20221020114846 ⭐ preliminaries for a transcendental semiotics

preliminaries for a transcendental semiotics

¶1. The guiding question for the establishment of a transcendental semiotics: how is any semiosis itself possible? Hereby we must first define semiosis and the science of its study, semiotics. Semiosis is the process of semes, or signs. This, however, tells us little. A sign, following Peirce, is something represented to someone somehow. This triadic structure accounts for (1) object (2) interpretant (3) representamen, or medium of representation.

¶2. any sign must itself occur within at least two orders of semiosis, the in-itself and the for-itself. The in-itself is the transcendental medium of the sign, whereas the for-itself is the immanent medium. Thus, any vocalization is both in-itself a sound and for-itself an instance of discourse. In-itself, it is mere sound. For-itself, it is discursive meaning. And yet, both aspects simultaneously signify. How? In-itself, vocalization strikes the cochlea and thus proceeds as vibration. This enters upon relative neural cortices for processing, namely, as an instance of this or that. Such instantiation becomes semantic and is the typical concern of semioticians hereby if, and only if, the vibrations are discursive. And, by discursive, I only mean a network of semantic relations proceeding through collective practices of speech and memory. Speech and memory meet at the nexus point of intention, or “that which I wanted to say” because I had it “in-mind.” Thus, broadly speaking, for mankind, the in-itself is the bio-physical moment of a sign; the for-itself is the discursive-intentional moment.

¶3. The above considers semiosis under the aspect of intentional discourse. Thus, it resolves itself not of any possible semiosis. Rather, it resolves itself of a human-discursive semiosis. We must push on and ask: how could any semiosis first exist as the condition for the human-discursive?

¶4. As already said in my System, all human knowing is finite and hence not what it claims to know. This is only an instance of a broader ontological principle alluded to in the System: the real individuality of objects for subjects. By real individuality, I mean no possible subject can conceive of an object except as individual. And by individual, I mean that which is distinct from something else. Thus, by “real” I mean that any conception cannot be a conception without admitting of individuality. Thus, a statement like “the world is one” cannot be true for us as subjects except as it treats of “world” as an individual, that is, distinct from something, namely, from us. Now, why is this so? Having established knowing is finite and that it is separate from its object, we plainly now speak of two objects: knowing and the known. And these are individual and separate. Hereby, because knowing (as a claiming-to-know for-another) is a necessary condition of subjectivity, as established in the System, our knowing cannot proceed except as it is not what it knows. And this is knowing’s own individuality, which it cannot proceed without. (This is Kant’s transcendental apperception). Thus, knowing must proceed always with individuality, since it itself already admits its own individuality. But must it do so with respect to all it knows? If not, then the knowing subject opposes a universal One which it is not, since it must always admit its own individuality. But this is absurd, since we cannot both be individual and yet part of the One at once. So then there must exist two things; us as knower and the One. Here a causal quietism about consciousness must be admitted, at which point science collapses, since one has no explanation for their own consciousness or for the grounds for their truth claim. One must bite this Solipsistic bullet if they wish to maintain knowing’s individuality and the world’s naive unity.^[Aside: this is a refutation of a naive Buddhism, but not any Buddhism. Naive Buddhism wants a naive world unity while smuggling in a truth claim there-about; but this is contradictory, since one cannot claim truth except as independent from their object, and this claimant denies such independence except for themselves. So, either the claim is part of the One or part of themselves; if the former, they have no claim and, if the latter, they have only what they started with. Thus, no claim being made, no grounds for belief are possible, and the claim can be dismissed. Thus, any naivety about the world and its monistic “truth” or “unity” must be fundamentally questioned, since such naivety is a covert solipsism. In sum, one either proceeds with the assumption that all objects have a real individuality for them, or they maintain a naive solipsism. Whoever be the latter: begone, for you surely are nothing but an animal in a man’s skin! Believing only yourself and perhaps a simple One, you are unfit for those of us who wish to see and be with each other really and truly, not as phantoms of the One or our own obese ego.]

¶5. Here I prescind from any claim about the world “as it really is” without us. We must conceive of with individuality a priori if we are to say anything to anyone consistently. One can go on talking as solipsists, but as I have just shown, one’s claims will be worthless and one will have no reason to be believed. indeed, real individuality is the metaphysical condition sine qua non of public speech, speech to another knower. And the solipsist excludes this, so he cannot conduct any public speech. (But, with vulgarity, why should you care? I am a mere phantom of your ego, so what difference will it make? You ought to keep quiet, you divine knower you! If you don’t, I will be sure to out-speak you and your inconsistent idiocy!)

¶6. Now, because individuals must be real for us both as objects and subjects, all acts of knowing must be individual as well, considered either subjectively or objectively. An act of knowing (a “noema,” in Husserl’s language) is subjective as a first-person in media res activity - what I am already doing everywhere I am. It is simultaneously objective as a third person datum looked on ex post facto. Again, these must be individual acts because they occur in time, and time occurs to us discretely and countably, as said in the System. (Caveat: time may also occur for us continuously, but such a continuum would be a whole, precisely because it is not discrete, as I argue in the System). Because the individual thought (which is an act of knowing) is really individual, it can neither be the thought which preceded it or the thought which succeeds it nor, moreover, can it be the thing it thinks of. It is this dual fact that (1) thoughts are discrete, independent individuals and that they (2) think-of or are “towards” an object which makes them the first condition for a transcendental semiotic. For, if thoughts were continuous and had no real individuality, we could say nothing of their being-of, since we would have no one thought to refer to. But we are referring to such things and, in this way, the act of reference arises through such recognition of thoughts’ contents. Such reference is real (ie, inevitable) for us, and not a mere convenient fiction, since we have admitted of thoughts’ individuality. Indeed, if a thought is individual, it must have a content, and this content cannot be itself lest it be entirely empty. and as individual, the thought must have content “concerning” another individual, it must be “about” or “of” that other individual. Individuality of thoughts thus necessarily entails their referentiality to other individuals.

¶7. Such referentiality hereby admits of a triadic semiotic relation, since the thought stands in a significant relation to its content and object. that is, the thought refers to the object as represented by its content. Here, the thought itself takes the place of Peirce’s interpretant which, as Peirce said, is its own sign. Indeed, the individual thought can be construed as signifying a thought process, etc. Thus, we might say, to think anything at all is to think significantly or semiotically, since thoughts’ and objects’ individuality demands an interrelation, which is the transcendental foundation of any semiosis.

¶8. Now, although this is the foundation of semiosis, given here is a transcendental-phenomenological account of one semiotic relation, namely, that of thoughts-contents-objects. But how does this proceed, and how is it possible that it does? Hegel’s phenomenology of spirit is, in one way, an account hereof - an ascent from nothing by any possible consciousness into absolute knowing. I can hardly recapitulate such moves here. In brief, however, I might say that further work will be necessary to update the Hegelian scheme. Such an update will look as follows. First, empty consciousness moves about in contact with objects. As such objects persist through time for that consciousness, space and time become recognized as intuitions mediating objects’ presentations. As consciousness reflects Hereon and on its objects, it begins to think categorially and hereby in terms of relations. Hereafter, consciousness reflects on itself as consciousness and thus as a thinker, at which point it is “free.” These steps constitute transcendental semiosis as a developmental procedure - for, the empirical-psychological development of consciousness is the condition for that consciousness’s proceeding on any semiotic work.

¶9. Considered a priori, any semiosis is possible because of subjects’ inevitable admission of individuality at all turns. That is, the irreducibility of a datum of consciousness to anything other than itself is a necessary, transcendental condition for any semiosis, human or otherwise. Thus, bio-semiosis proceeds as a conscious recognition, broadly speaking, on the part of organelles that RNA is now present in a ribosome where at another time it was not. The primitive time-consciousness here is consciousness, albeit in a much-denuded fashion. The data hereof, like all semiotic data, are mere logical simples, is and not, considered across time. Once more, then, memory considered alongside the irreducibility of consciousness’s data must also be taken to be necessary.

¶10. Thus, any semiosis is possible given (1) individuality (of thoughts) (2) memory with (3) some data present and absent. (3 is the synthesis of 1 and 2, since data are always individuals, and the simultaneous recognition of presence and absence is memory). Semiosis becomes actual given both. Thus, wherever there is a set of individuals present to anything which can remember that presence and its eventual absence, there is semiosis. Semiosis, then, is presence which shows an absence. Any sign is one such presence.

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