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==Charles Peirce==
In the typology of [[sign]]s devised by Charles S. [[Peirce]], the North American semiotician, the [[index]] is a [[sign]] whih has an "existential [[relationship]]" to the [[object]] it represents (i.e. the [[index]] is always spatially or temporally contiguous with the [[object]]).
Peirce contrasts the [[index]] swith the [[symbol]], which, like [[Saussure]]'s [[concept ]] of the [[sign]], is characterized by the [[absence]] of all necessary connections between the [[sign]] and its [[object]].
For example, smoke is an [[index]] of fire.
[[Lacan]] thus conceives the [[index]] as a "[[nature|natural]]" [[sign]], one in which there is a fixed, bi-univocal correspondence between [[sign]] and [[object]] (unlike the [[signifier]], which has no fixed link with any one [[signified]]).
This opposition between [[index]] and [[signifier]] underpins the following distinctions in [[Lacan]]'s [[work]].
===The Psychoanalytic and Medical Concepts of the Symptom===
Whereas in [[medicine]], the [[symptom]] is regarded as an [[index]] of the disease, in [[psychoanalysis]] the [[symptom]] is not an [[index]] but a [[signifier]].<ref>{{E}} p. 129</ref>
Hence in [[psychoanalysis]] there is no one-to-one fixed link between pathological phenomena and the underlying [[structure]].
[[Code]]s are composed of [[index|indices]], whereas [[language]] is composed of [[signifier]]s.
This explains why [[code]]s [[lack ]] the most important feature of [[language]]: its potential for ambiguity and equivocation.
The opposition between [[signifier]] and [[index]] is complicated by the [[existence]] of certain [[signifier]]s which also function as [[index|indices]]; these are called [[shifter]]s.
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