Semantic Extension Of Modern Science Meta-Language On Literature: Terminological "Scientism" And "Intermediality"


The article discusses the process of the terms’ aestheticization of non-scientific spheres in contemporary literary and critical discourse. The result of the terms’ aestheticization is a semantic update of traditional categories and the introduction into the scientific circulation of metaphorical, individually-copyrighted images-concepts, such as “speech worldview,” “category-image,” “reverse perspective,” “sublimation,” “artistic optics,” “ novel topology,” “ palimpsest ”and other terms. The translation is carried out according to the principle of the metaphorical use of semantic coincidences; that is, it takes into account the similarity effect in the dissimilarity case. The material and theoretical basis of the study were the works on Spatio-temporal representations, intersemiotic correlations between intermediality and epistemology in the works of O.A. Hanzen-Levy. As an example, the conceptualization process of some of M. Bakhtin’s occasional, metaphorical terms and his speech mechanisms and techniques are demonstrated. As a result of the study, it is concluded that poetic modality and terminological variability have deep ideological roots. Modern man is guided in the severe conditions of a probabilistic universe, with its multiplicity of reference systems. Poetic modality and terminological variability lead a modern person into scientific consciousness. The individuality of the artist’s scientific speech worldview is manifested in the creation of new occasional meanings and the actualization of traditional images of a symbolic nature. However, this remark is true concerning the theoretical vision and the process of the formation of conceptual and terminological systems. Modern poetics appears to be an operational program and not a system of fixed rules and norms.

Keywords: Scientismintermedialitysemiotic conceptimage categorynovel topology


Modern sciences are characterized by the convergence of spheres, traditionally considered very distant. This trend has led to the emergence of “hybrid” areas of knowledge, respectively, of methods and terms. Lotman (2001) pointed out the exclusive place of the exact sciences in a single metalanguage system and the fruitful transfer of their methods to the study of various aspects of artistic activity. Moreover, as a consequence of this process, he pointed to the terms aestheticization of the non-scientific spheres in contemporary literary and critical discourse.

Aesthetization is the giving of an aesthetically valuable meaning to a phenomenon, an object. Aesthetization is widespread because aesthetic consciousness, in a certain sense, is “consciousness of consciousness” (Bakhtin, 2000). The process of semantic renewal of traditional categories and the introduction into the scientific circulation of metaphorical, individually-copyrighted images-concepts is natural when changing scientific paradigms. In the science of literature, the terms optics, chronotope, structure, reverse perspective, psycho-poetics, ethnopoetics, mythopoetics, ontology, uncertainty, statistical distribution, entropy, information, and other terms are widely used. However, free terminological confusion in scientific discourse is not only a reflection of the scientism of modern culture. “Traditional philosophy and aesthetics have always used the terms form, potency, embryo, and others, which initially were nothing more than physical and cosmological terminology that moved to another area” (Eco, 2004, p. 18). Eco (2018) points to the “aesthetic and mathematical vision of the world” in antiquity, which is born under the influence of Pythagoras. Pythagoras argued that without observing the laws of mathematics and music, there could be neither life nor beauty.

The phenomenon of the aestheticization is of the terms of non-scientific fields in contemporary literary and critical discourse. The semantic updating of traditional categories, the introduction into the scientific circulation of metaphorical, individually-authorial images-concepts have been studied in many modern works in various aspects. Such aspects are analytics of the artistic concept as a unit of communication in a literary work – a dissipative, open, self-regulating structure within the framework of a system-synergetic approach (Popova & Sternin, 2007; Stepanov, 2007; Zhirkova, 2006), incorporation into the methodology of literary criticism of terms from the fields of philosophy, theology, cultural studies, synergetics (Connely, 2012 Epstein, 2004; Haken, 2004; Karasev, 2001; Tatarinov, 2006), replenishment of the literary terminological paradigm with individual author's images-concepts (Ryaguzova, 2000; Wang, 2016, 2017).

Problem Statement

This study is devoted to the urgent problem of the metalanguage semantic expansion of modern science of literature in the context of a system-synergetic approach related to the ideas of systemic, nonlinearity, instability, and the ability of systems to self-regulate.

Research Questions

The subject of this study is the terminological syncretism, scientism, and intermediality of the metalanguage of modern literary criticism.

Purpose of the Study

The article aimed to identify the nominative function of metaphor and show how metalanguage structures of formal and semantic-ideological elements of critical discourses form a literary, scientific model.

Research Methods

The problems of the article, in this sense, coordinate with its methodology, synthesizing the conceptual, semantic, and structural-semiotic methods of analysis. Our research on the mechanisms of term formation is carried out by analogy with the concept of the intermediality of Hanzen-Leve (2016). The concept of the intermediality of Hanzen-Leve is based on the linguistic, symbolic model of representations of other art forms as "languages" and the emergence of new intermedially – hybrid areas and concepts. So, such art forms as music, painting are considered from their "language." Moreover, the new hybrid areas emergence leads to the emergence of, for example, bioesthetics, the installation of art as such. Such areas as structural and analytical linguistics, semiology, morphology, psychology have a decisive influence on the terminological "scientism" of the science of literature.


The terminological "syncretism." The scientific terminological universe is actively replenished due to the "language" of the arts. Most studies devoted to the problems of intermediality are limited to the study of the unilateral impact of one art form on another at the level of a thematic-motivational analogy of art forms. Researchers do not address the level of structural-structural relations of art forms or the terminological level that allows for a semantic transition of terms.

The installation of art explains the blurring of the boundaries between the arts in ever-new inter-hybrid areas as such. Thus, a work of art, being an artifact, represents its total non-artifact. According to the observation of Hanzen-Leve (2016): "The concept of intermediality is based on the general cultural desire for exchange, mixing, hybridization, which is inherent in any tendencies of intertextuality, interdisciplinarity, interculturalism" (p. 31). Scientists introduce the theoretical concepts of "media landscape," "media dialogue," "media genre," "media," (as technical and semiotic systems), and other concepts into scientific circulation. In particular, Hansen-Leve draws a formalistic-futuristic line talking about terms that were directly borrowed from the discourse of Cubo-futuristic fine art into the discourse of verbal art. These terms are shear, installation, texture, design, material. These terms became part of not only the discourse of verbal art, but also the discourse of formalistic futurology of the time (Hanzen-Leve, 2016). For example, the term "texture" is a combination of all material and plastic properties of the surface of the picture. The term "dominant" has an intermedial origin, it is taken from musicological terminology. The term "dominant" defined a productive concept of Russian formalism (as well as "exclusion") with its interest in the "tightness, coherence, unity" of a literary text, verse (Hanzen-Leve, 2016).

Art optics. One of the leading aesthetic problems in the twentieth century was the problem of seeing the world. The language of scientific prose is characterized by the ambiguity and versatility of the word, the figurativeness of scientific speech, in which the concepts are often used: "Artistic vision" (Bakhtin, 2000); "Subjective prisms," "a mediating prism of a character," "style gliding" (V. Vinogradov). Mamardashvili (2014), speaking about the phenomenon of consciousness, reflects on how the active energy of the intellect can create reality, comprehend it, or fall into error regarding reality. And he comes to the conclusion that in the twentieth century in parallel in different areas, in painting, poetry, romance, music, a problem arose that can be roughly expressed as follows: what do we actually see? What do we hear? All experiments in the novel, in the painting, can be understood as the realization of the understanding that we need some kind of "organs" in order to see and understand. Furthermore, these "organs" do not coincide with those given to us by nature (Mamardashvili, 2014). Form, as a material device, the cohesion of elements, itself has the energy power of sensitivity, which seeing the invisible: the dynamics that are created by the ratio of forms. This aesthetic effect can be terminologically expressed through categories with the semantics of "vision": "perspective," "optics," "poetic world," "aesthetic prism," "meaning," "artistic vision." Such categories are "horizons of artistic vision," "artistic vision," according to Bakhtin (2000), Nabokov (1990) argued: the writer "should see the world". In his works, he showed various angles and methods of such vision, reflection, refraction: binocular, facet, grotesque. The visualization of his artistic picture of the world has become a generally accepted position in the study of science.

Terminological scientism. Between the concepts of different types (cognitive, scientific, artistic), as you know, there is no impenetrable difference. In lectures on literature, Nabokov (1998) welcomes the mutual exchange of terminology between any branch of science and any "bunch" of art. He believed that in general, "any boundary between a work of art and scientific work is not as clear as it is customary to think" (Nabokov, 1998, p. 17). He notes at Proust and Kafka the use of scientific terminology in literary texts. Proust's book, for example, reveals the luxury of comparisons taken with equal relevance and ease from biology, physics, botany, medicine, and mathematics (Nabokov, 1998). The fact of interpretation, namely, the opposite reading of Proust's novel (its movement of the meaning) in terms of the natural sciences, philosophy, and psychology, is curious. Mamardashvili (2014) uses this principle when he wrote – "think Proust." Mamardashvili examined the methods of creating the reality in artistic consciousness on the example of the novel "In Search of Lost Time". In Lectures on Proust, he analyzes an episode describing the intersection of the views of heroes: "I could put this idea into the language of that section of physics, which interprets phase spaces. Indeed, the point at which Rachelle is located excludes the view of Saint-Loup, which endlessly approaches her and never reaches her. Just as Marcel's eyes endlessly strive for her and never reach her either" (Mamardashvili, 2014, p. 34). To describe the "radiography of feelings" and comment on the transcription of the world, the philosopher refers to the space of conscious bodies and the terms of their designation: point of intensity, line, trajectory, figure. He considers Proust's novel as an element of the general change in the artistic perception of the world.

The figurative induction of individual author's terms in literary criticism occurs due to the expanded sense formation within verbal-figurative and conceptual concepts. In the term, its initial metaphorical and stylistic coloring is awakened, its understanding in the conceptual series of aesthetically significant categories is observed. For example, the term "zero point" is a point where there is no past or future and where duplication of the world and time is prohibited. In M. Mamardashvili, the "zero point" means the problem of the equinox, i.e. equations of things that are not balanced in our usual psychological state. In a literary text, this concept is adequate to the reproduction of "eternal", cyclic time. M. Mamardashvili uses the term palimpsest to characterize the style features of M. Proust. He introduces the concept of the topology of the novel to indicate the layering of cultural codes in the text. M. Mamardashvili writes psychological topology, or topological psychology. At the same time, he means a particular universal substantial complex, a rhetorical model of the work, and its constant elements. Mamardashvili (2014) writes "Topology is the science of places, of the most general properties of figures in geometry" (p. 41). Lotman (2001) uses the term topology as an apparatus for describing the topological concepts of continuity, neighborhood, border. Lotman's topology is a unit of metalanguage when studying the typology of culture in its supra-individual system. Lotman (2001) writes: "We are attempting to construct a metalanguage of the description of culture based on spatial models, in particular, the apparatus of topology – a mathematical discipline that studies the properties of figures that do not change during homeomorphic transformations" (p. 29).

Topos (topic) is the rhetorical construction of the image, the rhetorical model, the "common place" of many individual poetic images, their semantic and structural core. For example, a revival of a portrait and a statue may be a topos; these are separate but closely related topos. The term was established in literary practice, after which its active theoretical understanding begins. Topos expresses several motives at the level of the complex (loci communes), a complex semantic conglomerate of images. Nabokov (1998) notes this feature of Kafka's style, which "liked to borrow terms from the language of jurisprudence and science, using them with ironic accuracy, guaranteeing against the intrusion of copyright feelings, this was Flaubert's method that allowed him achieving an exceptional poetic effect" (p. 29).

Nabokov's metaphor is also directly taken from the fields of biology, physics, music, philosophy, psychology. His metaphor includes concepts such as mechanics, mimicry, stereoscope, three-dimensional space, phylogenetic, ontogenetic, recapitulative meaning, visceral world, cosmic synchronization, synesthesia, harmonica universe, quanta of mental associations, book arteries, writing coloratura, polyphonic book construction . The artistic imagery of the writer is supported by a scientific vision. At the same time, individual, scientific-natural terms get particular expressiveness. In work "Other Shores," he uses the "theory of ontogenetic repetition passed" as an artistic method, seeks to convey the "recapitulative meaning" (Nabokov, 1990) of his life. That is, Nabokov tries to give her a concise, short and quick description. In biology, this term means the reproduction of the main stages of development of ancestral forms in the course of individual development, especially in the embryonic form. The "personal boundary" of Nabokov's hero memory is pushed into the memory of the generation and broader. He pushed in the past, in the specifics of the Russian mentality, expressed in thinking and language. Ontogenetic is a branch of biology that studies the genetic foundations of the individual development of an organism. Here, ontogenic is inextricably linked in the writer's view with phylogenesis, such as the evolution of a clan, tribe, species, family. Hanzen-Leve (2016) calls Nabokov the master of "bio-aesthetics" because, for him, aesthetic laws are akin to the laws of nature. In particular, aesthetically, the laws are similar to the laws of optical, visual effects, and methods of deception, i.e., mimicry. These are combining patterns and flickering structures of motifs from the biosphere (for example, butterflies), semiosphere (anagrams), and from the field of combinatorial games, ecliptic motifs (texture, patterns, veil, networks).

Problems of artistic vision. Perspective (lat. “Perspicere” – vision through, inside) – a system of correlation of images with real multidimensional space. In literature, perspective is the point of view from which an event is perceived and narrated, the narrator's attitude to the narrative, a fixed relationship between the subject and the object of consciousness, as point of view. Defining a point of view is the central problem of composition; focalization – establishing the focus of an optical system. A linear perspective provides a parallel or sequential development of events, involves a unified and motionless point of view. "The reverse perspective system proceeds from a multiplicity of visual positions, i.e., associated with the dynamics of the visual gaze and the subsequent summation of the visual impression. When summing up, this dynamics of the visual position is transferred to the image, as a result of which there are deformations specific to the forms of the inverse perspective" (Uspensky, 1995, p. 62). The issue of the observer ratio, viewer, and participant in the events is connected with the concept of direct and reverse perspective. For literary works, it is essential that "a direct perspective distances the viewer from the subject of the image and gives the view from the side. On the contrary, the reverse perspective draws the viewer inside what he is contemplating, and makes him not a distant observer, but a participant in the event. This is an important point, for example, when explaining the principle of the palindrome, or "semantic swing" of Nabokov's texts. Nabokov (1990) actively uses the principle of "reverse reading" of a text that is potentially reversible in nature, i.e. without the absurdity of the beginnings and endings. The train of thought "back and forth" in the metaphorical symbolism of the writer receives various nominations. Such nominations are reverse perspective, the opposite of coincidence; balancing of thoughts; vertical presentation of thoughts; spotlight reverse understanding; reading method right to left. Describing the "acrobatics of words and thoughts" in the novel "Hell," the author notes that he does not put the metaphor upside down for the sake of trick difficulty alone, but out of the need to "perceive the torrential stream or the rising sun in the opposite perspective, to triumph in a sense over the Ardis time" ("Hell"). The rapture of artistic revelation experienced at the same time is akin to the ecstasy with which gravity is overcome. In the field of art, the writer sets up experiments that can show the "amazingly absurd" world of our consciousness.

The word in the artistic and creative awareness of Nabokov turns into a term. Furthermore, at the same time, the term awakens its metaphorical and stylistic coloring, a tendency towards a name is emerging. Nabokov strives to make the described moment transparent.

He solves the problem of artistic conventions in his way. His theoretical vision is nothing but the artistic experience of theoretical problems. The author does not remain within the framework of the logical-conceptual system. He always explains his view in a plural connotative series: optics – prism – focus – facet; vision – inner vision – facet vision. Bakhtin's whole range of concepts denotes an individual creative principle in the field of artistic cognition (vision): the artistic model of the world, the artistic sphere, the artistic model, the architectonics of the world, the artistic vision (vision), and the creative chronotope. "Dostoevsky expanded the horizon of artistic vision, this allowed him looking at a person from a different angle of artistic vision, to discover new aspects of man and his life," wrote Bakhtin (2000, p. 63).

Bakhtin's interpretation of the concept of the world as an object of theoretical and artistic knowledge correlates with modern philosophical and scientific ideas on many grounds. In the dynamics of the picture of the world of the twentieth century, the most important is the problem of finding boundaries between text and reality, with a significant emphasis on ideas about primacy, the fundamental nature of consciousness, fiction, illusion. A new perception of the world arises not of individual objects of the world, but the whole world, the entire integrity of space-time. This unity does not consist of objects, but precedes them. Ontologically it is more real, primary. In the era of "poetic modality", a special kind of artistic reality is created, which, unlike other types of reality, cannot be understood unambiguously. It can be compared with such concepts as ambivalence, variability, the conventionality of reading the finals, and plots, for example, in postmodern novels.

Nominative functions of a metaphor. Transferring a scientific term to critical discourse involves many refinements and limitations of its meaning. Limitations are necessary to determine how, to what extent, its use is suggestive and metaphorical. As a rule, the transformation into the term "weakens" a word, the tendency to a name awakens its imagery. Terms borrowed from the exact natural sciences, transferred to a unique environment, actualize other, occasional meanings. This phenomenon can be illustrated by the example of a metaphorical expansion of the term in the speech worldview of M.M. Bakhtin.

Bakhtin (2000), in particular, uses the term "sublimation," referring to the metaphorical expansion of the meaning of the word "due to once real connections, enrichment of meaning due to foggy reminiscences, encrypted direct meaning" (p. 68). In a sublimated aspect of M.M. Bakhtin interprets the “ties of the ancient neighborhoods” (death / reaper / reaping, sunset / night / grave / cradle). The term actualizes the semantics of the "transition." Sublimation is the term physics means the transition of a substance when heated from a solid-state to a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid state. Sublimation is the term psychology means the mental process of transition and transformation of energy. The concept is closer to the fact that M.M. Bakhtin called the "image-category," the more it needs comment. Some terms are closed within the aesthetic system of a scientist.

Other terms are widespread, officially entrenched in dictionaries and textbooks. Such terms are artistic vision, counterpoint, realistic emblem, modality, ambivalence, historical inversion, absolute epic distance, visual in literature. "Categories-images" and the concepts of personal creative scientific mythology Bakhtin (2000) partially retained a metaphorical character. Each of these concepts deserves a connotative deployment and a separate dictionary entry. The Bakhtin phenomenon confirms the paradoxes of the scientific recognition of ideas. Its aesthetic system demonstrates a similar example of semantic expansion and academic affirmation. The scientist was reproached with impressionism, pleonastic style, metaphorical, "private, scientific" concepts. The same phenomenon, conveying the logic of the denotative signifier, often appears in different lexical forms, for example, polyphony, polyphony; private, private person. Meaning in the terminological model of the "polyphonic novel" in the interpretation of the scientist are similar. Signifiers do not exist in isolation, but are in a complementarity relationship. The unity of musical terms in the work on the poetics of Dostoevsky is comparable: homophony, tone, accent, dominant, voice, dissonance, polyphony, counterpoint. The unity of their functioning in Bakhtin's critical theory is due to the orientation of Dostoevsky's creative manner by ear, and not by sight.

M.M. Bakhtin (2000) takes the term chronotope from natural science and the theory of relativity. The chronotope conveys the continuity of space and time. According to the definition of a scientist, this is "almost, but not quite a metaphor." A chronotope contains a value moment, "chronotopic values." In the science of literature, there are similar concepts related to literary topography: spatial form (Joseph Frank), narrative space, art space, topoekfrasis. Ecfrasis is literally a decorated description of a work of art within a narrative that it interrupts. Topoexfrasis allows seeing how the reconstruction of "real" reality occurs in the phenomenon of verbal art. Experience M.M. Bakhtin in the system of his "image categories". This experience refutes the prevailing belief that metalanguages of sciences do not allow variability and synonymy. In the last decade, the scientific community has affirmed the idea of dialogic poetics of Bakhtin (2000). The dialogical strategy of studying culture imitated the dialogical practice of a scientist, where all texts explicate a single system of ideas and concepts.

According to Bakhtin, the transformation of a word into a term "weakens" him, the tendency to a name awakens his metaphorical and stylistic coloring. A metaphor is a way of figurative, indirect expression of meaning. The metaphor is used as a nominative device in scientific discourse, although the desire for precise definitions and an attempt to avoid ambiguity limit its use. Nevertheless, its semantic capacity, a high degree of abstraction, and a sense of similarity play a significant role in theoretical thinking, stimulating the generation of "metaphorical" terms. According to the observation of Arutyunova (1990), this is facilitated by the merging in the metaphor of image and meaning, synthetics, diffusion of meaning, the assumption of different interpretations, appeal to the imagination: "In the metaphor, there is an "invasion" of synthesis into the analysis zone, the image into the zone of concept, imagination into the zone of intelligence, individuality in the country of classes" (Arutyunova, 1990, p. 16). The establishment of distant connections and metaphorical contrast are also characteristic of a metaphor. The metaphor is organically connected with the universal vision of the world, brings the concept to a point, a single focus. Arutyunova relates the metaphor to semiotic concepts, such as image, symbol, sign, allegory. However, the concept of metaphor is blurred. The metaphorical assimilation of the world in the field of discursive thinking has, as it were, a reverse orientation. If discursive thinking is extensive, then the mythological and linguistic conceptualization of reality is intense.

The study of the occasional series of poetic synonyms and homonyms against the background of the semantic structure of natural language is currently one of the most effective tools for analyzing an original poetic vision of the world. Many of the terms have not yet become categories of criticism; they are somewhat "hypothetical models" (Eco, 2004), flexible moving formulas. However, modern poetics is not "a system of restrictive rules, but an operational program" that studies the properties of figures that do not change during homeomorphic transformations" (Eco, 2004, p. 42).


Poetic modality and terminological variability have deep ideological roots. They lead into the scientific consciousness of a modern person who is guided in the severe conditions of a probabilistic universe, with its multiplicity of reference systems. The individuality of the artist's speech worldview is manifested in the creation of new occasional meanings and the actualization of traditional images of a symbolic nature. However, it seems to us that this remark is true concerning the theoretical vision and the process of the formation of conceptual and terminological systems, or individual "scientific mythologies." Metalinguistic structures of formal and semantic-ideological elements of critical discourses form a literary, scientific model.

The variability and imagery of a scientific language is a flexible toolkit for describing and comprehending an object under study. Conceptual concepts are designed to overcome the inertia of perception, to fill in the semantic erasure of traditional formulas, these "flexible verbal cliches". The concepts of individually creative "scientific mythology" retain or acquire a metaphorical character. Due to the semantic capacity, the feeling of similarity, they are widely used as a nominative device in scientific discourse. Occasional, "particular scientific" terms give symbolic expressiveness to the "individual semiotics" of the authors. Private-scientific systems deserve closer examination from the standpoint of discursive axiology. The following systems are of great interest: the "functional-structural" method, the method of "philosophical aesthetics", the method of studying the "aesthetic reaction", semiotics and typology of culture, "generative poetics" and other systems. Studying the terminological universe of researchers is one of the most effective tools for analyzing their aesthetics and worldview.


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31 October 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Ryaguzova, L. N., Svitenko, N. V., Zhirkova, E. A., Somova, E. V., & Yuryeva, M. V. (2020). Semantic Extension Of Modern Science Meta-Language On Literature: Terminological "Scientism" And "Intermediality". In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1048-1056). European Publisher.