Notes on FIML vocabulary

On this site we have generally been using the term semiotics to indicate the amalgam of a sign, its meaning, and the emotions associated with it.

The word semiotics literally means “the study of signs and how they are processed or understood.” Just as we can speak of the psychology of a person or activity, so we can speak of the semiotics of a person or activity or anything else that uses signs for thought, feeling, perception, or communication.

The purpose of FIML practice is the optimization of interpersonal communication. Communication cannot but use signs. Interpersonal communication cannot but include emotion. This is why we use the word semiotics as we do—to indicate the amalgam of a sign, its meaning, and the emotions associated with it.

On this site we use the word index to mean a small sign that may be associated with a vast library of meaning. When an index appears or arises during interpersonal communication it starts as nothing more than a small sign. If an index is not held in abeyance, it may “call up” a library of much more complicated meaning.

A jangle is an emotional response to an index. Jangles are often negative. FIML practice seeks to identify jangles and use them as indicators that an index has appeared and that that index must be held in abeyance; that is, it must be prevented from accessing the emotional library of meaning it is normally associated with.

Ideally, a FIML query should be initiated the moment a jangle and index are noticed by a FIML partner. Often this partner is the listener, though partners who are speaking may also observe indexes in the partner who is listening.

The FIML query is designed to stop the index from immediately referencing the library of feeling and meaning typically associated with it. Doing this allows the partner making the query to ask of the other if the index/jangle they have perceived is based on something that actually happened or is simply a mistake based on a library they are holding in their own mind which does not reference anything that the speaker actually meant.

In the Peircean (Charles Sanders Peirce) branch of semiotics there are three kinds of signs—symbolic, iconic, and indexical. When we use the word index on this site we do not mean a Peircean indexical sign.

FIML practice is designed to help partners deal with the great welter of semiotics that each of them uses to communicate, think, feel, and understand the world and each other.

The FIML term idiotics indicates the unique welter, or agglomeration, of semiotics held by each individual human being. Just as each of us speaks an idiolect, each of us thinks, feels, and communicates with a unique idiotics.

The FIML term sociotics indicates the basic social (or public) semiotics of a culture or subculture. Just as all human beings have a unique idiotics all cultures have sociotics. The sociotics of large groups tend to be fairly simple semiotics that effectively communicate with many people. Sociotics hold cultures together and make communication work well-enough in many situations. Strongly held group sociotics within interpersonal relations can be a disaster, though, because, by definition, they deny individuality, even as they may attempt to define it. FIML partners are encouraged to form their own sociotics unique to them, thus distancing themselves from unwholesome attachments to group sociotics that may not suit them.

FIML practice has great “reach”; that is, it can and will have beneficial effects on many areas of life—communication, psychology, our understanding of culture, other people, and so on.

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