Statements of Fact

Begins 5:48pm

Generally speaking logic is concerned with verbal expressions.  But discussions about statements and judgements, Eco ‘states’, are also concerned with non-verbal expressions.  For example, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is a text with meta-semiotic and semiotic statements because it ‘uses verbal definitions of semantic units and uses drawings and photographs to analyse components of semantic units’. (p 160)

Eco distinguishes different types of statements that use verbal and non-verbal expressions through the following examples:

  1. The visual demonstration of Pythagoras’ Theorem is a semiotic statement.
  2. A road signal announcing danger is a factual statement, with a mention.
  3. Other road signals that command action as in <stop> are communicational acts.
  4. A drawing of a horse with a caption /horse/ represents an index-sensitive semiotic judgement.
  5. A portrait/photograph of a Nobel Prize winner with a caption /this man [sic] has won the Nobel Prize/ constitutes an index-sensitive factual judgement.

Factual statements are an example of creativity permitted by the rules of the code.  The creativity of language has double aspects: rule-governed creativity and rule-changing creativity.  Creativity of language has as its basis the dialectic between codes and messages.

[SS I thought you needed people to have a dialectic?  When we are chatting in her head are we ‘having’ a dialectic between subjective creativity and objective codes?  I am definitely having a conversation with my stomach, because it is shouting hunger and I am listening.  Only time will tell at what point I will be moved to act.]

Signs are factual statements. “Signs are used in order to name objects, to describe the states of the world, to point toward actual things, to assert that there is something and this something is so and so.” (p162)  They are used so frequently in this way that ‘philosophers’ have maintained, that a sign is a sign only when it is used to name things.

Eco argues that meaning has autonomy and is independent from its referent.  In the example he uses of the index-sensitive fact /This is a pencil/ the meaning does not depend directly on the ‘actual’ thing because this assumption would negate the independence of meaning from the referent. (p162)

[OS This sounds like a philosophical discussion not a methodological one. Critical Realists wouldn’t take the philosophical approach that meaning is ‘tied’ to a thing.  One thing I appreciate about CR is that meaning has independence.  There is ‘truth’ that stands alone.  That is not dependent on things or us!  These are hard concepts to grapple with, but as Eco reminds us on p163 there is ‘still a problem to be solved’.]

Ends 6:21pm



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