What is a sign? It is a deceptively difficult question–deceptive because we think we know when we have never bothered truly to ask the question. We believe that we see and hear signs everywhere: guiding our use of streets, telling us where to exit, the location of the bathroom, what dangers might lie ahead, and so on. But in truth, though we experience signification in this instances, the things we identify as the “signs”–the on the street corner, the plastic “EXIT” over a fire door, the nondescript white silhoutte of a representatively feminine shape over one door, the print of a large clawed mammal in soft dirt–are only a part of the signs that we experience.

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Lyceum Institute Seminars

And so, you now stand today on the edge of a road: a road little used and oft neglected for the previous four centuries, but for the occasional intrepid traveller—its development abandoned very nearly at this spot where you stand today.  Where does it go—where ought it to go?  And from where does it come?  To answer the latter, we must know something of the former: and it is this knowledge that the seminar intends to provide, with indications for where the road leads and where it ought to lead.

First Lecture, “An Abbreviated History” – Preview

There are few works which have received less of the attention they deserve than the Cursus philosophicus of John Poinsot—more commonly known as John of St. Thomas, for his professed fidelity to the teaching of Thomas Aquinas.  Within this cursus—a tome spanning 2348 pages—Poinsot addresses logic both formally and materially, as well as many intricacies of natural philosophy pertaining to physics, life, and psychology.  But dispersed through these considerations there exists an implicit treatise, one concerned with an element essential to understanding not only topics logical but also natural; namely, the treatise on signs.  This treatise was extracted, translated, edited, and compiled by John Deely (following a cue from Poinsot himself) and published in 1985 under the title Tractatus de  Signis: The Semiotic of John Poinsot, with a second edition released in 2013. 

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will carefully survey this text we will discover the Way of Signs—that long-abandoned road—and thereby reclaim not only the history of thought abandoned by modernity but find a way forward past its recalcitrance to the realist thought of semiotics. The instructor for this seminar is Brian Kemple, PhD, the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Kemple here.

WHEN: Saturdays from 20 March through 8 May 2021, from 1:00-2:00pm [Session 1] and 8:30-9:30pm [Session 2] Eastern Time US.

WHERE: on the Lyceum Institute platform run through Microsoft Teams.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, with discounts for those who are professors and clergy (whose continuing education is not sufficiently prioritized by their institutions) and for students (who are already taxed excessively by the educational system). However, if you are part of the working world and wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the “standard” rate, it is acceptable to sign up at one of these discounted prices. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot – Standard

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Price is suggested for those with full-time employment.


[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot – Professor / Clergy

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for professional academics and clergy.


[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot – Student

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for students and others with part-time employment.



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