Sunday, November 3, 2013

The importance of Semiotics

First, here's the Wikipedia entry for Semiotics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotics

My power went out yesterday so I started reading Semiotics: The Basics by Daniel Chandler. This should be the very first book read by students of Communication. To get a taste of what's in store for you, visit http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html for Semiotics for Beginners by the same author.

The section I'm currently reading in the 'Basics' book describes anthropological language studies of primitive cultures and language development in children. The important part of this regarding atheism is the development of distinctions between things and the words that represent them. I found this quote on page 284 of my ebook:

Thus for the child, words do not seem at all arbitrary. Similarly Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole found that unschooled Vai people in Liberia felt that the names of sun and moon could not be changed, one of them expressing the view that these were God-given names (Scribner and Cole 1981, 141)
The anthropologist Lucien Levy-Bruhl claimed that people in primitive cultures had difficulty in distinguishing between names and the things to which they referred, regarding such signifiers as an intrinsic part of their signifieds (Olson 1994, 28). The fear of 'graven images' within the Judeo-Christian tradition and also magical practices such as Voodoo are clearly related to such phenomenon.
The author goes on to describe "...in the Middle Ages words and images were still seen as having a natural connection to things (which had 'true names' given by Adam at the creation). Words were seen as the names of things rather than as representations."

Semiotics: The Basics by Daniel Chandler describes ways in which we perceive and identify the world around us. There are numerous studies cited throughout that allude to mental development of perception that may be inhibited in some people, which I suspect may explain why some people refuse to dispense with their religion.

I'm beginning to more readily catch myself making false assumptions about things or when I take things for granted. As a writer, this book helps me understand the more fine details of abstraction in writing that allows me to defer more accurately, details of a story to the imagination of the reader and I'm only a third of the way through the book.
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