Frederik Stjernfelt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jordan Zlatev (email@example.com)
Peer Bundgaard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The recent decade has seen the integration of cognitive science and semiotics. The former providing experimental methods and the focus upon cognition as elementary aim and process in human beings and other organisms, the latter providing the theoretical emphasis on sign use as vehicle for cognition and communication alike, this integration has given rise to an impressive amount of scholarship in Cognitive Semiotics, and the formation of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS), www.iacs.dk. This session of the IASS World Congress calls for papers addressing experimental and theoretical issues in Cognitive Semiotics.
Relevance and Tellability in Pictorial Storytelling
In this paper, I shall discuss some possible criteria of narrativity with regard to pictorial objects, and I will argue that pictorial works may express or imply narrative structures of various kinds. In which way(s) can pictorial representations render stories, and which structural, causal or otherwise narrative-enabling properties are most relevant in this respect? Further, I intend to focus upon another kind of relevance, namely the narrativeness of pictures, their "tellability" qua stories --that is, what makes them worth telling at all, or their noteworthiness.
A number of features contributing to the tellability of narratives have been suggested, such as eventfulness, changes of state, and the deviation of event or action sequences from pre-established expectations. Alternative criteria for tellability would include, for example, suspense, curiosity, and surprise; unusualness; switches and contrasts; violations of certain orders (political, social, or moral); and so on. Apart from that, it could also be argued that the emotional significance and exemplary status of narrated events play a crucial role. Monika Fludernik, for example, has stressed the relationship between "experientiality" and narrativity, the appeal to humans' prototypical existential concerns. Indeed, many successful stories seem to be concerned with more or less universal human preoccupations such as sex, danger, life and death, power, money, and so on (Roger Schank 1979).
This paper will debate what narrative features might be more relevant than others as enabling or “good-making” qualities of pictorial storytelling. Recent research within cognitive psychology and narratology, as well as some concrete pictorial examples, will be taken into account.
2) Göran Sonesson, Centre for cognitive semiotics, Lund University
Between Representation, Enaction, and Phenomenology. Some Keys to Cognitive Semiotics
The notion of sign had a very brief history in semiotics, before it was ousted by leading thinkers such as Greimas and Eco, who preferred semiotic squares and sign processes. The exception here is of course the followers of Peirce, but their notion of sign is so broad that it is unclear whether it really excludes anything. The (apparently) parallel notion of representation has had a long history in cognitive science, but, recently, is has been argued in many quarters that there are no representations, or that representations are really a kind of action, basically of a more concrete and often unconscious kind. At least in the form of ”radical enactivism”, to use Daniel Hutto’s term, this conception seems to amount to a rejection of any mental aspect of meaning, similar to the case of (philosophical) behaviourism. Although Hutto sometimes marks his distance to “really radical enactivism”, it is no accident that the message taken home has often been of the latter kind. From the epistemological point of view, this history is problematical is several ways. First, it is not clear why we should not be able to consider meaning from different perspectives, whatever is most convenient at the time, as an entity, a process, or something in between, as suggested, notably, by Humboldt, Bühler, Hjemslev and Coseriu. In the second place, no matter whether meaning is a process or an entity, we are not dispensed from analysing the sign function as a specific mode of meaning, which, as Piaget suggested, is attained at some specific moment in the development of the child (and which may never be attained by other animals, except by some apes raised in a human environment). On one hand, when Evan Thompson translates the phenomenological analysis of mental images made by Edmund Husserl and Eduard Marbach in terms of enaction, he misses the point by not contrasting them with real pictures. On the other hand, Husserlean and Marbachean phenomenology may be at fault in not explaining in what way even mental images and memory may be double-faced, although not in the way of signs.
3) Karl Gfesser
Neurosemiosis – An Explanat of Consciousness
How does mind come about? Or more precisely, since long existent, how does mind reveal itself from matter – from the biotic, complex and highly organized matter of the brain? In trying to answer this question, philosophers get entangled in subtly differentiated hypotheses such as the identity of mind and matter, causality through matter, correlation to matter, representation of matter, reduction to matter, emergence from matter, supervenience on matter – mind understood here as consciousness and matter then as the brain, even though both terms correctly apply only in their processuality. The idea of a condition, used in this context, remains conceptually unclear and is not applicable.
It is certainly difficult to define what constitutes consciousness without using twisted metaphors that all too often turn out to be pleonasms. The probably unavoidable use of possessive, instrumental, local and directive[i] prepositions (in the example of the hypotheses cited above) gives a hint how normal language – in other situations so helpful – can be misleading, as it insinuates that the relation of the brain to mind were instrumental, the relation of consciousness to the brain were spatial. And the research of neuroscientists in turn has not reached beyond results dealing with perception – namely, vision, audition, gustation, olfaction and tactility –, in addition to introception such as thirst and hunger, pain and pleasure,[ii] as well proprioception as self-perception in time and space, not to forget affections such as fear, aggression, emotional attachment. The greatest enigma, however, we have not yet solved: apperception and self-aware cognition. Philosophers and cognitive scientists as well as brain- and neuroscientists have some problems in describing, or rather circumscribing, neuronal and cognitive processes and the connection between the two. There is monistic agreement about this connection that is only questioned by a few persistent dualists. It goes without saying that any circumscription of a process is not the process itself.
In this paper, I will try to identify, as clearly as possible, what kind the processes under discussion are. To avoid misinterpretations, I will try my best to shun inappropriate metaphors, analogies and pleonasms. Epistemological curiosity – an instinct, by the way, whose neurological exploration is still pending – is pressing for further research, even though some claim it is a futile endeavor: we are denied neurological access to our consciousness, they say, since the brain is structured as an organ of survival and not made to reach self-awareness.[iii] I do not lay claim to bridging this gap of cognition, neither do I intend to avoid the problem out of resignation. However, no inappropriate explanans shall be added to the explanandum, but such an explanans shall be hypostatized, which will allow a conclusive explanat. Neurosemiosis should be readily comprehensible in terms of meta- and object language in order to make clear what the object under discussion is. I will make the bold assumption that the human brain is a semiosic system. For this reason, the descriptive object language shall be semiosically oriented, the controlling metalanguage shall be semiotic; if both were to coincide, the object, the neuronal process and the resulting process of consciousness could not be grasped. In particular, I will investigate the issue of free will, contested by some brain researchers, because without willful, conscious intentionality, we could not conceive of a self-aware personality, without which we could not explain cognitivity and, ultimately, we would not understand reason, which is the epitome of all that.
[i] Metzinger, Thomas. 2009. Der Ego-Tunnel. Eine neue Philosophie des Selbst. Von der Hirnforschung zur Bewusstseinsethik. Berlin: Berlin Verlag. Original Edition: 2009. The Ego Tunnel. The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self. New York: Basic Books.
[ii] Pöppel, Ernst. 1982. Lust und Schmerz. Über den Ursprung der Welt im Gehirn. München: Goldmann
[iii] McGinn, Colin. 1996. Die Grenzen vernünftigen Fragens. Grundprobleme der Philosophie. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Original Edition: 1993. The Limits of Inquiry. Oxford/Cambridge, USA: Blackwell.
4) Jordan Zlatev, Centre for Cognitive Semiotics, Lund University
Revisiting “the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign”: several wrong and one right versions
Saussure (1916) famously regarded “arbitrariness” as the first principle of language, and Hockett (1960) placed this on his list of “design features”. Post-structuralists “radicalized” the thesis even more, with Lacan stating that Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty is quite right in stating: “when I use a word, it means just what I chose it to mean”. On a different plane, analyses of animal alarms calls emphasize their “non-iconic” and hence “arbitrary” nature, making them apparently more language-like than the highly motivated signs of human signed languages (cf. Sulik 2014). If the thesis of the “arbitrariness of the linguistic sign” indeed leads to such absurdities, than clearly it needs to be revised. Jakobson (1965) was one of the first to explicitly call into question “the Sausserean dogma”, but even he conflated several readings (e.g. “random” vs. “non-motivated”).
Arguably, the essential aspect of the thesis (which deserves to be maintained) is that there is no direct causal connection between signifier and signified, as in natural signals such as laughter, or (nearly all) animal calls. On the other hand, no less essential for Saussure was to preclude the possibility for any Humpty-Dumpty semantics: “The individual has no power to alter a sign… once it has been established by the linguistic community” (ibid: 68). What kind of connection is it that is both not “natural” (causal) and needs to be “established by the community”? The answer is obvious: the linguistic sign is fundamentally conventional. Unfortunately, by using the term “arbitrary” Saussure conflated this essential feature of linguistic signs (with roots at least as far back as Aristotle) with a final, mistaken claim: that they are fundamentally un-motivated, which was later interpreted as stating that linguistic signs lack any iconic or indicial ground, in addition to the symbolic/conventional ground (cf. Ahlner & Zlatev 2010). It is this reading of “arbitrary” that has become most widely spread. This is unfortunate, since there is abundant evidence that it is mistaken: “sound symbolism” is both pervasive within and across languages to the extent it should be considered a universal feature of language. Furthermore, it is psychologically functional, especially in the context of language learning (Pernis et al. 2010).
The conclusion that I argue for is that linguistic signs are conventional, but not “arbitrary” in any of the senses (a) completely un-motivated, (b) random, or (c) characterized by free-playing signifiers.
Ahlner, F., & Zlatev, J. (2010). Cross-modal iconicity: A cognitive semiotic approach to sound symbolism. Sign Systems Studies, 38, 298-348.
Hockett, C. F. (1960). The origin of speech. Scientific American, 203, 89–97.
Jakobson, R. (1965). Quest for the essence of language. Diogenes, 13, 21-38.
Pernis, P., Thompson, T., & Vigliocco, G. 2010 Iconicity as a general property of language: Evidence from spoken and signed languages. Frontiers inPsychology 1(227), 1-15.
Saussure, F. (1916/1983). Course in general linguistics, Duckworth. London.
Sulik, J. (2014). Cognition at the symbolic threshold: The role of abductive inference in hypothesising the meaning of novel signals. PhD thesis. University of Edinburg.
5) Frederik Stjernfelt
Cognitive implications of the unity of propositions
A very basic logical query pertains to the unity of propositions - what keeps their parts together? Peirce articulated no less than two different theories as to this question, not necessarily mutually incompatible - one taking all propositions ("Dicisigns") to contain a meta-level addressing the relation of the sign itself to its objects, another taking the relational structure of the predicate part of propositions to form an irreducible primitive, integrating the subject parts of the proposition. This paper argues that cognitive semiotics should not take its beginnings in psychology - rather it should investigate which cognitive processes are necessary for the support and realization of central semiotic structures. Thus, the two theories mentioned may have different such demands - the former in the direction of meta-levels and self-control of cognition, the other in the direction of the continuous synthesis of cognitions.
Stjernfelt, F. (2014). Natural Propositions. Boston: Docent Press
6) William James McCurdy, Department of English and Philosophy, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83204, U.S.A. (email@example.com)
THE SEMEIOTICAL UBERTY OF ANALOGICAL ARGUMENTS: A Peircean Account of the Most Fruitful Kind of Sign
"All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy" – Henry David Thoreau
KEYWORDS: uberty, security, validity, syllogism from analogy, Pythagorean analogia, iconicity, indexicality, symbolicity, metaphor, metonymy, logica utens, logica docens
C.S. Peirce claimed that arguments (suadsigns, delomes) are "triple or rationally persuasive sign(s)" in contrast with rhemes (sumisigns, semes) which are "simple or substitutive signs" and dicisigns (phemes) which are "double or informational signs" (CP 2.309). This trichotomy of general sign classes is the third in his ten-sign classification system. Arguments are themselves tripartitioned into the summa genera of abductions, deductions, and inductions. The only other major variety of argument is analogy, which Peirce contended is a hybrid of those three summa genera. The thesis of this paper is that analogical arguments are the most fecund, fertile, fruitful nee uberousof all speciesof sign. The concern herein will be twofold, first, with syllogisms from analogy, that is, arguments involving categorical propositions such as those having the form All M are P, All M are N, All S are N; therefore All S are P, and second, with Pythagorean analogia, that is, arguments of the form A is to B as C is to D. By characterizing this paper as a Peircean account, is meant that though its conclusions extend well beyond those in Peirce, they are both grounded in and compatible with Peirce.
This discussion will proceed as follows. The security and the uberty of an argument will be distinguished. These in turn will be contrasted with the validity of an argument. Peirce's contention that the ordering of arguments deduction-induction-abduction is one of decreasing security, while the reverse ordering is one of increasing uberty, will be explicated and justified. Then, Peirce's bipartite analysis of syllogism from analogy will be presented followed by the author's own bipartite analysis of syllogism from analogy treating it as a variety of Pythagorean analogia. The formal invariance of both these analyses will be displayed using group theory. This recognition leads to the author's discovery that syllogisms from analogy also have moods and figures. The perfect moods of syllogism from analogy will be presented. An alternate analysis of argument from analogy by Peirce will next be unpacked. Further, it will be argued that analogical arguments are, semeiotically speaking, the most complex kinds of arguments, since they include all other species of signs. Since Peirce maintained that the most perfect kind of sign involves iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity, analogy fits this bill par excellence. Because analogy has not only the uberty of abduction, but also the security of induction, this double character makes it more fruitful than induction alone and stronger than abduction alone. Hidden inside analogical arguments with true conclusions are metaphorically true, but literally false, sub-conclusions as well as metonymically true, but literally false, sub-conclusions which are respectively correlated with abduction and iconicity on the one hand and with induction and indexicality on the other hand. Since analogical reasoning plays such a prominent role in our logica utens, both in terms of pride of place and frequency of use, it should be far more thoroughly studied in our logica docens.
8) Pedro Atã and João Queiroz, Institute of Arts & Design, Federal University of Juiz de Fora
Cognitive niche construction through selection of material constraints: the example of the London Underground Diagram
The design of the London Underground Diagram (LUD) is a well-known example of representational efficiency, copied by urban transportation systems worldwide. It facilitates urban transportation for thousands of everyday users, but also changes the perception of the city itself and influences in the overall behavior of the users. This paper analyzes how specific representational features of the LUD participate in cognitive niche construction. Cognitive niche construction is the process of transformation of the environment in which cognition takes place, through the selection of environmental features capable of mediating and controlling behavior, thus transforming cognition itself. In our approach, it is related to the semiotic theory of mind. For Peirce, mind is semiosis, i.e. sign action, in a materially embedded form and cognition is the development of available semiotic artifacts, in which is embodied as a power to produce interpretants. Our description of the process provides a model of the interaction of agent, representation and environment through the notions of iconicity, abduction, problem spaces and representational efficiency. In the case of LUD, certain rules of action established by the technology itself of the Underground System establish a problem space of constraints that direct proper efficient behavior for solving problems regarding urban orientation and movement. Through iconicity and abduction, the LUD externalizes constraints allowing the users to be in direct contact with them. Coupled with the LUD, the Londoners become hybrid beings with specialized cognitive capacities adapted for their environment.
9) João Queiroz & Pedro Atã, Institute of Arts & Design, Federal University of Juiz de Fora
Niche construction in real-time poetry improvisation
This work explores cognitive niche construction in problem solving tasks through the analysis of diagrammatic thinking in challenges of real-time poetry improvisation. In our approach, the verse and its micro-semiotic components (rhythm, prosody, rhyme) coupled to music and beating body movements structures online cognition establishing a highly constrained problem space that directs the agent's performance towards certain local goals. It scaffolds cognition, allowing the agent to perform efficiently in certain tasks, a property that is particularly observable in rap duels and the brazilian “repentismo” – both forms of versified and musicalized poetry improvisation, in which two or more challengers duel mocking and teasing each other according to strict structure of metres, prosodic structures and rhymes. As the verse both establishes a problem and functions as an artifact for engaging with it, it specializes human cognition, participating in a process of niche construction. Taking advantage of the Peircean conceptions of iconicity, diagrammatic thinking and cognition as development and manipulation of signs, we argue that this process of niche construction is highly dependent on the material properties of the artifacts involved.
10) Carlos Vidales, Department of Social Communication Studies, University of Guadalajara
A semiotic multi-level approach for the study of conceptual systems in communication research
Since its emergence as an academic field, communication sciences have had a major problem defining what communication is, what communication is about, and what communication is describing in the natural, human and mechanical contexts. Then, communication theory has been moving from those theoretical perspectives centered in communication as natural, physical, chemical or biological phenomena to particular and more restricted theories centered in communication as a unique phenomena of human language and meaning production as an attempt to build communication as a scientific field. However, communication is a concept that cannot be reduced to the academic field that we institutionally recognize as “Communication Science”, mainly because communication is a general concept used to describe many things in many different fields. This is a condition that has generated the problem of theoretical relativism in communication research, a condition that implies the elimination of conceptual systems and the constructive principles in which operates all explanatory formulations, and since every concept only operates within a particular theoretical framework, its separation from these frameworks generates also generates the separation between the concept and its significant nature. Then, we have words, terms or expressions, but not concepts in communication research.
In this sense, the present paper is a semiotic attempt to clarify the conditions of the emergence and transformation of theoretical relativism in communication research. Since it is part of an ongoing research project, it focused its attention only in the methodological approach based on Peirce’s semiotics, Brier’s cybersemiotics and mainly in the multi-level approach to the emergence of semiosis in semiotic systems proposed by Charbel Niño El-Hani, João Queiroz and Claus Emmeche. In this paper I explore how theory can be studied as a semiotic system and how texts can be presented as networks of chains of triads, which is also an attempt to identify the evolution of Dynamical Objects as Peirce proposed. The paper also presents an example of the methodology proposed that can be considered as an attempt to observe cognitive processes in communication research.
Key Words: Theoretical relativism, communication theory, conceptual systems, semiotic systems, cybersemiotics.
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