Difference between revisions of "Saussurean algorithm"

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The [[sign]] is constituted by two elements:  
 
The [[sign]] is constituted by two elements:  
# a conceptual element (which [[Saussure]] calls the [[signified]]), and  
+
# a [[conceptual]] element (which [[Saussure]] calls the [[signified]]), and  
 
# a phonological element (called the [[signifier]]).  
 
# a phonological element (called the [[signifier]]).  
  
The two elements are linked by an arbitrary but unbreakable bond.
+
The two elements are linked by an [[arbitrary]] but unbreakable bond.
  
 
=====Saussurean Sign=====
 
=====Saussurean Sign=====
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=====Jacques Lacan=====
 
=====Jacques Lacan=====
[[Lacan]] takes up the [[Saussure]]an concept of the [[sign]] in his "linguistic turn" in [[psychoanalysis]] during the 1950s, but subjects it to several modifications.
+
[[Lacan]] takes up the [[Saussure]]an [[concept]] of the [[sign]] in his "[[linguistic]] turn" in [[psychoanalysis]] during the 1950s, but [[subjects]] it to several modifications.
  
 
=====Relation between Signifier and Signified=====
 
=====Relation between Signifier and Signified=====
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=====Primacy of the Signifier=====
 
=====Primacy of the Signifier=====
Secondly, [[Lacan]] asserts the [[existence]] of an order of "pure signifiers," where [[signifier]]s exist prior to [[signified]]s; this [[order]] of purely logical [[structure]] is the [[unconscious]].  
+
Secondly, [[Lacan]] asserts the [[existence]] of an order of "pure [[signifiers]]," where [[signifier]]s [[exist]] prior to [[signified]]s; this [[order]] of purely [[logical]] [[structure]] is the [[unconscious]].  
  
This amounts to a destruction of [[Saussure]]'s concept of the [[sign]]; for [[Lacan]], a [[language]] is not composed of [[sign]]s but of [[signifier]]s.
+
This amounts to a [[destruction]] of [[Saussure]]'s concept of the [[sign]]; for [[Lacan]], a [[language]] is not composed of [[sign]]s but of [[signifier]]s.
  
 
=====Saussurean algorithm=====
 
=====Saussurean algorithm=====
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To illustrate the contrast between his own views and those of [[Saussure]], [[Lacan]] replaces [[Saussure]]'s diagram of the [[sign]] with an [[Saussurean algorithm|algorithm]] which, [[Lacan]] argues, should be attributed to [[Saussure]] -- and is thus now sometimes referred to as the "[[Saussure]]an algorithm."<ref>{{E}} p.149</ref>
 
To illustrate the contrast between his own views and those of [[Saussure]], [[Lacan]] replaces [[Saussure]]'s diagram of the [[sign]] with an [[Saussurean algorithm|algorithm]] which, [[Lacan]] argues, should be attributed to [[Saussure]] -- and is thus now sometimes referred to as the "[[Saussure]]an algorithm."<ref>{{E}} p.149</ref>
  
The '''S''' stands for the [[signifier]], and the '''s''' for the [[signified]]; the position of the [[signified]] and the [[signifier]] is thus inverted, showing the primacy of the [[signifier]] (which is capitalized, whereas the [[signifier]] is reduced to mere lower-case italic).  
+
The '''S''' stands for the [[signifier]], and the '''s''' for the [[signified]]; the [[position]] of the [[signified]] and the [[signifier]] is thus inverted, showing the primacy of the [[signifier]] (which is capitalized, whereas the [[signifier]] is reduced to mere lower-[[case]] italic).  
  
The arrows and the circle are abolished, representing the [[absence]] of a stable or fixed relation between [[signifier]] and [[signified]].  
+
The arrows and the circle are abolished, representing the [[absence]] of a [[stable]] or fixed relation between [[signifier]] and [[signified]].  
  
 
The [[bar]] between the [[signifier]] and the [[signified]] no longer represents union but the [[resistance]] inherent in [[signification]].  
 
The [[bar]] between the [[signifier]] and the [[signified]] no longer represents union but the [[resistance]] inherent in [[signification]].  

Latest revision as of 18:35, 20 May 2019

Ferdinand de Saussure

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The Saussurean Sign

According to Saussure, the sign is the basic unit of language

The sign is constituted by two elements:

  1. a conceptual element (which Saussure calls the signified), and
  2. a phonological element (called the signifier).

The two elements are linked by an arbitrary but unbreakable bond.

Saussurean Sign

Saussure represented the sign by means of a diagram.[1]

In this diagram, the line between the signified and the signifier represents union, the reciprocal implication of the two elements.

Jacques Lacan

Lacan takes up the Saussurean concept of the sign in his "linguistic turn" in psychoanalysis during the 1950s, but subjects it to several modifications.

Relation between Signifier and Signified

Firstly, whereas Saussure posited the reciprocal implication between signifier and signified (they are as mutually interdependent as two sides of a sheet of paper), Lacan argues that the relation between signifier and signified is extremely unstable.

Primacy of the Signifier

Secondly, Lacan asserts the existence of an order of "pure signifiers," where signifiers exist prior to signifieds; this order of purely logical structure is the unconscious.

This amounts to a destruction of Saussure's concept of the sign; for Lacan, a language is not composed of signs but of signifiers.

Saussurean algorithm
The Saussurean algorithm

To illustrate the contrast between his own views and those of Saussure, Lacan replaces Saussure's diagram of the sign with an algorithm which, Lacan argues, should be attributed to Saussure -- and is thus now sometimes referred to as the "Saussurean algorithm."[2]

The S stands for the signifier, and the s for the signified; the position of the signified and the signifier is thus inverted, showing the primacy of the signifier (which is capitalized, whereas the signifier is reduced to mere lower-case italic).

The arrows and the circle are abolished, representing the absence of a stable or fixed relation between signifier and signified.

The bar between the signifier and the signified no longer represents union but the resistance inherent in signification.

For Lacan, this algorithm defines "the topography of the unconscious."[3]


References

  1. Saussure, Ferdinand de. (1916) Course in General Linguistics, ed. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, trans. Wade Baskin, Glasgow: Collins Fontana. p.114
  2. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.149
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.163