Semiotic Paradoxes: Antinomies And Ironies In Transmodern World
Farouk Y. Seif, Professor Emeritus at Antioch University Seattle, Center for Creative Change (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While semiotic paradoxes present contradictions between opposing forces, they are essential characteristics of a transmodern world. The diaphanous feature of transmodernity (which is inclusive of modernity and postmodernity) reveals semiotic contradictions among a wide range of polarities. Human existence feeds on these contradictory relations, and the fundamental nature of life itself is paradoxical. Antinomies and ironies are inherent in the human condition and innate forces in cultural semiotics. The irony is that when societies face crises, there is a tendency to confuse paradoxical situations with problems. This tendency seems to be generated by intolerance for those ambiguities and uncertainties that are unavoidable features of semiotic paradoxes. Although we are challenged by the tension among various conflicting forces, the manner in which we deal with the resulting paradoxes offers us the opportunity for fresh interpretations of a reality that we co-create and co-transform.
1) John Deely
The semiosis of human understanding
When we consider that “modern” (according to the OED) means “being in existence at this time; current, present”, while “to exist” is to have a duration that begins when our existence begins and ends when our existence ends, and “this time” depends throughout that duration on our interaction with our physical surroundings—an interaction (largely unconscious) without which our existence could not sustain itself, the conclusion is forced upon us that there is no other world than a “transmodern world”, i.e., the world through which each of us passes our duration with the marks of that passage inscribed at every moment upon our bodies and psyches so as to weave a web that bears for all time the story of our existence, such as it was — a story for those to see provided only that they figure out how to read the signs. Human understanding consists in just that ability to discover the passage of being in time.
2) Inna Semetsky (email@example.com)
The elusive tertium
The paper starts by revisiting the ancient learning paradox articulated in the famous Meno dialogue and also known as the paradox of analysis in modern philosophy. The central argument of the paper is that it is only the presence of paradoxes which can create a new knowledge. What “common sense” presents as a paradox (if not plain and simple nonsense as its own binary opposite) is in fact part and parcel of genuine signs having a triadic structure and functioning in accordance with the logic of the included middle (the elusive tertium non datur). The argument is supported by reference to two philosophical sourcses, Charles S. Peirce and Gilles Deleuze. Their approaches to logic (semiotics) are compared and posited as analogous. The uneliminable role of paradoxes in producing sense (or meaning) is affirmed. The practical implications of this theoretical position are offered for discussion.
3) Prof. Dr. Bujar Hoxha
A Paradoxical Way of Communication in Children with ASD
This paper attempts to exemplify some of the intentional and unintentional non-verbal communication efforts expressed by children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It demonstrates that such children’s interactions with the rest of the world are trying to hypothetically establish some semiotic functions, supposedly ready to behaviorally overcome children’s disability. My aim is to analyze such a paradoxical way of communicational interaction of such a subject vs. a given objectively perceivable reality in the transmodern world, thus attempting to reveal paradoxical social contexts. The focus is on interpersonal communication abilities and/or disabilities, thusallowing semiotically distinguishable units as an object of analysis. It should be scrupulous, therefore, that the problem of such mental disorders, as ASD, requires a multi-dimensional approach—e.g. biological, medical, and other related fields. In conclusion, by applying a semiotic analysis, it becomes necessary to communicate with such children in a whole new perceivable way, which by the process of transformation can bring about a state of awareness of a paradoxical and/or abnormal phenomenon.
4) Jonathan Griffin, University of Tartu, Semiotics department
Semiotic choice and terministic screens as seen in crop circles.
What is a crop circle a sign of? Responding to this question from a semiotic standpoint requires no specific conclusions from us regarding crop circles' origins. What is interesting for us here are the multiple but mutually exclusive possibilities for understanding what a crop circle is a sign of. We find logical boundaries according to which different semiotic options arise, such as 'entirely human origin' or 'not entirely human origin'. Under such logical bifurcation, we find further bifurcations which also serve as mutually exclusive options. This logical geometry tells us, perhaps, nothing about the actuality of events, but it does tell us something important about possibility, which in this sense should be seen as semiotic possibility. That is, for this dimension of possibility, we see the irrelevance of judgments from present-day physics, modern cosmology, and the like. A semiotic way of looking uncovers this logical dimension for sign possibility that we negotiate as we navigate what we encounter of the universe and as we seek to understand it. In Peircean terms, within experience we seek to work out some interpretant which will fix the crop circle as representamen to some object. Since multiple ways to do this exist, we find semiotic choice in some sense. Depending on what choice we make, subsequent semiotic possibilities for our world of experience will arise--certain new ones opening up and certain others being precluded. That is, a kind of semiotic filter (what Kenneth Burke called a terministic screen) will then "color" our experience and establish what we might think of as a trajectory for it. While many of us already have such filters in place which preclude for us the semiotic possibilities available in crop circles (or any other percepts), we can still see broader sign pluralities in their logical dimension and how each of them has a particular geometry for shaping future experience. These semiotic choices we make form a greater terministic screen or interpretant according to which we order our worlds and direct our lives. We are speaking here of a form of analysis that we can use to look closely at the semiotic choices we make, the filters that arise from them, and the kind of lives that emerge as we sustain such trajectories.