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Unformatted text preview: any concepts or meanings of the same object (Figure 9). Figure 9. A word can possess many concepts on its way to the object Consider the following sentences all of which use the single word “car” but which carry different meanings or concepts depending on the context, or the discourse in which “car” is placed: 1. Worldwide, there were more than a billion cars in 2012. 2. With increasing use of cars in China the use of bicycles is dropping. 3. Let the world envy your success. Make your next car a luxury car. 13 4. An average car in the United States spews out 10,000 pounds of carbon‐di‐oxide and 600 pounds of carbon monoxide per year. 5. The American love affair with the car changed the geography of American cities. From this illustration, we can see that the word “car” does not give rise to a unique concept of ‘car.’ As it enters into a myriad of different conversations, the term “car” receives a form and meaning specific to each conversation; in other words the word “car” has many meanings. The word has no intrinsic meaning, or inner essence that is imparted to it from an object called ‘the car.’ The exact meaning of the word is contextually and linguistically mediated as it enters into different conversations. Polysemy is one of the ideas crucial to the critique of the mirror model of science. Sign as discursive‐material Peirce’s model of the sign consisted of three parts of which one was the actual object. The word (the signifier) and the concept (the signified) both belong in the realm of discourse, while the concept and the object are in the material realm; it is the concept that binds a word to an object. The sign is a discursive‐material formation that unites discourse and the material world (Figure 10). Figure 10. The sign as discursive‐material A colleague of mine once suggested that I step off the side‐walk and into street and test the hypothesis that a Mack truck barreling down the road was in fact discursively constructed. This sort of “Sokal...
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