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Solenoid of Semeiosis

The Solenoid of Semeiosis

The eleven aspects of sign distributed along the three axes of the Cascade of Phaneron are ordered by a flow of information. The figure below shows semeiosis as a dynamic process organized in hierarchies.

Such flux of information needs no structural components such as “energy”, “matter” or “channel” but instead is defined as purely relational and based only on the aspects of the sign.


General Properties of Semeiosis

Semeiosis and dynamic systems

Semeiosis behaves like a system built from the recursive interaction among the trichotomies (11 aspects of the sign) on the axis of objectivation, interpretation and signification. The great system of semeiosis can be divided into smaller sub-systems. This nesting of systems creates dynamical hierarchies (cf. Collier, 1999. p. 111 and 2003, p. 109).

Semeiosis and periodicity

Semeiosis is a periodical flux. By periodicity we mean the phenomenon of repetition of a group of properties in steady intervals (Scerri, 1998), although there is increase of complexity in the whole. The periods seem to be connected so as to produce what the systems theorists call resonance – a harmonic relation between frequencies that enables the emergence of new properties in the system.

The periods of the Solenoid of Semeiosis are:





Semeiosis and autopoiesis

Semeiosis is autopoietic (Maturana and Varela, 1973, p. 78), i.e. it produces itself from a fundamental complementarity between structure and function.

Semeiosis and development

Semeiosis is ampliative, starting from the simple towards the varied and complex, i.e. it moves towards the increase of information.

Phases of semeiosis

Semeiosis has four phases which describe the stages of inquiry. A phase always starts with firstness in an aspect of the signification axis and is completed with thirdness in an aspect of this same axis, but on a higher period. In other words, the presence of the thirdness (habit) in the signification axes always marks the end of a phase and beginning of the next one.

There is a good reason for that: the creation of a habit on the axis of Signification causes the whole period in question to close a loop of habits, producing a feed-back of information governing it. Depending on the probability law associated to such habit, the period might acquire a certain rigidity and opacity, losing its liveliness.

The phases already dominated by such habits leave the foreground (where the dynamism occurs) and become inert. This is the same mechanism that sends to the genetic code the features selected in the biologic evolutionary process, or sends the habits acquired by iteration of experiences to the unconscious mental structures.

The phases of inquiry

The four phases of semeiosis can be related to the four stages of inquiry (cf. Santaella, 2004, p. 81):





The razor of causality

The trichotomization of the eleven aspects of the sign leads to the production of 78 classes. However, not all of them are logically possible. Twelve classes are logic aberrances because they do not respect what we will call the rule of the razor of causality. This rule is necessary to preserve the reality of secondness in semeiosis and thus also the causality.

If the sign is an existent  it should be materially connected either to an immediate object or to a dynamic object. One cannot have a fingerprint, for instance, without having it materially connected to an existent finger, nor one can satisfy the desire of eating a piece of cake without having a piece of cake really being eaten (or at least a hallucination that guarantees a fictional experience of a piece of cake being eaten).

The rule of the razor of causality has two parts:

1) determines that there cannot be secondness on the signification axis without having secondness in each of the other two axes. This must be true when we see Secondness in any of the four trichotomies placed on the Signification axis: S, FI, S-FI and S-DO-FI.

2) establishes that there should be a number n of existence in the axis of objectivation and interpretation always equal to the number of secondness manifested on the signification axes.

There is another important observation to be made: the trichotomy S-DO-DI participates both in the objectivation and the interpretation axes (because it is construed with DO and DI), so it is enough for S-DO-DI to be existent in order to guarantee existence conditions for both axes. Similarly, the trichotomy S-DO-FI participates in the three axes, so that the occurrence of an existent in this trichotomy also automatically produces existence also the the two other axes.