What is Radical Recursion?
Steven M. Rosen
Departments of Psychology and Philosophy (Emeritus)
College of Staten Island/City
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Recursion or self-reference is a key
feature of contemporary research and writing in semiotics. The paper commences
by focusing on the role of recursion in poststructuralism. It is suggested that
much of what passes for recursion in this field is in fact not recursive all
the way down. After the paradoxical meaning of radical recursion is adumbrated, topology is employed to provide
some examples. The properties of the Moebius strip prove helpful in bringing
out the dialectical nature of radical recursion. The Moebius is employed to
explore the recursive interplay of terms that are classically regarded as
binary opposites: identity and difference, object and subject, continuity and
discontinuity, etc. To realize radical recursion in an even more concrete
manner, a higher-dimensional counterpart of the Moebius strip is utilized,
namely, the Klein bottle. The presentation concludes by enlisting
phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of depth to interpret the Klein
bottle’s extra dimension.
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