Semiotics:a sign has two parts

A sign consists of the  signified and the signifier

If what is signified is love,the signifier may vary … it can be a  “x “.a bunch of flowers,a poem.

Of course it may be misunderstood if two people come from different cultures/countries  or even different parts of the same country with maybe a different form of Christianity,with an atheisitic family etc

Some people tend to see a meaning in an act or word that was not intended…if carried too far it can lead to paranoia…I can imagine writing a funny play based on such confusion

More from Wikipedia


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ferdinand de Saussure theorizes that a “sign[clarification needed] has two parts: signifier and signified. The signifier is the form that the sign will take, whether it be a sound or image and the signified is the meaning that is conveyed.


Signifier: the word ‘tree’ = Signified: the mental image of a tree.

Charles Sanders Pierce analyzed sign systems and came up with the following: An Icon signifies by resemblance. An Indexical sign signifies by causal connection and finally, a Symbol signifies by learned convention.

See also

A new writer/thinker:C Fred Alford


I am reading two books by C Fred Alford about Evil.He is a very good writer and scholar with a wonderful mind.He is also influenced greatly by Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion.

In fact I am really delighted because he talks quite a lot about thought and what makes us thoughtless and how thinking is related to emotions.And how breaking linkages in our minds is a defence which stops us from feeling painful emotion at the cost of deadness inside

This article is about Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden because it’s good and also I cannot find any articles about Alford’s life.

Here is a review of his new book but we can’t get it in the UK

It is about Emmanuel Levinas and the Frankfurt School.




Heidegger and other scholars

This is very interesting and not too difficult…he gives a longer account than I have seen elsewhere.

I can’t understand fully but am drawn to it  wondering about our  problems now

From thinking to thoughtfulness


A week or two ago I was thinking about thinking.There is more than one kind of thinking.Some kinds,like rumination, are  often self destructive.Other kinds of thinking can turn one outside of one’s self and can become what I call “thoughtfulness”.And that is a a virtue.It combines awareness and caring towards others with standing back and considering what is best for them and ourselves.

Then there is what we might call ” blind thinking” which is totally self centred like the  chattering voices in our head

I want that red dress,he’s nasty,I am fed up being at work. so long…………all going on underneath our consciousness much of the time.We may be unaware of it but it can affect us and how we act towards others.It’s childish,turned inwards and trivial.Can we stop it? I am thinking about that,,, not brooding.I mean,my mind is open and I hope some new ideas will come to help me understand this blind thinking

How can we see and not be blind in our thinking?How can we be wise?

The crucial importance of the face:More about Levinas

About the face in Levinas‘s philosphy.

This is a website in the USA.It  has  some good articles mainly relating to religon,spirituality,humanity and thought

A review of a book about Levinas’s philosophy

I am still reading about Levinas,You can download an e boook here

Plato on drugs? I don’t believe it;I do believe it


This is not a book but a blog.It’s really fascinating.not just th above article but  for all its other thoughtful

discussions.If you are not a philosopher still many pieces are understandable to the general reader.

What is ethics?

From Paul Gordon


“In particular, Levinas argued that ethics is responsibility for the other, that this responsibility precedes knowledge and, moreover, has nothing whatsoever to do with reciprocity, that is I do not do something in order to get something in return. Furthermore, Levinas argued, it is this ethical responsibility which constitutes me as a subject, it is the meaning of my subjectivity. Ethics, in the very particular sense that Levinas gives it, is at the heart of psychotherapy,”

Gordon, Paul (2012-12-15). Face to Face (Kindle Locations 585-589). Paul Gordon. Kindle Edition.

“The evil of banality”

A very interesting and disturbing discussion of books about Heidegger and Arendt.Heidegger’s silence after the war about the

And looking at the quote below it seems they lacked wisdom


An article about critical thinking

The above website is very good,in my view


Thinking Gets Us Into Trouble Because We Often:
  • jump to conclusions
  • fail to think-through implications
  • lose track of their goal
  • are unrealistic
  • focus on the trivial
  • fail to notice contradictions
  • accept inaccurate information
  • ask vague questions
  • give vague answers
  • ask loaded questions
  • ask irrelevant questions
  • confuse questions of different types
  • answer questions we are not competent to answer
  • come to conclusions based on inaccurate or irrelevant information
  • ignore information that does not support our view
  • make inferences not justified by our experience
  • distort data and state it inaccurately
  • fail to notice the inferences we make
  • come to unreasonable conclusions
  • fail to notice our assumptions
  • often make unjustified assumptions
  • miss key ideas
  • use irrelevant ideas
  • form confused ideas
  • form superficial concepts
  • misuse words
  • ignore relevant viewpoints
  • cannot see issues from points of view other than our own
  • confuse issues of different types
  • are unaware of our prejudices
  • think narrowly
  • think imprecisely
  • think illogically
  • think one-sidedly
  • think simplistically
  • think hypocritically
  • think superficially
  • think ethnocentrically
  • think egocentrically
  • think irrationally
  • do poor problem solving
  • make poor decisions
  • are poor communicators

Hannah Arendt and thinking

Lonely Thinking: Hannah Arendt on Film reason I am writing this is that at the end of this film,Arendt gives a seven minute monologue on,what is thinking?

She believed the people like Eichmann who carried out Hitler’s Final Solution were not psychotic monsters but were people unable to think.I feel unqualified to comment on that except to agree with her that true thinking is not easy and how can we learn to do it.It cannot be just a mental process but must involve the whole of a person.If we fear to think we will join a movement, a church or any other organisation which we will obey in order not to have to think.I believe many of us still do that.Thinling can be a lonely business as she said

[By the way,I am not  Jewish]

Heidegger did one service: He showed us that thinking is not enough

When we say someone is a great thinker,what do we mean?And can someone be a great thinker about some aspects of life,the world,society,philosophy and a very poor thinker in other aspects?Naturally I am thinking about Heidegger.Greatly admired,influential and a tutor to the likes of Hanna Arendt.

We could say he  did us a service in reminding us that not even a great philosopher is always a good judge of society,politics and new  ideas.Moreover,he must have shut his eyes to the attacks on Jewish people across Germany….How can this be?I hear someone saying,thinking is not enough if it is restricted to what is safe to think about.Character,ethical status,love of humanity seem to be absent from some of our academics and scholars.And  how much more is that likely when our Universities  are run as profit making  businesses where the number of citations you receive is the measure of your work’s worth…. so noone may ever read it yet if you ask all your colleagues,friends and contacts to cite you then success and acclaim await.Meanwhile society crumbles,the poor are punished  and  old made anxious.

Re Hannah Arendt  [ Wikipedia’


In 2012 a German film titled Hannah Arendt was released, directed by Margarethe von Trotta, and with Barbara Sukowa in the role of Arendt. The film concentrates on the Eichmann trial, and the controversy caused by Arendt’s book, which at the time was  WIDELY  MISUNDERSTOOD as defending Eichmann and blaming Jewish leaders for the Shoa/Holocaust




Thinking about what is called thinking [Heidegger]

I have now got the book “What is called thinking” by Martin Heidegger despite my qualms about his political history.I know he wrote it in German  and hence a translation may  give a different meaning so maybe my thoughts are not sensible….and my first thoughts are………….. it is fascinating title.He is looking at an activity that we humans do.He is asking what it is we do when we say we think.So before I read it  I am putting a few reflections.Thinking means standing back,waiting and reflecting.Often we do things  because our parents did or our friends.Then sometimes we wonder about our life,we pause and try to examine how we are living.Or we could be solving an intellectual problem.Some things like quadratic equations can be solved by a formula.And many people are happy just to perform this rote activity But even though its math,you are not thinking when you do that.And I have an intuition  that we avoid thinking much of the time because we step outside our automatic patterns.I once read an article that says depression comes on us when we face a problem at the unconscious level.The tiredness,slowness and painful feelings make us withdraw and that gives our minds time to reflect.So there must also be unconscious thinking.Maybe  that  other mind  uses images as  in dreams.And we all know that “sleeping” on a problem often produces a solution.Thinking may not be verbal all of the time.And we must have something to think about.We  must be participating in the world of Others.Language comes via others.We are part of a society…at first just a few family members.But our tongue is shared with many people.And when we think in words,those words came before us and go on after us.


Levinas and Heidegger

I seem to be led between these two philosophers.Levinas was an admirer  and student of Heidegger until the Nazi era.Though Levinas’ wi fe and daughter survived WW2 hidden in a  Monastery,the rest of his family  who were Jews in  Lithuania perished. in the Nazi Camps.This made him rethink his philosophy and led him into putting Ethics in primary place.And the primacy of our awareness of /responsibility the other as our first concern.Indeed that is what makes us human subjects

Perhaps only a Jewish person has the right to talk about Ethics  after the Holocaust.

I put two links below.


How Levinas Overcame Heidegger

“What is called thinking” by Heidegger

What is called thinking”         by Heidegger

This seems a good introduction to the book and to discussing thinking  in our era

Short Extract from the article

Heidegger refers to Nietzsche’s diagnosis of our age as a time of nihilism: “The wasteland grows.” If it is Being that most calls for thought, what most calls to be thought about in our age is the forgetting or withdrawal of Being. And it is due to the withdrawal of Being that we are still not thinking. In contrast to Hegel’s notion of history, Heidegger’s is a history wherein we find ourselves increasingly fallen from and more distant from Being. Being withdraws in our technological age as the experience of thinking is reduced to calculative rationality. “Thinking” has become the experience of using rationality as a device to operate on a world of things already reified into a network of ends. In our age, Heidegger (1968) will go on to argue, ratio has trumped legein. The thoughtfulness of calculative rationality threatens to obliterate the possibility for being-thoughtful.