Funktionskreis and the stratificational model of semiotic structures: Jakob von Uexküll, Luis Prieto and Louis Hjelmslev

  • E. Israel Chávez Barreto Department of Semiotics University of Tartu Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
Keywords: functional circle, functional cycle, pertinence, form and substance, expression and content, semiology, umwelt, structuralism, structural semiotics, general semiotics


The main aim of this article is to show how a possible theoretical articulation between Uexküll’s notion of Funktionskreis and the stratificational model of semiotic structures proposed by Louis Hjelmslev can be made. In order to bridge the gap between these two models, Luis Prieto’s model of cognition will be used. The advantage of Prieto’s model is that it retains the Hjelmslevian stratificational ideas (i.e. a semiotic structure is made up of an expression and a content plane, each one with a dimension of form and substance), while it also pays attention to agency and practice. To put it briefly, according to Prieto the foundation of practice and knowledge is to be found on aisthesis. Hence, as in Uexküll, there is a way to merge action with perception, while retaining the semiotic structure that makes such a merging possible. The key point, however, is that Prieto’s model calls for an “ontological commitment” to the substance strata (both in expression and in content to some extent). Therefore, bridging Uexküll and Hjelmslev via Prieto suggests a possible way to provide a general structural model of semiosis which is closer to semiotic realism than to immanentism usually attributed to structuralism.


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