Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet


Yuri Lotman’s Semiotic Theory in the Study of Cognition

Aleksei Semenenko (Södertörns högskola / Stockholm University)

The semiotician and literary scholar Yuri Lotman (1922-1993), one of the leaders of Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School and one of the founders of the branch of cultural semiotics, was a truly versatile scholar. The scope of his encyclopedic knowledge was not limited solely to Russian culture and included European history and literatures, Classical history and art, and other disciplines. The recent decade has seen a revived interest toward Lotman’s profound legacy, proving the relevance of his approach to culture in modern context. More and more scholars find Lotman’s ideas worth studying and developing; his works are being read and interpreted in different fields, from semiotics of transnationalism (Portis-Winner 2002) to political contexts (Schönle 2006) to the study of universals (Lepik 2008).

One of the most interesting and yet to be explored areas of Lotman’s multifaceted personality was his study of culture as an intrinsic component of human consciousness. In his early structuralist as well as in his latest works on literature, art and culture, Lotman has consistently applied such concepts as (individual and collective) consciousness, memory, and intellect; modeling mechanism (that characterizes individual consciousness, texts and culture as a whole), and other similar, including the most prolific one, the semiosphere.

In other words, it is obvious that alongside with his model of culture, Lotman—both implicitly and explicitly—sets forth a theory of cognition which I am going to investigate with regard to several aspects, including, inter alia, Lotman's ideas in the context of cognitive semiotics and philosophy, possible applications of Lotman's theory in neuroscience, and Lotman's contribution to the question of methodology in the study of mind.