Semiosis and the elusive final interpretant of understanding

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Abstract

While the conceptual history of the sign, as recounted by John Deely in Four ages of understanding, is immensely enlightening, history is never enough. If, before Augustine, it had occurred to no one that such diverse phenomena as are covered by this term had something in common, and if, in the time of Aquinas, Fonseca, and Poinsot, different usages of the term were in competition, the reason is not simply intellectual confusion, but rather that meaning is of many kinds. In this essay, I have shifted the terrain from socio-history to phylogeny and ontogeny, suggesting that, in the child, as well as in the human species, perception is the primary type of meaning, whereas true signs are acquired much later, followed by signs systems and organism-independent artifacts. The whole point of having a semiotic theory, it is argued, is to be able to account for the differences, and not only the similarities, of different kinds of meaning.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature

Keywords

  • psychology, ecological, phenomenology, Umwelt, picture, sign, intentionality
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-258
JournalSemiotica
Volume179
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes