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PerSemSoc Symposium June 15-16 2009
DANS LA MEME RUBRIQUE :
Semiotic perception and sociality of meaning
In their recent history, social sciences have for the most part maintained the classical divide, sometimes deemed foundational, between two general accounts of cognition and sociality. One account takes for its starting point concerns and preferences of individual beings, only to inquire afterwards into how group dynamics emerge from interactions between individuals and retroactively affect their lives. The other account focuses in the first place on public socio-semiotic structures, only to rediscover individual lives in their efforts to adapt to, and, possibly, modify largely pre-constituted social forms and roles.
Although barely altered since Durkheim, this classical divide has been revived lately by the development of cognitive science and the emergence of complex system modeling, by the program of naturalization, and, not the least, by the revival of phenomenological accounts in cognitive and language sciences. Along with these developments, it became legitimate to reassess the notions of sociality and of symbolism inherited from structural anthropology.
In this recent evolution, philosophical attempts to revive the idea of a joint foundation to cognition and sociality, in relation to such dimensions as : subject, body, language, praxis, technique, have proved particularly enlightening. In particular, a philosophical anthropology has gradually taken shape through the husserlian theme of Lebenswelt ; the semiotic phenomenology inspired by Merleau-Ponty ; the philosophy of symbolic forms inherited from Cassirer ; the philosophy in the pragmatist and wittgensteinian tradition (with a particular stress on the concepts of expression, habitus, normativity, common sense) ; the philosophy of the technical process viewed as constitutive of humanity. A directly scientific translation of this general orientation was given by dynamicist and constructivist epistemologies : in Gestalt and microgenetic theories of language and perception, in a variety of studies in linguistic anthropology ; more generally, in the investigation of semiotic forms and practice, and, lastly, in research studies involving concepts and models from neuroscience.
One purpose of the present meeting is to revisit the theoretical divide between the two general accounts to cognition and sociality. This may be accomplished by developing a framework in which are brought together and co-evolve :
1. Philosophical and scientific models of perception, the body proper, intersubjectivity and meaning (in the husserlian tradition) ;
2. Socio-semiotic models in which symbolic forms, intentionalities and behaviors arise through participation in collective interactions, both emergent and instituted via reiteration of forms that are inherited and passed on.
We may thus tentatively grant a central status to semiosis - taken in the radical sense of expressive and practical semiogenesis, which transcends a mere use of systems of signs or a reactivation of previously individuated traces. Semiogenesis will be understood here as an essential mediation of the consciousness, as well as the main scaffolding of intentionalities. It builds upon reiteration of inherited and instituted forms, or, better, on the art and techniques of reiteration of malleable, partially memorized and collectively nurtured forms. Forms of this kind arise in experience without being determined by consciousness. They appear as games and norms, addressed by third parties whose modes of presence are alien to that of an object. The persistence and identity of objects or projects depend on a precession of signs, which, in virtue of their being constantly repeated, make possible the reiteration of their constitution. Any such constitution would depend on semiotic (i.e. expressive and technical) means of access, transformation and address (gestures, procedures, languages, inscriptions, tools). These semiotic means derive from a ritualization of forms and behaviors, making possible the assessment of variations in regard to the accepted modes of reiteration.
It may thus be said, using the vocabulary of phenomenology, that language culture and sociality are not superstructures that stack up over a more originary form of being-in-the-world : they are intrinsic dimensions of this being-in-the-world, which is from the outset social-being-in-the-world and being-into-language. And they may remain intractable as long as one sticks to the contrived choice between naturalism, and the phenomenological stance, understood as the sole evidence of an intimate consciousness. Setting aside this contrived alternative opens up the possibility of a semiotic redefinition of phenomenological themes in terms of transmission and institution of semiotic-symbolic forms.
The motto Semiotic Perception and Sociality of Meaning reflects these considerations ; moreover, it is intended to draw attention to the following propositions :
The sociality of meaning should be, from the very outset, linked to symbolic forms and activities that constantly redirect human interactions and regulate the formation of values and of utilities ;
Meaning as social involves involves a search for expression, concomitant with the formation of various layers of semiotization ; meaning is never dissociable from a constant ritualization of behaviors, making repetition and assessment of variations possible ;
From the point of view of an individual, the historicity and the sociality of meaning are embodied in semiotic perception which gives access to directly sensed meaning (not to meaning inferred at a later stage), and is inseparable from expressive dispositions that depend on instituted semiotic mediations.
Programme / Program
15-16 juin 2009
Maison de la Recherche
28 rue Serpente
9h40 Jean Lassègue
Space, Sociality and Symbolic Forms
11h Aud Sissel Hoel
Differential Deixis : Ernst Cassirer on Symbolic Mediation
14h Jaan Valsiner
Symbolic Demonization and its Semiotic Mechanisms : What can be learned from displacement of people ?
What can PerSemSoc learn from diagrams ?
16h30 Ingvild Folkvord
20h Social dinner
Mardi 16 juin 2009
10h40 Alessandro Zinna
14h30 Charles Lenay
17h Wolfgang Wildgen
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