Back - Retour    |    Home - Accueil
English text (12 pages) in PDF
Bilingual text (20 pages) en PDF
Chapter 4 - INDICIA

Chapter 4 - Indicia
4A. From technical order to semiotic order. The emergence of signs as pure thematizers. Semiotic thematization vs animal ritualization
4B. Nature and paths of indiciality (indicium)
4C. The birth of inferences
4D. Magic sliding: semiotic >> technical; technical>>semiotic. Fetish. Things (causes). Concrete vs abstract
4E. Animism, demonism and divination
4F. Noesis, superstition and paranoia
4G. From fear to anguish and anxiety
4H. Signal, Stimulus-signal, Sign, Stimulus-sign

Chapter 1 - INDICIA

Under the handling, transversalizing, and comparative hands of technician Homo, in front of his integrating senses and his orchestral brain, during his various encounters, the segments of panoplies and protocols of the *woruld are in a distance relationship (stare, dis, duo, being in dual relation, in bifurcation). Thereby, the screwdriver makes a sign to the screw, like the hammer does to the nail, and even the screwdriver to the hammer. But if these instruments or tools make signs between themselves, as it suits the technical order, they are not yet signs, as it suits the semiotic order. What would be necessary for that ?



4A. From technical order to semiotic order. The emergence of signs as pure thematizers. Semiotic thematization vs animal ritualization


There are all sorts of definitions for the sign, all more or less useful depending on the object studied. For the anthropogeny, we must have the widest definition as possible, one that applies to all possible signs, and that demonstrates how signs constantly proceed of technique, how they feed from it and however strongly differ from it. Let us develop a few near-formulations :

A sign is a segment (of Universe) that, because of various links, thematizes one or several other segments (of Universe) and that, as a sign, depletes in this thematization.

A sign is a segment that essentially depletes in the thematization of one or several other segments with which it has ties.

A sign is a segment that thematizes one or several other segments in such a way that they are thematized by it.

A sign is a thematizer (thematizing) in distanciation, not only at a distance.

A sign is a pure thematizer (thematizing). He who uses signs is a thematizer.

As the apparition of signs, with transversalizing technical manipulation, is the most revolutionary phenomenon of Evolution, it is worth considering these terms more attentively. Here, thematizing a (another) segment means: making a" theme" from an object or an event, meaning putting it in such a way that it is taken from (levare, prae), that it is proposed in the strong sense of putting in front (ponere, pro), that it becomes particularly present (esse, prae). The thesis (tHésis) in question exploits the Greek root *tHa, *tHè, *tHèk to express that the thematized is put in salience (protuding) and/or grasped with its pregnance (fecundity or resonance) <3D1>. And we will note the link that there is then between theme (position) and segment (cut); between thematization and segmentarization. Or still, that we can only thematize segments, therefore the results of cuts in fluxes; and that a thematized flux becomes a form of segment itself.

That it depletes in this thematization, or is limited to this thematization, marks a clear difference between the sign and the tool, or more generally between the semiotic order and the technical order. A technical object thematizes others: the screwdriver thematizes the screw that thematizes it in turn; it sometimes even thematizes the hammer, when it fails to screw a screw; but it does not limit itself to this thematization, it does not deplete; the screwdriver moves the screw and the screw is moved by the screwdriver. There is a physical action – at least virtual – between the two. The extraordinary strength and weakness of the sign is that it manages without physical action. A segment thematizes another segment without acting upon it. It limits itself, it confines to a pure thematization, it depletes in this thematization. Or at least it confines to acting as a sign. Sometimes, as a word is pronounced a candle is blown out. But this extinguishing breadth is not part of that word as a word. This also applies for a statue of the Virgin Mary that I would use to knock an enemy down; or still for a painting I would lay on a wounded person to cover him from the rain. It is true that, in a poem read out loud, phonemes insist on the physical event that they are, as does the ink on the physical event that it represents in Chinese poetry. But that is in addition. This can be thematized in the wordplay that French allows to do between "faire signe à" (making a sign to) and "signifier" (signifying to). We will say that, for the carpenter's eye, the screwdriver "makes a sign to" the screw and conversely. But it does not "signify" it. On the other hand, the word screw or the drawing of a screw or the miming of the action of screwing "signify it". Having added to the segments that "make a sign to" (technically) segments that "signify" (semiotically) was perhaps the leap from Homo habilis to Homo erectus.

Because of the various links and to which is it linked are voluntarily open formulas. Because there are many semiotic links. Those links may indeed consist (a) in a true or supposed causality, (b) in a simple pointing to, (c) into similitudes, (d) into capacities of material or mental handling of the designated by the designator, (e) into customs and conventions.

As for distanciation contrasting with at a distance, it is an artifice of formulation that will allow to cautiously recall throughout the text the opposition between the sign (in distanciation, because it depletes in its distanciation) and the technical object (only at a distance, as it is destined to physical actions on what it thematizes in the panoply and the protocol).

These rather brisk definitions become clearer if we use the trivial example of the boar's trace in the mud. A young child can stumble on it and fall. The trace is then a physical event, cause of a fall; and it is also a physical event if a passing physician sees there the principle of action and reaction, and an interesting case for the mechanics of semi-fluid solids. But our child can also take this slump and use it as a form to make shapes in sands, which, once dried, will give him the pleasure of seeing a boar's foot on the table. The slump then becomes a tool, a mould, allowing to produce boar feet. Up until now, we have not left the technical order. However, for the aware hunter, this muddy slump is a segment of Universe that thematizes another segment of Universe, the boar, and that depletes, at least at that moment and under his eyes, in this thematization. This time, the muddy slump is grasped as a sign, and even a specific sign, an indicium indicating the passage of the boar. Finally, a poet philosopher will say on this occasion its fascination by traces in general, as they are sometimes a physical event, sometimes a tool, sometimes a sign, or all three at once, depending on the party that it will take over them.

We can situate the semiotic thematization characterizing Homo by opposing it to ritualization in the sense of ethologists, which characterizes the animal world. In conflictual or simply difficult circumstances, an animal produces reactions: raising its wings, eating, moving its beak, grasping an element for the future nest. Recorded by its congeners, some of these reactions can become for the latter signals of its probable future behaviour. Sometimes, one (or a suite) of these reactions becomes for the group the signal of this behaviour (of fleeing, gathering, mating). Julian Huxley, who first studied in detail this type of assembly in the mating parades of European crested grebes circa 1914, expressed their originality by saying that such annunciating and preparatory signals were ritualised by the species. Nothing in the ritualisation according to Huxley, the efficiency of which can go to the creation of new species by change of ritual in a small sub-specific group, goes beyond animal concatenation of instinct and learning by "Pavlovian" (passive) or "operating" (by trials and errors) conditioning, and the signals here held function as stimuli-signals <4H>. Yet, in the sign, instead of being ritualised in this sense, a signal is thematized, therefore posed (*tha, *thè), put in salience and pregnance, distanciated, possibilized, experimented, in virtue of the hominid transversalization and handling coupled with Homo's endotropizing brain.



4B. Nature and paths of indiciality (indicium)


Today, Homo knows and practices signs of various kinds: images, words, mathematical symbols, road signs, mimes, indexes, indicia. Of all the signs, indicia are the primordial ones, the closest to the technical panoply and protocol, those supporting all other signs. They accompany and trigger every moment of Homo's life. The anthropogeny will approach them first.


4B1. Indiciality (indicium) of blurry causalities, whether efficient, final, formal or material


As we see in the example of the hunter noticing traces, an indicium is a physical fact that thematizes one or more physical facts, its indicialized, based on a link of causality between indicium and indicialized. With this pecularity that this link is blurry. Indeed, if it was constraining, it would be a proof, not an indicium. In indiciality (indicium), we find the opening to a question: does this slump in the mud thematize a wild boar or another animal? And if it is a wild boar, where did it go? The indicial impreciseness can also happen because the indiciated is of a nature to remain out of grasp for a long time or for ever. This infection thematizes an infection, but which? These strange behaviours recall bipolar disorder, but are they enough to qualify someone as bipolar ?

We must point out that the efficient causality occurring in indiciality (indicium) is not only that of an effect sending back to its cause, like the trace designates the boar, the fever an inflammation, extravagance a bipolar disorder. This could also be an efficient cause referring to an effect, like when the vision of a phlegm invites one to suspect fever. More than this, indiciality (indicium) does not always suppose an efficient causality. It sometimes relies on a final causality: along a road which is under works, the tools placed on the ground are indicia demonstrating the will to continue construction (in this case, the indicated cause is an aim). Or it relies on a material and formal causality: along the same road, a pile of gravel is seen as an indicium of a future macadam road, as these stones (material cause) and size (formal cause) are commonly used to make macadam. We will have recognized Aristotle's four causes, which have crossed the entire western world <21C3>.


4B2. The indiciality (indicium) of other relations as identified to blurry causalities: similitudes, contiguities, complementarity-coaptations, belongings, coincidences


Indicial causalities are so floating that it is not surprising that other relationships are confounded with them. Therefore, for indicializing Homo to postulate a causal relation between two segments (at least before he is used to technique and experimental science), it is often enough that these segments should be similar. Or contiguous. Or complementary-coaptable. Or that they belong to any same set. Or that they coincide in the same place at the same time. In this way, next to indicialities by efficient, final, formal, material causalities, Homo (non experimental) constantly practices other causal relations by similitude, contiguity, complementarity-coaptation, belonging, coincidence.


4B3. The fluidity of indicial paths: metaphors and metonymies. Fire


All the paths of hominid indiciality (indicium) slide into one another and comfort each other at every occasion. This was particularly the case since the metaphor (ocean of grass) and metonymy (the sail for the ship) were born from the gesture, spoken language and images. Metaphor often merged into indiciality (indicium) through similitude, and metonymy into indiciality (indicium) by contiguity, the latter then including and confounding the complementarity-coaptation, belonging, coincidence, the part for the whole, or the whole for the part. This was the occasion for countless gratuitous magic and supposed comprehensions, but also for some very pertinent matching. For example, a metaphor says that "old age is to life what evening is to day" according to the example of Aristotle, or even that opens to the idea that the "sphere is to the ball what the circumference is to the disk". In turn, transversalizing Homo's faculty and desire of indiciality (indicium) have made metaphor and metonymy proliferate.

Indiciality (indicium), encouraged by the integrating senses of Homo and by its neutralizing, comparative, generalizing, abstractive brain, powerfully contributes to Homo's global perception of the environment. Because of its vague, its blur, its omnipresence and its multi directional-character, indiciality gives the edifice of the hominid *woruld an in(de)finitely large base. It is also sufficiently available for its *woruld to become in(de)finitely high and varied. Indicia are salient and especially pregnant in the literal sense of pregnance; in Greek, the indicium was known as "tek-mèrion", from the same root as giving birth: "tikteïn".

If the capacity to trigger and maintain a fire burning was a major anthropological event, it is for its technical consequences, particularly food-related, but also for its semiotic implications. No object is as rich in abounding indicialities than the flame, its metamorphoses and returns. It is therefore not irrelevant for the anthropogeny that fire first appeared 0,5 million years ago, or much earlier, if this is confirmed by the study of their magnetism that some terracotta from the African Rift, dated around 1,5 million years ago, result of an artifice and not of nature (volcanism, etc.).



4C. The birth of inferences


When we speak of inferences to today’s Homo, he thinks first to inductions and deductions. Laws based on facts (states of things, Sachverhalt) emerge from inductions (ducere, in) that delimit each other, specify each other, display their variants and constants. Deductions (ducere, ex) draw propositions from other legal or trivial proposition according to formal equivalences. But induction and deduction both suppose what Pierce called abduction (ducere, ab), which runs from indicia to indicia. The shepherd looking for the lost sheep practices abduction from morning till night, as does the detective who finds traces of blood on a floor, the greengrocer touching a vegetable to guess at its provenance, the jealous man counting the hours. Or still, as Pierce said, the person speaking with a priest at the table and who eventually guesses, from indicia to indicia, if the man of God is (rather) catholic, protestant, Methodist, etc.


4C1. Abduction at the source of induction and deduction


For thousands of years, Homo habilis and Homo erectus had to trust almost only abduction, with stammering deductions and inductions, to envisage the availabilities of their panoplies and protocols in their environment. Today, it is almost the only recourse of the infant, who can neither walk nor talk, and who only has the floating verifications of its inchoative perceptions to edify its first *woruld, from indicia to indicia.

Even the most developed and strictest science does not escape it. Indeed, it was the abductions from indicium to indicium that woke up Claude Bernard when his lab assistant told him that the rabbits that had not eaten in some time were starting to show dark urine. In the brain of the initiator of experimental physiology, dark urine thematized indicially those of meat eaters, flesh-eaters, and the neuronic synodies "unfed rabbit" and “meat eater” adjusted sufficiently to infer that rabbits that did not receive external food could only eat themselves, therefore feed on their own flesh, although by other means than that of ordinary eating. The definitive scientific formulation was inductive and deductive, but the first mental click and weaving were abductive. Transversalizing Homo is first and constantly abductive.


4C2. Pre-indicial cleavages and post-indicial cleavages


An anthropogeny must start by evaluating the performances of abductive inferences. They are very quick, as they handle signs and that these signs, depleting in their semiotic thematization, must not consider the weight that slows all technical actions. Their diversification is very wide too, as much as indiciality (indicium) is blurred.

But this double ease is limited by cleavages, which offer inferences, but embarrass them at the same time. We noted <2A2> that Homo's sensorial nervous system, like that of the animal, receives its signals by reinforcing peaks, by depressing slopes, therefore by creating stable attraction basins of stimuli; to this first cleavage we must add the behavioural canalisations of the motor nervous system and the organs animated by it. Thus, any brain distributes in neuronic synodies that only subsist when they are inserted rather precisely amongst other synodies in a consistent system. On the other hand, for technician Homo, technique reinforces nervous cleavages by organising its *woruld into protocols and panoplies.

It is probably this stability of cleavages that explains why hominid specimens evolved so little during the two million years of the lower palaeolithic, particularly in the treatment of the stone. To become fecund, to enjoy a tekemèria pregnance, abductions seems to need to be encouraged by induction and deduction, which probably suppose detailed language <16, 17>, and not only massive language <10D>. Therefore, indicial abduction bears a promising original experience, but not yet experimentation - rightly language-related, whether the language is spoken or gestural.



4D. Magic sliding: semiotic >> technical; technical>>semiotic. Fetish. Things (causes). Concrete vs abstract


If it is true that indicia, even when they are based on simple contiguities, complementarities, belongings, coincidences, end up in a certain causality (efficient, final, material, formal), we can understand that Homo is magic and magician, meaning that it tends to estimate that in the presence of two series of segments, one technical, the other semiotic, it is enough to act on one to act on the other, insofar as there is a link, a form of connection between them.

The analogy gives the most obvious cases. Scrofularia bears sorts of scrofula, the scrofulous too; why not apply scrofularia - which is healthy - on the scrofulous, who is ill, to cure him? Would the consumption of walnuts not benefit the brain, which is also lobed? The swollen knee and a leaf of cabbage both boast protruding veins; the knee is sore, the leaf is healthy; why not apply the leaf onto the knee to make it healthy again? Someone wounded his/her left knee, let us wound the left knee of a chicken; as the animal's knee will heal, why should the human leg not heal too? The ways and means of "making" rain are countless, from a human libation on earth provoking the divine libation of the heavens up to the invocation of the gods and saints of rain.

After all, there are as many paths of magic than there are paths of indiciality (indicium). Sorcerers have followed and triggered everywhere contiguous, similar, complementaries, belongings, coinciding, analogues, homologues of which they sanctify (thematize) the link using some veritable causalities, the most salient and pregnant of which are the wound or the killing of sacrifices and also – as we will understand better in the following chapter – some indexes. Magic is an act that usually sends back to a person: the magician. But the fetish shows us that magic can also belong to an object, either because it resides in it by nature, or if it has been put there by the intervention of a magician. Magic is the double contamination by which the technical takes a semiotic strength, and the semiotic takes a technical strength.

Homo's magic and fetishist slope is so strong that science historians are not surprised that, amongst the scientists of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, there were so many declared or cryptic magicians, as there are still among those of today. Alchemy preceded chemistry, and very often still underlines it. Behind every classification, taxonomy, vegetable or animal systematic, there is still some latent magic, which can follow the subtle detours of a "wild though" supposing detailed language <16, 17>, but that can also be content with the relatedness of massive language <10D>, or more simply still, of technicalised gestures.

French constantly makes use of the words chose (causa, thing) and affaire (facere, ad, matter) to designate any given, whether physical or mental. This shows how much, for indicializing technician Homo, every segment is both technical and indicial. The anthropogeny will often write things (causes) to recall this fundamental anthropogenic challenge. Leaning on "causalities", the indicium is a sign that comprises a naturalness, even an invincible naturalism. It is by the indicium and its abductions, that there is concreteness, meaning that things (causes) give the impression that they grow together according to a common growth (con-cretum, crescere, cum). And by it that the *woruld takes the aspect of a physis, meaning of a generation of things the one by the others (pHueïn, engendering). Latin natura, which comes from nasci (being born), marks the same pregnance.



4E. Animism, demonism and divination


Magic, where the intent is enough to trigger any sort of causality from one to the other (by propagation), goes hand in hand with animism or demonism, where every type of causality is coupled with intention. We speak of animism when the intentions attributed to the "things" remain vague, in the blowing wind, the Japanese Kami of sources, trees and grains, volcanoes. We speak of demonism when intentions become clearer in more specific, more targeted forces-intentions.

This is probably enough to understand the extent to which Homo is divinatory. Yet the most realist of ancients, the Romans, felt that the flight, the song, the feeding of birds were indicia of future military and economical battles in the eyes of the auspices (aves spi<e>cere, inspecting birds). And their haruspices, who drew their omens from the bowels of sacrificed victims (haru) show that indiciality (indicium) culminates in sacrificial magic. Etymologists understood augurium as aves agere, taking care of the birds.

Everywhere, these external divinations were complemented by internal divinations. Gifted with an endotropizing brain, hominid specimens tend to examine their cerebral and organic memories as though, by totalling their past, they would comprise some traits of their future in their cleavages. Palmistry held such an important place due to the fact that it crosses intimately external and internal divinations, if it is true that hands are the closest to the brain, both actively and imagetically.



4F. Noesis, superstition and paranoia


Straightaway, we understand the power of organisation that indicia, with their trail of magic, animism and mantic, have added to the modalities of hominid encounter <3>, that is to say collaboration, education, instances, clientele and sexuality with the upright primate becoming a semiotizing technician.

At the same time, indicia weakened Homo as semiotizing technician. Because indicia are fleeing, therefore open and arbitrary. Because they retain something natural, which makes them difficult to control. Because the types of indicialities endlessly slide one into the other in metaphors and metonymies. Because pre-indicial and post-indicial cleavages multiply in widening, but also in turnarounds of direction. On the other hand, we have just seen that indicia that make signification from everywhere also make intention from everywhere, and their supposed intentions are even more redoubtable that indiciality (indicium) is always ready to be transformed into magic. Magic of congeners that is still tameable. Magic of "things" (causes) that is much less tameable.

This is why, if the environment of pre-hominid animals is only threatened by adverse physical forces that the animal only needs to counter, the environment of technician and semiotic Homo was peopled - probably very early on - with virtual and fleeing intentions escaping simple grasping. It is remarkable that, in vulgar use, the substantive abduction <4C1> slid to designate the misbehaviour and the diversion: to abduct, to diverse, unbalance. Indiciality (indicium) encourages dispute and unanimity.

Therefore, indiciality-(indicium)-magic-divination installed Homo as superstitious, meaning insisting on details (super-sistere). And even as paranoid, in an exaggerated interpretation of indicia. As old as Aeschylus, Greek "paranoia" designated madness, which it described etymologically as a sliding along (para) the noêsis (noia), the latter being designed as a knowledge navigating between too many and too few indicia, in a just, subtle and healthy balance. The proverb said "mèdèn agan": nothing too much. The evolution of the word confirms this view and today paranoia designates the case where an individual feels constantly looked at and threatened by its environment and its congeners. This state is indeed basal madness, as it results from indiciality (indicium), which is the fundamental organisation of hominid thought, with its abductions, magic, animism and demonism, its external and internal divinations.



4G. From fear to anguish and anxiety


The animality of mammals and primates, at the same time as it selected the affects of pleasure to sustain long or difficult behaviours, also selected affects of fear to deal with circumstances that cannot be faced, by sustaining the immobility or fleeing as the case may be.

Indicializing Homo inherited these fears that are indispensable to the survival of higher species, but softened and planned them according to the requirements and resources of its associative and neutralizing brain <2B>. At the same time, Homo invented anguish, this diffuse fear that has not specific object, but slides from indicium to indicium in a regimen that is so pervasive that it gets lost into general, vertiginous and contradictory convections. The "angustiae" (shrinkages) that the Latin referred to and from where our anguish comes etymologically, spoke well about the tightening of the chest, short breadth, racing heart and diffuse embarrassment. Everything happens as though the nervous system, usually preceptive-motor and prevalently exotropic, should race endotropicaly by running idly, without any sufficient external determination to self-regulate.

Neurophysiology greatly enlightened the question. It demonstrated that anguish goes hand in hand with an electrical activation of the right Parahippocampal gyrus, which accentuates during the crisis and is transmitted electrically to its left counterpart <Principles of Neural Science, 3d,14-15>. This neurological basis interests the anthropogeny and confirms that anguish is not a constant colouration of hominid existence. Lots of individuals only experience it exceptionally, and then weakly. However, if it is not an "existential", we must call it anthropogenic insofar as, where it appears, it tamed Homo to the undetermined, the indefinite, the infinite of indiciality (indicium) and conceptualisation. In the same way as it pushed Homo to edify parades in enumerable technical, artistic, political works. It has been said that Homo was born from anguish. For the whole, no. For some parts, yes. French exploited its formation of substitutive ending in "-ité" (-ity, in English), to oppose to the more massive anguish, the less violent - and especially more differentiated, documented and arguing – anxiety.



4H. Signal, Stimulus-signal, Sign, Stimulus-sign


Seeing things from the viewpoint of the Universe, we will note that indicia and indiciality (indicium) triggered a revolution of communication in our Universe. Because, when Homo saw the first indicia and thus inaugurated the sign, our planet – and probably the entire solar system, even stars nearby – had only known two communicational resources: the signal and the stimulus-signal. It is appropriate for the anthropogeny to conclude the chapter on indicia by putting together the four terms where this advent is summarised.

(a) The signal, present since the mineral kingdom, is a physical event manifesting another physical event through the transfer of information, which is understood in its first sense of putting into form (formare, in). For example, it is a sound wave that signals the vibration of a distant body into air. It is the photons signalling a star, and even sending information on its chemical composition through the wavelength betrayed by the rays of the spectre.

(b) The stimulus-signal, ignored by the vegetal kingdom, was inaugurated by the animal kingdom. It is a simple or composed signal emitted by an event (a fire, food, a prey, a predator, a partner), that triggers in its receptor a hereditary nervous programme (cerebral) developed or not by learning, and eliciting a behaviour: opening of the beak, pursuing, climbing, hoarding etc. The English word release (trigger) is eloquent. There, mechanical segments of Universe stimulate nervous segments until they in turn provoke motor performances. In some higher animals, responses to stimuli-signals show somewhat less rigidity, a little more margin than was granted by Lorenz, who initiated the notion (Laroche and Van Lier, Zoopsychologie, E.U., 1970). But this does not invalidate the distinction between the stimulus-signal and the sign, which concerns us here.

(c) According to a functioning ignored by the simple signal and the stimulus-signal, the sign is a signal operating a thematization, which, in opposition with technical thematization, depletes in itself <4A>. When Homo asks if there are other beings like him in the Universe, the issue refers to that point. Is there anywhere else than on Earth a communicational regime comprising semiotic thematizations? And therefore, preliminarily, technical segmentarizations and thematizations that engender them and that they in turn engender ?

(d) Les stimuli-signs, which are also characteristic of Homo, combine the properties of the stimulus-signal and the sign, and will be described and exemplified in the chapter on field effects <7F>.

We have seen that signs were initiated by indicia. However, they have a limited semiotic scope. (a) They are full signs insofar as they thematize the internal determinations of their designated, and even confer some to them. (b) They are non-arbitrary signs, insofar that they are determined by their designated, and even designate it in turn. (c) They are non-intentional signs, without which they would be forged indicia, and thereby false indicia. Indexes, that are empty signs, intentional and relatively arbitrary signs, will show us other virtualities of the semiotic order versus the technical orders.



Because of their very fluid link to causality, the status of indicia hesitates between technique and semiotic. Therefore, two sides can be taken, with all the many different intermediaries that we find in the history of philosophies and religions.

Since they are not very arbitrary and not very intentional, we can say that they do not have the semiotic status, if we adopt the stance of Saussure, who was struck by the arbitrary and intentionality of the sign. This is the arguable party that the author adopted in the Philosophy of photography (1983,1991), where the fact to put the photo, photonics imprint - therefore indicial in a first while - outside the sign (language, painted images, etc.) would allow to conveniently identifiy the singularity of photography compared to painting, with which it was confounded for centuries, right up to its name of photo-graphy, drawing by light.

On the other hand, for an anthropogeny, indicia are indeed signs and even the first stratum of the entire semiotic edifice, in accordance with everyday language, which leaves a trace like the "sign" of a wild animal. It is even on the occasion of indicia that the word "séméiologie" (Acad. 1762) was first accredited to designate medical symptomatology. Indeed, for Homo, medicine was, with hunting, the privileged ground of the practice and theory of indiciality (indicium).


Henri Van Lier

Translated by Paula Cook, 2016

(Last update, October 12, 2017)