Navigation – Plan du site

The future of the "Homme-trace"

A substantial societal challenge
Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec
p. 107-130

Résumés

Observant que la notion de trace est utilisée dans des disciplines aux objets et méthodes parfois très éloignés, l’auteure présente quelques définitions issues de ses propres recherches (Homme-trace, traces processuelles, traces perceptuelles, signe-trace, échoïsation des traces, signe-signal, etc.) et propose des passerelles avec des recherches d’autres disciplines. Elles constituent une base de débats du e.laboratoire international et interdisciplinaire (Human-Trace-Complex Systems), laboratoire qui se donne pour objectif de faire émerger une intelligence collective de la notion de trace.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

I am very grateful to Jean-Michel Quenisset, full Professor, (Laboratoire de Génie Mécanique et Matériaux, university of Bordeaux 1, France) and to Jean-Louis Izbicki, full Professor, (Laboratoire Ondes et Milieux Complexes, university of Le Havre, France) for his reading and corrections about physical sciences.

Introduction: the role of the Trace in our relationship with the world

  • 1 Galinon-Mélénec Béatrice, "From sign-traces" to "Human-trace". The production and Interpretation of (...)
  • 2 The details of the explanations cannot be dealt with in the space provided in this paper. Readers i (...)

1One of our major areas of research concerns the study of interpersonal relationships in real-life situations. We concluded that the relationships were the result of interactions of "signes-traces". The epistemological questions associated with them and the results1 obtained led us to believe that other disciplines should be associated with an interdisciplinary dynamic concerned with the question of traces. However, right from the initial attempts, it emerged that differences in the meaning of terms presented an obstacle to cooperation. Consequently, we shall provide some guidelines concerning the notion of Trace2.

Traces and sustainable development of the human species

2When conceiving the future of the human species, it appears essential today to understand how it fits into the ecosystem with which it interacts. For this purpose, examining traces of the past plays a central role because it is an opportunity to take a look back in time. The older the traces are, the more their presence today can serve as a problematic of sustainability. There is a close correlation between the two notions of "Traces" and Duration.

  • 3 WULF Ch., Anthropologie de l’Homme mondialisé, CNRS éditions, 2013.

3New discoveries relative to traces left by humanity’s history and life on earth come to light each year. There appears to be an increasing number of connections which are so close that they might possibly represent only part of the relationships between this evolution and the birth of the universe. They prompt us to conclude that life developed out of inanimate matter and that the first living beings were single cell organisms. Today one can trace the evolution of living things as they take us from one stage to the next (cells, plants and animals) to present-day humans3. Bringing "visibility" to the stages of the relationship between the evolution of the human body - in particular its brain - and what surrounds it has produced some classifications among which figure homo erectus and homo sapiens.

  • 4 Cf. infra, GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., Intellectica, 2013.
  • 5 The term "Homme-trace" can be translated as "Human-trace" on the condition that the two locutions c (...)
  • 6 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., ibid.

4In the 20th century, palaeoanthropological discoveries opened up new perspectives. Traces of human evolution could be tracked over about 4 million years to the present day4. This led us to propose (2011) a new transversal definition of eras: a human is fundamentally an Ichnos-Anthropos, an "Homme-Trace"5. They can be defined in the following way: Humans, who have been part of History for several millennia and in a multi-scale, multi-dimensional space, can be defined as "L’Homme-trace" since they are the product of their history – their own and that of the generations before them – they are both "un construit de traces" ("a construct of traces") and "a producer of traces". The two dimensions operate in a complex system of interactions (Galinon-Mélénec, 2011, 2013)6.

  • 7 In fact:
    On 21 March 2013 the Planck collaboration presented its first all-sky map of the cosmic mi (...)
  • 8 Moreover, the researchers also found significant anomalies and inhomogeneities indicating that some (...)
  • 9 Cf. Sumerians and sky-map in SOUCHIER E. “Voir le web et deviner le monde. La "cartographie" au ris (...)

5At the time of writing this article (March 2014), the media publish information : the astrophysicists who have been searching for traces of a fundamental wave responsible for the origin of the universe think they have perceived a fossil vibration of the universe. It appears to be the oldest trace of the world’s early development to have been discovered7. It is important to take account of the fact that is, from the moment it was assumed that the Universe began with the Big Bang, followed immediately by primordial waves8. We will return later to the process underlying the new sky-map9.

6Thus, palaeontology and astrophysics are making considerable advances in what we know about humanity and the history of the universe. Their progress, in conjunction with observation of traces, shows how fundamental the question of trace is for the representation humans have of themselves and their place in the universe. This journey into history is equally relevant as it makes it possible to attempt to conceive human sustainable development.

7Furthermore, building on the ever increasing capacities of technology, research is making great strides in a number of major fields of knowledge including that of the human body (molecular genetics, genetic transmission, the brain, etc.).

8All these discoveries, just like those that came before, have contributed to developing humans’ responses to the great metaphysical questions about the origin of humanity. Despite its importance, this dimension will not be discussed in our article.

9Using the recognised traces as a foundation, we shall simply attempt to show that a human is fundamentally an Homme-trace and that the interactional process of traces between human beings and milieu can be observed in any culture, at any time and in any place. This places the issue of trace in a general perspective; but insofar as our questions concern in particular the interpretation of trace by humans, the research falls within the province of anthroposemiotics10.

Introductory definitions

The "traces processuelles"

  • 11 Translator’s note: The term used in the previous translations (procedural traces) seems less approp (...)

10Regarding the relationship between human beings and the real, we posit that a human is confronted with a reality existing externally to him/herself: reality existed prior to humans. Today’s reality has come about through evolution. All evolution is a process. The process leaves a trace that we call a "trace processuelle" (a processual trace11).

11With respect to the view that is ours today, we will focus on the processes that produce the trace, i.e. that all the examples will be given with the purpose of illustrating one aspect or other of the process. The subsequent presentation should not obscure the fact that it is not an exhaustive list nor that they form together a complex dynamic.

The "traces of the cultural evolution"

  • 12 SOUCHIER E. "Voir le web et deviner le monde. La "cartographie" au risque de l’histoire de l’écritu (...)

12Astrophysicists ceaselessly watching the sky bear within them traces of knowledge that differ from that of the Sumerians who observed the heavens in order to understand the universe of the gods (SOUCHIER, 2013)12.

13In order to hunt traces in the sky, astrophysicists have all the observational tools needed that also bear the traces of evolution. In this example, the skills of both (human and technological) combine to keep on tracking the primordial trace.

The "trace incorporées" ("embodied traces")

  • 13 Embodied cognitive science appeals to the idea that cognition deeply depends on aspects of the agen (...)

14An individual’s body (in particular his/her brain) carries the traces of his/her history and consequently what came before: its genetic, cultural, individual and social history. What can be seen here is that the trace issuing from history is embodied. We call this the "embodied trace" ("trace incorporée")13.

15Bodies are able to perceive their surroundings. Their “embodied traces" sort out their perception. Humans are not aware of all the traces inscribed in their bodies and of this selection resulting from processual interaction. They need to be informed.

The "perceptual traces"

16The way in which observers break down reality depends on their history and the traces processuelles inscribed in their bodily matter: discerning an object or person, selecting one sign or another, corresponds to reciprocal activation processes of traces.

  • 14 In other words, even if reality in itself were law-governed, its laws could not simply migrate over (...)

“We can represent nothing as combined in the object without having previously combined it ourselves” (E. KANT)14.

  • 15 KORZYBSKI Alfred, The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes, Reprinted from Perception: An A (...)

17Our theory is that the manner in which individuals fragment what is real by selecting only fragments of this continuum of traces differs from one individual to another. The result of this relationship is that the sign is a trace of interactions of previously produced traces15.

  • 16 "Patterns of organization are not limited to perceptions, however. In our brains we create and stor (...)

18The consequence is that the meaning an individual gives to information he/she perceives from outside is what we call a "signe-trace" of embodied traces. The best known example relative to the effect of these "embodied traces" is the role of language, of learning and of knowledge in perception. (KORZYBSKI, 1951; BATES, 2005)16.

The signe-trace

  • 17 "The restricted semiotic field is where the focus of legitimacy lies, both that of the actors and t (...)

19In our paradigm, when the trace is identified as a trace, it becomes a signe-trace and, "If any sign is, in fact, a "signe-trace", a trace is not necessarily a sign"17.

20Indeed, if reality (the entire universe) is defined as a complex referential inaccessible to humans as a whole, and if the universe is evolving (thus leaving in the matter and in the universe the traces processuelles of this evolution), it must follow that humans have access to only fragments of the real. The fragment selected by an individual represents what a human calls a "sign". However, the selection and interpretation of the sign is filtered and processed by the brain according to the "embodied traces" which are also the traces processuelles of its history.

21The same sign selected by two individuals thus cannot lead to the same signal for each one. The way in which an individual transforms a sign into a signal is also a signe-trace (the signe-trace from the embodied history of the one who does the interpreting). The trace inscribed (in the brain) will not be the same either.

Invisible traces

22There are traces of the evolution of the world which have not yet been discovered by humans. Only what we call "signes-traces" are recognised as traces.

23Many traces exist that are invisible to humans. Their existence is based on general hypotheses such as the one described above on the genesis of the universe, the traces processuelles and residual traces that should logically ensue. We shall return later to the reasoning by abduction which is the foundation of this reasoning.

  • 18 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC, 2011: 23.

24It should first be noted that the absence of material traces can be interpreted as "traces processuelles", for example, in the case where logically the material trace should be found (e.g. fingerprints on a door handle) but where there is none. This absence is the trace of a process of effacement18. However, to give it a signification (is it the act of a criminal or the cleaning lady?), other traces must be found that would connote the signification to be given to the former.

  • 19 The reader will find examples illustrating our propositions in previous publications: cf. bibliogra (...)

25To conclude this introduction, we claim that the notion of trace is to be found in a number of disciplines but its signification is rarely made clear. Yet there is a heuristic interest in opening up an epistemological discussion on trace to all disciplines but more particularly to those whose objective it is to conceive complex relationships between humans and trace, in other words, between humans and the real19, as will be explained below.

  • 20 The HTCS HTCS (Human-Trace Complex Systems) is an e.laboratory of l’unitwin Complex systems UNESCO. (...)

26This is the objective of the UNITWIN HUMAN-TRACE COMPLEX SYSTEMS20 which we founded. One of the major difficulties of this interdisciplinary research dynamic on traces is agreement on the meaning of the term trace. The aim of this article is to serve as a basis for exchanges for this very purpose.

"Trace": a general term with a variety of forms21

  • 21 The trace includes the imprint which is a connoted trace of a more accentuated marking.
  • 22 GALINON-MELENEC Béatrice, "L’universalité de la trace. Le XXIe siècle, siècle de la trace?”" Embodi (...)

27Our approach is based on the interweaving of the different complex systems under study not only in the sciences of matter and life sciences but also in social science and the humanities, studies which have already enabled us to pinpoint several characteristics which could lead to an understanding of The universality of the trace (B. Galinon-Mélénec, 2011: 31-40)22.

Perception of the real world and discontinuity23

  • 23 On this subject, one can also read the distinction made by FLORIDI (2005) diaphora de re, absence o (...)

"Objects do not exist independently of conceptual schemes. We cut up the world into objects when we introduce one or another scheme of description" (H. PUTNAM, 1981: 52).

28In our "L’Homme-Trace" paradigm, we posit that the complexity of the real is inaccessible to the human mind. When a human distinguishes signs in a continuum of the real, it is the result of a sorting process; yet this process is linked to his/her history.

  • 24 From LEIBNIZ’s apothegm "natura non facit saltus" to The opposition between continuity and discret (...)

29An individual’s history is an uninterrupted continuity of interactions with a human and non-human environment. These interactions produce magma of traces inside the individual and they are themselves in continuous and constantly renewed interactions. As a result, when humans perceive the world, they have the impression that it is a juxtaposition of images emerging from a discontinuity whereas it is not a question of the world but their relationship with the world which is in fact a continuum. This question (of continuum) is not new. From the "natura non facit saltus" of Leibniz to the philosophical thought of Immanuel Kant, Poincaré and Peirce - to name but a few - the question of continuity played a central role in scientific and philosophical thought24.

30From our point of view, individuals do not perceive the real in strictly identical fashion, which is why it is more a question of an indetermination of what they perceive. In the sense that it is still currently impossible to penetrate inside an individual and attain knowledge of all the details of his/her perception and interpretation of the outside information thus perceived.

  • 25 Which we call also "the echoing of signes-traces".

31It is all the more difficult in that what every individual perceives corresponds to what we call a "process of reciprocal activation of traces" that varies eminently from one individual to another inasmuch as what is perceived corresponds to the processes of reciprocal activations of traces25 between the individual and that which is outside him/her (the Other, the human but also the non-human).

  • 26 Pour Mioara MUGUR-SCHÄCHTER cited by Sylvie Leleu-Meviel (2014): the first phase is the generation, (...)
  • 27 Illustration of the application: trends in French psychoanalysis.

32This definition marginalises the notion of a voluntary cut26 in the continuum. In our view, the relational system of interaction of traces that leads to the emergence of the signe is complex and not necessarily a conscious one. Conversely, one of its results – the signe which is the subject of a process of "semantisation"- is brought to an individual’s awareness27.

Differences in terminology

Distinguishing between trace and imprint

33A distinction must be drawn between the terms "trace" and "imprint". The origin of the term "imprint" (originally as "emprint" – late Middle English) is from Old French empreinter, based on Latin imprimere, from in- "into" + premere "to press", whose original meaning (1250) was “to stamp (a mark or outline) on a surface”. The term "trace" covers a greater degree of general connotations and nuances. Our notion of trace includes the imprint that is a connoted trace of a more accentuated marking. On this basis, any imprint is a trace but a trace is not necessarily an imprint.

34The term "trace" is used in a variety of ways, which means it can include the infinitesimal or even the invisible. Let us take the example of homeopathy. During a lot of years, this alternative medicine based on successive dilutions that render the initial molecules undetectable by science without in any way arresting the effects. They are simply proof of the limits of human ability to see them (to transform them into signs), to read or interpret them. If they remain invisible, unreadable and not open to interpretation, there are traces that are not nonexistent nonetheless, as the effects on animals appear to testify. Now, the initial molecules are detectable by modern science.

Trace, signe, signal

  • 28 "Signe" in REY Alain, Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Historical Dictionary of the (...)

35According to the Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (The Historical Dictionary of the French Language), the term "signe" in French comes from the Latin signum, one root of which is secare meaning "to cut", signum originally being the mark made by an incision28. As an identification of the material discontinuity in the continuum of the real world, it is fully justified, therefore, to call a "signe" any sample taken from a part of this continuum.

  • 29 On this subject, refer to the writings of Kant, Hegel, Husserl and Spinoza.

36In other words, we posit that there is a preexisting continuum to our perception and what we call “Reality” emerges from a relational process between an individual and this continuum. In our view, any object is a relation. A relational process of reciprocal activation of traces occurs. It produces different accesses to the continuum. These "gateways" blend intuition with reason, more or less. It is our belief that the noumenon (the Entirety) is not accessible to human rationality29.

37The relational process operates cuts in the continuum of that which exists. This “portion of the world that comes to the attention of a cogitative system” (BATESON) is made by an "Homme-trace" which, as we have seen, carries in his body (including his brain) the traces (embodied traces) of his individual and social history (genetic, sensorial, experiential and cultural, etc.).

  • 30 Mathematics, graphs, are here understood as forms of language.

38These cuts are the subject of a language qualification – in the wider sense30 - by humans (object, information provided, signe, etc.). When human beings look at the world, they see only a part of it, thus dividing the world implicitly into sections since they cannot see it in its entirety. What has been unconsciously selected is therefore only a sign of the trace or traces that have remained inaccessible.

39What has been perceived as a sign by the human unconscious is then "digested" by the unconscious and processed by the conscious so that the sign resulting from the divisions and selections within the trace is no longer but a more or less faithful image of the sign, the distortion of which has transformed it into a "signal".

40The trace is of the order of the real, the sign that of perception and the signal that of interpretation. To put it another way, referring a trace to a meaning is only possible because there is an implicit temporal-causal relationship between the currently discernable phenomenon (the signe-trace) and a past phenomenon that is not necessarily discernable (the trace); the subjectivity of the signal interpretation of the sign (signe-signal) renders the meaning given to the trace uncertain.This dynamic process involves numerous direct systems (person, situation, etc.) and indirect ones (economic, cultural and scientific contexts, etc.).

Human traces, corporeality, milieu

  • 31 Human or animal.
  • 32 All forms of life are therefore concerned.
  • 33 On this subject, cf. WATSUJI T. Fûdo, le milieu humain, translated into French by Augustin Berque, (...)
  • 34 This definition coincides with Watsuji TESTURÔ’s which distinguishes between the environment define (...)
  • 35 The notion of environment refers to the idea of "outside oneself".

41Traces are inextricably linked to everything in motion, in particular to the life of any body31. Indeed, life32 presupposes exchanges that shape the milieu33, i.e. the close relations nearby that are themselves modified, albeit temporarily, by the living. It should be clarified here that the word "milieu"34, when it is distinguished from the word "environment", corresponds to the surrounding world, limited to what is likely to be in immediate interaction35 with the living.

  • 36 "Watsuji’s mesology implies that it is our very humanity that is at stake". Cf. JANZ Bruce B., Wats (...)

"Those milieu-relations are not all the same for all species –meaning may differ quite radically between species, even those involved in the same ecosystem or interdependent in various ways" (WATSUJI TETSURO)36.

  • 37 SIMONDON G., L’individuation psychique et collective, Aubier, Paris, 1989.

42Conversely, use of the term "environment" signifies a lesser proximity of interactions. The term milieu (mi-lieu) refers to what is merely halfway external to the human. It is not Man but it is not outside Man. They share an intimate relationship (SIMONDON, 1989)37.

43Conception of the relationship between a thing and human life falls within the province of what Augustin Berque calls médiance. What humans call objectivity in fact stems from a relational process.

44We posit that:

  • Humans and Milieu never cease to mutually influence one another through a system of interactions of traces;

  • By observing a milieu, signes-traces (signs of traces) of human existence can be identified.

45For us, these two dimensions are indissociable. Concerning technology, if it is recognised today that humans’ use of it leaves traces in their bodily matter – in their brain – the notion of milieu will be used when reference is made to its symmetrical and immediate influence on the technology itself, on its matter; both influences playing continuously and retroactively. Should this not be the case, the term "environment" is to be preferred.

  • 38 Territory (Dictionnaire Larousse): English translation: "Expanse of land under some authority or ju (...)

46Upon an individual’s entering a space, it takes on a particular dimension when the space is qualified as territory38 by one or more individuals taking possession of it. When a body enters this space, it produces traces of its passage. If the traces have been perceived, they become not only signes-traces but also signes-signaux in that they are likely to be interpreted as a signal of intrusion triggering a reaction against the person regarded as an intruder.

47Where animals are concerned, any signe-trace of entry into "its" territory is more often than not felt as a signal of intrusion and causes reactions, some of which result in new traces that could be more or less persistent (excreta, smells, sounds, etc.). Confrontational behaviour is caused if the marked-out space is entered nonetheless. The perceived characteristics of these physical animal behaviours make up the signes-traces of belonging to the territory.

48With respect to humans, the basic process is the same. We say that its interpretation is indexed according to their history (both individual and social) which inscribes traces within the bodily matter and in particular the brain. These physical traces (including the sensory) form the basis of initiation into the reception and the interpretation.

  • 39 The exploration of sensibility as the locus at which ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ merge. If sensibility a (...)

"The experience of the affective trace of ‘my’ relations with particular others is preserved, again not as psychological memory, but as a reminiscence of the flesh" (E. LEVINAS, 1961)39.

49We would say, therefore, that:

  • the bodily matter of an individual has embodied the traces of his/her history;

  • although all the traces are present in the body, their existence can remain unknown to humans, particularly to the person concerned;

  • when one of the traces is identified by an individual, it takes on the form of a sign; this trace becomes a "signe-trace";

  • the signe-trace can be interpreted in a certain way by one individual and in a different way by another. The sign thus interpreted becomes a "signe-signal". At each stage of transformation by selection of a trace into a signe-trace and by interpretation of a sign into a signe-signal in order to ultimately bring about a behaviour-signal (comportement-signal), we are dealing with an interactive coupling of the traces peculiar to the individual concerned and those of his/her milieu.

The echoing of sign-traces

  • 40 Opening up to the reception becomes for the authors of the decision "availability heuristics": KAHN (...)

50It has been seen that a trace can become a signe-trace for one individual and yet remain unknown to another. In other words, the existence thereof is likely to be contested by the second40.

  • 41 Habitus is a system of embodied dispositions, incorporated from Man-milieu interactions, a system t (...)

51The role of psychic traces inscribed in the bodily matter (habitus)41 should be stressed: embodied (in-body) interactions of humans with their milieu produce psychic traces. These are externalised in the milieu in the form of behaviours and practices, "signes-traces" of embodied psychic traces. The transformation into a signe-trace occurs as soon as another body perceives it.

  • 42 Work on neural imaging shows that the brain is activated even when there is no conscious attention (...)
  • 43 Cf. RICOEUR P., Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blamey, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1 (...)
  • 44 Recent knowledge concerning the most primitive peoples shows that conflict and violence have not al (...)

52Current research into neural imaging shows that the brain is activated even when there is no conscious attention (while asleep or in certain coma cases)42. There are therefore different levels of perception of the trace through reciprocal processes of activation. Some are invisible to the human but this does not mean they are not working. Consequently, we believe that each individual should be made aware of the overlapping of what is inscribed in his/her psychic memory and that which he/she perceives. Knowing that the process is common to all individuals43, it is to be hoped that this state of awareness improves the tolerance towards differences and with it the ability to live together based more on cooperation and less on conflict44.

53Similarly, it has been noted that the selection among traces of the same sign by two individuals can lead to a difference in signals according to how they are interpreted, i.e. to two distinct signes-signaux. In other words, the same signe-trace could be seen by two individuals as two completely different signes-signaux.

54The ex-post analysis of a communicative relationship can help to demonstrate that signes-traces have echoed one another. This echoing comes from interactions between signes-traces that are entwined in complexity. The nature of the relationship established cannot be reduced to the rational knowledge of the identity of the individuals and the communication frameworks. What underpins the relationship profoundly is taken to be a process whereby signes-traces are echoes of one another, the complexity of which is beyond explanation:

  • 45 "Because it was he, because it was I" (Of his friend La Boétie). Translation adapted from: http://w (...)

"If you press me to say why I loved him, I feel that I can say no more than it was because it was he, because it was I. There is, beyond all my discourse, and all that I am able to say in particular, I know not what inexplicable and fated power that brought on this union." (MONTAIGNE M.,“Of Friendship” in Essays, 1580)45.

55The hypothesis of signes-traces echoing gives us the opportunity to clarify the processes that come into play between the two co-present people at the very instant the traces inscribed in both bodies are activated reciprocally, by following, in most cases, an unconscious selective process.

56For Levinas46, ethics must find its ground in an experience that cannot be integrated into logics of control, prediction, or manipulation47.

Humans’ relationship with the real

57As a consequence of the foregoing, if the scientific disciplines separately analyse milieu (natural, technical, political, sociological and cultural, etc.), they are merely bringing nearer, from a great distance, the reality of an "Everything", resulting from interactions between multi-scale systems. Multidisciplinary elements thus appear as the essential requirement of any scientist who places the real as being a result of interactions of complex systems. However, there are epistemological differences between disciplines which have turned out to be very difficult to overcome. In order to try to resolve the difficulty in an attempt to get closer to the complexity of multidisciplinary elements presupposes a reconsideration of several previously discussed points.

Discovering the real, ontology48 and reasoning by "abduction"

  • 48 Ontology signifies here the relationship between thought and the real.
  • 49 To visualise some tools and explore the subject, several sites can be consulted including the NASA (...)
  • 50 Cf. WATZLAWICK P., How Real is Real? Communication, disinformation, confusion, New York, Ed. Random (...)
  • 51 Cf. KAPITAN T., "Peirce and the structure of abductive reasoning" in Studies in the logic of Charle (...)

58By using increasingly efficient technological tools49, scientists are seeking to make gradual progress in finding out part of what already exists which human senses and technical extensions have no yet access to50. However, if the captors in the wider sense of the term make it impossible for them to bring this existence to light, how do scientists presuppose to make assumptions about this existence? They use a variety of reasoning methods, including abductive51 reasoning.

  • 52 Abductive reasoning is universal, common to the human race, be it scientific or otherwise.

59What is known as "abductive reasoning" is based on the formulation of hypotheses which, on the one hand, enhance the analysis of what they perceive and, on the other hand, provide evidence of what should exist if their hypotheses that were induced and their reasoning that was deduced were accurate. Abductive reasoning is one of the keys of scientific discoveries52.

60Of abductive argument:

  • 53 SCHICKORE, Jutta, "Scientific Discovery", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edit (...)

"According to Hanson, the abductive argument has the following schematic form:
Some surprising, astonishing phenomena p1, p2, p3 … are encountered.
But p1, p2, p3 … would not be surprising were an hypothesis of H’s type to obtain. They would follow as a matter of course from something like H and would be explained by it." HANSON 1960: 104)
53.

61Of the background:

"Anomaly appears only against the background provided by the paradigm" (KUHN, 1970).

62Of an "ontology of relations":

In The New Scientific Mind, Gaston Bachelard says that, in modern sciences, "ontology of relations" had replaced the classical ontology of the substance (BACHELARD, 1934).

63Let us return to the example given in the introduction with a citation from the press in March 2014. On 18th March, the "leading magazine for scientific news" Pour la science writes "The team working on the American BICEP2 experiment announced on 14th March 2014 that they had detected for the first time the trace of primordial gravitational waves, produced during the Big Bang, terminating a 30-year-old quest"54. On that account, scientists were searching for a fossil tremor, the existence of which was still to be discovered following a scenario imagined by Andrei Linde in the 1980s to explain the origin of the universe. This trace was thought to be of an extremely rapid cosmic inflation over a very short period and existed before scientists made the hypothesis about its existence. This is what led them to concentrate their observation of the sky on finding the trace. As has been explained elsewhere, this approach underlines some of the facets involved in searching for a trace, namely: the interpretative presupposition, discontinuity and the temporal causal implicit (2011: 35-40).

  • 55 Etienne KLEIN, French physicist, author of Discours sur l’origine de l’univers, Flammarion. Award f (...)

64On 14 mars 2014, the media were informed that the first all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background radiation confirmed the standard model of cosmology. This information had changed the representation humans had of the world: "The universe one can see is in fact just a tiny part of the real universe. (…). This phenomenal inflation opens the imagination to interactions between every point in the Universe situated a thousandth of a billionth of a billionth of seconds later, millions of light years away from one another. This inflation could not have occurred without leaving traces of phenomenal fluctuations which necessarily generated this mind-boggling cosmic inflation. These are the oldest traces in the history of our world that seem to have been discovered."55

  • 56 Etienne Klein’s declaration was reprinted in Le Figaro Magazine of 4 April 2014 (p 48).

65Thanks to widespread media coverage56, attention paid to the existence of this trace has largely overtaken the astrophysical world. On this ground, as has been said, if it is confirmed, it will modify humans’ representation of their place in the universe. This is an important issue, so important that there might be a temptation to exploit the trace for illustrative purposes, to advantage the positioning of laboratories in a highly competitive scientific environment, turning it into a media show to feed the news, and so on. It triggers, therefore, irremediable controversies concerning the existence as well as the interpretation of this trace. A whole system is being established for the purpose of authentifying the reality of this trace, the causal relationship and the indexing of its signification. Hence the questions that arise concerning human capacities for receiving and interpreting a trace.

From the trace to the "signe-trace". From the "signe-trace" to the "signe-signal"

  • 57 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B. (dir.), L’Homme trace, Perspectives anthropologiques des traces humaines contemp (...)

66Everything that a human being perceives is a trace which makes a sign. We call this specific trace a "signe-trace" in order to distinguish it from an existing trace which has not yet been discovered by humans. This "signe-trace" is a "product" of interactions, a resulting "construction" between the real and its interpreter, and the indexical face of the sign that we call "signe-signal" is the result of a process of interactions of signes-traces: it is, in fact, the interactions (the relationship) that activate or deactivate the signe-signal face of the signe-trace.57

  • 58 Cf. DERRIDA, 1991.

67The complexity of the notion of trace comes from the fact that everything happens simultaneously in interactions – relations - in multi-scale system. To obtain a clearer idea of the complexity, the processes that build the relationship between humans and reality and produce meaning must be made visible, must be taken apart, must be "deconstructed"58.

The construction of social representations

"The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality" (SAPIR E., 1929, p. 209).

68If the perception of the real is qualified as interactions of signes-traces, we can imagine that, when a signe-signal involves a large number of individuals, it is a question of progressive conformation linked to the internalising of social processes.

  • 59 Cf. JEANNERET Y., "Complexité de la notion de trace. De la trace au tracé" dans B. Galinon-Mélénec, (...)

69In this paragraph, a different perspective is used in order to stress the complexity of the trace (JEANNERET, 2011)59, using analyses which have become familiar to researchers in the field of information and communication sciences. Furthermore, to show how humans can construct a social interpretation of the trace, another topical example is used below.

  • 60 BARTHES on photography. Cf. BARTHES R., La chambre claire, Paris, Gallimard, 1980.
  • 61 HALBWACHS M., La mémoire collective, Paris, PUF, 1950.
  • 62 Memoriae : in ecclesiastical Latin, signifies "commemorative monuments". Patrimonium: family assets(...)

70Currently, in the spring of 2014, France is getting ready for the events commemorating the Great War of 1914-1918 and the Allied Landings in 1944. The objective of these commemorations consists of making the traces of the past visible by granting them special status: the consolidation of a collective memory. For demonstrative purposes, symbolic signes-traces will be performed. The relationship between the performance shown and the signification will be provided by a commentary, the intention of which will be grasped through analysis. New monuments will be erected and these monuments will become the "traces de traces" (the traces of traces) (BARTHES, 1980)60. Constructed intentionally in this way, the traces will take on the form of a material memorial inscription. They will be part of the formulation of a collective memory (HALBWACHS, 1950)61, a common heritage62 for the countries concerned.

71This display of commemorative events will be widely broadcast by the media. However, in the process of the social representation induced there still will remain an element of a particular individual process: each individual’s memory will sort the traces shown by the media. This sorting takes place more or less consciously. It constitutes a signe-trace of the individual’s past.

72The sorting process of mnesic traces is not specific to this situation. Indeed, what sort of memory would it be that expected to retain everything and never organise anything with the pretext of being constant to a past experience? If people had to memorise every experience encountered in life, they would be faced with an inextricable situation. Yet, humans need to fall back on a certain coherence to make decisions. This coherence is obtained at the cost of reductive methods of complexity: by reducing the volume and number of elements to manage, by classifying and arranging into different types of "boxes". People do this by carrying out processes of discretisation and breaking up the links of traces that they remove from their production contexts.

Conclusion: towards a collective intelligence of the trace

73Having stressed the issues of the trace in terms of human sustainable development and in order to achieve cooperation between disciplines to focus on this existential problematic, we have made clear where we stand in our epistemological research into the notion of trace.

  • 63 Cf. Bibliography and more particularly RFSIC, 2013 and Intellectica 2013.
  • 64 Including the inscribed traces which are easily identified in the literature. Cf. the synthesis of (...)

74To this end, we began by distinguishing between the different uses of the terms trace, imprint, signe and signal, stating directly that, for us, if any signe is a trace, a trace is not necessarily a signe63. We underlined the importance of "traces processuelles" and their paradoxical effect: the absence of materially supported traces64 can be interpreted as the trace of a process of effacement.

75In order to convey the meaning of these nuances, we introduced new notions (signes-traces, signes-signal, etc.) which were then related to the anthropological definition of the Homme-trace and with his corporeality. We emphasised the role that echoing of signes-traces plays in the initiation of reception and interpretation: while recognising that between two co-present human beings, the bodily signes-traces echoing is a simple experience lived out in the present moment, we wanted to show that behind this apparent simplicity was hidden an inextricable interweaving of traces.

  • 65 JANKELEVITCH V., BERLOWITZ B., Quelque part dans l’inachevé, Paris, Gallimard, 1978, p. 18.

76We underlined the role played by all the sciences, including the humanities, in exploring this complexity. Research scientists are, of course, human beings like any others and their rationality is limited in relation to the complexity of the real65. Nevertheless, specific work based on a rigorous epistemological approach can legitimately hope to bring to the surface the role that traces play in fundamental questions humans ask themselves. From our point of view, given the universal role of traces, it is indeed essential today for as many scientists as possible to get together for this purpose. On that ground we felt it was necessary for us to clarify the presuppositions that have produced the homme-trace and signe-trace paradigms that we have put forward.

77Hence we explained abductive reasoning, because, even if it is well known to scientists, it is less easily identified by all those individuals who use it without realising it: the imagination and projections play an important role in the attention paid to traces.

78Having thus made clear the difference between the existence of traces in their objective reality and their perception by humans, we undertook a presentation of the process by which they are interpreted. As the disconnection between individuals and society is considered as an artefact, we then demonstrated the reciprocal influence of embodied traces (the individual body and social body) in face to face human relationships. We also undertook to set out to outline the role of the media in the construction of the representation of reality.

79Following this, the significance of an analysis into the ways in which the media exploit traces was demonstrated. This point is especially relevant since many individuals rely on what they find in the media (television, Internet, etc.) to prove that their interpretations of traces is beyond question.

80Finally, we emphasised how the process of trace visibility worked: we concluded that, in our view, it corresponds to processes of reciprocal excitation of traces, leading to what we call "the echoing of signes-traces" which itself defines the relationship.

81Demonstrating the relationship infers that the possibility of separation is but apparent: the "divisions" of the real made by humans to conceive the world, to talk about it and organise it into categories are essential to their development; yet they must keep in mind that the divisions that taxonomies constitute produce a certain fixedness in the representation of reality. There is a contradictory tension between the need for stability in representations and the progression in the access to understanding the complexity of the real.

82This notwithstanding, from our point of view, humans should always bear in mind that the notions of existence, of duration and of trace are closely linked and that inside as well as outside the individual, time does its work as a producer of traces.

83We have shown in this article how essential a role the interaction of traces plays. As a consequence, we invite the reader to:

    • 66 One-to-one linear relationship.

    question what is the relevance of a one-to-one correspondence66 between traces and signe,

  • develop a wider understanding of interactions and relationships between trace and signe, the role of relationality and interdependence in any situation,

  • establish how these interpretations of the trace correspond with complex interactions.

84Trace after trace, the sciences have reconstructed the history of the universe and of humanity. And, the way in which human sustainable development is conceived depends on how the oldest traces are interpreted.

85Connecting the trace, its reception by humans and their interactions with the milieus that they are part of, at a given time and place in evolutionary history, means formulating the epistemological principles which underpin their analyses. In this context, there is no division of labour between science and epistemology.

86The e. laboratory on trace that we set up within the framework of Complex Systems UNESCO wants to pave the way for a “collective intelligence of the trace” where research findings complement one another, are modulated, deconstructed and reconstructed in the hope of generating a new method of apprehending the real.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

BACHELARD G., The New Scientific Mind, (French ed., 1934) and in English Beacon, Press, Boston, 1985.

BACHELARD G., Intuition of the Instant. Northwestern University Press, 2013.

BATES Marcia J. "Knowledge is defined as information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding" in Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science, Department of Information StudiesUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA 90095-1520, USA. Cf. http://www.informationr.net/ir/10-4/paper239.html

BARTHES R., Empire of Signs, Hull and Wang, 1983.

BATESON G., Mind and Nature, a Necessary Unit (Advances in Systems Theory Complexity and the Human Science), 1979. French translation: La nature et la pensée, Seuil, Paris, 1984.

BATESON G., Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology, University of Chicago Press, 1972. French translation: Vers une écologie de l’esprit, Seuil, 1995.

BERGSON H., Creative Evolution, Kessinger Publications, 2003.

BERKELEY G., Principles of Human Knowledge, New York: Doubleday, 1960.

BOURDIEU P., Distinction: A Social Critique of The Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice, Harvard University Press, 1984.

BOYDTSON J.A. ed., The Collected Works of John Dewey, 37 volumes, Carnondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1991.

CHABOT P., The philosophy of Simondon. Between technology and individuation, Bloomsbury, (English) 2013.

CHANDLER, D., Semiotics: The Basics, London, Routledge, 2007.

DAMASIO A., Descartes’Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Putman, 1994, revised Penguin edition 2005. L’erreur de Descartes, Odile Jacob, 2005.

DAWKINS R., The Selfish Gene, New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

DERRIDA J., co-author & trans. BENNINGTON G., Jacques Derrida, Chicago & London: Chicago University Press, 1993.

DESCOLA Ph., Beyong Nature and Culture, Janet Lloyd (trans.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2013.

DOUGLAS L. et alii, "Respect for Similarity", Psychological Review, vol 100, n°2, 1993, p.p. 254-278.

ECO U., Introduction. In: Lotman, Yuri M., Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture. London: I. B. Tauris, vii–xiii., 1990.

FOUCAULT M., L’archéologie du savoir, Paris, Gallimard, 1969.

GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., "From "sign-traces" to "Human-trace". The Production and Interpretation of Traces from an Anthropological Perspective", UMR CNRS IDEES, Normandie University. Brown Laura (trad.), Hong Kong 2013, For original version published in French, Intellectica 2013/1, n°59 pp 89-113. Open source: HAL: halshs-00935346.

GALINON-MELENEC B., “L’universalité de la trace. Le XXIe siècle, siècle de la trace?” in L’Homme-trace, CNRS éditions, série L’homme-trace, tome 1, CNRS éditions, 2011, pp 30-55.

GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., (dir.), L’Homme trace. Perspectives anthropologiques des traces contemporaines, Paris, CNRS éditions, 2011.

GINSBURG C., Traces. Racines d’un paradigme indiciaire, in Mythes, emblèmes, traces. Morphologie et histoire, Paris, Flammarion, 1989.

GOFFMAN E., Stigmate. Les usages sociaux des handicaps, 1963, Editions de Minuit, Collection Le sens commun, 1975.

GOODY J., La raison graphique. La domestication de la pensée sauvage, Paris, Editions de Minuit, 1979.

HACKER P.M. S., Wittgenstein, London, Phoenix, 1997, French translation, Seuil, 2000.

HALBWACHS M., La mémoire collective, Paris, PUF, 1950.

HALL E., La dimension cachée, Paris, Seuil, 1978.

HAWKING S., MLODINOW L., A briefer history of time, Bantam; Reprint edition, 2008.

JAMES W., The Principles of Psychology, 2 vol., 1890, Cosimo Classics, 2013.

JANKELEVITCH V., BERLOWITZ B., Quelque part dans l’inachevé, Paris, Gallimard, 1978.

JANZ Bruce B., "Watsuji Tetsuro, Fudo, and climate change" in Journal of Global Ethic, Vol. 7, No. 2, August 2011, 173–184.

JAPPY T., Introduction to Peircean Visual Semiotics: A Visual Rhetoric, New York, Bloomsbury, 2013.

JEANNERET Y., "Complexité de la notion de trace. De la trace au tracé" dans B. Galinon-Mélénec, "L’Homme trace", CNRS éditions 2011, pp 59-86.

JEANNERET Y., Penser la trivialié, Volume 1. La vie des êtres culturels, Lavoisier, Hermès sciences, Paris, 2008.

KAHEMAN D., Thinking fast and slow, Allen Lanen, coll. « Al RPB », 3. 11.2011

KAHNEMAN D. and TVERSKY A. "Judgement under uncertainty: heuristic and biases", Science, vol 185, n°4157, 1974, p. 1124-1131.

KANT I., Critique of Pure Reason, London: Macmillan, 1964.

KEVE T., TRIAD: the physicists, the analysts, the kabbalists, Kindle eBook, 2012.

KLEIN E., Discours sur l’origine de l’univers, Paris, Flammarion, 2010.

KORZYBSKI Alfred, The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes, Reprinted from Perception: An Approach To Personality, edited by Robert R. Blake and Glenn V. Ramsey. Copyright 1951, The Ronald Press Company, New York.

KUHN T.S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1970 [1962]. First edition published in 1962.

LATOUR B., We Have Never Been Modern (tr. by Catherine Porter, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass.,USA, 1993.

LEIBNIZ G., The Labyrinth of the Continuum: Writings on the Continuum Problem, 1672–1686, trans. Arthur, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

LELEU-MERVIEL S., Le processus d’information, de la trace d’interaction à la communication numérique, in Colloque CECI, Université du Havre, le 11 juin 2014.

LELEU-MERVIEL S. "Traces, information et construits de sens. Déploiement de la trace visuelle de la rétention indicielle à l’écriture" dans Mille A. (dir.), De la trace à la connaissance à l’ère du web, Intellectica, 2013/1, n°59, pp. 65-88.

LEROI-GOURHAN A., Le geste et la parole, vol. 1, Paris, Armand Colin, 1964.

LEVI-STRAUSS C., "Hommage à Margaret Mead", Courrier de l’UNESCO, volume 32, Paris, 1979.

LEVINAS E., Existence and Existents. Trans. Alphonso Lingis, The Hague and Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978.

LEVINAS E., Humanism of the Other. Trans. Nidra Poller, Introduction by Richard A. Cohen. Urbana and Chicago, IL: Illinois University Press, 2003.

LEVINAS E., The Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Trans. Andrée Orianne, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1973.

LEVINAS E., Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Trans. Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969.

MALPAS J. Heidegger’s topology: Being, place, world, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.

MILLE A. (dir.), "De la trace à la connaissance à l’ère du Web", Intellectica, n° 59, 2013.

MORIN E., La complexité humaine, Flammarion, 2008.

PEIRCE, C. S (1982-2009) [1867-1892], Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, 8 vol., Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

POPPER K., "Evolutionary Epistemology", in Evolutionary Theory: Paths into the Future, J. W. Pollard (ed.), London: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 1984.

PRIGOGINE I., From being to becoming, W.H. Freeman and Compagny, San Francisco, 1980.

PUTNAM, H., "Philosophy and our Mental Life", in W. Capitan and D. Merrill (eds.), Art, Mind, and Religion, pp. 37-48, 1967.

REY A., Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, Le Robert, 2006.

RICOEUR P., Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blamey, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 (1990).

SAPIR E., The Status of Linguistics as a Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York City, December 28, 1928.

SIMON H. A., LE MOIGNE J.L., SFEZ L., “Débat”, dans Sfez L. Critique de la communication, Paris, Seuil, 1988, pp. 364-372.

SIMONDON G., L’individuation psychique et collective, Aubier, Paris, 1989.

SIMONDON, G., "The Genesis of the Individual" in Jonatha Crary & Sanford Kwinter (eds.), Incorporations, Newyork Zone Books, 1992, pp 297-319.

SOUCHIER E. "Voir le web et deviner le monde. La "cartographie" au risque de l’histoire de l’écriture", dans Traces numériques. De la production à l’interprétation, Paris, Editions du CNRS, série L’Homme-trace, tome 2, 2013, pp. 213-234.

THOM R., Esquisse d’une sémiophysique, Paris, Inter Éditions, 1988.

TIERCELIN C., C.S. Peirce et le pragmatisme, Paris, PUF, 1993.

KAPITAN T., "Peirce and the structure of abductive reasoning" in Studies in the logic of Charles Sanders Peirce, Nathan Houser, Don D. Roberts & James Evra (eds.), 477-496. Bloomington: I. U. Press, 1997.

VARELA F. J., THOMPSON E., ROSCH E., The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991.

WAGNER G., "Review of Embryology, Epigenesis, and Evolution: Taking Development Seriously, by Jason Scott Robert", Science, 305: 1405, 2004.

WATSUJI T., Fûdo, le milieu humain, traduit en français par Augustin Berque, CNRS Editions, Paris, 2011.

WATZLAWICK P., How real is real Communication, disinformation, confusion, New York, Ed. Random House 1976. French translation: éditions du Seuil, 1978.

WILLIAMS James. Gilles Deleuze’s ’Difference and Repetition’: A Critical Introduction and Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003.

WINKIN Y., LEEDS-HURWITZ W., Erving Goffman: A critical introduction to media and communication theory, New York: Peter Lang, 2013.

WULF Ch., Anthropologie de l’Homme mondialisé, CNRS éditions, 2013.

Haut de page

Notes

1 Galinon-Mélénec Béatrice, "From sign-traces" to "Human-trace". The production and Interpretation of Traces from an Anthropological Perspective”, UMR CNRS IDEES, Normandie University. Brown Laura (trad.), Hong Kong 2013. For the original version published in French, Intellectica 2013/1, n°59 pp 89-113. Open source: HAL: halshs-00935346.
NDT: In the English version of 2013, the translator did not make the same choice as the one here, i.e. an attempt was made in the former translation to find equivalents in English for terms proper to the subject and the author, who is a French researcher, terms such as "Homme-trace", "signe-trace", "signe-signal" etc.

2 The details of the explanations cannot be dealt with in the space provided in this paper. Readers interested should refer to the bibliography.

3 WULF Ch., Anthropologie de l’Homme mondialisé, CNRS éditions, 2013.

4 Cf. infra, GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., Intellectica, 2013.

5 The term "Homme-trace" can be translated as "Human-trace" on the condition that the two locutions cover the same definition. Where errors of interpretation could arise, the term ichnos-anthropos is more appropriate.

6 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B., ibid.

7 In fact:
On 21 March 2013 the Planck collaboration presented its first all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which confirms the standard model of cosmology.
On May 20, 1964, two astronomers working at a New Jersey laboratory turned a giant microwave antenna toward what they thought would be a quiet part of the Milky Way. They weren’t searching for anything; they were trying to make adjustments to their instrument before looking at more interesting things in the sky. Arno Penzias (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1978/penzias-bio.html) and Robert Wilson (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1978/wilson-bio.html) detected a radiation with wavelength of 7.35 centimeters. It is a "trace" of the Big Bang (i.e. standard model of cosmology).

8 Moreover, the researchers also found significant anomalies and inhomogeneities indicating that some aspects of the "standard model" could be not yet understood.

9 Cf. Sumerians and sky-map in SOUCHIER E. “Voir le web et deviner le monde. La "cartographie" au risque de l’histoire de l’écriture”, dans Traces numériques. De la production à l’interprétation, Paris, Editions du CNRS, série L’Homme-trace, tome 2, 2013, pp. 213-234.

10 Anthroposemiotics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposemiotics) : The study of human communication (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/communication ).

11 Translator’s note: The term used in the previous translations (procedural traces) seems less appropriate in the sense desired by the author.

12 SOUCHIER E. "Voir le web et deviner le monde. La "cartographie" au risque de l’histoire de l’écriture", op. cit.

13 Embodied cognitive science appeals to the idea that cognition deeply depends on aspects of the agent’s body other than the brain. See Embodied Cognition (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

14 In other words, even if reality in itself were law-governed, its laws could not simply migrate over to our mind or imprint themselves on us while our mind is entirely passive. IMMANUEL KANT, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, May 20, 2010.

15 KORZYBSKI Alfred, The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes, Reprinted from Perception: An Approach To Personality, edited by Robert R. Blake and Glenn V. Ramsey. Copyright 1951, The Ronald Press Company, New York.

16 "Patterns of organization are not limited to perceptions, however. In our brains we create and store our own patterns of thought, feeling and memory in the neurons, which we then subsequently draw on for further thought and action. Further, we mould the world around us by imposing patterns of organization on the world, whether by intentionally producing houses, tools, books and the like, or unintentionally by beating a path through the woods by repeated use. In our own species, we generate enormously complex social systems and cultural expressions, which are, in turn, stored as information in our minds and in the patterns of organization of the objects and infrastructure around us". BATES Marcia J. "Knowledge is defined as information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding" in Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science, Department of Information StudiesUniversity of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1520, USA. Cf. http://www.informationr.net/ir/10-4/paper239.html

17 "The restricted semiotic field is where the focus of legitimacy lies, both that of the actors and that of the concepts. It is semiotics for semioticians. [...] It is in the semiotic field of dissemination and wider production that the discipline plays an auxiliary role [with other disciplines]. And its practitioners, mostly casual, moreover, have little legitimacy under standards governing the limited market of this restricted field. The observation has also been made that the semiotic tools selected by them are frequently detached from their theoretical framework, and besides, are not specifically considered as central or currently relevant to actors in the restricted field. "(Klinkenberg, 2012: 17).
In this chapter, we make transpositions and overruns and propose a new method coming from interdisciplinary relationships.

18 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC, 2011: 23.

19 The reader will find examples illustrating our propositions in previous publications: cf. bibliography and, regarding some examples, more particularly: GALINON-MÉLÉNEC, B., (dir.), L’Homme trace. Perspectives anthropologiques des traces contemporaines (« The Homme trace ». Anthropological perspectives of contemporary traces), Paris, CNRS éditions, 2011.

20 The HTCS HTCS (Human-Trace Complex Systems) is an e.laboratory of l’unitwin Complex systems UNESCO. The dynamic of the HTCS is part of the perspective of the UNESCO/CISS/ OCDE (2013) report which calls for more cooperation from the humanities and social sciences with the other sciences with a view to responding to the problematic of complexity. The report can be obtained in a printed version from Éditions UNESCO, http://publishing.unesco.org/details.aspx?Code_Livre=4996 (UNESCO ISBN 978-92-3-104254-6.). For the HTCS cf.: http://rightunivlehavre.wordpress.com/ichnosanthropos/ re the French version. Complex_Systems_Digital_Campus/E-Laboratory_on_human_trace for the English version.

21 The trace includes the imprint which is a connoted trace of a more accentuated marking.

22 GALINON-MELENEC Béatrice, "L’universalité de la trace. Le XXIe siècle, siècle de la trace?”" Embodied Cognition in L’Homme-trace, CNRS éditions, série L’homme-trace, volume 1, 2011, pp 30-55.

23 On this subject, one can also read the distinction made by FLORIDI (2005) diaphora de re, absence of uniformity in the "real world out there", exterior to the interpretant. "The real world out there", diaphora de signo, absence of uniformity between two states of the physical signal, and diaphora de dicto, absence of uniformity between two symbols, cited in Sylvie LELEU-MERVIEL "Le processus d’information, de la trace d’interaction à la communication numérique" ("The process of information, from the trace of interaction to digital communication") in Colloque CECI, Université du Havre, 11 June 2014.

24 From LEIBNIZ’s apothegm "natura non facit saltus" to The opposition between continuity and discreteness in the philosophical thought of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804): see Continuity and Infinitesimals, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Sep 6, 2013.
With respect to Immanuel KANT: "His mature philosophy, transcendental idealism, rests on the division of reality into two realms. The first, the phenomenal realm, consists of appearances or objects of possible experience, configured by the forms of sensibility and the epistemic categories. The second, the noumenal realm, consists of "entities of the understanding to which no objects of experience can ever correspond", that is, things-in-themselves" (ibid).
With respect to Henri POINCARÉ: "The idea of continuity played a central role in the thought of the great French mathematician Henri POINCARÉ (1854-1912)”.
With respect to PEIRCE: "Peirce’s conception of the number continuum is also notable for the presence in it of an abundance of infinitesimals. Peirce championed the retention of the infinitesimal concept in the foundations of the calculus, both because of what he saw as the efficiency of infinitesimal methods, and because he regarded infinitesimals as constituting the "glue" causing points on a continuous line to lose their individual identity" (ibid).

25 Which we call also "the echoing of signes-traces".

26 Pour Mioara MUGUR-SCHÄCHTER cited by Sylvie Leleu-Meviel (2014): the first phase is the generation, through a function-conscience of the "entity-object", i.e. the capture of purely factual fragments of substance, still a-conceptual, obtained by a voluntary cut in the density of the real which is then treated as a raw material for further "desemantisations".

27 Illustration of the application: trends in French psychoanalysis.

28 "Signe" in REY Alain, Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Historical Dictionary of the French Language), Le Robert, 2006, p 3505.

29 On this subject, refer to the writings of Kant, Hegel, Husserl and Spinoza.

30 Mathematics, graphs, are here understood as forms of language.

31 Human or animal.

32 All forms of life are therefore concerned.

33 On this subject, cf. WATSUJI T. Fûdo, le milieu humain, translated into French by Augustin Berque, CNRS Editions, Paris, 2011.

34 This definition coincides with Watsuji TESTURÔ’s which distinguishes between the environment defined as objective (Umgebung) and the milieu defined as ambient world (Umwelt), peculiar to a certain being (individual, society, species). Watsuji Testurô read in the translation of the French geographer Augustin BERQUE. Cf. BERQUE A., (Translation and annotation of) Watsuji Tetsurô, Fûdo. Le milieu humain, Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 2011.

35 The notion of environment refers to the idea of "outside oneself".

36 "Watsuji’s mesology implies that it is our very humanity that is at stake". Cf. JANZ Bruce B., Watsuji Tetsuro, Fudo, and climate change, Journal of Global Ethic, Vol. 7, No. 2, August 2011, 173–184.

37 SIMONDON G., L’individuation psychique et collective, Aubier, Paris, 1989.

38 Territory (Dictionnaire Larousse): English translation: "Expanse of land under some authority or jurisdiction. (The territory of a State is the land, sea and air space upon which government bodies can exert their power.)
Expanse over which an individual or family of animals reserves the rights of use.
Relatively well defined space that a person has assigned him/herself and over which he/she wishes to retain his/her authority:
His/Her bedroom is his/her territory".

39 The exploration of sensibility as the locus at which ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ merge. If sensibility already played an important role in Totality and Infinity (LEVINAS), sensibility will now be traced back to the density of the flesh itself. And the flesh serves Levinas as his pre-consciousness, whose ontological meaning counts above all else.

40 Opening up to the reception becomes for the authors of the decision "availability heuristics": KAHNEMAN D. et TVERSKY A. "Judgement under uncertainty: heuristic and biases", Science, vol 185, n°4157, 1974, p. 1124-1131.

41 Habitus is a system of embodied dispositions, incorporated from Man-milieu interactions, a system that generates behaviours and "practices" (as P. Bourdieu states). Cf. BOURDIEU P., Distinction: A Social Critique of The Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice, Harvard University Press, 1984. The dispositions constituted by habitus of any human produce a dynamic situation of communication between persons in a relationship.

42 Work on neural imaging shows that the brain is activated even when there is no conscious attention (while asleep or in certain coma cases).

43 Cf. RICOEUR P., Oneself as Another, trans. Kathleen Blamey, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 (in French: Paris, Seuil, 1990).

44 Recent knowledge concerning the most primitive peoples shows that conflict and violence have not always been the order of the day in human relationships. In her book Préhistoire de la violence et de la guerre (Prehistory of violence and war), published by Odile Jacob, Marylène PATOU-MATHIS goes back to the origins of humans to discover traces of alleged original violence and observes: "During the Palaeolithic Era, among several hundreds of human remains examined, only two testify to voluntary acts of violence: they were perpetrated by modern Man (Homo sapiens)". If the hunter-gatherer of Palaeolithic times had been a warrior, there would be traces of his aggressivity: marks, signes-traces of violence should be visible on the human fossils. On the contrary, recent archaeological discoveries have been interpreted as indications of altruism and compassion instead.

45 "Because it was he, because it was I" (Of his friend La Boétie). Translation adapted from: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3600/3600-h/3600-h.htm#link2HCH0028 (03.06.2014)

46 LEVINAS E., Totality and Infinity, 1961.

47 The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy : http://plato.stanford.edu/index.html

48 Ontology signifies here the relationship between thought and the real.

49 To visualise some tools and explore the subject, several sites can be consulted including the NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/739997main_SEP_15_full_full.jpg

50 Cf. WATZLAWICK P., How Real is Real? Communication, disinformation, confusion, New York, Ed. Random House 1976. French translation, éditions du Seuil, 1978.

51 Cf. KAPITAN T., "Peirce and the structure of abductive reasoning" in Studies in the logic of Charles Sanders Peirce, Nathan Houser, Don D. Roberts & James Evra (eds.), 477-496. Bloomington: I. U. Press, 1997.

52 Abductive reasoning is universal, common to the human race, be it scientific or otherwise.

53 SCHICKORE, Jutta, "Scientific Discovery", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition).

54 http://www.pourlascience.fr/ewb_pages/a/actu-ondes-gravitationnelles-primordiales-la-preuve-decisive-de-l-inflation-cosmique-se-rapproche-32729.php

55 Etienne KLEIN, French physicist, author of Discours sur l’origine de l’univers, Flammarion. Award for the best scientific book of the year 1993 in Germany for Conversations avec le Sphinx, les paradoxes en physique.

56 Etienne Klein’s declaration was reprinted in Le Figaro Magazine of 4 April 2014 (p 48).

57 GALINON-MÉLÉNEC B. (dir.), L’Homme trace, Perspectives anthropologiques des traces humaines contemporaines, Paris, CNRS éditions, série L’Homme-trace tome 1, 2011, p. 353.

58 Cf. DERRIDA, 1991.

59 Cf. JEANNERET Y., "Complexité de la notion de trace. De la trace au tracé" dans B. Galinon-Mélénec, « L’Homme trace », CNRS éditions 2011, pp 59-86.

60 BARTHES on photography. Cf. BARTHES R., La chambre claire, Paris, Gallimard, 1980.

61 HALBWACHS M., La mémoire collective, Paris, PUF, 1950.

62 Memoriae : in ecclesiastical Latin, signifies "commemorative monuments". Patrimonium: family assets. Cf. Rey A., op. cit.

63 Cf. Bibliography and more particularly RFSIC, 2013 and Intellectica 2013.

64 Including the inscribed traces which are easily identified in the literature. Cf. the synthesis of Sylvie LELEU-MERVIEL "Traces, information et construit de sens" ("Traces, information and construct of meaning") in MILLE A., Intellectica, n°59, 2013, pp 65-88.

65 JANKELEVITCH V., BERLOWITZ B., Quelque part dans l’inachevé, Paris, Gallimard, 1978, p. 18.

66 One-to-one linear relationship.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec, « The future of the "Homme-trace" », Netcom, 28-1/2 | 2014, 107-130.

Référence électronique

Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec, « The future of the "Homme-trace" », Netcom [En ligne], 28-1/2 | 2014, mis en ligne le 10 mars 2015, consulté le 22 septembre 2017. URL : http://netcom.revues.org/1554 ; DOI : 10.4000/netcom.1554

Haut de page

Auteur

Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec

Professeur des universités, sciences de la communication, est directrice du CDHET/IUT (Communication & Développement des Hommes, Entreprises, Territoires) réseau de recherches reconnu par la Société Française des Sciences de l’Information et de la Communication, de l’équipe l’Homme-trace de l’UMR IDEES CNRS 6266 ; fondatrice et responsable de HUMAN-TRACE COMPLEX SYSTEMS DC UNESCO;
http://rightunivlehavre.wordpress.com/ichnosanthropos/
http://fr.unesco.org/programme-unitwin-chaires-unesco;
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/listnetworks03102014.pdf

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Netcom – Réseaux, communication et territoires est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo NETCOM Association
  • Logo IGU / UGI
  • Logo Comité national français de géographie (CNFG)
  • Logo UMR 6266 - IDEES Le Havre
  • Logo ARTDev (UMR 5281)
  • Logo AERES - Logo
  • Logo DOAJ
  • Logo ERIH PLUS : European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences
  • Logo Heloise
  • Revues.org