Theorem 4 – Panofsky’s theorem
de Stefan Vladutescu
(trad. Mirela Teodorescu)
Theorem 4 – Panofsky’s theorem: meanings has three levels of manifestation: factual, expressively, intrinsic (of content). There is, shows Erwin Panofsky (Panofsky E., 1980, pp. 57-59), in each communication activity also three levels of meaning. To explain the situation, the repute American researcher gives a memorable example: raising the hat gesture as sign of salutation. When somebody salutes us on the street, raising his hat, formal we don’t anything else than changing of some details within a configuration.
Automatic identifying this configuration with a man, and changing of details with an event ( raising the hat) we shall pass also the limits of a absolute formal perception and we will get in the first sphere of theme, of meaning. Perceived meaning has thus an elementary character and easy to understand, is the factual level; „factual meaning” is intercepted in process of identification on a simple route of a number of visible forms with a lot of objects familiar us from empiric experience and, identifying the change in the relation between them, with a number of actions or events.
Identified objects and events will initiate naturally a number of internal reaction. Judging according to how is made the gesture, it might let us realize if that one who salutes us is happy or not, or if his feeling for us is one of disinterest , friendship or hostility. These psychological points will burden the gesture with a supplementary meaning, “expressively meaning”; this is different of factual one in that it is intercepted not by simply identification, but through empathy. To understand it, is necessary some sensibility, but one that is part of our empiric existence, that is our familiarity with objects and events.
Expressively meaning, as well as factual, is situated at primary level, they constitute the natural level. Anyway, the fact that we recognize in raising the hat gesture a salutation belongs to an interpretation domain totally special. This salutation form derives from medieval salutation with the coif and is euro-western characteristic. To understamd the gesture meaning is necessary not only to be familiar with practical sphere of objects and events, also with practical sphere of cultural habitudes and customs characteristic to a civilization. On the other hand, that one who salutes us would not have felt induced to salute us by raising the hat, if he hadn’t been conscious of his gesture meaning. When we interpret raising the hat as a polite salutation, we recognize in it a secondary or a conventional meaning; this level differs of primary or natural level in that it belongs much more of cognitive domain than of sensible and also that it was impress in conscious mode to practical action by which it is delivered.
Besides the fact that is an natural event in space and time, besides the fact that it indicates in natural mode states and feelings, besides the fact that it delivers a conventional salutation, the action, the communicational act of whom salutes us can disclose to a versed observer everything that concurs to bind his personality. This personality is conditioned by the fact that belongs to XX century, to its national experience, social and cultural, to its past and to its actual background; but it still distinguish by an individual manner to see the thing and to react according to the environment who, if it expressed rational it would have to be named philosophy.
In isolated communicational act of a polite gesture not all these factors manifest necessarily intelligible, but symptomatic anyway. We shouldn’t constitute in mind a “portrait” of personality to that who salutes us, according to this isolate act, but only coordinating a big number of similar observations and interpret them according general data concerning communicational situation data. However, all qualities that it would emphasize explicitly such as portrait made in mind, are implicit present in each action taken in hand, such as reversing the situation, each individual action can be interpreted in terms of these qualities.
Meaning which is thus revealed is an intrinsic meaning’ this is essential, this level is fundamental, while preceding two (the primary and the secondary) are phenomenal. This level can be defined as a unifier principle that emphasize and explain both visible event, and its cognitive meaning, determining even the assumed form by visible event. Intrinsic meaning (the content) is in normal mode situated at the same distance above conscious willpower sphere as much as is expressively meaning below this.
“Meaning is someway objective message, while the acceptance is referring to what we are doing with the respective message (how we react – verbal, behaviorally – to a message)” (Drăgan I., 1996, p. 23). To reveal the meanings it has to evoke not only the context of enunciation, also the cultural competences of interlocutors, their psychological determinations, also the filters of interpretation which are interposed between messages changed between they.
The acceptance is situated at intersection of production meanings, as human communicational, practice involving social codes networks, reciprocal expectations and inter-comprehension data, with product meanings. These can be expressed by various means, in different codes: linguistics, alphanumeric or symbols.