Agent, Person, Subject, Self: A Theory of Ontology, Interaction, and Infrastructure
This book offers both a naturalistic and critical theory of signs, minds, and meaning-in-the-world. It provides a reconstructive rather than deconstructive theory of the individual, one which both analytically separates and theoretically synthesizes a range of faculties that are often confused and conflated: agency (understood as a causal capacity), subjectivity (understood as a representational capacity), selfhood (understood as a reflexive capacity), and personhood (understood as a sociopolitical capacity attendant on being an agent, subject, or self). It argues that these facilities are best understood from a semiotic stance that supersedes the usual intentional stance. And, in so doing, it offers a pragmatism-grounded approach to meaning and mediation that is general enough to account for processes that are as embodied and embedded as they are articulated and enminded. In particular, while this theory is focused on human-specific modes of meaning, it also offers a general theory of meaning, such that the agents, subjects and selves in question need not always, or even usually, map onto persons. And while this theory foregrounds agents, persons, subjects and selves, it does this by theorizing processes that often remain in the background of such (often erroneously) individuated figures: ontologies (akin to culture, but generalized across agentive collectivities), interaction (not only between people, but also between people and things, and anything outside or in-between), and infrastructure (akin to context, but generalized to include mediation at any degree of remove).
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actions actor affective unfoldings affordances another’s artiﬁced behavior belief causal cognitive processes coherence cointerprets commitment complementation constitute context Crucially deﬁned deﬁnition discussed embedded enminded ensemble entities envorganisms event example exchange-value ﬁgure ﬁrst focus framed function gives rise grounded hence human-speciﬁc identity illocutionary force incorporation indices individual inference insofar instigation instrumentally rational instruments intention intentional stance intentionality inter interaction intersubjective kinds Kockelman less logic gates material substances meaning mediating propensity natural selection norms object one’s particular Peirce projected propensity properties propositional contents reﬂective reﬂexive reframed regimented relations between relations relatively emblematic representational interpretants residential whole roles roots and fruits self-as-ensemble selfhood semiosis semiotic agent semiotic ontologies semiotic processes serendipity sign-component sign-object relation signer signiﬁcance and selection social statuses sociogenesis speciﬁc speech acts statuses and mental stereotypic terrain theoretical agency theory thereby tion transformativity understood unit of accountability use-value versus wielding