Volume 10   Number 2     Fall 2017

Cognitive Polyphasia In The Context Of Systemic Power And Semiotic Potency

Maaris Raudsepp
Tallinn University, Estonia

pp. 45-76

Abstract. Semiotic environment in the functional sense has dual effect on the subject: on the one hand, it directs and constrains the subject through collective semiotic forms (social representations), on the other handóit provides symbolic resources for subjectís self-determinative activity. This duality may be presented as a tension between systemic power and semiotic potency. Heterogeneity of semiosphere and multiplicity of subjectís relations to the environment are the prerequisites to the phenomenon of cognitive polyphasia. It is possible to differentiate two forms of cognitive polyphasia: positional polyphasia and intra-positional polyphasia. In both forms of polyphasia the main challenges for a researcher are: 1) to describe and explain the effects of interaction of plural forms of knowledge in different contexts and 2) to explain the choice among the potential representational possibilities by a subject in his or her particular relationships with the environment. The social representation theory and the dialogical self theory can be used complementarily for solving these problems. Empirical illustrations are drawn from a study of trajectories of successive acculturation described in biographical interviews of elderly people. Variation of macro-contexts (different levels of normative pressure, monological vs heterodoxic/dialogical context) and specific social suggestions interact with semiotically potent subjects. Various strategies have been applied for coordinating incompatible representations and for maintaining the sense of agency in different contextual conditions. Both positional and intra-positional polyphasia is creatively used for regulating relations with the environment.


Keywords: cognitive polyphasia, holomorphism, holism