By Algirdas Julien Greimas
Publication by means of Greimas, Algirdas Julien
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Additional resources for On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory
Starting from observations on the visible world and on the meaning it can have for humans, we investigated in succession people as bodies, considered first of all as a certain figure of the world. Then we examined individuals as complex mechanisms that because of this mobility meet all the necessary conditions for the production of differential gaps of the signifier, from which signification can arise. The next step might be to introduce a specifically human dimension in the natural world. The Presence of Meaning To determine the signification of the word meaning, all we have to do is consult any dictionary.
20 0 TOWARD A SEMIOTICS OF THE NATURAL WORLD The Natural World and Its Signification By limiting our reflection on the natural world to the visu~l- be~ause the the~e of this discussion demands it, but also because the mamfestat10n of meanmg through the visible seems the most important one quantitatively and even qualitatively- we will initially investigate in a preliminary fashion various modalities of the manifestation of the visible. This investigation leads us immediately to recognize that the visible world, instead of being projected before us as a homogeneous screen of forms, appears rather to be made up of several superimposed, or even sometimes juxtaposed, layers of signification.
This correlation is both arbitrary and constant. For example, there are no "natural" reasons for the relationship between closed vs. open eyes and a semantic opposition such as ruse vs. innocence (Rastier); nonetheless the relationship is necessary and restrictive in a given cultural context. It can be noted that the contents that are so expressed are only stated as wordphrases or interjections, as they are also called. As the implicit subject of the utterance is always the subject ofthe enunciation (he is unable to recount the world and speaks in soliloquy only to himself), since (in communication) the implicit verb is one of being and not of doing, the synthetic utterance so formulated is in fact attributive, qualitative, and not predicative.