Sign Systems Studies http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss <p>An international journal of semiotics and sign processes in culture and living nature.</p> University of Tartu Press en-US Sign Systems Studies 1406-4243 Editorial: Signs and communicators http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.01 <p>Editorial: Signs and communicators</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Paul Cobley Adrian Pablé Johan Siebers Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 7 11 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.01 Creating reality as a locally tailored interface – an integrational, pragmatic account of semiosis http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.02 <p>Linguistics and semiotics traditionally assert the view that communication presupposes signs. Integrational linguistics challenges this notion by refuting the first-order ontological status of signs and semiological codes. Yet if communication does not depend on pre-established signs, then how does semiosis proceed? And what is the basis for the intuitively acceptable notion that codes do exist as socially carried structures among living beings? In this article I present an integrational account of semiosis based on the suggestion that sign-making is a perceptual activity. I draw on William James’ concept of human experience to expound Roy Harris’ claims for the radical indeterminacy of the sign, for contextualization, and for the process of integration. In closing, I consider the role that mental associations, for example, those between language sounds and concepts, play in communicative activity.</p> Charlotte Conrad Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 12 31 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.02 Modelling the reciprocal dynamics of dialogical communication: On the communication-philosophical undercurrent of radical constructivism and second-order cybernetics http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.03 <p>Even though both Ernst von Glasersfeld, the founding father of radical constructivism, and his epistemological alter ego, Heinz von Foerster, one of the principal architects of second-order cybernetics, would both repeatedly stress the formative importance of communication, neither would ever model communication as a phenomenon <em>per se</em>. I will propose a first modelling of communication as seen through the stereoscopic lens of these two schools of thought. I will first present, discuss and evaluate how communication is traditionally modelled. This will serve as an informed backdrop when I proceed to integrate the common denominators pertaining to communication from relevant works of both scholars. In addition to the fact that both would willingly profess to the ‘Linguolaxis’ of Maturana and Varela, i.e., that humans exist suspended in communication, two basic assumptions have proven formative. Firstly, that communication is perceived as a flux, as an almost William-James-like ‘stream of communication’. Secondly, and this is more in the vein of Heraclitus, that both communicators and communication alike undergo transformations in the process of immersion. This implies favouring a view of communication in which communication <em>is</em> a perpetual oscillation between ongoing reciprocal perturbations (Glasersfeld), that occur over time, and the endeavours to re-establish (cognitive) homeostasis (Foerster). The latter must not be reduced to either mere compliance, as it were, i.e., that the ‘other’ does as s/he is told, or to the mutual understanding of a dominance-free communication of a Habermasian persuasion, but rather in the pragmatic notion of ‘compatibility’ (Glasersfeld). For illustrative purposes I will end this paper by translating these notions into a model depicting what I have labelled co-actional communication, in effect forging an exemplar.</p> Peter Kastberg Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 32 55 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.03 Even a two-year-old can do it! The early stages of learning to understand moving-image media http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.04 <p>Film scholarship has consistently avoided discussing how we learn to understand the complex, multimodal systems of communication that moving-image media (referred to here as ‘movies’) have evolved into over the last 125 years. This article offers some reasons for this neglect: in particular, the popular assumption that movies are extremely easy to understand, and the relative lack of research on two-year-olds – the crucial phase in which this learning must take place. Drawing on a 20-month study of a pair of dizygotic twins, a vignette of their early viewing behaviour illustrates the features of focused attention which characterized their investment of energy in trying to make sense of movies. An analysis of this phenomenon, using concepts from embodied cognition, shows how instinctive responses relate to thought and reflection. Setting two-year-olds’ movie-watching within the wider contexts of story-reading, play and the enjoyment of repetition, the article provides evidence that such learning does take place and can be seen as a significant aspect of two-year-olds’ “entry into culture”.</p> Cary Bazalgette Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 56 78 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.04 Chatting with chatbots: Sign making in text-based human–computer interaction http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.05 <p>This paper investigates the kind of sign making that goes on in text-based human–computer interaction, between human users and chatbots, from the point of view of integrational linguistics. A chatbot serves as a “conversational” user interface, allowing users to control computer programs in “natural language”. From the user’s perspective, the interaction is a case of semiologically integrated activity, but even if the textual traces of a chat may look like a written conversation between two humans the correspondence is not one-to-one. It is argued that chatbots cannot engage in communication processes, although they may display communicative behaviour. They presuppose a (second-order) language model, they can only communicate at the level of sentences, not utterances, and they implement communicational sequels by selecting from an inventory of executable skills. Instead of seeing them as interlocutors <em>in silico</em>, chatbots should be seen as powerful devices for humans to make signs with.</p> Dorthe Duncker Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 79 100 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.05 Hegel and the Peircean ‘object’ http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.06 <p>Peirce’s semiotics is well known for advocating a triadic, rather than a dyadic, sign structure, but interpretations of how such a structure works in practice have varied considerably. This paper argues that the Peircean ‘object’ is central to understanding Peirce’s philosophical intent and that this element should be construed as a mediating element within the sign rather than as an originating source of it. This interpretation resonates with the fundamentally anti-dualist character of Peirce’s philosophy and it creates potential convergences with the medieval philosophy of Duns Scotus – which was so influential in Peirce’s thinking. Moreover, construal of the ‘object’ as a mediating entity within the sign highlights important parallels with Hegelian thought and the role of the ‘essence’ in the latter’s dialectics. It is argued, indeed, that Peirce’s triadic template for the sign has strong Hegelian roots. This substantially repositions Peirce’s semiotics; it becomes, as in Hegel’s dialectics, an account of concept formation. The over-arching framework in which this takes place, however, retains an adherence to Peirce’s empiricist background and so avoids the reliance on logic which is the defining characteristic of Hegel’s dialectical method.</p> Chris Barnham Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 101 124 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.06 Integrating biosemiotics: From a semiological point of view http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.07 <p>This paper is a study in the ‘philosophy of semiotics’. It is centred on a critical approach to the Peircean sign conception, which underlies <em>biosemiotics</em> and the global perspective on signs. The present discussion tackles questions of ontological and epistemological interest, which it does by taking a distinctly semiological point of reference. The semiology which the present critique draws inspiration from is Roy Harris’ <em>integrationism</em>, an approach to human communication which rejects Saussurean semiology – the common target of Peircean semiotics. Integrationism explains signs in relation to human activities. It shares with biosemiotics a view of reality as speciesspecific, but takes a skeptical position towards the investigation of non-human signs on the grounds that it implies a metalanguage impervious to the <em>radical indeterminacy of the sign</em>. Integrationists take this indeterminacy as the starting point for their reflections on human communication.</p> Adrian Pablé Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 125 145 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.07 Philosophy as communication theory http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.08 <p>There has been comparatively little attention for the fundamental ontology of communication in recent philosophy. Nevertheless, from classical metaphysical accounts of relationality and communal being to the analysis of intersubjectivity in phenomenology and to concrete existence as understood by process philosophy, the communicative structure of the act of being has been, if not explicitly then implicitly, a perennial component of metaphysical reflection. Communication theory can be conceived in such a way that it takes this ontological dimension into account. The ramifications of connecting being to communication in this way are explored in discussion with the conceptualizations of communication in integrationism and biosemiotics. An interpretation of Gabriel Marcel’s existential analysis of “my life” is used to show what philosophy as communication theory (in the strong sense of the notion elaborated here) might look like.</p> Johan Siebers Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 146 158 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.08 “Who goes there?” Reflections on signs and personhood in Christopher Hutton’s Integrationism and the Self http://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/sss/article/view/SSS.2020.48.1.09 <p>Review of <em>Integrationism and the Self: Reflections on the Legal Personhood of Animals</em> [Series <em>Routledge Advances in Communication and Linguistic Theory</em>] by Christopher Hutton. London: Routledge, 2019, 190 pp.</p> Paul Cobley Copyright (c) 2020-06-30 2020-06-30 48 1 159 173 10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.09