Sassure via Maruyama Explains Yuki's Group Types

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    Possibly my favourite cultural psychological theory is that of Yuki (2003) who contends that westerners merge with their groups which they see in contradistinction to others, whereas Japanese form groups as networks conceived independently of any other group. This is a radical theory since if amplified it can be used to suggest that it is Westerners who are dependent upon their groups, whereas Japanese from groups in which individuality is nurtured. To a large extent I agree with this amplified formulation and have demonstrated that Americans though they may seem "individual" are all infact individualists, that is to say possessant of the same basket of culturally approved characteristics (Leuers & Sonoda, 1999). Nonetheless, I do believe that Japanese merge to a degree and that emphasis should be given to the way in which the selves in Japanese interpenetrate. Yuki (2003) in his diagram above shows the relationships penetrating the circles of the Japanese group members. I suggested a minor modification of Yuki's diagram where the group members overlap and explained the reason why they overlap - the "imaginaire" (Lacan) emphasises interdependence as explained here.

    Turning to Western groups however, it may appear puzzling that we find it so easy to merge with our groups, and require an outgroup to compare and disparage. One of the reasons for this is because, I believe, we cognise ourselves and our groups as narratives.

    Maruyama Masao (1993, p.19) illustrates Saussure's theory of language using the metaphor of a tray containing bubbles, or balls. According to Saussure, linguistic signs (words) unlike have only an utterly arbitrary connection with that which they represent such that "dog", "chien" and "inu" are equally appropriate for indicating our canine friends. Saussure pointed out that that words can only be understood in their relation to, or their not being (hence the "negativite'" in the above image) other words. This arbitrariness of linguistic signs is contrasted with icons, such as a hieroglyph for dogs which resemble dogs, or indexes such as dog turds, dog tracks, and pointing at a dog which are contiguous with that which they represent.

    To represent Saussure's distinction diagrammatically, Maruyama contrasts categories of words with a box of coloured marbles (much like Masaki's Asian group top right) which can be cognised and have meaning, like icons and indexes, even 'out of the box' on their own. A face can have meaning even if it is the only face you have ever seen.

    Maruyama illustrates the way in which words can only be understood in contrast to other words with a box containing water with bubbles formed upon it. If a bubble in box is burst, if a language has no separate word for "wolf" then that would be like bursting one of the bubbles (centre black and white diagram). Unless the word "wolf" covers a meaning space in contrast to other words it has no meaning at all, whereas concrete (visible) things are what they are all on their lonesome.

    Japanese cognise themselves and their groups visually, like the tray of marbles, so they do not need to compare their groups with others. To love Japan they can just call images of Japan to mind and have no need of hating upon Koreans. Americans however tend to cognise themselves in linguistic terms, and therefore may need a bogeyman-country with which to compare, contrast and enhance themselves.

    De Saussure, F. (2011). Course in General Linguistics [1916]. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Retrieved from
    Leuers, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in Asian Social Psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from httyp://
    Yuki, M. (2003). Intergroup comparison versus intragroup relationships: A cross-cultural examination of social identity theory in North American and East Asian cultural contexts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 166–183. Retrieved from
    丸山圭三郎, 行人柄谷, 健二立川, 秀岸田, & 芳郎竹内. (1993). 文化記号学の可能性 (増補完全). 夏目書房.

    1. timtak 32 months ago | reply

      It is better in the light, but how to get there? Is it even possible? Born again Christians have a theory that once you are saved you are saved. Perhaps once you are damned, you are damned. Chanting the name of the Amida Buddha, my current boom, is effective in preventing self speech, but once you know, you know, and so when the Amida Buddha comes for me, I will know that she is the girl with the mousy hair. It is for this same reason that I have difficulty praying to Jesus. I know that both are a good thing, but I also know what they attempting to transmogrify, something much more grotesque and mundane, that therefore I should not tell people about, but I do.

    2. timtak 18 months ago | reply

      This delimitation[ to phonetic writing], however, is indispensable if one wants to be able to account with some coherence, for the principle of difference as Saussure himself recalls it. This principle [Saussure's difference] compels us to notion privilege one substance -- here the phonic, so called temporal substance -- while excluding another -- for example, the graphic, so called spatial substance -- but even to cosider every process of signification as a formal play of differences. (Derrida, Bass, & Ronse, 1982, p. 26)

      Maruyama's diagram. The bubbles are bubbles because they are temporal. Phoneme disappear in time so they are defined by their differences.

      Drums in the deep.

    3. timtak 15 months ago | reply

      [QUOTE="SORENNA, post: 16170441, member: 621839"]hello
      what is meaning of these 2 separate phrases in following paragraph: source: Photography A Critical Introduction

      Photography, then, in its contemporary and even postmodern version, would seem to have evolved in the opposite direction, renouncing reference as such in order to elaborate an autonomous vision which has no external equivalent. Internal differentiation now stands as the mark and the moment of a decisive displacement in which the older relationship of image to referent is superceded by an inner or an interiorized one (where, as a consequence, none of the "bands" in Wasow's images has any referential priority over the other). To speak more psychologically, the attention of the viewer is now engaged by a differential opposition within the image itself, so that he or she has little energy left over for intentness to that older "likeness" or "matching" operation which compares the image to some putative thing outside. Paradoxically, however, it is precisely attention to that "outside" -- but an outside that now enters consciousness itself in the form of the external realities of collective fantasies and the materials of the Culture Industry -- that determines the novel character of postmodern painting such as Salle's. .[/QUOTE]

      Good question and thank you for finding this for me. The sign in Barthes, or Saussure, is defined by "reference" and negativity (negativite') its difference to something else external to it. Barthes claims that the sign always refers, stands for something else, having the same structure as an alibi, meaning means something absent. Maruyama explains the linguistic sign as being like bubbles on the surface of a tray, covering a part of that surface by virtue of their being other bubble on the surface and each bubble being in opposition to other bubbles, but having no meaning outside of the tray of bubbles where it just bursts. He contrasts this with a tray of marbles which have meaning through a "differential opposition" and "internal differentiation" between marbles of different colours, and claims that these can have meaning outside the tray (or photo).

      This may relate to the way in which Westerners and Asians conceive of groups
      as defined by central (linguistic) concepts which have meaning in their opposition to other concepts and other groups, and as defined by networks of binary relations (c.f. Lacan's mirror stage) which has meaning by virtue of a "differentiated opposition" which does not negate, but cooperates. It occurs to me now that since group identity theory is a theory of both groups and of self. Westerns conceive of themselves and their group in the same way, and even as the same thing since they merge with them -- and all the reason for being wary of groups. Japanese conceive of themselves photographically, visually as as a network or collage of internally differentiated images.

      I want to see Salles paintings and Wasow's images with bands.

      I think that Jameson's paragraph is contra Levi Strauss who spent thousands of pages convincing us that the "savage mind" is just another way of thinking, good for thinking, goods (things) for thinking, which is just another way of setting up oppositions to things-absent, different.

      Yes "savages" do think with things, but no, thinking with things or images is not just another way of opposing since goods are good because they have internal differentiation.

      Beyond taboo

      Japanese relationships in Kasulis

      And riffing, I am not sure of the extent to which the sign ever did "refer". The difference between signifier and signified, sign and referent, word and meaning, is replaced in Derrida with differance or defferal which I think could be as simple as taking it in turns, like in a radio play in the mind, as may perhaps be described by Freud in the Mystic writing pad. We say things to ourselves but hide the time of listening, and "rubbing them out". Our experience is shuttered. Similarly, I am not sure of the extent to which Jameson's postmodern photography, or the savage mind, or pokemon
      is actually enjoying a differential opposition, between marbles and the like, or whether we are not just looking at ourselves (Rochat, 2008). I guess a bit of both maybe.

      Do I compare the transparent noses with the ones that I see in mirrors?

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