ successfully within the system, i.e., to compete successfully in the struggle for advancement. With regard to the lowest strata in the society, it has led to a welfare policy that seeks to minister to individual shortcomings without touching the structural conditions that may be responsible for them (293)

What is being worked out, in short, is a completely rational concept of man, a concept perfectly attuned to the dominant notion of what is rational. The problem then ceases to be one of healing the sick, reeducating the guilty, ot controlling deviant behavior (these goals remain, of course, but as objectives allied with new techniques). Instead, „normal“ man has come to the fore as the center of attention in a society whose only passion is to produce earnestly and efficiently. To heal is good, to precent is better, but to maximize output by adjusting each individual to his social role and by calibrating change to the social dynamic as required by the necessity to reproduce the social order is surely the ideal of policy without politics. (295)

 

Conclusion

Underlying the boldest attempts to standardize behavior is a conception of a sort of „scientific“ utopia: to achieve happiness for both the individual and the community by means of rational planning carried out by technical experts. (316)

If the study of recent changes in psychiatry proves anything, it is how much the present expansion of psychiatry’s sphere of influence owes to those who have come one after another to work on the fringes of the profession, pushing back its boundaries by „moving beyond“the old models, which they descrube as archaic, coercive, prescriptive, and so forth. (319-320)

Psychiactric sociaty: No longer a society in which psychiatry takes care of a few patients, whether really ill or merely purported to be, in any case defined bu a starky contrast between the normal and the pathological; but rather an organization of everyday life in which manipulative techniques, more often than not developed and popularized mental medicine, become coextensive with all aspects of social life. No longer the manifestation of naked power exerted directly to repress social and political differences; but rather diffuse pressures of many kinds, which invalidate such differences by interpreting them as so many symptoms to be treated. Not the country of gray dawns in which state commissars drag dissidents out of bed at the crow of the cock; but rather a padded world watched over night and day by squads of skilled specialists, many of them well-meaning. Skilled at what? At manipulating people to accept the constraints of society. (320)

Juri Lotman “Semiotics of Personality and Society”

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

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)

Susan Petrilli “Semioethics, Subjectivity, and Communication”

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Petrilli, Susan 2004. Semioethics, Subjectivity, and Communication: For the Humanism of Otherness. Semiotica 148(1/4): 69-92.

As global semiotics, general semiotics today must carry out a detotalizing function. In other words general semiotics must present itself as a critique of all (claims to the status of) totalities, including world and global communication – a task which should have top priority among critics. If the critical and detotalizing dimension is lacking, general semiotics will prove to be no more than a mere juxtaposition to the special semiotics, a syncretic result of the latter, a transversal language of the encyclopaedia of the unified sciences […]

We could make the claim that in today’s dominant communication-production system difference understood in terms of otherness or alterity is substituted ever more by difference understood in terms of alternatives.

[…]according to the global approach communication is no longer considered in the oversimplifying terms described above but rather is equated with life itself. Communication and life coincide, as Sebeok’s biosemiotics in particular has made clear […]

As Emmanuel Lévinas above all has shown, otherness obliges the totality to reorganize itself always anew in a process related to what he calls ‘infinity’, and which may  also be related to the concept of ‘infinite semiosis’ (to use an expression from Charles S. Peirce). This relation to infinity is not limited to a cognitive dimension: beyond the established order, beyond the symbolic order, beyond convention and habit, it implies a relation of involvement and responsibility with what is most refractory to the totality, that is, the otherness of others, of the other person, not in the sense of another self, another alter ego, an I belonging to the same community, but rather in the sense of the other in its extraneousness, strangeness, diversity, difference  toward which indifference is impossible, in spite of all the efforts made by the identity of the I and guaranties offered by the latter.

there is no element whatever of man’s consciousness which has not something corresponding to it in the word … . It is that the word or sign which man uses is the man himself. For, as the fact that every thought is a sign, taken in conjunction with the fact that life is a train of thought, proves that man is a sign; so, that every thought is an external sign, proves that man is an external sign. That is to say, the man and the external sign are identical, in the same sense in which the words homo and man are identical. Thus my language is the sum  total of myself; for the man is the thought. (CP 5.314)

The utterances of the self convey significance beyond words. And yet, the ineffability and uniqueness of the self do not imply the sacrifice of communicability, for what the self  is in itself (in its firtsness) can always be communicated to a degree, even if only to  communicate the impossibility of communicating.

[…] identity  is  not  unitary and compact, but rather it presents an excess, something more with respect to closed and fixed identity. Self does not coincide with the I but is one of its representations, one of its openings, a means, an instrument, or modality, but never an end in itself.

Semioethics may be considered as working toward a new form of humanism, which is inseparable from the question of otherness. This also emerges from its commitment at the level of pragmatics and focus on the relation between signs, values and behavior as well as from the intention of transcending separatism among the sciences insisting on the interrelation between the human sciences, the historico-social sciences and the natural, logico-mathematical sciences.

Human rights as they have so far been claimed tend to be centered on identity, leaving aside the rights of the other. Said differently, the expression ‘human rights’ is oriented in the direction of the humanism of identity and tends to refer to one’s own rights, the rights of identity, of self, forgetting the rights of the other. On the contrary, in the perspective of our concern for life over the planet, human and nonhuman, for  the health of semiosis generally, for the development of communication not only in strictly cultural terms but also in broader biosemiosical terms, this tendency  must quickly be counteracted by the humanism of otherness, where the rights of the other are the first to be recognized. Our allusion here is not just to the rights of the other beyond self, but also to the self’s very own other, to the other of self.

This also leads us to interpret the sign behavior of humanity in the light of the hypothesis that if the human involves signs, signs in turn are human. At the same time, however, we must clarify that such a humanistic commitment does not mean to reassert humanity’s (monological) identity yet again, nor to propose yet another form of anthropocentrism. On the contrary, what is implied is radical decentralization, nothing less than a Copernican revolution.

Semioethics  does  not  have  a  program  with intended aims and practices to propose, nor a decalogue or formula to apply more or less sincerely, or more or less hypocritically. From this point of view, semioethics contrasts with stereotypes as much as with norms and ideology.

Semioethics is not fixed upon a given value or preestablished end, an ultimate end or summum bonum, but rather is concerned with semiosis in its dialogical and detotalized globality: indeed semioethics pushes beyond the totality, outside the closure of totality, with a gaze that transcends the totality, a given being, a defined  entity, in the direction of unending semiosis – a movement toward the infinite, desire of the other. A special task for semioethics is to unmask the illusoriness of the claim to the status of indifferent differences and to evidence the biosemiosic condition of dialogic involvement among signs, intercorporeity.

Thomas Sebeok “Global Semiotics”

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Sebeok, Thomas A. 2001. Global Semiotics. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

 

What Do We Know about Signifying Behavior in the Domestic Cat (Felis Catus)? (74-96)

[…] the triadic relationship is preserved in one’s absence: the cat’s eyes will, depending on the situation, change their expression even if you do not peceive or otherwise register the behavioral sequence. (76)

[…] the non-cat outside observer does not know the cat’s code; and even another cat shares it only to the limited extent warranted by its own semantic boundaries. (78)

„The behavior of every organism – ’behavior’ being defined as the sign trafficking among different Umwelten – has as its basic function the production of nonverbal signs for communication, and first of all for communication of that organism within itself“ (Sebeok 1992: 103). (79)

It appears from this approach that behavior is, in semiotic jargon, an indexical sign, pointing toward its interpretant, viz., another sign, which in its turn is empowered to encode effects of the environment onto its receptors into still further signs, or, in short, to attribute meaning. (80)

The salien point to bear in mind here is that both kinds of sounds, regardless of their sourcee and whether wanted (signals) or unwanted (noise), „signify“ whenever they impinge on the appropriate auditory circuit of any animal, self or other, thereupon arrogating the office of an interpretant (in Peircean phraseology), or, more accurately, a cataract of such novel signs. (85)

[…] from its ontogenetic outset, any animal must minimally classify within its inherited cognitive map classes of things to approach […], another class of things to withdraw from […], and an indefinitely vaster category of all remaining objects (0) which appear not to matter either biologically or socially – a brew of plus, minus, and zero signs adequate for survival. (89)

 

„Tell Me, Where Is Fancy Bred?“: The Biosemiotic Self (120-127)

[…] bodily sensations and the like, most saliently those connected with illness, are not amenable to verbal expression because they lack external referents; insistent intrusions though they may be into the routines of one’s day or night, they can at best be denominated, for they resist unfolding into narratives, which are, by definition, always verbal. (123)

Where, then, is the „semiotic self“ located? Clearly, in the organism’s milieu extérieur, on the level of an idiosyncratic phenomenal world, tantamount to Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt – a technical appellation I prefer to render as the „model“ of a species-specific segment of individual reality – made up of exosemiotic processes of sign transmission. […] This semiotic self, which of course enfolds and thus „contains“ in its milieu intérieur some body’s immunocompetetence, occupies, as it were, a sphere of space/time bounding the organism’s integumentm although the proagrams for fabrication of subjective constructs of this sort are surely stored within the subjacent realms of its endosemiotic organs […] This semiotic self, furthermore, is composed of a repertoire of signs of a necessarily sequestered character; as Jakob von Uexküll – claiming that even a signle cell has its Ich-Ton („ego-quality“) – remarked, „bleibt unser Ich notwendig subjektiv“ (our ego remains necessarily subjective). (124)

The semiotic self, as was already noticed by Thure von Uexküll, is the recondite interpreter of our world in the semiosic chain of transmission, and therefore continually engaged in meta-interpretation, viz., interpreting interpretations. Any self can and must interpret the observed behavior of another organism solely as a response to its interpretations of its universe, „behavior“ meaning the propensity that enables it to link up its Umwelt with those of other living systems within its niche. An act of interpretation is an act of assignment, that is, the elevation of an interpreted phenomenon to „signhood“; indeed, this is what the word encoding betokens. (126)