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The material mediation of our semiotic practices

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excerpt from: Lemke, Jay: Material sign processes and Emergent Ecosocial Organization: Downward causation and the levels paradigm
[accessed November 2000]

The reductionist trick was predicated on the assumption that the
different ‘pieces’ or views from different perspectives could always somehow
be neatly fit together. But we now know that material processes cannot be
comprehended, cannot be exhaustively described within any one single
self-consistent formal discourse. They always overflow the limited
possibilities of our semiotic models of them. It is only by building more
and more semiotic-discursive models, each internally self-consistent, but
not limited by requirements of mutual consistency with each other, that we
can, by adding together such ‘complementary’ views, attain to the most
complete possible account of material phenomena, including semiosis itself.
Thus we still come back to a version of ‘assemblage’ but hopefully a more
sophisticated one, one that takes into account our own role and perspective
as observers, as well as the material means by which we observe, compare,
and assemble — the material mediation of our semiotic practices.

every process of semiosis is not just a social and
cultural practice, but also a material activity in which not just humans but
also non-human elements of the ecosytem participate.

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