Aesthetics and semiotics

a stroll along their border

Sorin Alexandrescu

pp. 3


<author>Admin</author></titleStmt><editionStmt><edition><date>2018-11-15</date></edition></editionStmt><publicationStmt><p>unknown</p></publicationStmt><sourceDesc><p>Converted from a Word document</p></sourceDesc></fileDesc><encodingDesc><appInfo><application xml:id="docxtotei" ident="TEI_fromDOCX" version="2.15.0"><label>DOCX to TEI</label></application></appInfo></encodingDesc><revisionDesc><listChange><change><date>2019-12-06T12:45:50Z</date><name>Admin</name></change></listChange></revisionDesc></teiHeader><text><body><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Sorin Alexandrescu</hi> </p><p><hi rend="bold" style="font-size:14pt">Aesthetics and Semiotics: A Stroll along their Border</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn1" n="1"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> As my final Note to this essay specifies, it has been written by me in Dutch and published in the Netherlands in 1993. Recentely, it has been translated into Romanian by myself and thereafter into English by Alistair Ian Blyth (Sorin Alexandrescu, 2018).</hi> </p></note></p><p><hi rend="bold underline" style="font-size:12pt">Introduction</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">So many years after French structuralism showed itself to be critical of philosophy, and especially to phenomenology and existentialism to be more precise, we now see a trend among various semioticians to reformulate their questions about the construction of meaning in accordance with philosophy rather than in opposition to it. According to them, semiotics might be said better to prove its identity in dialogue with philosophy than by refusing any contact with it “on principle.” If this is so, then semiotics ought first to answer certain questions regarding its methodological fundaments, which hitherto it has easily rejected precisely because it regarded them as (too) “philosophical.” Some of them arise precisely in the border zone between aesthetics and semiotics; my short stroll through this area will attempt to identify them. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">While traditional literary criticism placed the emphasis on value judgement, semiotics rejected this strategy as irrelevant and shifted the discussion to the completely different dimension of the text: it was the </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">meaning</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> of the text that was to be examined, rather than its </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">value</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">. Whether or not to apply the label “beautiful” to a text was to be secondary, according to this stance; what counted above all else was how we lend </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">meaning</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> to a given text.</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">“Beautiful,” like other evaluative terms, was to be struck from the semiotic dictionary. Does it have any importance to the analyses of Jakobson, Barthes, Greimas, or Eco whether the text under analysis has a particular value?</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn2" n="2"><p rend="endnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt">Even so, a number of evaluative terms can be found in Roland Barthes: the</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">écrivain/écrivant</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> binary in</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Essais critiques</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Paris, Seuil, 1964, p.147-154, and the</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">lisible/scriptible</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> binary in</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Paris, Seuil, 1975, p.122. On the need to make evaluations despite the absence of a system of shared norms in society, see J. F. Lyotard, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Le différend</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Paris, Minuit, 1983, and</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">La faculté de juger</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Paris, Minuit, 1985. </hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> The question itself, I think, sounded highly naïve to them. The semantic richness of a story by Maupassant, as revealed by Greimas, might be an argument to praise the value of the author in question, but cannot such richness also be suggested by Eco’s analysis of a James Bond novel or a cartoon strip, even though he regards both as kitsch?</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn3" n="3"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Umberto Eco, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Apocalittici e integrati</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Milan, Bompiani, 1964, p.133-185, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The Role of the Reader</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, London, Hutchinson, 1979, pp. 144-172, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">De alledaagse onwerkelijkheid</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, [The Everyday Unreality], [translation], Amsterdam, Bert Bakker, 1985. </hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> Not only does the question sound naïve, but also it is wrongly expressed: from Peirce, we know that semiosis is by definition infinite and that its chain of interpreters often reveals astonishing rich processes of meaning; the eventual value of one of these interpreters plays no role in the process, however. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">On the other hand, both the formation of meaning and the weighing of value struggle with the same problem: how to legitimise the movement from premise to conclusion? The leap from descriptive to theoretical terms seems just as difficult as the leap from descriptive to evaluative statements.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn4" n="4"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">On the status of theoretical terms, see among others: S. Harding (ed.), </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Can Theories be Refuted?</hi> <hi style="font-size:11pt">Dordrecht, Reidel, 1976.</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> The last two terms reveal two additional problems, however: the subjectivity of the act of evaluation and the question of which system of concepts, that of signification or that of values, plays the most important role in the evaluation process. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Semioticians long denied having any interest in either group of problems, although implicitly they reacted by the fact that they dealt only with the process of the creation of meaning. This choice had two consequences: semiotics was unable to decide on whether the object of study had any value or why people lent a particular meaning to an object. Intuitively, it seems that the two concepts, meaning and value, are mutually bound up with each other, but it also seems not to be out of the question that in certain cultures they might be mutually translatable; in any case, analysis of any particular text shows us that it is difficult to deal with just one of these concepts in isolation. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Semiotics has traced the boundaries of its territory in such a way that both the question of value and the question of the knowing subject have remained outside. Both were ceded to philosophy thanks to the presupposition that they do not pertain to the essence of the chosen object of knowledge, namely, the formation of meaning. But the irony of the situation resides in the fact that this founding act—the reduction to the essential—is itself a philosophical act, and a phenomenological one to boot. Semiotics therefore split away from philosophy through a philosophical act and—this is my overall hypothesis—namely one that concealed philosophical presuppositions in an unconscious manner, and therefore in a manner that cannot be analysed in its fundamentals. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Since I will be unable to develop this hypothesis any further here, I shall limit myself to observing that the question of value, which, through this strategic decision, was removed from semiotics, later returned. It could not have been otherwise: what takes place on the aesthetic side of the border lives in the phantasms that arise on its semiotic side. But the opposite is also possible: are there not aestheticians wracked by a desire for precision, which has seeped into their souls having crossed from the semiotic side of the border?</hi></p><p><hi rend="bold underline" style="font-size:12pt">Kant</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Kant can be found at the origin of the debate outlined above. The aesthetic consists in a certain type of experience:</hi></p><p><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">Was an der Vorstellung eines Objekts bloss subjektiv is, d.i. ihre beziehung auf das Subjekt, nicht auf den Gegenstand ausmacht, ist die ästhetische Beschaffenheit derselben; was aber an ihr zur Bestimmung des Gegenstandes (zum Erkenntnisse) dient, oder gebraucht werden kann, ist ihre logische Gültigkeit</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn5" n="5"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> I. Kant, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Kritik der Urteilskraft</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> , Stuttgart, Reclam, 1986, p.48.</hi></p></note></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">It is therefore a question of different types of life experience, each of which rests under a different authority: pure reason, practical reason, and value judgement. The knowledge, practical experience, and aesthetic experience of an object are kept separate, and the third becomes possible through the disconnection of the first two. The intervention of the subject rather than the concreteness of the object is in fact what decides which type of experience occurs. The object must be defined, as a minimum feature, either to be Form (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">Gestalt</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt">) in the spatial arts or Play (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">Spiel</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt">) in the temporal arts. But Kant does not further specify these elements.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn6" n="6"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Idem</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, p.103.</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> The subject must enjoy the object without having any ulterior interest; the judgement of taste is personal and occurs outside conceptual thought.</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn7" n="7"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Idem</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, p.79 (under discussion is the initial moment of value judgement).</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt">.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn8" n="8"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> For the reduced role of the concepts, see the difference between</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">pulchritudo vaga</hi> <hi style="font-size:11pt">and</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">pulchritudo adhaerens</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">idem</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, p.109), and the definition of the term</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Gemeinsinn</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">sensus comunis</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">), </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">idem</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, pp. 80-89, 125-127.</hi> </p></note></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Modern aestheticians, like semioticians as well, the latter despite their disinterest in philosophy, have, I think, always struggled with Kant’s opinions about art without genuinely being able to break free of the framework of his thought. Without here making any claim to provide an all-encompassing view of the alternatives to Kantian ideas, I shall merely point out those of them that might be relevant to semiotics. In the following, they will be discussed relative to the “subject/object” relation, the dilemma of “the aesthetic experience of the subject, or the aesthetic features of the object,” and the dilemma of “the aesthetic of the sign, or the sign of the aesthetic.”</hi></p><p><hi rend="bold underline" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Subject </hi><hi rend="italic bold underline" style="font-size:12pt">versus</hi><hi rend="bold underline" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> object</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Kant sites aesthetics within a special relationship between subject and object, while emphasising its individual character: it is and remains the private affair of a cultivated bourgeoisie that thereby separates and also protects itself from the rest of society. This locus or reservation of the beautiful is essential to the modern world, determining the distance between the private and the social, the autonomy as well as the economic value of art, the role of the art critic as intermediary, and so on. Countless modern theories and practices flow, implicitly or explicitly, from this fundamentally Kantian vision, and accept the subject/object dualism, thereby reducing the certifiedly artistic to a personal intuition of the individual features of the object, or, on the contrary, contest the relationship between subject and object as being insufficient and consequently add to it a third element, namely, society. Heidegger, for example, grants art a different function than Kant does, that of opening up a world that would otherwise remain hidden, but nonetheless to him it is obvious that the fulfilment of this function is the personal task of an artist.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn9" n="9"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> M. Heidegger, “Der Umsprung der Kunstwerkes”, in </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Holzwege</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Frankfurt am Main, Klostermann, 1972.</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> On the other hand, Marcuse and Adorno emphasise precisely the social dimension of the art object.</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn10" n="10"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> H. Marcuse, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The Aesthetic Dimension</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Boston, Beacon Press, 1978.</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt">,</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn11" n="11"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> T. W. Adorno, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Ästhetische theorie</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1980. </hi></p></note></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Semiotics creates another framework of thinking. Peirce and Saussure go beyond the metaphysics of the subject and the limits of its relationship with the object by defining semiotics as an inevitable and constitutive third element of the process of knowing. Peirce explicitly opposes Descartes and Kant’s mode of thought, while Saussure emphasises the institutional framework of language and sign systems</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn12" n="12"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">See “Some Consequences of the Four Incapacities” (1868), “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (1878), etc. in </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Collected Papers of C. S. Peirce</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, vol. 5, 1960. </hi> </p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt">,</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn13" n="13"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> F.de Saussure, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Cours de linguistique générale</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Paris, Payot, 1984, p. 33: “la langue est une institution sociale.” </hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt">. Although different among themselves, the semioticians that followed them agree on the fact that the employment of signs is possible only based on a social code. The individual performance of a user of signs entails competence, i.e. knowledge, of these social codes. Knowledge is therefore produced by complex semiotic acts, rather than by a subject/object binary relationship. The subject is neither the origin of knowledge, nor the guarantor of its accuracy; the subject dissolves into anonymous codes and operations along with them.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn14" n="14"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Barthes repeatedly pronounced the death of the author in “La mort de l’auteur” (1968), </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Le bruissement de la langue</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Essais critiques 4</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">), Paris, Seuil, 1984, p.61-67. He also made fun of the illusion that a subject was supposed to be behind the text (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Le plaisir du texte</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Paris, Seuil, 1973, p. 29). Foucault too saw in the concept of the “author” just as regrettable a limitation of the manner in which meaning takes shape (</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">L’ordre du discours</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Paris, Gallimard, 1971, p.28-31), such as in the concept of the subject itself (</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Ervaring en waarheid</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, [Experience and Truth] [translation] Nijmegen, Te elfder Ure, 1985). </hi> </p></note></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Although not all semioticians agree with this view of the subject—Kristeva is obviously not, for instance</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn15" n="15"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">“The system and the speaking subject”, in T. Sebeok (ed.), </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The Tell-Tale Sign</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Lisse, P. de Ridder Press, 1975, p.47-55. </hi> </p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">—those that do agree in fact refer only to the subject of acts of knowledge and communication; the aesthetic experience remains completely outside the discussion. They therefore agree among themselves both on what they allow into their territory and on what they relegate outside it. The Kantian aesthetician would probably not have many objections against such a division of the territory. Albeit grudgingly, he might even accept to cede the area of pure language and </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">knowledge</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> of the artwork to the “aggressive horde” of semioticians in exchange for keeping the </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">experience </hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">of the beautiful for himself. A quarrel between neighbours at the border might therefore erupt only if this territorial division is not abided by. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">The founders of semiotics, Peirce, Saussure and Hjelmslev, therefore abolish the metaphysics of the subject, but bestow little interest on aesthetics. Peirce once explained the change in his ideas regarding the relationship between semiotics—which, as is well known, he sited within the field of logic—and aesthetics. I think this attitude is typical of many other semioticians.</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">I must confess that, like most logicians, I have pondered that subject far too little (....) and then aesthetics and logic seem, at first blush, to belong to different universes. It is only very recently that I have become persuaded that that seeming is illusory and that, on the contrary, logic needs the help of aesthetics.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn16" n="16"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Collected Papers</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 2.197.</hi></p></note> </p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">Aesthetics, therefore, although I have terribly neglected it, appears to be possibly the first indispensable propaedeutic to logic.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn17" n="17"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Idem</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, 2.199.</hi></p></note></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">The following paragraphs of the same article involve ethics in the discussion, however. Peirce argues that logic studies the means that thinking possesses in order to achieve a particular goal, but the goal at stake is defined by ethics. In turn, ethics makes recourse to aesthetics in order to discover what in fact it is desirable that we experience. Aesthetics is therefore not at all the same thing as semiotics, but rather must become its foundation. The border continues to exist, but it is unexpectedly shifted from the horizontal—separating equal disciplines, but which develop alongside each other—to the vertical, where it creates a hierarchical relation: aesthetics is now what makes semiotics possible! The same as Kant before him, Peirce too feels obliged to introduce aesthetics into the system because otherwise the system would seem no longer to function. This “soft” science, according to Peirce, now acquires an obligatory place in the system and carries out a function comparable with a “Mittelgleid”:</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn18" n="18"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> I. Kant, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Kritik der Urteilskracht</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Vorrede zur ersten Auflage, pp. 16-17.</hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> that which brings pure and practical reason together in Kant acts as the foundation of the whole structure in Peirce. But unlike Kant, Peirce does not stop there. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Other semioticians likewise reduce aesthetics to an axiom that makes possible the whole theory, but here is not the place for us to situate it and therefore it is not worth analysing it further: in Derrida, for example, the </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">parergon</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> is neither inside nor outside the </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">ergon</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt">, but encloses it, influences its content, and in fact makes it possible.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn19" n="19"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> J. Derrida</hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">, La vérité en peinture</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Paris, Flammarion, 1978. </hi></p></note> <hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Greimas is one of the few semioticians who attempt explicitly to introduce into semiotics the aesthetic subject and the subject of experience. It is remarkable that although Greimas is situated at a completely different point within semiotics than Peirce, he pursues a similar path. The axiomatic nature of the aesthetic and in fact of value in general, arose in his system when Greimas had to provide an answer to the following question: What is the first impulse capable of setting in motion “le parcours génératif” of a discourse? To declare an object as the goal of his action, the subject must first axiologically institute the world in which he acts, in other words, he must grant value to the basic semantic units that constitute that world. This “projection” occurs thanks to the </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">thymic</hi> <hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">category that connotes the unity in question as </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">euphoric</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, i.e. desirable, or </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">dysphoric</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, i.e. undesirable. </hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt">The share of axiology in Greimas’s standard version of semiotics remains limited to these observations and creates the impression that thymic values here fulfil only an axiomatic rôle.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn20" n="20"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">Greimas introduces the category of the thymic in order to refer to the axiological basis of the formation of meaning. See the term “thymique” in A.J. Greimas, J. Courtès, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Sémiotique. Dictionnaire raisonné de la théorie du langage</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, vol. I, Paris, Hachette, 1979, vol. II, Paris, Hachette, 1986 (with various authors, including myself, S.A.). </hi> </p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> Later, however, in </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt">De l’imperfection</hi><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, Greimas returned to the problem of value, particularly in the aesthetic experience, and defined </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">aesthesis </hi><hi style="font-size:12pt">as a “saisie,” a seizure of the object by the subject in order to achieve almost a mystical “conjunction” with it.</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn21" n="21"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">A.J. Greimas, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">De l’imperfection</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Périgueux, Pierre Fanlac, 1987, pp. 28-32. </hi></p></note><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> Apart from the fact that this reversal occurs in Greimas’s semiotics quite unexpectedly, his closeness to aesthetics proves for the umpteenth time that whenever modern thought touches on questions of the subject of experience, it always displays the strange tendency to return to the Kantian mode of thinking. </hi></p><p><hi rend="bold underline" style="font-size:12pt">The beautiful: an experience of the subject or a property of the object?</hi></p><p><hi style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Numerous aestheticians who have sought an alternative to the first of the above terms, the Kantian term, of the dilemma, and namely the experience of the subject, have also referred to the second term, but have immediately found themselves faced with the difficult question of what properties the object must have in order to be declared an aesthetic object. An old debate that took place in the English-speaking world is still topical from this standpoint. </hi></p><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">René Wellek, who had read F. R. Leavis’s</hi> <hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Revaluation: Tradition and Development in English Poetry</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> in 1937, the year after it was published, remarked that although he frequently agreed with the author’s evaluations, he was dissatisfied with the fact that he never supported them with explicit criteria. Such criteria might be reconstructed retrospectively, however: </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Allow me to sketch your ideal of poetry, your “norm” with which you measure every poet: your poetry must be in serious relation to actuality . . . must be in relation to life . . . the language of your poetry must not be cut off from speech.</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Wellek wrote to Leavis suggesting he might agree with the above, but in the following issue of </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Scrutiny</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">,</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn22" n="22"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">Both letters are published in E. Bentley (ed.), </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The Importance of Scrutiny</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, New York University Press, 1964, pp. 23-40. </hi></p></note> <hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Leavis replied that he could not, since although Wellek the philosopher probably required such abstract criteria of evaluation, he as a literary critic did not. “Literary criticism and philosophy seem to me to be quite distinct and different kinds of discipline.” He went on to voice his reaction to a proposal on Wellek’s part:</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">The romantic view of the world, a view common to Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley and others, yes, I have heard of it. But what interest can it have for the literary critic? For the critic . . . those three poets are so radically different from one another that the offer to assimilate them in a common philosophy can only suggest the irrelevance of the philosophic approach.</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Leavis’s response is an extreme example of nominalism and anti-theoretic literary criticism, but nonetheless, such opinions were typical of many critics of the time—P.F. Schmitz cites the attitude of Menno ter Braak in this context</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn23" n="23"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> P.F Schmitz, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Kritik en criteria. Menno ter Braak en het literaire waardeoordeel</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, [Criticism and criteria. Menno ter Braak and the judgement of literary value], Amsterdam, Huis aan de drie grachten, 1979. He discusses the work of Menno ter Braak (1902-1940), a great democratic essayist and journalist, known among other things for his discussion of the criterion for evaluating a writer: </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Vorm of vent</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, which should we evaluate, the form of the writing or the personality of the author? Menno ter Braak chose the second term. As a democrat and an anti-Nazi, he committed suicide in 1940, in order not to fall into the hands of the Germans when they invaded Holland. </hi> </p></note> <hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">— and they are not alien to many of today’s professional literary critics, despite cultural pluralism. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">The translation of the evaluative term “good” into non-evaluative terms has always been a thorny issue in aesthetics. As we have seen, Kant expressed himself in very general terms when it came to “form.” Hegel defined it according to the three phases of the evolution of art. Normative aesthetics, from classicism to “socialist realism” has never wondered </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">whether</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> a norm of artistic worth really does exist, but rather decides unilaterally that such a norm </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">must</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> exist. The decision itself became a norm if a political or cultural authority so ruled. The norm did not express a truth, but was presented </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">as</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> a truth. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">The impossibility of maintaining “absolute” criteria in aesthetics and the theory of modern values became obvious after the </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Umwertung aller Werte</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, however: the overthrow of all values advocated by Nietzsche, and after the triumph of modernism in art. The “relativists” arrived either with the criterion of either </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">good in its way</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> or the viewpoint of the researcher himself.</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn24" n="24"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> J.O. Urmson, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The emotive theory of ethics</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, New York, 1968; J.J.A. Mooij, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Tekst en lezer</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, [Text and reader, S.A.] Amsterdam, Athenaeum, 1979; J.J.A. Mooij, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">De wereld der waarden</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> [The world of values, S.A.], Amsterdam, Meulenhoff, 1987. </hi></p></note></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">The first criterion was put forward by a number of aestheticians. J. Schulte-Sasse sums up the various proposals:</hi> <note place="foot" xml:id="ftn25" n="25"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> J. Schulte-Sasse, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Literarische Wertung</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Stuttgart, Metzler, 1978.</hi></p></note> <hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">stilistische Einstimmigkeit</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> (stylistic concordance, in Staiger, Kayser), </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Vieldeutigkeit</hi> <hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">(multiple meaning or ambiguous meaning, Wellek, Warren), </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">polyphone harmony </hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">(Ingarden), </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">complexity</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">ambiguity </hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">(the New Criticism), </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">ostranenie</hi> <hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">(estrangement, in Russian Formalism). All these criteria can fit multiple situations, but nonetheless, we may easily demonstrate that there are masterpieces that have </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">different</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> basic criteria or that there is also kitsch based on the </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">very same</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> criteria. Isn’t a slushy novel stylistically coherent? Doesn’t a television series about interplanetary wars estrange us from the everyday? Isn’t even a piece of doggerel ambiguous in its own way?</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">Beardsley wanted to put an end to such debates by means of a principle of aesthetic perspective, but in order to define it he employed the term </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">gratification</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, i.e. the exact same word used by in the English translation of Kant for </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Vergnügen</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> (pleasure), thereby falling back onto Kantian terminology.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn26" n="26"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> M.C. Beardsley, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">The Aesthetic Point of View</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Cornell University Press, 1982, pp. 15-34. J.C. Meredith’s 1928 translation of Kant has been republished; see for example the Oxford, Clarendon Press, edition of 1978.</hi> </p></note></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">The most radical critique of the general norms of evaluation came from Moore.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn27" n="27"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> G.E. Moore, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Principia ethica</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> (1903), Cambridge University Press, 1971. </hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> His attack of what he called the “naturalistic fallacy” can be summed up in the observation—an obvious one, I might add—that it is impossible to reduce directly perceptible natural qualities, such as colour and volume, or indirectly perceptible qualities, such as narrative construction or the repetition of a musical theme, to a “non-natural quality,” such as the good, or “to be good.” Based on this “category gap,” other aestheticians have concluded that traditional aesthetics has come to an end: “Does traditional aesthetics rest on a mistake?” as W. Kennick asked.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn28" n="28"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> W.E. Kennick, “Does traditional aesthetics rest on a mistake?” in M. Philipson, P.J. Gudel (eds.),</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Aesthetics Today</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, New York, Meridian Books, 1980, p.459-476.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> His answer was yes, it does, as long as aesthetics searches for universal essences and criteria; according to him, only the personal experience of art is real, but we express it in persuasive terms rather than in syllogisms. Frank Sibley agrees with him.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn29" n="29"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> F.N. Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts”, in J. Margolis (ed.) </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Philosophy Looks at the Arts</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1978, pp. 64-87. </hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> Aesthetic experience cannot come under the rules of necessary and sufficient conditions. We talk about artworks and artistic pleasure in the same vague, subjective way we talk about any other experience, and nevertheless we can always justify artistic experience, although we cannot always provide a final argument for it.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn30" n="30"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">L.Wittgenstein, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Colleges</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, [translation into Dutch], Meppel / Amsterdam, Boom, 1979.</hi></p></note></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">In classical German aesthetics, there is a different type of reflection relevant to our discussion: Hegel defines the artwork through the relationship between content, </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">die Idee</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, and form, </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">ihre sinnliche bildiche Gestaltung</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn31" n="31"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">G.W.F. Hegel, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Vorlesungen uber die Äesthetik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Stuttgart, Reclam, 1980, p.126.</hi></p></note> <hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">(literally, “its sensorial imaginal form”). Saussure would not have had any objection to this, all the more so given that Hegel even employs the term “sign”:</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">der Ton, das letzte äussere Material der Poesie, ist in ihr nich mehr die tönende Empfindung selber, sondern ein für sich bedeutungsloses Zeichen, und zwar der in sich konkret gewordenen Vorstellung.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn32" n="32"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">Hegel, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">op. cit.,</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> p. 149.</hi></p></note></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">The sign appears through “eine ganz willkürliche Verknüpfung” between </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Bedeutung</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> and </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Ausdruck</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">,</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn33" n="33"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Hegel, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">op. cit</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">., p. 423.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> i.e. through a completely arbitrary relation between meaning and expression. Hegel’s definition is deductive and he feels obliged to specify it by dwelling on its formal side: the aspects of the material or medium with which each type of art works. He thereby opens up the way to an approach to art in which speculative thinking will give more and more ground to concrete, technical analysis oriented toward the text or painting. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">In the second place, when Hegel orients the definition of the beautiful toward the object alone, he understands the beautiful only as “das sinnliche Scheinen der Idee,” the appearance of an idea in sensible form, and draws the conclusion that truth and beauty are in fact the same.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn34" n="34"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Hegel, op. cit., p. 179.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> The question I posed at the beginning of the article, namely whether semioticians, in analysing the meaning of a text, are also interested in the value of the text, and if so, how this meaning arises, therefore receives an affirmative answer from the Hegel: value arises in the same manner as meaning! In order to express beauty or truth, people use means which in themselves are neither true nor beautiful: words, images and actions. These tools/materials are employed in order to bring the immaterial to presence. The great absence from one system of thought to another is either God, or the Spirit, or History, or the Good, or the Beautiful, and so on, but its coming to being, its coming to presence, is always produced using the same means. Hegel is therefore situated at the beginning of a process in which it becomes increasingly clear that the form and the content of a phenomenon are two sides of the same event, namely the production of meaning, an event which we shall later call now “semiosis,” now “value.”</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">This trend in thinking is extended by aestheticians such as N. Hartmann, as well as semioticians such as Mukařovský and Morris</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn35" n="35"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">N. Hartmann, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Äesthetik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> (1953), Berlin, De Gruyter,1966, hfst.6-7.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">,</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn36" n="36"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> J. Mukařovský, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Kapitel aus der Ästhetik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1978.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">. After the war, however, the new structuralism limited itself to the formation of meaning in language or the text, although Jakobson was the last still to speak of the poetic (or aesthetic) function); according to him, the aesthetic drops out of the discussion.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn37" n="37"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">“Linguistics and poetics”, in Th. Sebeok (ed.), </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Style in Language</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Ithaca NY, M.I.T. Press, 1960. </hi></p></note> <hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Erscheinung</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> will henceforward mean only the emergence of meaning. The exhaustion of the discussion in traditional aesthetics will lead semioticians, insofar as they still notice the phenomenon, to become even more rigid in their attitude (look how the aestheticians have been deprived of the object of their research!) without realising that, on the contrary, this evolution on the contrary brings the two groups closer together. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="underline" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">The aesthetics of the sign, the sign of aesthetics </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">The semioticians defeated the metaphysics of the subject by placing the emphasis not on the features of the object, like the aestheticians, but on the semiotic process of which social codes and contexts are as defining a part as subject and object. Morris, Mukařovský, Lotman Eco, and, to a point, even Kristeva no longer site the background of semiotics in the aesthetic, as Peirce and Greimas had, but specify the locus of the aesthetic within semiotic relations and functions as a whole. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Mukařovský and Morris unexpectedly focus on exactly the concepts that their forerunners, Saussure and Peirce, had neglected: aesthetics, value, norms. The aesthetic, says Mukařovský, is located neither in the characteristics of the object nor in the attitude of the subject, but in the codes and norms whereby society confers form on both the one and the other. The artwork is as ontological as any other object; but what is characteristic is the fact that here the aesthetic function dominates in the sense that the material signifier does not refer to a real object, but rather mirrors the social reality overall. The aesthetic sign is therefore a certain type of sign, but its specifics ultimately boil down to autonomy: a negative definition that in fact emphasises the impossibility of any concrete referential function. This idea characterises the whole of modern art and philosophy, which, since Frege, has defined the aesthetic by placing a minus sign in front of it:</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn38" n="38"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> G. Frege, “On sense and reference” (1892), in </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Philosophical Writings</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Oxford, Blackwell, 1970, p.63. The term “Odyssey” has meaning but not a reference, but even so, it is “a matter of no concern to us . . . so long we accept the poem as a work of art.”</hi> </p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> it is supposed to have a meaning (</hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Sinn</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">), but not a reference (</hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Bedeutung</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">). In order to answer the question of how so defective a sign can nonetheless be employed in communication, Jacobson embarked on a purely technical analysis of the text. In such an analysis, the aesthetic dwindles to nothing, seeping like sand through the fingers: the literary text is reduced to a technical procedure, despite what Jakobson believed in his youth. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Is the aesthetic something tangible, a perfume we sense everywhere but which seems to emanate from nowhere, given that neither the semioticians nor the aestheticians are able to locate it?</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Morris was of a different opinion. He defined the aesthetic sign as “an iconic sign whose designatum is a value,” while at the same time distinguishing between the “designatum” (i.e. sense) to be found in every type of sign and the “denotatum” (reference) available only to certain types of sign. Value is not a property of an object, but rather the relationship between the object and the importance placed upon it by a subject, according to Morris, a semiotician who worked within the epistemological framework of behavioural psychology.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn39" n="39"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> Ch. Morris, ´Esthetics and the theory of signs´ (1939), in: </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Writings on the general theory of signs</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, he Hague, Mouton, 1971, p.421; </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Signs, language and behaviour</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, New York, Braziller, 1946. Vezi și</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Signification and significance</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Ithaca NY, M.I.T.Press, 1964.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> In a sign, meaning is not only </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">signification</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, but also </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">significance</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, the sign’s value. In his most important book, </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Signs, Language and Behaviour</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">, Morris then develops an impressive taxonomy of signs, defining twelve types of discourses, including the poetic discourse that he will later call aesthetic discourse. But he reduces aesthetic signs to iconic signs and the concept of value to that of stimulant to action, which considerably reduces the persuasiveness of his theory. He places the emphasis on the pragmatic dimension of semiosis, it is true, and introduces a relationship between semiotics and the theory of value that is clear than Mukařovský’s, but his theory finally gets bogged down in a kind of indigestible positivism. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Unlike Morris and Mukařovský, Lotman does not link meaning to value in any way. On the contrary, he is sooner representative of those semioticians who explicitly renounce the concept of value and just as explicitly chose to dedicate themselves to the analysis of meaning.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn40" n="40"><p rend="footnote text"> <hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">There are of course many other contributions to aesthetics that I amunable to discuss here. My choice is motivated by their relevance to the discussion I am in this way trying to provoke. Other articles might contribute to a wider discussion: U. Eco, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">A Theory of Semiotics</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, 1976 (the concept of over-codification); articles by E. Fischer-Lichgte and K. Chvatik, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Zeitschrift für Semiotik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, 1983, no. 5, Vol. 3; various articles in</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Kodikas/Code</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, 2 (1980), no. 3; H. Sturm and A.Eschbach (eds.), </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Äesthetik und Semiotik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, various books by P. Zima on the semiotics of the text and the critique of ideology; various contributions to Peircian aesthetics by M. Nadin, including</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Zeichen und Wert</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Tubingen, G. Narr, 1981. For a more philosophical approach to semiotic problems see G. H.v on Wright, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Norm and Action</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963; idem, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Variety of Goodness</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963; H. Damisch, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Théorie du nuage</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Paris, Seuil, 1972; H. R. Jauss, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Ästhetische Erfahrung und literarische Hermeneutik</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Munich, Fink Verlag, 1977; Herman Parret, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Le sublime du quotidien</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, Benjamins, 1988 (see also the Romanian translation:</hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Sublimul cotidianului</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Meridiane, 1986, with a preface by Sorin Alexandrescu); Anne Sheppard, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Aesthetics</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Oxford University Press, 1987. A number of contributions on Greimas: F. Thurlemann, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Paul Klee</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, L’âge de l’homme, 1982; H.M. Floch, </hi> <hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Petites mythologies de l’oeil et de l’esprit</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve">, Amsterdam / Philadelphia, Benjamins, 1985; </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">Les formes de l’empreinte</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Périguex, Pierre Fanlac, 1986. As well as numerous works by Lyotard, Derrida, and others.</hi></p></note></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Lotman and, in a way, Eco construct a semiotic aesthetics that sets out from the theory of communication. Lotman sees art as a “secondary modelling system” that processes data from a primary system, that of the natural languages.</hi><note place="foot" xml:id="ftn41" n="41"><p rend="footnote text"><hi style="font-size:11pt" xml:space="preserve"> J. Lotman, </hi><hi rend="italic" style="font-size:11pt">La structure du texte artistique</hi><hi style="font-size:11pt">, Paris, Gallimard, 1973, pp. 36-37.</hi></p></note><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> Here, the aesthetic is clearly regarded as an aspect of meaning, but the problem of value is explicitly excluded from text analysis and relegated to a rather broadly defined typology of cultures. As the aesthetic is reduced to the polysemy of a text, it remains unclear to what extent the text is specifically aesthetic. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="underline" style="font-size:12pt">Conclusion</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">We may conclude, I think, that in the first half of the twentieth century various tendencies became manifest, within both aesthetics and semiotics, tendencies that attempted objectively to bring the two disciplines closer together. Attention to the form of the artwork in aesthetics leads progressively toward ever more technical analyses, so that general speculative statements are reduced to a rather general axiomatic basis. Nevertheless, attempts to lend norms a logical structure fail, and they lead to the confirmation of the Kantian definitions of aesthetic experience. The artwork is experienced personally; no more than that can be said, but the object possesses observable aspects which, on the contrary, are susceptible to extended analysis. Then why do we not limit ourselves to a no nonsense approach to the artwork and focus on what we are rationally able to do, which is to say, to interpret the text or painting in question?</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">This is what happens in reality, but there is also a fear of exaggeratedly technical analyses: do we not risk forgetting what is specific to the trade, i.e. the aesthetic experience, and analysing a poem the way we might analyse a newspaper article? Semiotics programmatically refers to the formation of meaning, and this causes it to negate aesthetics, or to reduce it to notes in the margin. Semiotics by definition does not deal with aesthetic experience and this opens up the way to unlimited technical analyses for it. On the other hand, texts of value and texts devoid of value are tackled using the same type of analysis, which has a levelling effect. This issue is not denied, but rather it is tossed to the other side of the border. For, if semioticians leave the border open, do they not risk lowering the working level of the profession from objective scientific analysis to subjective, essayistic opinion? Yet again, the boundary between the disciplines is used by both disciplines in order to ensure their own integrity. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">But if value and meaning, the aesthetic and the semantic “erscheinen,” i.e. appear, with the same force, then the two systems of thought become at least functionally comparable and research with a shared basis becomes obligatory. It seems to me that both disciplines, semiotics and aesthetics, have reached a point at which they realise that the denial of each other’s problems harms their own field rather than protecting its integrity. The aesthetic experience of a text cannot appear in all its amplitude to the aesthetician if he ignores its technical, linguistic and textual aspects. And vice versa, analysis of a text becomes levelling and counterproductive is its value is ignored. But this stroll of mine through their borderlands was intended only to mark discreetly on the map the typical catcalling of the two sides at each other rather than to bring about a swift peace treaty in the naïve belief that thereby it would immediately cease. </hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="underline" style="font-size:14pt">Note</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve">This article was originally written in Dutch and published in </hi><hi rend="italic normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">Mooie dingen. Over de esthetica van het object</hi><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt" xml:space="preserve"> [Beautiful things, on the aesthetics of the object], the proceedings of a conference held in 1988, edited by Maarten van Nierop, Renée van de Vall and Albert van der Schoot for Boom, Meppel and Amsterdam, 1993. Even at the time, I regarded myself as a semiotician; I taught classes on semiotics at the University of Amsterdam; I had founded a research institute at the university, in which semiotics played an important rôle, as well as the Dutch Semiotics Association, of which I was the chairman. Nevertheless, rereading the text today, which has deliberately been left unchanged, I realise that I was already asking myself whether the relationship between semiotics and aesthetics ought not to change. A few years later, I was to discover other modes of interpretation whereby both the attitudes, which I left in positions of observing each other at the end of the article, were to change. But the essay does have the merit of capturing a historical moment of wavering between the two attitudes toward the text and ultimately toward any object of interpretation, such as, I might now add, the visual image.</hi></head></div><div><head><hi rend="normalweight" style="font-size:12pt">(Sorin Alexandrescu, Bucharest, 2018)</hi></head></div><div><p> Words 6.182</p><p>Charac ters (no spaces) 32.453</p></div></body></text></TEI></div><div id="biblio"><a id="biblio"></a><div class="publimenu"><a id="ftn1" class="FootnoteSymbol" href="#text"><h6>Text</h6></a><a id="ftn1" class="FootnoteSymbol" href="#biblio"><h6>Bibliography</h6></a></div><dl class="listZebra"><dd> Adorno Theodor (1980) <i><a href="pub-229497">Ästhetische theorie</a></i>, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp.</dd><dd> Barthes Roland (1965) <i><a href="pub-229456">Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes</a></i>, Paris, Seuil.</dd><dd> Barthes Roland (1973) <i><a href="pub-228725">Le plaisir du texte</a></i>, Paris, Seuil.</dd><dd> Barthes Roland (1984) <i><a href="pub-228728">Le bruissement de la langue</a></i>, Paris, Seuil.</dd><dd> Beardsley M C (1982) <i><a href="pub-229513">The aesthetic point of view</a></i>, Ithaca, Cornell University Press.</dd><dd> Bentley Eric (1964) <i><a href="pub-229507">The importance of scrutiny</a></i>, New York, New York University Press.</dd><dd> Derrida Jacques (1978) <i><a href="pub-139206">La vérité en peinture</a></i>, Paris, Flammarion.</dd><dd> Eco Umberto (1964) <i><a href="pub-229458">Apocalittici e integrati</a></i>, Milano, Bompiani.</dd><dd> Eco Umberto (1976) <i><a href="pub-229528">A theory of semiotics</a></i>, Bloomington, Ind., Indiana University Press.</dd><dd> Eco Umberto (1979) <i><a href="pub-229459">The role of the reader</a></i>, London, Hutchinson.</dd><dd> Eco Umberto (1985) <i><a href="pub-229460">De alledaagse onwerkelijkheid</a></i>, Amsterdam, Bert Bakker.</dd><dd> Floch Jean-Marie (1985) <i><a href="pub-229538">Petites mythologies de l'oeil et de l'esprit</a></i>, Amsterdam, Benjamins.</dd><dd> Floch Jean-Marie (1986) <i><a href="pub-229539">Les formes de l'empreinte</a></i>, Périgueux, Fanlac.</dd><dd> Foucault Michel (1971) <i><a href="pub-229503">L'ordre du discours</a></i>, Paris, Gallimard.</dd><dd> Foucault Michel (1985) <i><a href="pub-229504">Ervaring en waarheid</a></i>, Nijmegen, Te elfder Ure.</dd><dd> Greimas Algirdas, Courtés Joseph (1979) <i><a href="pub-138116">Sémiotique: Dictionnaire raisonné de la théorie du langage</a></i>, Paris, Hachette.</dd><dd> Greimas Algirdas (1987) <i><a href="pub-140865">De l'imperfection</a></i>, Périgueux, Fanlac.</dd><dd> Harding Sandra (1976) <i><a href="pub-229471">Can theories be refuted?: essays on the Duhem-Quine thesis</a></i>, Dordrecht, Springer.</dd><dd> Hartmann Nicolai (1953) <i><a href="pub-113226">Ästhetik</a></i>, Berlin, de Gruyter.</dd><dd> Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1980) <i><a href="pub-229520">Vorlesungen uber die Äesthetik</a></i>, Stuttgart, Reclam.</dd><dd> Jakobson Roman (1960) "<a href="pub-101989">Linguistics and poetics</a>", in: Sebeok Thomas (ed), <i> <a href="pub-101988">Style in language</a></i>, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, pp.350-377.</dd><dd> Jauss Hans-Robert (1977) <i><a href="pub-229534">Ästhetische Erfahrung und literarische Hermeneutik</a></i>, München, Fink.</dd><dd> Kant Immanuel (1976) <i><a href="pub-229488">Kritik der Urteilskraft</a></i>, Stuttgart, Reclam.</dd><dd> Kennick William E (1980) "<a href="pub-229516">Does traditional aesthetics rest on a mistake?</a>", in: Philipson Morris (ed), <i> <a href="pub-229515">Aesthetics today</a></i>, New York, Meridian, pp.459-476.</dd><dd> Kristeva Julia (1975) "<a href="pub-229506">The system and the speaking subject</a>", in: Sebeok Thomas, <i> <a href="pub-229505">The tell-tale sign</a></i>, Lisse, Peter de Ridder, pp.47-55.</dd><dd> Lotman Jurij Michajlovič (1973) <i><a href="pub-229454">La structure du texte artistique</a></i>, Paris, Gallimard.</dd><dd> Lyotard Jean-François (1983) <i><a href="pub-229457">Le différend</a></i>, Paris, Editions de Minuit.</dd><dd> Lyotard Jean-François, Derrida Jacques, Descombes Vincent (1985) <i><a href="pub-139236">La Faculté de juger</a></i>, Paris, Editions de Minuit.</dd><dd> Marcuse Herbert (1978) <i><a href="pub-229496">The aesthetic dimension</a></i>, Boston, Beacon Press.</dd><dd> Mooij J. 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