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Saussurean Bar

Saussurean Bar

(p.79) Saussurean Bar
University of Chicago Press

The sign is a map, albeit in many forms. The sign of signs takes the minimalist form of a double helix, hereafter rendered either as S/s or as s/S where the S stands for “Signifier,” the s for “signified,” and the bar which in the same stroke keeps the S and the s together and apart. In the constructivist universe of Rene Descartes, Signifier and signified are located on opposite sides of the ontological divide, the former an ingredient in the objective world of the material, the latter in the subjective world of the mind. Also in the more analytical universes of Immanuel Kant and Ferdinand de Saussure, the Signifier is primarily in the physicality of the sign, the signified in its meaning, even though the distinctions are not as sharp as in the case of Descartes. While our immediate contact with the S goes through the five senses of the body—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—the s belongs to the sixth sense of culture.

Keywords:   sign, Signifier, signified, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Ferdinand de Saussure, five senses, culture

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