Cultural Units and the Signs of Climate Change

Begins 6:35 GMT

“Culture continuously translates signs into signs and definitions into other definitions…”  Finally, 200 nations have come to a deal that commits them to combat climate change.  COP21 was accepted after 12 days and three nights of intense discussions.  In the Sunday Independent (13 December 2015) it was ironic that Paul Melia, the journalist covering the historic Paris agreement, noted that “it sends a positive signal on where investment should be focused in the coming years”. (P22)  Although Eco distinguishes in the early pages of his Theory of Semiotics, the difference between a signal and a sign, I hope that the outcome of COP21 is a real ‘sign’ that humans are taking Climate Change seriously.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis questions whether the form of communication systems determines world vision.  There is, as Eco explains, a “fairly close interaction between world vision of a civilisation and the way it makes its own semantic units pertinent” (p79).  Is the COP21 an example of how the semantic field of climate change is expanding in a way that will lead to a reduction in climate change?  Although he also makes it clear that  ‘material conditions of life’ (represented as Y); ‘units of perceived experience’ (represented as X); their ‘corresponding cultural units’ (represented as U) and “the sign vehicles which denote them” (represented as SU) do not follow a particular order of influence.

From a purely theoretical perspective, Semiotics concerns itself:

1/Within which civilisation a semantic field functions

2/What point does it dissolve to make room for anthoer

3/ How two or more semantic fields co-exist, although in opposition, in same civilisation.

[SS I am concerned with whether all these signs of climate change awareness and understanding actually leads to change.]

Semiotics, according to Eco, ‘must’ take into consideration complexity and illustrates why through the examples of Aulus Gellius’ ‘Noctes Atticae’ – a perplexing and incoherent text on the definitions of colour; as well as Carnap’s double classifications according to which “animals are divided on the one had into fish, birds and others  A cultural units such as <whale> can then occupy different positions in the two semantic fields without the two classifications being incompatible” (p80).

[OS The Endangered Species Society will have fun with Carnap’s classifications.  It will be fun teasing that out and playing with it in Polo’s story.]

[SS I am hungry and need to stop]

Ends 7:05

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.