Known vs Not-Known Signifiers

Given a recent spat I’m having discussing things about free will, sin, and the like with someone on Twitter, I decided to make a blog post in relation to it.

In the realm of signifiers, there exists three possible relations between the knower and the signified. By signifiers I speak of those things which point towards another, specifically, words themselves. The signified is that which the word points to, the object itself. And the knower is either the agent who speaks of it or listens about it.

Now the three possible relations are:

  1. Exhausted, fully known
  2. Not exhausted, fully known
  3. Not exhausted, not fully known


  1. Any given signifier is fully exhausted to the knower, such that any and all logical corollaries can be deduced by definition from it.
  2. Any given signifier is not fully exhausted, but remains fully known as to what is known about it. As to not give a tautology (A=A), by this it is meant that what is known about a given signifier is true and correct, but it remains that not everything  about it has been exhausted.
  3. Any given signifier is neither fully exhausted, nor is it fully known, such that the knower in this sense is not a knower at all. The ‘knower’ may find himself to be within the first two categories, but instead is merely in possession of untrue and incorrect knowledge of the given signifier.

In all possibility, only the 1st notion is never extended to us. This is shown metaphysically in that the essences of things are not exhaustible, and such that our signifiers tend to fall short of it. However, even though we may not be able to fully exhaust a subject, this does not render any true and correct knowledge of it obsolete. As such, for many things, the 2nd notion is where a majority of men are considering  any subject. However, within this 2nd notion there remains a sense of degree, such that an astronomer knows more about the planets than a layman. Nevertheless, for the layman to say “Pluto isn’t a planet” and for the astronomer to say “Pluto, while not a planet, is a … etc.” shows that what is known about the subject is, in actuality, known; viz, what knowledge the knower contains is true and correct.

In contrast to these two notions, the 3rd notion is that the ‘knower’ thinks he knows something of the subject, but in actuality knows nothing about it. The foremost example of this is when the believer speaks of God whereas an unbeliever, who has never studied it, speaks of God; or, when an educated man speaks on the sciences versus the ignorant one who speaks on them. Such ‘knowers’ can participate in these discussions, but as to what is understood is (almost in a literal way) violently different from what is understood to the other participants, since it becomes a warping of the signifier–it is the destruction of the word, and thus language. Perhaps one may understand this in reference to our current political climate, wherein a majority of people and things are called sexists, racists and fascists when, in fact, they are not.

In a symbolic way, the notions may be described thusly:

Let A be the subject. BCD are qualities that are always true of A. “BCD” are qualities thought to be true, but in actuality are not.

  1. A is A.
  2. A is B, C, D; or, A is B; or, A is C; or, A is D
  3. A is “BCD”; or, A is “B”; or, A is “C”; or, A is “D”




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s