Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Semiotics (or semiology) is a philosophically interesting approach to language that looks at the production and characteristics of linguistic units called signs in order to arrive at an understanding of language in the broadest sense. By exploring such issues as the composition, boundaries, relations and even production of signs, insights may be gained into the nature of meaning and thought, and, beyond this, into the nature of being in general.
The following discussion begins by identifying a problem with the "naïve" way of thinking about signs (as labels for things) and shows how the early structuralists attempted to solve it with a model of significations in a system of values. The limitations of such an approach are examined and the requirements for a more complete rethinking are explicated. While the seeds for this reevaluation are shown to be present in the work of Roland Barthes, particularly with his model of myth, and in the Pragmatic approach of Charles Peirce, it is in the claims of Gilles Deleuze that the most comprehensive reassessment is articulated.
Deleuze's position is examined in terms of two important themes: series and sense. The former is compared with Barthes' model of myth as a solution to the inadequacies of signification, while the latter is interpreted as a corrective to the notion of value. The result is a conception of signs as "partial objects" in a series of relations. The relations are construed as "machinic" and the signs as machined products.
The paper concludes with a proposal for how such a "machine" might be characterised and how related notions such as sensation, perception, recognition and meaning are to be understood in terms of their place and function in the series that constitutes the machine.
Volek, Michael E., "Machinic Relations in the Production of Signs" (2006). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5652.
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