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fig.28—the logic of “I know you are but what am I”


 Having picked four corner terms, the four metaterms should reveal compound relations. If our A and B axes are well­-formed, the metaterms will oppose each other to form the X and Y axes of a Biaxial Plot as in fig.28. Since we started with a pair of ‘good’ terms (positive ‘in and of’ themselves) they com­-pose a civilized apex; their two ‘bad’ negations ‘add up’ to a savage nadir; thus we have a sound Y­-axis. On the X-axis, we must mediate pairs of both good and bad aspects of social organization; so judged, we find the prejudice manifest in cultural relativism: from an elite ‘cosmopolitan’ perspective, a natural + uncultured society would be denigrated as “provincial,” whereas from a ‘grounded’ point of view, a cultural + unnatural society would be recast as “decadent.” In sum, we take a preliminary snapshot of our ‘nature­-culture dialectic’ without punting supernatural causality one way or the other. While our strictly formal ‘Greimasian’ example may seem stunted, the underlying thought process should extend our reach to problems of further limb:

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fig.29—drawn and quartered, from the outside­-in


 Just as a term like ‘naturaldenotes and connotes in various ways, the Square shows how term relations can be logical without being propositional. Having opposed natural to cultural, we posed the question of “cultural—as opposed to what?” in order to discern the denotation of ‘non­-cultural from the contrary connotations of ‘uncultured’ or ‘artless’. In figs.26­-28 we followed out the strict form to X and Y­-axis metaterms; in fig.29 we take another tack to revisit our motivation—“the ‘cosmopolitan’ perspective” and “a ‘grounded’ point of view.” Having been ‘self­-applied’ by two ideal hypothetical persons, both terms convey ‘good’ connotations more specifically. To wit: at the apex, either party may claim themselves not merelycivilized’ but noble; as self­-assessment is bound up with judgment of others, we drop the ‘high­-valence’ X-axis judgments to the nadir—for ‘they’ are not merelysavage’ but crass. To recap, we free the X­-axis of ‘values’; complex perhaps—but ‘simple’? better minimal—for quoth the noble Mies van der Rohe, “less is more.”

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