[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Mon Oct 27 15:08:13 EDT 2014

You make a good case, Ed, for Deacon’s debt to Burke. Hopefully he will eventually have something more to say about that. 

Speaking of unacknowledged “debt” to Burke, I came across a YouTube video recently in which Hamed Abdel Samad is interviewed. It seems he wrote a controversial book on what he calls “Islamism.” In the interview he explains the connection he makes between religion and fascism—a connection Burke also makes in his 1938 review of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Exploring this connection is indeed controversial but Samad makes an interesting case of it. And, Ed, in doing so, he seems to follow certain aspects of our line of argument about conflict management in our Rhetoric of the Enemy article. Here is a link to the video: 



On Oct 21, 2014, at 3:36 PM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

> Burkophiles,
> 	I want to summarize what I see as fifteen or so points of intersection between Burke’s dramatism/logology and Terrence W. Deacon’s semiotic theory.  I do so in no particular order.  I’m basing my assessments on Deacon’s most recent book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, and three of his academic articles or book chapters: “The Symbol Concept,” “The Emergent Process of Thinking as Reflected in Language Processing,” and “Beyond the Symbolic Species.”  Seven times so far, I’ve posted here on Deacon at some length.  I’ll make reference to the dates of those postings, or a few of them, where you might find further treatment, when appropriate.
> 1.	Deacon’s notion of an “absential feature” in human symbolic action, as 
> well as in whatever we want to call the nonsymbolic activity of the “lower animals,” echoes Burke’s primary emphasis on the “negative” as author and motivator of the human drama.  This “absential feature,” as extant in the “Creatura,” but not in the “Pleroma” (Deacon here borrows language from the ancient Gnostics by way of his mentor Gregory Bateson), is the elephant in the living room scientistic theorists recurrently ignore in their efforts to reduce anthropology to biology, biology to chemistry, chemistry to physics. 8/7/14.
> 2.	From this absential feature at the core of the “entelechy” that 
> characterizes beings in the Creatura (yes, Deacon references Aristotle and the Four Causes), a list of ancillary features built around “purpose” and reflective of Burke’s pentad emerges.  See Deacon’s analogous idea of “teleodynamics.”  8/7/14, 8/9/14.
> 3.	 Deacon, like Burke, claims that action, so to speak, cannot be reduced 
> to motion, phrasing the concept somewhat differently from Burke.  For Deacon, it’s the absential feature itself that eludes the scientistic rationale.  “There are no components to what is absent,” he emphasizes. 8/7/14.
> 4.	Deacon’s definition of what a symbol is and is not appears to mirror 
> well enough Burke’s conception.  I say seems to mirror “well enough” because Burke does not as carefully exclude, or even much refer to, mathematical, signal- or code-like, computational-type “symbols.”  Deacon argues convincingly that math-type “symbols” do not possess the airy abstractiveness, web-like relatedness to and embeddedness in, a whole lexicon of terms none of which can be “mapped” in relation to objects in the real world, a “system-internal web of relationships” requiring “an associated indexical operation  . . . in order to point outside this system.”  Neither Melia’s book chapter “Scientism and Dramatism: Some Quasi-Mathematical Motifs in the Work of Kenneth Burke” (The Legacy of Kenneth Burke), nor Burke’s references to the “statistical” in PLF, seem to undercut this claim.
> 	To put the matter simply: In the lingo of dramatism, numerals in themselves do not exude “drama” (make exception for the indirect, the derivative), whereas the words, phrases, and sentences of the world’s conventional, arbitrary languages do.  That’s the implicit lesson Deacon’s semiotics would tend to highlight. 9/16/14.
> 5.	Deacon’s conception of the origins of language sounds a lot like Burke’s 
> speculations in those QJS articles (1952/1953), reprinted in LASA (pp. 419-79).  Deacon speaks of “an undifferentiated starting condition.”  “We must ask: What’s the form of a thought”---or “the idea that a sentence conveys”---“before it is put into words,” the “’mental images’ not quite formed or desires and intentions to achieve some imagined goal only vaguely formulated?”  These “embryos of a speech act” would be “focused on aiming for and achieving expressive goals.
>> 	For Burke, those “expressive goals”---“connotative,” “suggestive,” “loaded,” “fraught . . . with significance”; I’m deep into Roget’s here---might stem from a “’pre-negative’ . . . tonal gesture,” “calling attention-to “ “danger” with “sound[s] . . . hav[ing] a deterrent or pejorative meaning” (LASA, pp. 423-24).  Deacon’s “lexicality,” a pre-linguistic “pointing to” would serve as basis for this transition into morally-tinged negation of the kind that “dramatically” invests the danger or opportunity in question with quasi-theological import.  The negative as “engine of intentionality” with its now-infinite vistas (indeed, now “rotten with perfection”), would begin to indict as well as beckon, accuse as well as highlight, come upon its denizens with an aura of spiritual hazard, as well as material consequence. 9/16/14.
> 	Deacon does refine his description of this likely lengthy transition with: “I see this particular near universal [the “oral-vocal”] to be a relatively late emerging biological adaptation for symbolic communication.”  The “gestural embodiment” probably came first, since our primate ancestors were not good at vocality.  The vocal came to predominate because of its greater potential for myriad “sign vehicles.”
> 6.	Which brings us to Burke’s hexadic acknowledgement of “attititude” as 
> an ingredient in the symbolic mix, language primarily expressing an attitude, creating an orientation toward certain pathways of action, giving cues to action and a command to follow those cues.  For Deacon, that attitudinal, “expressive” dimension is denominated a “mood.”  In respect to symbolic origins, “Within this frame of social communicative arousal,” he maintains, “what might be described as the ‘mood’ of the speech or interpretive act is differentiated.”  “This ‘mood’ needs to be maintained.”  It’s “a focused readiness and expectation with respect to social interaction.”
> 7.	 Burke famously defines humans as the “symbol-using animal.” 
> Deacon’s “symbolic species” functions as a virtual synonym.  “In my work,” Deacon says, “I use the phrase symbolic species, quite literally, to argue that symbols have literally changed the kind of biological organism we are.”
> 	“Indeed, there is ample evidence to suggest that language is both well-integrated into almost every aspect of our cognitive and social lives, that it utilizes a significant fraction of the forebrain, and is acquired robustly under even quite difficult social circumstances and neurological impairment.  It is far from fragile.”
> 	“So rather than merely intelligent or wise (sapient) creatures, we are creatures whose social and mental capacities have been quite literally shaped by the special demands of communicating with symbols.  And this doesn’t just mean that we are adapted for language use, but also for all the many ancillary mental biases that support reliable access and use of this social resource.”
> 	This defining human trait or attribute gets locked in globally via “the near universal regularities of human language.”
> 8.	“Drama”---or, to put it more logologically, “theological drama”---as 
> master “screen,” through which even the “positives of nature are seen through the eyes of moral negativity”?  Howabout Deacon’s approximation: “We are ‘symbolic savants,’ unable to suppress the many predispositions evolved to aid in symbol acquisition, use, and transmission . . . . We almost certainly have evolved a predisposition to see things as symbols, whether they are or not.”  E.g., “the make-believe of children,”  “find[ing] meaning in coincidental events,” seeing “faces in the clouds,” “run[ning] our lives with respect to dictates presumed to originate from an invisible spiritual world.”  “Our special adaptation is the lens through which we see the world.  With it comes an irrepressible predisposition to seek for a cryptic meaning hiding beneath the surface of appearances.”
> 	An approximation?  Sounds more like a paraphrase.  Always take note of “our special adaptation” and factor it into our interpretations of “reality.”
> 	More later, I hope, by way of additional intersections between Burke and Deacon.
> 	Ed
> --------------------------------------------
> On Thu, 10/9/14, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:
> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
> To: kb at kbjournal.org
> Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014, 5:05 PM
> Burkophiles,
>     Let me reiterate, clarify, emphasize:
> It’s the dyadic grammatical pairing of subject and
> predicate that Deacon says is not “innate” in the human
> mind and human discourse, as in Chomsky’s universal
> generative conception, not the “symbolic” faculty
> itself.  No evolutionary, genomic, or neurological
> evidence exists for Chomsky’s view.  It’s mostly
> implicit in these shorter works by Deacon, but strongly
> implicit, that symbolization itself does come naturally to
> the Symbolic Species.  That is, you’ll recall, the
> title of his earlier book.
>     You may wonder, too, at the claim that
> children pick up on their own a facility for indexical and
> combinatorial modes of symbolic reference, rather than learn
> that culminative syntax from the structures of the
> conventional language into which they’re socialized. 
> The fact is, Deacon asserts, “The infant already
> ‘knows’ the logic of these ‘rules’ of
> indexicality,” which bring noun subject and verbal
> predicate together.  Those necessary regularities are
> well absorbed the first year and a half by way of experience
> itself.
>     Also, as he or she reads him, a Burkean
> might be taken aback by Deacon’s occasional reference to
> the “predicate frame” (the “comment” on the
> “subject” or “topic” that requires the careful
> “indexing”) as the “symbolic” part of a
> “complete” sentence or iteration.  This does not
> mean, for Deacon, that the noun subject and object, or
> referential parts, of the fully-formed utterance hasn’t
> been symbolically transformed by the symbolizing
> species.  Even proper names, which, unlike common
> nouns, can be indexically “mapped” a la Saussure, are
> still embedded a culturally conventional, artifactualized
> linguistic system.  What Deacon seems to be suggesting
> here is that distinctive symbolization “emerges” from
> nonsymbolic indexicality—the “pointing” gestures and
> vocalizations of lower animals that indicate some recognized
> “icon” that poses danger, potentially satisfies
> appetite, requires territorial markings or
>  signals of aggression or subservience, etc.---distinctive
> symbolization emerges especially via an “expressive,”
> “mood”-generating, “sense”-making, meaningful,
> ultimately abstractive vocalization that characterizes how
> to conceive of, proceed toward, exploit, or retreat from the
> object or being so referenced.  As Burke has said,
> “The true locus of assertion is not in the DISEASE, but in
> the STRUCTURAL POWERS by which the poet encompasses it”
> (PLF, p. 18, emphasis not added), a redemptive
> “act”-centered predication.
>     So, there seems to be an underlay of the
> presymbolic in the indexical not so present in the
> nonindexical.
>     Constraining indexicality Deacon
> anatomizes into four aspects, only one of which I’ll
> mention here, the most basic, what he calls “semiotic
> constraints.”  These manifest themselves in
> “predication constraints (symbols must be bound in order
> to refer)”; “transitivity and embedding constraints
> (indexicality depends on immediate correlation and
> contiguity across the transitive)”; and “quantification
> (symbolized indices need re-specification).
>>     In elaboration, Deacon says, “To state
> this hypothesis in semiotic terms: a symbol must be
> contiguous with the index that grounds its reference (either
> to the world or to the immediate agreeing textual context,
> which is otherwise grounded), or else its reference
> fails.  Contiguity thus has a doubly indexical role to
> play.  Its contiguity (textually or pragmatically) with
> the symbolizing sign vehicle [see paragraph 3 above] points
> to this symbol, and their contiguity in turn points to
> something else.  This is an expression of one further
> feature of indexicality: transitivity of reference.” 
> Or, more “simply stated, a pointer pointing to another
> pointer pointing to some object effectively enables the
> first pointer to also point to that object.”
>     Ultimate grounding in the real world
> seems vital to Deacon for complete and satisfying
> predication.
>     Being the neuroscientist that he is,
> Deacon asks, by way of “transitivity” as he calls it,
> “How does this interaction between phases of sentence
> differentiation produce anything?  What sort of signals
> are being sent in each direction” from one area of the
> human brain to another?  To simplify, what’s
> happening is “counter-current information processing”
> that generally proceeds from “lower” to “higher”
> structures of the brain, and from back to front---from
> limbic, peri-limbic, and peripheral, to “specialized”
> cortical regions; from “posterior (attention-sensory)
> cortical systems” to “anterior (intention-action)
> cortical systems”; i.e., from reptilian brain structures
> like the thalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala, to the
> advanced cerebral components of mammalian, primate, and
> early hominid ancestry.  And, of equal importance, back
> again, from “higher” to “lower,” etc., as
> well.  These “counter-current”
>  electro-chemical operations afford a kind of monitoring,
> provide checks and balances, generate “equilibrium.”
>     Whether we’re neurologically examining
> sensory, or motor, or cognitive, or linguistic operations,
> they all look pretty much the same, I interpret.  They
> each exhibit similarly “emergent” characteristics, in
> terms of evolutionary origins and current sequential
> functioning.
>     What remains to be dealt with is a
> summary of the complementary intersections between Burke’s
> dramatism/logology and Deacon’s semiotics, and also the
> challenge Deacon possibly poses to Burke’s action/motion
> dichotomy.
>     At a later date.
>     And a P.S.  If you object to my use
> of the singular form of the verb “to be” in the “what
> remains” sentence, do read the Fowler-Nicholson
> “Dictionary of American-English Usage,” pp.
> 374-75.  Fowler and Nicholson don’t explain it well,
> but they do get it right, unlike billions of publications
> I’ve read, including the New York Times.  I’m still
> a grammarian of a kind at heart, even after the
> Deacon-struction.
>     Ed         
> --------------------------------------------
> On Mon, 10/6/14, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
> wrote:
>  Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
>  To: kb at kbjournal.org
>  Date: Monday, October 6, 2014, 3:34 PM
>  Burkophiles,
>      I’ve already said
>  that Terrence W. Deacon’s semiotic theory partly
> supports,
>  partly enhances, and partly challenges Burke’s
>  dramatism/logology, in my view.  Burke surely, we would
>  maintain, enhances Deacon, as well.  Before I get to the
>  “challenge”---as the song goes, “Don’t know where,
>  don’t know when”---let me add to the themes of support
>  and enhancement.  Here I’ll be referencing, in
>  particular, two of Deacon’s shorter works, the journal
>  article, “The Emergent Process of Thinking as Reflected
> in
>  Language Processing,” and Deacon’s book  chapter,
>  “Beyond the Symbolic Species,” The Symbolic Species
>  being the title of the anthropologist/neuroscientist’s
>  tome that preceded Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged
> from
>  Matter, about which I previously bloviated.
>      I would judge Deacon’s explanatory
>  “god-term”/”rome-term” to be “emergent,” as
> per
>  the title of the here-featured treatise.  The word
>  “emerge” plays a similar role, I think, in “Beyond
> the
>  Symbolic Species.”  All roads seem to lead from
>  “emerge”/”emergent” to the two sets of dialectical
>  opposites subsumed below:
>      The primary polar matchup term
>  “emergent” is pitted against, is “innate,” as in
> the
>  pre-processed, genetically-programmed and “engineered”
>  universal generative grammar of Noam Chomsky and his
>  epigoni.  No evidence of such a special facility can be
>  found in the human genome or in the structures of the
> human
>  brain, which actually look not that much different from
>  those found in a mouse, let alone a chimpanzee.  (I’m
>  referencing Incomplete Nature as well as
> “Emergent.”) 
>  We have here a “process of coming out,” a “rising .
> .
>  . out of a surrounding medium,” even “an effect
> produced
>  by a combination of causes but unable to be seen as the
> sum
>  of their individual effects” (The Shorter OED), except
>  through careful, detailed scrutiny of the natural history
>  and evolution of living organisms, pathways of
>  electro-chemical discharge in the brain, the very
> neurology
>  of sensory, motor, thinking, and linguistic development
> and
>  outcomes,
>   animal communication generally,
>  even the listening and reading, as well as the speaking
> and
>  writing, of symbolizers like us---all these operations
>  recapitulating the same sequential steps.  (It’s
>  appropriate here to note what Susan Greenfield and
> Christof
>  Koch, both neuroscientists, said in an exchange in
>  Psychology Today: Electrochemical discharges in the brain
>  can occur within time frames of 1/14th of a second.)
>      From this dialectical
>  emphasis on “emergent” rather than “innate,” there
>  is derived the contrasting concepts of
>  “subject/predicate.”  They assume more independent
>  “roles,” if not do “battle” with each other,
>  seemingly asymmetrically, in a way that Chomsky would not
>  likely entertain.  “Subject/predicate”; “noun
>  phrase/verb phrase”; “”topic/comment”;
> “indexical
>  support/predicate frame”; “’pointing’”/desired
> or
>  undesired result; “orientation component”/act to
>  accomplish in respect to that “orientation”;
>  “function,” as in functionary/”argument”;
>  “reference/sense”; “indexical operation/symbolic
>  operation”; “slots” for “pointing,” or
>  “addresses”/”operation”; “(embedded) bound
>  indexes/symbolic operation”; “disambiguating” the
>  “indexical”/successful “symbolic” action toward a
>  desired end---these serve as various expressions of the
>  “process” of
>   “emergence,” left to
>  right, in communication, part of which, the
>  “indexical”-founded-on-the-“iconic” preliminaries
>  I’ve already spoken of, homo loquax/dialecticus shares
>  with other living creatures.
>      The major point Deacon makes is, there
>  is no built-in genetic-neurological template by which the
>  symbolic species gets from subject to predicate.  That
>  aptitude, that enabling juxtaposition, resides not in our
>  biology, nor in our cultural conditioning.  It is a
> faculty
>  humans learn in early childhood via the bound and required
>  “logic” of successful symbolization. 
>  “Disambiguating” indexicality---i.e., “:pointing”
>  via gestures or indexical words to what it is we are
>  symbolically talking about---is a requirement for
> successful
>  human communication.  We must put those two communicative
>  elements together somehow to get what we’re after, or
> tell
>  others more or less accurately what we want them to
> know. 
>  Nonsymbolic animals have no such indexical problem,
> because
>  their communication doesn’t get beyond the “iconic,”
>  the “:arousal” to “attention” a significant
>  “form” will evoke for them---and the “indexical,”
>  the gestural or
>   vocal “pointing” to
>  that feared or desired object.  “Symbolization” via
>  predication complicates, potentially, actually
> practically,
>  interrupts, erects barriers in succession to making clear,
>  what we are talking about, who or what we have in mind,
> what
>  we want others to “do” in order for our interests to
> be
>  satisfied.
>      How human thinking, sensory and motor
>  skills, and language production get to happen involve
>  similar, if not identical, neural continuities.
>      And how all this
>  dovetails so nicely with Burke’s dramatistic philosophy,
>  yet broaches an issue Burke may not have adequately dealt
>  with, remains.
>      Next
>  time.
>      Ed  
>  --------------------------------------------
>  On Tue, 9/16/14, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
>  wrote:
>   Subject: [KB] "The
>  Symbol Concept"
>   To: kb at kbjournal.org
>   Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 1:08 PM
>   Burkophiles,
>       Thanks, Bob, for your
>  response on Burke,
>   rhetoric, and
>  “repetition.”  I hope to get back on
>  that one later.
>       I
>  posted a few weeks ago on Terrence W.
>  Deacon’s book Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from
>   Matter.  I said, in effect, and sought to
>  briefly
>   summarize how, Deacon’s
>  philosophy of language part
>   supports, part
>  enhances, and part challenges Burke’s
>  dramatism/logology.  Ronald Soetaert of Ghent U.
>   seconded that take on Deacon’s relevance to
>  our
>   enterprise.
>       Since then, I’ve been in further
>   dialogue with Professor Deacon.  He sent me
>  three of
>   his published articles, then
>  later, a fourth, later still an
>   essay now
>  in press.  Two of these pieces have to do
>  with his mentor, Gregory Bateson, whose work I referred
>  to
>   in at least one of my posts as being a
>  clear precursor of
>   Deacon’s semiotics. 
>  The other of those first three,
>   an
>  encyclopedia chapter entitled “The Symbol Concept,”
>   I’d like to summarize in this post and maybe
>  one or two
>   more.  The chapter appears in
>  The Oxford Handbook of
>   Language Evolution
>  (Oxford University Press, 2011).  If
>  you’re interested, please read on.
>       (And as you read, do keep in mind
>  that
>   Incomplete Nature has made a profound
>  impact, judging from
>   multiple reviews
>  easily accessed on the internet.)
>       First, Deacon’s confirmation of
>  Burke,
>   formerly unbeknownst to Deacon, as I
>  noted: Deacon’s in
>   anthropology and
>  neuroscience, not communication and
>  literature, the prime sources of Burkean interest and
>   scholarship.  From the perspective of
>  Incomplete
>   Nature, I pointed out how
>  Deacon’s critique of the
>   commonplace
>  “scientific lens,” maybe epitomized by
>  behaviorism’s notion of the human mind, any “mind,”
>  as
>   a “black box” we ought to prescind
>  from our motivational
>   calculations, is
>  faulty and inadequate.  Input and
>   output,
>  neural stimulus and response, reduction of mind to
>   biology, then to chemistry, then to physics,
>  are the
>   requisite foci for useful data and
>  explanation, so much of
>   hard science, at
>  least, seems to suggest.  Deacon says
>   no,
>  we have to factor in, indeed highlight, a necessary
>   “absential feature”(similar to Burke’s
>  negative) that
>   becomes the basis for human
>  purpose, trial and error---we
>   can genuinely
>  label it all the
>    aspects of “action,”
>  expressive of a chosen
>   “preference,”
>  that cuts across “spontaneous” causes
>  in nature and orients persons toward “work” that
>  limits,
>   organizes, directs life
>  outcomes.
>       “The
>  Symbol Concept” further
>   underscores the
>  dramatistic relevance of Deacon’s
>  thought.  Deacon once again takes issue with regnant
>   scientific/technological terminologies that
>  confuse what a
>   “symbol” actually is. 
>  A symbol is not, Deacon
>   claims, mere
>  “code,” “sign,” “icon,” or number,
>   that is, symbols are not mere pointers ,
>  markers, gauges, or
>   portraits of the kind
>  so often denominated
>   “symbols.” 
>  Actual “symbols” refer, abstractly
>   and
>  generally, “irrespective of any natural
>  affinities.”  In other words, as per Burke, symbols
>   synthesize, synthetically, disparate beings,
>  entities, or
>   events for seemingly
>  pragmatic, culturally-conditioned
>   purposes
>  that transcend mere appearance of similarity. 
>   Contra Saussure (with the exception of proper
>  nouns),
>   symbolic reference cannot be
>  “mapped.”  To the
>   extent that a common
>  word or symbol “maps” anything, it
>  “maps” a position in a given lexicon in relation to
>   other
>    terminologies in that
>  symbol system.
>       The
>  airy, diaphanous character of
>   Burke’s
>  equivalent notion of symbolic action/reference
>   finds peak expression in his chapter, “What
>  Are the Signs
>   of What?---A Theory of
>  Entitlement.” in LASA.  There
>   Burke
>  maintains what he said in the Grammar about how common
>   symbols refer to “nothing” in the real
>  world, only here
>   he follows up with how
>  “reference” is reversed, in terms
>   of
>  customary suppositions: “Things are the signs of
>   words,” rather than vice versa.  In so
>  “latching
>   on” to the symbol’s
>  concept, so to speak, tangible
>   entities and
>  “objects” “materialize” the
>  “spirit” of the symbol, participate in its
>   “pageantry” (pp. 361, 379).
>       But---and
>  here’s where Deacon gets into
>   semiotic
>  and semiological issues foreign to Burke’s
>   dramatism, i.e., the “enhancement” I
>   mentioned---“sign”-age,
>  “signal”-ing,
>   “code”deciphering,
>  the whole gamut of concepts related
>   to
>  computer algorithms and “encryption,” come to bear in
>   undergirding the higher-order cognitive
>  process we call
>   human symbolic
>  communication.  Like love and marriage
>  (for the traditionally minded, anyway), you can’t have
>  one
>   without the other.  The symbols of
>  human language are
>   fashioned out of sounds
>  and written or printed characters
>   the roots
>  of which are presymbolic, and prehuman, for that
>   matter.  Such “iconic” and
>  “indexical” sources
>   of communication
>  are evident in the activites of nonsymbolic
>  animals, as well as in the “symbolic actions” of you
>  and
>   me.  Thus, add “iconism” and
>  “indexicality” to
>   Deacon’s
>  “absential feature” and Bateson’s
>  “difference that makes a
>    difference”
>  (that results from some pre-ethical sense of
>   negation, and occasions a form of “trial and
>  error” in
>   the service of a kind of
>  “preference,” a capacity for
>   which all
>  living things show signs of possessing and
>  utilizing).
>       In
>  explaining this “hierarchy” of
>   notions
>  he uses in explaining how human symbolic action
>   works, Deacon borrows from the philosophy of
>  Charles Sanders
>   Peirce.  Peirce coined the
>  term “legisign” to refer
>   to iconic,
>  indexical, and symbolic signs in general. 
>  The locution “sinsign” refers to a specific instance
>  of
>   an iconic or lexical sign (there can be
>  no such thing,
>   actually, as a “symbolic
>  sinsign,” as will become clear,
>   I hope. 
>  “Natural affinities” characterize
>  sinsigns; not so, anything that attains the level of
>   “symbolic,” based on, as Burke and Deacon
>  say,
>   arbitrary, conventional, culturally
>  reflective origins of
>   reference.)  A stick
>  figure drawing on a restroom door
>   is an
>  iconic legisign.  It “portrays” in
>  general.  A picture of a famous person is an iconic
>   sinsign.  It portrays in particular.  A
>  smoke
>   alarm sound is an indexical legisign,
>  as is the position of
>   a needle on a
>  pressure gauge.  They “point” or
>  orient
>    toward an action in the large.  A
>  particular smell of
>   smoke is an indexical
>  sinsign.  Spoken or written
>   words, in a
>  syntactical context or not, are symbolic
>  legisigns.  The reference is to “a general concept or
>   type of object.”
>       Proper names might seem to be a bit
>  like
>   symbolic sinsigns, but they are not. 
>  Their reference
>   can be mapped, one-to-one
>  Saussure-like, but “the
>   sign-vehicle is a
>  conventional form.”  Therefore
>   Peirce
>  would call them “indexical legisigns.” 
>   “Dolphin signature whistles are indexical
>  sinsigns”
>   (Deacon, e-mail message,
>  9/9/14).  Symbolic signs of
>   the most
>  abstract or merely potential kind of reference
>   Peirce calls “qualisigns.”
>       Symbolic reference,
>  then, functions like
>   this: “A written
>  word [for instance] is first recognized
>   as
>  an iconic sinsign (an instance of a familiar form), then
>   an indexical legisign (a type of sign vehicle
>  contiguous
>   with other related types), and
>  then as a symbolic legisign
>   (a conventional
>  type of sign referring to a conventional
>  type of reference).
>      Deacon employs the text message “smiley
>   face” and Aristotle’s take on how a
>  “signet ring”
>   functions in
>  communication as examples of this hierarchal
>   progression in the production of meaning for
>  symbol-users,
>   one of Deacon’s most
>  salient points being: This
>   “dependency of
>  symbolic reference on indexical reference
>  [and iconic reference]” mirrors the dependency of human
>   symbolic action/communication on the
>  “genetic,” even
>   “phylogenetic,”
>  capacities for iconic and indexical
>  communication of a sort in “living organisms” in
>   general, a theme of Deacon’s (and
>  Bateson’s) I
>   emphasized in my previous
>  posts on Incomplete Nature.
>       So, for further review and/or
>  comment:
>       What do
>  Deacon’s semiotic distinctions,
>   and
>  especially unifications, mean for Burke’s signature
>   “(Nonsymbolic) Motion/(Symbolic) Action”
>  dichotomy 
>   (1978/2003)?  Is some sort of
>  modification in order
>   along the lines of
>  Jim Chesebro’s complaint that Burke did
>  not pay enough attention to nonsymbolic motive s (Burke
>   panel at the ECA Convention, 1992)?
>       Does Deacon’s
>  critique of Chomsky’s
>   Universal
>  Generative Grammar as the innate “constraint”
>   on syntactical linguistic relationships in
>  human
>   communication, in favor instead of
>  “indexical”
>   constraints, tend to
>  support Burke’s notion of the
>   negative as
>  “the engine of intentionality” and the very
>   dawn of human symbolism (1952/1953/1966)?
>       Maybe something on
>  those issues later.
>       Ed
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