On a Class of Concepts

matPosprint in English (with additional illustrations) of a paper published in French in Semiotica, vol. 139 (1-4), 2002, 211-226, under the title “Une Classe de Concepts”.

This article describes the construction, of philosophical essence, of the class of the matrices of concepts, whose structure and properties present an interest in several fields. The paper emphasises the applications in the field of paradigmatic analysis of the resulting taxonomy and proposes it as an alternative to the semiotic square put forth by Greimas.

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On a Class of Concepts

Classically, in the discussion relating to polar opposites1, one primarily directs his interest to the common and lexicalized concepts, i.e. for which there exists a corresponding word in the vocabulary inherent to a given language. This way of proceeding tends to generate several disadvantages. One of them resides in the fact (i) that such concepts are likely to vary from one language to another, from one culture to another. Another (ii) of the resulting problems is that certain lexicalized concepts reveal a nuance which is either meliorative or pejorative, with degrees in this type of nuances which prove difficult to appreciate. Finally, another problem (iii) lies in the fact that certain concepts, according to semiotic analysis2 are regarded as marked with regard to others concepts which are unmarked, the status of unmarked concept conferring a kind of precedence, of pre-eminence to the concepts in question.

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