Let There Be Light!

The binary system V404-Cygni 8,000 light years from earth is a microquasar that contains a black hole more than nine times the mass of our own sun. The best evidence of the existence of black holes comes from binary systems where visible stars orbit an unknown mass, and a recent find has shown V404-Cygni rapidly rotating and pulling gas from the nearby star and ejecting the spiralling plasma in different directions back out into space rather than straight along the axis.

It has been suggested that this new find could be applied to systems much larger than V404-Cygni and particularly how these black holes can affect time and space, especially when the ejected plasma reaches the speed of light that then channels into much larger regions of space. But, how can the governing gravitational and kinetic energy transfer – as seen similarly with astrophysical jets spewing out from the centre of galaxies -communicate the relativistic effects on physics at a large-scale? Read More

Saolré: The Cycle of Life

As I prepare for my trip to beautiful, mythical Ireland in a few months, I am excited about visiting Newgrange (Gaelic sí an bhrú), which is a prehistoric 6,000 year old megalithic in County Meath. What is unique about this monument is that during the Winter Solstice, the sun rises over Boyne Valley and the beams of light strike into the passage chamber. It has been suggested that it was designed to observe solar and lunar cycles as well as that of Venus, but the attachment to astronomical and calendrical cycles with ancient mythological lore is clear, such as Aengus and Caer (I will be writing more about Irish myths and legends at a later date). What is more obvious is the understanding of the importance of cycles that exist in nature and our universe. Read More

Thermodynamics and the Arrow of Time

To say an ‘Arrow of Time’ is to say that time itself is linear and one-directional. In thermodynamics, the second law dictates that everything moves in one-direction from a state of order towards disorder and entropy is the statistical measurement of this asymmetry in an isolated system. The universe is, for instance, this isolated system and as a consequence it is impossible to reverse this arrow of time and travel backwards just as much as the continuity of disorder will never decrease. Newton’ equations and other laws in physics, however, can be reversed and thus this ‘order’ is arrived from a state of equilibrium as it moves forward toward disorder. Read More

Love: Time and Consciousness

According to Descartes, the behaviour of non-human animals are automaton and driven by physical responses. Humans have the cognitive capacity to experience the external world consciously, but there is a moment where – from a child who develops his automatic behavioural responses through social and environmental interaction in a determined landscape – transcends to form an ability to become self-aware, a mind now enabled with consciousness. Read More

Gravitational Repulsion: Is Zero Building An Eternally Expanding Universe?

Non-inflationary theories of the genesis of the universe or what we know as the big bang effectively only discuss the hydrogen and helium particles etc &c., that fill the universe or what occurred after the birth of the universe, and now that evidence has been shown[1] that the universe is actually expanding, it has led to questions of what could have been prior to the bang in a much more sophisticated manner. And there are multiple theories, such as Brane collision or the collision of two dimensions or that the universe is formed from within a black hole, all of which are interesting particularly with new areas of thought viz., superstrings and the cyclic universe model, but certainly not as persuasive as cosmic inflation and the multiverse theory.

It is a theory that the universe is constantly expanding, while the density remains at a constant and during the process of decay, pockets of new universes form making our universe one of multiple universes in an eternal stretch of fields. The idea of the cosmological constant λ was formulated by Einstein in his theory of general relativity to describe a static universe prior to Hubble’ discovery that the universe was actually expanding and at the time he himself even rejected this equation, however it appears that the answer for cosmic inflation and the uniformity of the universe can unexpectedly be explained by it. How? According to Alan Guth it can be explained through repulsive gravity, namely that negative pressure can push exponential expansion far greater than its capacity for decay.

At this point where I found myself throwing whatever it was in my hand, cursing and walking briskly around the room for no apparent reason other than sheer excitement. How can zero build an eternally expanding universe? At elementary level, the underpinning of the cosmological constant is that gravity is not always attractive and can behave repulsively,[2] a necessary formulation to counter the problem with a static universe and the big crunch [collapse of the universe]; the negative pressure will provide the force that pushes things apart while the positive three-dimensional field will keep it together as they work in uniformity and subsequently expand. Whilst Einstein’ depiction of the universe may have been incorrect and why the theory was abandoned, the equations nevertheless remained functional with the laws of general relativity, hence its revival particularly within particle physics.

Gravitational repulsion requires a negative pressure, the latter along with energy density can produce cosmic gravitational fields.[3] In Newtonian physics, gravity is an attractive force and yet in the absence of pressure [pressure is a form of gravity] produces deceleration, even with gravitational fields having negative energy. As a comparative analogy, Coulomb’s inverse-square law in proportion to two charges divided by the square of the distance between them[4] (viz. gravity), the constant in the law is that the force between two positive charges is proportional to the product of their charges (like how two positive charges repel one another) and to calculate the energy density in an electrostatic field, more charge would induce more electric force that it no longer depends on the quantity of the charge, thus the two cancel each other out. In gravitational energy terms, not everything is positive and there are negative energies, with positive energy inflating or getting larger as long as there is an accompaniment of increasing quantity of negative energy, thus both offset each other and you have expansion locked at an exponential rate. In order for inflation to begin, a portion of this negative pressure is required for the existence of the early universe, namely that within the context of the grand unification theory – the merging of strong and weak nuclear forces along with gravitation and electromagnetism into a singular interaction – and the energy of the electromagnetic forces interact to form a unified energy value. This very portion of what becomes the big bang and the universe as we know it would be about the size of 10^-28cm (assuming energies being at 10^16 GeV – the problem of thermodynamic arrow relates to inhomogeneity[5] in that anything larger or smaller would make the universe blow apart or suck away galaxies into black holes, an important algorithm vis-à-vis temporal asymmetry where the time-dependence of Ω-1 changes, of which I will discuss later). It then grows at an exponential rate to build what we know as the universe and the mass density does not decrease, namely that it expands at a constant density. Where does the energy – that is constant per volume during growth – come from? As energy equals to positive matter and negative gravity, they cancel one another out in perfect harmony and thus the total energy levels for the universe can be measured at zero.

The universe has no energy? *Quizzical look

Acceleration? This is where the concept of ‘dark energy’ [what I call the ‘will’ of the universe] which makes up about ¾ of the universe comes to the fore or what is known as vacuum energy, considered to be empty [although in cosmology whilst the structure is fundamental to empty space nonetheless contains an energy density, namely the conservation of energy can occur at zero]. The total energy at the beginning of the universe must be at zero with the negative contribution to the energy of the cosmic gravitational field cancelling the energy of matter. Inflation as a constant and eternal is only possible at 0 where matter is being created by the inflation but controlled by the non-uniformity in perfect harmony. The repulsive gravity that drives inflation nevertheless decays [t=10^-33 seconds after the big bang] but the inflation itself remains eternal because the growth of the volume is faster – hence the importance of the thermodynamic arrow of time – than the metastable rate of the decay; the material formed during this process thus becomes the particles required to produce the very same material that forms another universe, ad infinitum (radiation density during this time redshifts away – again I will discuss later in addition to how dark energy appeases the early specialness issue by smoothening the inflationary transition). States of equilibrium can nonetheless be achieved in unstable, disordered environments, such as balancing a spinning basketball on an index finger where for a brief moment in time is in perfect equilibrium but certainly not at a stable one. Inflation is really the physics of scalar fields φ and matter; the particles that make up the universe that form the stuff following the initial phase of inflation leading to the big bang are merely the quantum representation of the (Higgs) fields. In particle physics, the nonzero Higgs field – which is responsible for the emergence of elementary particle masses – contains both positive and negative contributions and has a constant value at every space time point. Observable quantum density fluctuations and tensor perturbations in scalar fields can explain the source of temperature anisotropies (along with universal isotropy, its massive size and relative homogeneity) in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation.[6] As the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than slowing down under the influence of gravity, it indicates that vacuum energy is simply the energy of empty space and though empty has a mass density (which would mean that it is not actually empty).

Nevertheless, there are a plethora of issues raised at this point. The confusion or controversy really boils down to the concept of disorder and the cosmological epoch. Namely, is the universe a n-dimensional De Sitter space dSn, is it a 3-manifold Poincaré dodecahedral space, the flatness problem where Euclidian geometry applies only at a large scale; is it three-dimensional, four-dimensional, or nine-dimensional squished into three as string theorists propose? The other and perhaps more interesting one is the problem of entropy potentially being extremely low at this point. Whilst warm inflation – modelled on the standard or ‘cold’ inflationary theory[7] – purports a small portion of the vacuum energy density is converted to radiation, whereby the radiation density stabilises during the process of coupling [between inflation and radiation fields], during the decay phase, the scalar field oscillates to become radiation particles that slowly reheats the universe and when this occurs [reheating and inflation together] they become coupled into a unified process. The connection between the flatness problem and entropy is a complex one, particularly related to whether the early universe was adiabatic and why spatially the conditions at the beginning were flat. When inflation begins, the energy stored in the gravitational field as it expands increases whilst the energy density remains constant, thus the gravitational field itself has a repulsive energy density as it expands in volume, with the total energy being very close to 0 without violating the conservation of energy. It may mean that inflation requires a non-adiabatic, extremely low entropy to occur, entropy being the measure of randomness and low entropy itself considered perfectly ordered. If inflation increases entropy, it appears that at the point of inflation, the entropy had to be smaller and the uniformity of the energy density during inflation becomes responsible for the low entropy conditions. What is currently in debate is namely why – in the past – did the universe begin with low entropy and yet the product being the second law of thermodynamics?

I want to maintain that the observable universe (and one should note the keyword here being ‘observable’) would imply that the universe is flat (k=0) or that inflation is pushing Ω to 1 with Ω being the mass density divided by critical mass density, thus the asymptotic curvature of the universe is being exponentially flattened by the expansion at 10^35 seconds after the bang. What that means is that should Ω=1 the curvature must equal to 0 (or be extremely close to it) and the effect would be infinite expansion. Thinking about that model, such expansion could causally be the precise reason we have an arrow of time fixed in perfect and irremediable harmony, although no theory of randomness can explain the arrow of time and the problem of low entropy during the early phase of the universe and the successive phase transition of expansion and cooling. When assessing temporal asymmetry, however, the concept of low entropy during the beginning phases of the universe – whilst objectionable or perhaps superfluous – is nevertheless useful when ascertaining the thermodynamic arrow.

The second law of thermodynamics purports that the time flows in a linear direction as we know it, namely from past to present to future. The question here is that as the universe expands and progresses over this time, from an ordered state – namely that of low-entropy – it is moving toward a high-entropy disordered universe. Entanglement in ordinary quantum mechanics, which can perhaps work as a correlation in that the measurements of the relationship between two particles relies on contact sometime in the past, the interaction or exchange following even when these particles are at a far distance and in a disordered state from one another remain organised and can even affect one another’ quantum state. As a consequence, while separate their properties can only be measured as one. There is an invisible but an active link between the particles. In quantum field theory, entanglement entropy rather than being a correlation contains causality under the assumption that symmetry of a pure state that has ergodic properties.

The total energy at the beginning of the universe started at very close to zero and the negative contribution to the energy of the gravitational field cancels the energy of matter and thus repulsive gravity drives inflation with the growth volume faster than the decay, allowing the physical universe to expand exponentially. We are able to confirm relative homogeneity and isotropy through the fluctuations imprinted in the anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background and gives light to the conditions of the early universe, which was once filled with plasma but where photons themselves – whilst moving at the speed of light – remained immobile in the density and so velocity stood at zero. As the universe expanded, the plasma cooled and became a gas and as such cosmologists began to question thermal equilibrium, the second law of thermodynamics and entropy, the latter allegedly being low during the early epoch of the universe. Thus in continuation, the problem we face here is that as the universe expands and progresses over this time, from an ordered state – namely that of low-entropy – toward a disordered high-entropy, the latter itself dependent on the arrow of time, how exactly can the early universe in the past, where it was hotter and denser and had a stronger gravitation pull, be perfectly smooth?

Hubble expansion, which is about 70km per megaparsec, is the expansion rate that we see at present with the inflationary epoch ending 10^-32 seconds after the big bang to expand at the rate of the Hubble constant.[8] If the universe was thus once condensed to a very small size until it expanded at a factor of 10^26 due to inflation and eventually ending that lead to a fixed or steady expansion as we know is now taking place, the process itself nevertheless preserves the subatomic smoothness that the initial conditions held. This is particularly coherent when assuming that we are a part of a multiverse. In Einstein’ GR field equations, he applied the cosmological constant Λ in an attempt to explain a static universe prior to Hubble’ expanding one and thus later rejected it, however for both inflation and dark energy, the ubiquitous Λ becomes a necessary algorithm that binds the theory together as the energy density of the latter in particular causally drives expansion and a flat universe that can expand infinitely. With Riemannian geometry, cosmological observations of the CMB radiation through the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) have measured angles that add to exactly 180 degrees, which in a Euclidean space purports a universe that is k=0 or flat[9] and as its density remains constant as it expands, dark energy or the energy of empty space itself plays a vital role. The horizon problem also shows that the temperatures at different directions of the CMB radiation are uniform to almost 1 part in 10^4 [accounting a minor electric dipole] or 1 part in 10,000 and therefore almost the same – something that should not actually be possible – purporting that the only solution to this thermal equilibrium is inflation. That is, for example, regions billions of light years in opposite directions must communicate or interact in some manner to reach this symmetry and the explanation is that they – at one point in time – were interacting and the process of inflation has stretched them out into altered directions, thus favouring the model of an isotropic and homogenous universe.

As there is an arrow of time and as the universe is expanding, in the past the universe would have been infinitesimally smaller particularly as we reach the beginning of time. As such, the density and heat would have been higher – something clearly attributable to the CMB radiation – and the fact that perfection or a state of low-entropy is requisite should we adhere to thermodynamic laws and the direction of time, the conditions of the big bang becomes formidable. In addition, if the initial conditions were not perfectly ordered and smooth, it would have fizzled away. As mentioned, assuming the universe is geometrically flat because of the ratio between the mass density and the critical mass density being very close to Ω =1 and stabilised through the force of repulsive gravity as illustrated by the cosmological constant, is the fabric of the universe smoothing as it expands. I will write more about the Arrow of Time and Thermodynamics in my next post.


[1] Stephen T. Thornton and Andrew Rex, Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Cengage Learning (2012) 578
[2] Behram N. Kursunogammalu, Stephan L. Mintz, Arnold Perlmutter, The Role of Neutrinos, Strings, Gravity, and Variable Cosmological Constant in Elementary Particle Physics, Springer Science & Business Media (2007) 182
[3] Maurizio Gasperini, The Universe Before the Big Bang: Cosmology and String Theory, 160
[4] John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin, Jonathan Gribbin, Q is for Quantum: An Encyclopedia of Particle Physics, Simon and Schuster (2000) 92
[5] Murray Gell-Mann and James B. Hartle, Time Symmetry and Asymmetry in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Cosmology,  (February, 2008)
[6] Alejandro Gangui, Cosmic Microwave Background Anisotropies and Theories of the Early Universe, SISSA-International School for Advanced Studies (1995)
[7] Mar Bastero-Gil, Arjun Berera, Ian G. Moss, Rudnei O. Ramos, Theory of non-Gaussianity in warm inflation (Dec 2014)
[8] Cesare Emiliani, Planet Earth: Cosmology, Geology, and the Evolution of Life and Environment, Cambridge University Press (1992) 68
[9] Carlos I. Calle, Einstein For Dummies, Wiley (2005) 309
[10] Don S. Lemons, A Student’s Guide to Entropy, Cambridge University Press (2013) 72

Semiotics and Political Legitimacy

In the Book of Matthew, the disciples question why Jesus spoke to the people in parables, for which he responded with, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.” Let us assume for a moment that since the kingdom of heaven is the location for those morally worthy (the loving and virtuous) and awareness of these mysteries of the kingdom of heaven is moral consciousness that enables access to subjectively  understand love and virtue, indirect communication using parables or stories that illustrate moral lessons enable us to digest and gradually form a narrative that articulates this moral consciousness. For us to ‘see’ the value of morality without feeling confronted or overwhelmed as one would when our own personal actions of wrongdoing are directly demonstrated. A parable is a story that contains a symbol that prompts our imagination to find meaning of this symbol vis-à-vis our own interpretations of the external world, the choices we make, the perceptions we have; it is an internal process that validates the motivation and the will to conduct ourselves parallel to this symbol.

Unlike Hermeneutics that is concerned with the methodological application of interpreting text, discourse and art, Semiotics captures the complex relationship between our interpretation of a sign and the meaning and significance this interpretation has to the structure of our representations. A sign is the medium that enables us to attach significance as we interpret certain features and mediate an effect that vehicles our understanding. Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason discusses a concept known as Transcendental Idealism, whereby objects are merely appearances in relation to our temporal and spatial experience of the external world and that we can “only cognize that we, in principle, only intuit.”[1]

When a person looks at an object, how is meaning constructed? For linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the most sophisticated interpretive tool we have is language, however syntax and semantics are a part of a broader system that examines meaning and form. Accordingly, the fundamental basis of a sign requires a signifier or the object and the signified or what it represents[2] and it cannot be a sign without one or the other. A red rose is a flower, but it can also signify romance and love. An image of an apple can also signify health, or temptation to evil, or even an iPhone or iPad. The combination between a signifier and the signified (though arbitrarily linked) is psychological rather than a substance that illustrates a recognisable association predisposed by an assortment of sociocultural and religious connotations and denotations.

A logo of a brand such as Mercedes-Benz promotes an abstract intension of prestige and wealth; however the process for which this occurs is not formless, but rather linked through an association of mental constructs and sensory linguistic impressions that indirectly identify concepts or content to real-world referents. A number of anthropological, psychological, sociological, and political stimuli relationally contained within a linguistic structure motivate how we feel and perceive.

One intriguing aspect to structuralist theory is the view of negative differentiation, whereby, “[I]n a language, as in every other semiological system, what distinguishes a sign is what constitutes it.”[3] What this purports is that meaningful contrasts in relational identity of signs is explained by oppositional combinations between what one is and what one is not; two negatives that form a positive result. For instance, we differentiate through this opposition the letters of the alphabet against one another and the result is forming a word. The differences between the signifier and signified are either syntagmatic – define meaning through the narrative structure or flow – or paradigmatic – define meaning through a thematic structure or an interrelation with other subgroups – that organise our vocabulary.[4] There is no word BBBBBB and conveys how meaning is formed because of the arbitrariness of language in contrast and opposition between combinations rather than an acquisition of predefined structural categories. The question here is whether language reflects reality or whether it constructs it? Is there a fundamental unity between the signifier and the signified, or is one an authority over the other making language autonomous to reality?

Unlike Saussure, Charles Pierce divided this communication into a tripartite between the representament (signifier), object (signified) and interpretant (the sign), whereby the latter sign is utilised as a tool to translate the representament. Communication between the three is interdependent and contingent on social conventions that enable one to form order and structure to the narrative flow, with the signs themselves being symbolic, iconic or indexical. An index is representative of causally identifiable fact, while an icon is reliant on a shared quality defined by a sensory feature, but a symbolic sign contains no anchor or clear relationship with the signified and while it holds no substance or value until the subject can form such complex combinations, meaning is given to a symbol via an associative process of signification between sign and object. The broad characteristics of symbols are not identified but constructed by capturing a rather narrow and general logic consisting of social convention and other general features as well as singular variables like habits; a public speech – such as those given by Adolf Hitler – exemplify how power and legitimacy is asserted in the symbolism of the effectiveness of the display rather than the logic of the speech itself and the motivation that gives meaning to this symbol is a combination of a number of social and political conventions. As said by Erich Fromm in the Fear of Freedom:

We forget that, although freedom of speech constitutes an important victory in the battle against old restraints, modern man is in a position where much of what “he” thinks and says are the things that everybody else thinks and says; that he has not acquired the ability to think originally – that is, for himself – which alone gives meaning to his claim that nobody can interfere with the expression of his thoughts.

In an exploration of Freudian psychoanalytic thought, the relationship between the unconscious and conscious similarly engages in a discourse where the subject is confronted by the psychic processes, namely the Ego – the identification of the ‘self’ or the conscious realm – and the by the Id – the instinctual unaffected by reality or the unconscious realm. The Supergo or the identification of an ideal and moral person formed by this communication between the two psychic processes vis-à-vis the relationship a person has between their subjective experience and their experience with the external world. The structure of this narrative remains arbitrary to capture a continuum that provides the versatility that make the complex system functional, developing meaningful contrasts using negative differentiation to form a positive result, namely a morally conscious person. Jacques Lacan purports that the signifier is master over the signified[5] whereby the latter is determined by the former and governed by mental correlations with its environment.

He identified a triptych of human experience between the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real: “’Imaginary’ is the deceptive universe of fascinating images and the subject’s identification with them: ‘Symbolic’ is the differential structure which organizes our experience of meaning; ‘Real’ is the point of resistance, the traumatic ‘indivisible remainder’ that resists symbolization.”[6]

Lacan viewed the unconscious as having a language, but symbols contain a number of characteristics including the individual subjectivity and their identification within their social environment and structure that inevitably asserts an influence over the formation of any realistic narrative. This begins during childhood, whereby the lack of cognitive sophistication in children where motor and linguistic skills mature as a result of identifying and learning by mirroring, their development can potentially be thwarted where they channel the imaginative – which is a part of the structure of subjectivity and the unconscious – as a coping mechanism to articulate an identification with the external world or Other (they imagine what the other person or object is). An individual’ singular variables could be distorted by childhood experiences where they become caught in the symbolic and imaginative realm that relies on social convention, distinguishing him/herself by contrasting a relational identity with the Other and forming negative differentiation to solidify a self-identity. Discourse is thus saturated by the unconscious, the symbolic, the imaginative.

Comparatively, capitalism is only constructed by the supporting notion of the ideological position it holds and it is not a reflection of reality, but rather its reality is determined because of the legitimacy the superstructure contributes to it. Slavoj Žižek utilizes Lacanian psychoanalysis to examine ideology as a political discourse that secures public consent, however this consent must appear to be an independent expression; it is not about enslaving an ideological position, but rather enabling a distance to the portal of this identification with political life, where ideological rituals saturate social and political values and ideals that shapes the identification to the Lacanian master signifier.

It is a decisive penetration of values implemented by the signifier that utilises the vulnerabilities of the unconscious or imaginative through a symbolic identification. “We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game’s outcome.”[7] The arbitrariness of political and ideological positions that enable political change are not necessarily an outcome of sharply changing views from A to B, but rather a type of disillusionment or disenchantment that establishes a cynicism due to a lack of credibility; when the soccer team is year after year losing games.

Democracy can thus camouflage existing ideological positions and Žižek’ thought experiment on The Fisher King paints a picture of what a person, politics and indeed society would actually be should this subjective, symbolic or imaginative domain no longer dominate our identification with the external world. Following a Foucauldian view of power (see my article here) that enables a productive social matrix vis-à-vis this negative differential with the Other, legitimacy or authority is narrated through claims of individual capacity to act as an authority or ruler; a person cannot just label themselves as a ruler but must articulate why they are capable above all else to be a ruler.[8] Hitler, notwithstanding his clear methods of cutting any opposition was nevertheless democratically elected as he narrated an Aryan struggle of the Germanic people – a highly imaginative symbol – together with his position to transform this condition by coherently proving why they are the key person or key political party to enable this.

We identify and understand formal categories under the structure similar to Kant’ transcendental object, namely that we intuit representations of objects through the thing-in-itself or the pure concept as interpreted a priori. That is, ideology can function in a way that makes sense of and enables subjects to believe and accept outcomes despite these outcomes being potentially irrational and even extremely violent as legitimacy in these decisions are communicated and represented to be a part of an indivisible pure concept or a transcendental object. In paternalistic, male-dominated or misogynistic environments, all women are categorized as the same and symbolise the necessary Other, the negative association that forms positive self-identification.

Power in Hitler’ legitimacy was primarily sourced by the Jew, the Roma gypsies, people with disabilities; Othering enables a distinction and the ideology is fundamental foundation that signifies legitimacy to this identification without necessarily being subject to the signified or what Kant referred to as transcendental illusions. What this means is that ontologically power in ideology is afforded legitimacy by the presupposition that we, “[t]ake a subjective necessity of a connection of our concepts…for an objective necessity in the determination of things in themselves,”[9] and tricks reason rather than the senses. Laws that bind ideological communities cannot be questions, they just are, necessary and thus legitimacy is given power when entrenched with imaginative ideological symbols grounded in the assumption that it is a part of an unquestionable, transcendent or higher plane of authority. Political legitimacy is constructed in the same way as language, forming a narrative that motivates an associative process of signification between sign and object that establishes meaning to a symbol.

Kant’ dialectic is to expose these illusions (or perhaps I should say this illusion) and the identification of legitimacy in political and social discourse predicates how the architecture of power is constructed. Power can be symbolised in many ways and does not need to be pronounced, for instance propaganda and the use of imagery as a symbolic technique that can reinforce a belief in this power. The question thus formed is what exactly makes people susceptible to conform and confidently articulate a devotion to a potentially hegemonic power with a deadly agenda? Semiotics can be used to translate this method of mobilisation and ascertain how communication within this sphere of influence can frame the construction of a political and social will. At an epistemic level, consciousness is wedged into the dominion of our imagination where the symbolic message is so powerful that it can enable conformity without the individual even being aware of why. On the contrary, real power is afforded when the individual assumes that they are the ones effectively making this decision.


[1] Critique of Pure Reason (A239)
[2] Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (trans. Roy Harris), Duckworth (1983) 66
[3] Ibid., 119
[4] Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (trans. Roy Harris), Duckworth (1983) 121
[5] Jacques  Lacan, Écrits (trans. Alan Sheridan), Routledge (1977) 149
[6] Slavoj Zizek, Jacques Lacan: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory, Psychology Press (2002) 2
[7] Slavoj Žižek, ‘O Earth Pale Mother!’ In These Times (2010)
[8] See http://www.iep.utm.edu/zizek/
[9] Paul Guyer, The Cambridge Companion to Kant, Cambridge University Press (1992) 251