Paul Bauman on Peirce 2

Subj: Sheaves and Shadows

Date: Fri, Jun 16, 1995 16:35 PDT


To: earl jackson, Jr.

It is in effect the „final“ or „ultimate“ interpretant in that it entails
the ‚habit change‘ which stabilizes the representational ‚ground‘ of the
sign. However, the word „habit,“ as used by Peirce, should be taken as
a disposition toward certain actions, expectations, and associations, and
not as a passive „habituation“ (in the biological sense) to immutable meaning-effects.

In this sense, Peirce’s usage of habit as the processually constructed,
temporary ground upon which an interpretant can gain meaning is comparable
to Freud’s description of „somatic compliance“ as the constitutive yet
dynamically formed basis for hysterical symptoms. In „Fragments of an Analysis
of a Case of Hysteria“, Freud describes this process as involving

participation of both sides [psychical and physical]. It cannot occur without
the presence of a certain degree of
*somatic compliance*
offered by some normal or pathological process
in or connected with the bodily organs. And it cannot occur more than once–and
the capacity for repeating itself [habit?] is one of the characteristics
of a hysterical symptom–unless it has a psychical significance, a *meaning*.
The hysterical symptom does not carry this meaning with it, but the meaning
is lent to it, welded on to it, as it were; and in every instance the meaning
can be a different one, according to the nature of the suppressed thoughts
which are struggling for expression. (Freud, *Fragments*, 33-4)

In the same way that Peirce’s logical interpretant is
formed by a semiotic synthesis of inner (emotional interpretant) and outer
(energetic interpretant) significate effects, a hysterical symptom is the
result of a stabilized interaction between an inner „psychical significance“
and an outer „somatic compliance.“ But through this analogy one stumbles
across two elements in Freud’s assertion which complicate Peirce’s semiotic
model. First there is a distinction between meaning and somatic symptom
which isn’t analogically present in Peirce’s formulation of the ‚final’
logical interpretant, itself defined as the very act of *constituting*
meaning, „the effect of meaning on which the process of semiosis…comes
to rest“ (de Lauretis, 174). Freud’s distinction occurs through the his
usage of the concept of *Anlehnung*, the „welding“ of meaning upon the
symptom. The very process through which this welding takes place brings
us to the second divergence from Peirce’s model.

Whereas the logical interpretant consists in a „conceptual
representation“ (de Lauretis, 174) of the subject’s contact with, and mediation
of, external forces (and resistances), the *Anlehnung* of psychical significance
upon/from the hysterical body is accomplished through a more complex interaction
between physical reality and psychical reality. Jean Laplanche provides
the questions through which such a complication is implied:

…*by what, on the psychical
level, is this impact of reality*, to which Freud occasionally attributes
so great a role, *mediated?* Need we acknowledge in reality something like
an inherent force at the level of the psyche, and what does that mean if
reality is conceived of above all as physical reality, as the „external
world“? How is that reality transformed into a „psychical“ force capable
of acting and of *differentiating our psyche?* (Laplanche, *Life and Death*,

Here Laplanche is critiquing what he calls a „metonymic derivation
of the ego“ (Laplanche, 51), specifically its implications in a dynamic
conception of the ego-formation, where reality „is invested with the dignity
of a veritable agency“ (Laplanche, *Life and Death*, 52) to which the ego
gradually adapts through the development of the *Realitaetspruefung*, a
process which can be compared to Peirce’s theorization of the energetic
interpretant, and its role in the formation of a stabilized semiotic ‚habit.’
Here the energetic interpretant is the result of a unidirectional movement
of signification away from the emotional interpretant, a process necessitated
by the ’shock‘ of the outer world upon the inner world.

Module One