The concept of sign, its origin and influence on Mukařovský's Structuralism

Author: Schmid, Herta
Source document: Theatralia. 2012, vol. 15, iss. 2, pp. 112-124
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
The main argument of the article is that the notional triad of structure, sign and function lies at the basis of Mukařovský's classical aesthetic Structuralism. When in 1945 he changed the triad into "structure – function – (collective social) norm", this omitting of the sign marked the decline of his Structuralism. The notion of sign must be regarded as a necessary condition for structural aesthetics. The importance of that notion is given by the fact that the aesthetic function is a sign-producing faculty rooted in man's anthropological constitution. The conception of the sign has been influenced by modern linguistics. Evenly important is Husserl's discrimination between the index and the symbol. The article tries to discover the possible connection between Husserl's pair "(auxiliary) index – (full) sign" and Mukařovský's pair "(non-sign) thing – (full) sign", discussed in his "Intentionality and Unintentionality in Art" (1943). Another argumentation refers to E. Fischer-Lichte's theory of performative aesthetics. T. O. Davenport's and S. D. Harding's handbook on performative management sheds a dark light on the anti-semiotic ideology of the recent trend in aesthetics, which aims at the elimination of reason in art by eliminating the (full) sign. In contrast, Mukařovský's Structuralism tries to lay bare the critical potentials inherent in the pair "thing – sign".
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