REVIEWS

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1987.tb02567.x
Publication Date01 Jan 1987
JAN.
19871
REVIEWS
117
As
before the style.
of
analysis detracts from the thesis. It is
not
only
legal restrictions which have constrained intervention by the P.C.A. To
put it another way, a map like the one Birkinshaw provides us with is a
useful, sometimes necessary guide to the jungle. But it tells us little about
the creatures
to
be encountered along the way, still less about their
peculiar habits.
RICHARD RAWLINGS*
REVIEWS
SEMIOTICS
AND
LEGAL
THEORY.
By
B.
S.
JACKSON
[London:
Routledge
and
Kegal
Paul.
1985.
373
pp.
$20.1
THE
study
of
signs and of systems
of
signification within the English
jurisprudential tradition goes back at least as far
as
Locke’s
Essay
Concerning
Human Understanding,
first published
in
1690.
Towards the
conclusion
of
the
Essay
(iv. xxi.
25)
Locke propounded a threefold
division
of
knowledge. Concerned primarily with developing and refining
the scholastic conception
of
logic, he added to Aristotle’s analytic
distinction between the necessary (speculative) and contingent (practical)
forms
of
science and
of
reasoning a third division, that
of
semiotic
or
the
doctrine of signs
(doctrina signorurn).
It was
to
be the function
of
the
science
of
semiotic
to
unite the two earlier forms
of
science, natural and
ethical, within a comprehensive study of signs. It was proposed that this
latter form of study would analyse in a systematic and unified fashion the
ways and means whereby knowledge, both speculative and practical, was
acquired, elaborated and communicated.’
There are two crucial features to Locke’s definition of the conceptual
terrain
of
any future semiotics. The first and more obvious is that the new
discipline of signs is accorded an extremely broad and properly
interdisciplinary status. In this aspect it poses a choice:
it
can be viewed
either as the ultimate form
of
science, as the method
of
method,
or
it may
be viewed more modestly as
a
perspective from which
to
analyse and
criticise all forms
of
communicative and textual practice.
It
may be viewed,
in
other words, either as the cognitive basis for the foundational claims
of
philosophy*
or
alternatively, as the study primarily
of
communication, it
may be seen as that feature
of
social and political practice which forever
precludes the possibility
of
claims
to
absolute ~ertitude.~ Secondly, it must
be observed that for Locke himself the doctrine of signs was itself
~ ~~
*
Law Department, London School
of
Economics.
The most interesting discussion of Locke is to be found in
J.
Deely, Introducing
Semiotic
(1982).
A
corrective
to
Deely’s tendency to overstate Locke’s novelty and
importance can be found in
T.
Todorov, Theories
of
the Synibol
(1982).
On
this point,
see also
J.
Kristeva, Desire in Language
(1980);
M.
Pecheux, Language, Semantics and
Ideology
(1982);
U.
Eco,
A
Theory
of
Semiotics
(1979).
*
In which respect see, most indicatively,
F.
de Saussure,
A
Course in General
Linguistics
(1966), p.16,
“if
I
have succeeded in assigning linguistics a place among the
sciences
it
is because
I
have related
it
to semiology.”
C.
S.
Peirce, Selected Writings
(1940),
p.78,
wherein semiotic again receives a logically based definition in terms
of
the
“formal doctrine
of
signs.”
Most
explicitly,
F.
Nietzsche, Early
Greek
Philosophy and other Essays
(191
1).
Discussed in
J.
Derrida, Margins
of
Philosophy
(1982),
Chaps.
7
and
8.
See also
G.
Rose, Dialectic
of
Nihilism
(1984) pp.109
et
seq.

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