"Symbols" are man-made (by definition) unless used as tokens (a
physical object, such as an animal, used to symbolize courage by
wearing its skin).
Thus, if I wear a bear skin I might symbolize my leadership of a clan,
and my bravery, strength, and ferocity through using the bear skin to
represent those qualities of the bear. But if I write a picture of a
bear together with a picture of me (in a combination of some sort) to
accomplish the same thing, this is purely a symbol, not a token, since
it is entirely man-made.
But if I see the bears starting to put on weight and hiding in their
dens, and the sun setting sooner every day, I can say these are the
signs of Winter's approach. These are not man-made.
--- Stacy Westbrook <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >From: Michael Scarpitti <[log in to unmask]>
> > Let me rephrase that. The "signs" that a storm is
> approaching are
> > indeed learned, but they are not man-made. That's
> the point, Stacy.
> > There may indeed be some overlap between signs and
> symbols (such as the
> > behavior of people or animals, etc.), but the
> basic act of
> > interpretation is different between the two. I do
> not confuse a T with
> > a dead bird, though some cultures may, indeed,
> conflate the two items.
> > Read your Peirce and Eco. "The Sign of Three", by
> Eco and Sebeok, is a
> > good place to start.
> How is the act of interpretation different? A "T"
> and dead bird are not
> confused because they have different attributes, and
> also because we have
> assigned a specific meaning (or lack of meaning) to
> "T". On its own, "T"
> has no meaning unless there are other letters to go
> with it. But a "T"
> could be meant to represent a dead bird, in which
> case they have the same
> meaning, though they don't have the same appearance.
> You don't confuse the
> two because you have not assigned the meaning of
> "dead bird" to "T".
> I will forver associate a solitary "A" as the
> scarlet letter, thanks to
> Nathaniel Hawthorne; thus "A" now has a meaning that
> is not inherent to its
> "essential" physical quality.
> I fail to see why "natural signs" are exempt from
> signification simply
> because they are not man-made. The alphabet is just
> an approximation of
> those noises we make and call a language. How are
> man-made signs/symbols
> different from natural ones in their ability to have
> and disseminate
> Besides, we all know that "m" means bird, not "T".
> Any kindergartener could
> tell you that! ;)
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