Around 1900, Ferdinand de Saussure imagined the encounter between two formless nebulae: thought and sound. Their encounter engenders the necessity to unite and divide: contours of forms start emerging, ending up in
The attraction between thought and sound creates a union: the sign. An idea is fixed in a sound and a sound becomes the sign of an idea. In-forming the amorphous, by coupling and delimiting signs, creates the articulation of an expression and a content. Resulting in a
system of signs :
language, allowing a society to communicate.
Semiosis is the place where the junction between an idea and a sound, a sign, encounters the junctions of another individual. The multiplicity of these encounters requires a
system of signes.
Around 1900, Charles S. Peirce combines two concepts in conceiving semiosis. On the one hand, the representation as a relationship between a sign and the object to which the sign refers. On the other hand, an interpretant as the logical equivalence of the representational relationship. In combining the two,
representation and interpretation
, a triangle emerges. Semiosis is the encounter between three elements.
Every semiosis impels a new semiosis. The interpretant takes the place of the representation. And in turn, it finds a new interpretant in establishing a new triangular encounter. The attraction between interpretants, through a representation, thus leads to an
. A kind of inner dialogue, driven by an inferential logic of reasoning, due to the mechanics of semiosis.
Semiosis is about the vague process of inferential logic, caused by the encounters between interpretants, in changing the
During the 2nd World War, Claude E. Shannon invented the possibility of digitally manipulating information. This allows us to better target ads on the Web. Firms like Google and Facebook benefit from this in accumulating their capital. But the algorithm for calculating information is limited to one unit with a minimal meaning:
. This bit of information, as Shannon states, "says nothing about the value or importance of the information".
Quite the opposite. Although information processing (or so-called "intelligence") is presented mainly as a progress. So Shannon points out that it forces humanity "to adapt to a world in which its mental powers are somehow
". Umberto Eco says the same in other words when stating that in the virtual world of information, we risk "losing any idea of purpose and of action".
While humanity is busy wandering around in an
excess of information
, it loses all trace of what it wants as a subject. Without the aegis of meaning, information lacks the meaning of what man feels.
Semiosis embodies the objective of fully regaining the dynamics of meaning. Thought, seized by a
a logic around a sign
that signifies. As a social system or as an individual process. Semiosis makes sense cogent through understanding of meaning.
A.J. Greimas is the founder of a vast method intended to grasp meaning in order to restore cultural values, counterbalancing the masters of suspicion of modernity.
This book provides the context and the thinking behind his method. Afterwards it brings out the anthropological stake, situated in the modernity outlined by Paul-Laurent Assoun, in following the encounters between Greimas and the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.