Julia Kristeva

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Kristeva on the Symbolic and the Semiotic elements of signification

Semiotic elements: the drives as they discharge into language, associated with rhythm and tone, subterranean element of meaning that doesn't signify

Symbolic elements: that which signifies, associated with syntax and grammar

Semiotic gives rise and challenges the symbolic.

Without the symbolic we have only delirium or nature.

Without the semiotic, language would be completely empty, if not impossible. We would have no reason to speak if it were not for the semiotic drive force. So this oscillation and fluctuation between the semiotic and the symbolic is productive and necessary.

Kristeva and Lacan

Kristeva offers an alternative model to Lacan's mirror stage and his order of the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic.

Lacan's orders:

The Real: The state of nature from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into language. There is nothing but need. No separation between self and external world.

A state of fullness or completeness that is subsequently lost through the entrance into language. The Real is impossible as we cannot express it in language because the very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from the real. Still, the real continues to exert its influence throughout our adult lives since it is the rock against which all our fantasies and linguistic structures ultimately fail.

The Imaginary: The fundamental narcissism by which the human subject creates fantasy images of both himself and his ideal object of desire. Tied to the mirror stage. Continues to exert its influence throughout the life of the adult and is not merely superceded in the child's movement into the symbolic order.

The symbolic: The social world of linguistic communication, intersubjective relations, knowledge of ideological conventions, and the acceptance of the law. Once a child enters into language and accepts...