TRAMES 1, 1, 1997

Juri Lotman. Culture as a subject and an object in itself


In the classic works on the history of separate cultures, culture was considered as a kind of object standing outside of the researcher. Later, when the process of research by itself had become a subject of research, the history of culture appears in the aspect of evolution of its interpretations. These approaches to the study of culture could be considered as respectively as "objective" and "subjective". The author argues that the culture as a whole and any sufficiently complicated text incorporated in it constitute a meaning-generative unit (monad) existing within the semiosphere. Any such monad can create relations with other monads forming a bipolar unity at a higher level. The emergence of cultural areas is an example of this process. This suggests that the relationships between monads is not the one of subject-object which implies an unidirectional reception, but a complex pulsating dialogue. Translated from Russian.

Juri Lotman (1922–1993) was a founder of structural semiotics in culturology and a leading figure in the Tartu–Moscow school of semiotics. He has published numerous books and articles on 18–19 century Russian literature, on the structure of poetic texts and cultural typology.

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