A Semiotic Theory of Communication
Kupers, Lawrence Brian
State UniversityOf At Stony Brook; 0771 New York
Source: DAI, 44, no. 12A, (1983): 3714
C. S. Peirce and others have attempted to construct a general theory of signs which includes natural signs, linguistic expressions, and artistic representations. No such effort has gained wide acceptance. This study is based on the hypothesis that the failure of previous attempts to frame such a theory can be attributed to misconceptions of the more complex types of signs, the "higher-level vehicles." The critical sections of the study include an examination of one product of the tradition of semiological inquiry initiated by Ferdinand de Saussure as well as P. Grice's program for a theory of nonnatural meaning. Roman Jakobson's code-based approach to verbal communication takes for granted the existence of an underlying semiotic structure or code. If Jakobson's theory is to be generalized so as to cover all cases of communication, his notion of code must be challenged. The Gricean conditions for nonnatural meaning were modified by J. Bennett to provide weaker conditions which accomplish the same goals as the Gricean conditions. Our modification of J. Bennett's sub-Gricean conditions for nonnatural meaning becomes the core of our constructive efforts. Our basic theory of communication includes characterizations of "attempting-to-communicate" (i.e. either "attempting-to-inform" or "attempting-to-enjoin"), "utterance" (i.e. "communicative vehicle") and "(successful) communication." The theory is then complicated in successive steps (typification, conventionality, and grammaticality) so as to encompass communicative systems as complex as natural languages. Armstrong's distinction between signification and mock signification is used to clarify our theory's treatment of natural languages as communicative systems. The notion of miscommunication is briefly discussed. In the concluding chapter we try to motivate a theory of signification which would include as a special case our theory of communication. The problematic of signification is mapped out in a discussion of the major categories of signs and in some remarks about expressive signs. The study ends with a homage to C. S. Peirce's philosophical inventiveness.
Accession No: AAG8405386