ELEMENTS of SEMIOTICS: 2017

David Lidov:  Elements of Semiotics: A neo-structuralist perspective

          “Semiotic theory constructs a comprehensive, comparative perspective of the artifacts of mental life. The method of semiotics is to regard these artifacts (stories, pictures, gestures, tunes, prices, etc.) as signs or sign systems.  Semiotic analysis exploits the perspective of semiotic theory to enrich our understanding of particular signs.  But these definitions, without a context, can serve here only as punctuation, like the illuminated capitals of a medieval manuscript or a fanfare.”

from Chapter 1.

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(Excerpts include the full Table of Contents, the 2017 Preface and most of the 1999 Foreword, the Introductions to each of the six Parts and Chapters 1 and 2 complete.)

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[Comments from reviews of the 1999 edition are at the bottom of this page]

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Critical Responses to the 1999 edition

Robert E. Innes. “The Semiotic Scramble of Consciousness

       “Lidov [furnishes] us with stimulating and novel systematic comparisons of different genres of sign. . . . one of the main tasks o semiotics. . . .[MORE] oscillates creatively between . . .the descriptive or analytical and the comparative or methodological. . .”
Lidov is especially strong in his brilliant structural analyses which belong to the comparative dimension of this book.”
. . . . throws of hints and insights on every page. . .”
Lidov’s book offers a direct and nuanced survey and discussion of these foundational elements and a demonstration of how they are to be used in concrete semiotic analyses. It establishes a subtle network of concepts and distinctions and it displays with admirable clarity and scope their consequences for the ubiquitous activity of interpreting signs.”

William Echard, pp 123-131, CUMR/RMUC 21/22 (2001)

        “One of Lidov’s great achievements is to do two things with structuralism. first, he places it in a dialectic relationship with pragmatics. Second, he expands its set of formal resources with respect to the study of articulation.”
Lidov . . . remains within the structuralist lineage without falling prey to its usual limitations.
Lidov by contrast argues in favour of system, and yet presents a final product which is mor of a toolkit than a totalizing theory. In this respect, both Lidov and [Monelle] preserve the abstractive, systematizing flavour of earlier semiotics, but are more modest in terms of grand claims to completeness or universality.

Raymond Monelle, in Semiotica

          “Lidov justifies his more general book with the proposal that linguists and literary people are too close to language to write a general semiotics. . . . But before describing this particular slant, we should record that the book is one of the best expositions of Peirce on the market. . . . But his approach is always critical. . . . Indeed, the influence of music and the other arts is especially noticed in the idea of the processive sign, a sign of which one function (representamen, object or interpretant) is a process rather than a thing. . . . “