Signs of Meaning: The Need for Semiotics

In this first public Colloquium hosted by the Lyceum Institute, we ask: why is semiotics important? Why do we need it?

Join the live Q&A here
Thursday 7 July 2022 6:00pm ET

(click here to see your local time)
Lecture Below

“Allow me to begin with a prefatory comment: it is difficult to give a presentation on semiotics for two reasons. The first, and perhaps more obvious reason, is that few people know what it really is. It is an unusual word—a word that may sound somehow exciting, but also mysterious. The second, very much related to the first, is that semiotics is at once a relatively new doctrine and yet it subsumes and incorporates and even elevates disciplines very ancient. Its explicit recognition has been rare, but its implicit influence ubiquitous in time and place. Moreover, semiotics brings us face to face with something unknown and yet nevertheless deeply familiar; and perhaps, even, unknown because it is so familiar: namely, signs.

“And so, although the temptation in a presentation such as this—this presentation serving as a certain kind of introduction to semiotics—the temptation is to pass a considerable amount of time traversing the meandering inquiry of what semiotics is—wending through the particularities of its doctrines, its terminologies, its histories—despite this temptation, I will spend relatively little time re-treading those already well-worn steps. There are many books, papers, and presentations already extant which cover the doctrinal, terminological, and historical grounds. Despite these introductions, semiotics remains somewhat mysterious to many. And so I wish today to head in a different direction, and I hope that you all will walk this perhaps even-more meandering path alongside me, for I believe it will give a kind of circumspective view of that well-tread ground, and thereby dispel some of the enigma.”


Brian Kemple holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, in Houston TX, where he wrote his dissertation under the inimitable John Deely. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. He has published two scholarly books—Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition (Brill: 2017) and The Intersections of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue (De Gruyter: 2019), as well as a number of scholarly articles, popular articles, and his own Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person (2019) and the forthcoming Linguistic Signification: A Classical Course in Grammar and Composition (2021).

How Truthful is the “Proof of the Truthful”?

In the third Lyceum Institute Colloquium of the year, we present Dr. Catherine Peters, who takes up a controversy between the Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Averroes concerning the “proof of the truthful”:

ABSTRACT: The “Proof of the Truthful” is Avicenna’s most famous argument for the existence of God. Beginning with the essential possibility of creatures, he argues that there must be a first, necessary, cause: God. This argument came to be known as the “Proof of the Truthful” because it proposes an argument which is, in theory, accessible to any rational being (not just to the “wise” or religiously affiliated). In this way, it is the “most truthful.” Though compelling, Avicenna’s proof has not escaped criticism, most notably from Averroes, who rejected Avicenna’s conception of “possibility” and “necessity.” Rejecting these concepts can have far-reaching consequences, not only for the cogency of Avicennian metaphysics, but for any natural theology that seeks to employ these concepts. The present study, therefore, will first defends “necessary” and “possible” as formulated in the metaphysics of Avicenna. It will then show how these concepts serve as premises in the “Proof of the Truthful.” Third, it will address and refute Averroes’ criticisms.

Dr. Peters’ paper is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live Question & Answer session will be held on 16 June 2022 (Thursday) at 6:00pm ET.

Enroll

Colloquia are available at every level of membership for the Lyceum Institute — starting as low as $10.50/month.

See enrollment options here.

The Problem of Christian Philosophy

In the second of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia in 2022, we present Dr. James Capehart, who brings us discussion of Christian Philosophy as it has been viewed in the Christian Middle Ages as well as transmitted through the debates of the 20th century.

How in fact is Christian philosophy a problem? The wording itself has proven to be the most problematic. Can there be a philosophy that is truly Christian? Does “Christian” specifically differentiate “philosophy”? Does that turn it into a theology? Given the existence of numerous volumes of Christian works of theology, can we say that any of their contents should be called philosophical? Is any of that content unique to Christian thinkers?

The Problem of Christian Philosophy – Preview

Dr. Capehart’s lecture is now available at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 14 May 2022 (Saturday) at 6:00pm ET. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

The colloquium lecture delivered in December 2020 by Kirk Kanzelberger, PhD “Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human” is now available to the public. You can listen or download below (full lecture at the bottom). Please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute if you enjoy this lecture! The Lyceum Institute is currently fundraising for 2022 to support the pursuit of philosophy and dedicated thinkers like Dr. Kanzelberger in their research, teaching, and publications.

Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger

Preview – Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger: Mending the Cartesian Rift: Walker Percy on Being Human

“Our view of the world, which we get consciously or unconsciously from modern science, is radically incoherent,” argues Walker Percy in “The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind.” The dualism of Descartes — the rift between man as psyche and man as organism — continues to pervade our inherited view of the world and scientific practice. And yet it was a century ago and more that Charles Sanders Peirce indicated the road to a more coherent anthropology based upon the crucial datum of the triadic sign-relation that unites “mental” and “physical” in one single natural event.

This lecture explores Percy’s argument and its background in the thought of Descartes and Peirce, and provides an assessment of this final public articulation by Percy concerning the issues that preoccupied him as a writer: the contemporary predicament of the human being, lost in the cosmos that it understands more and more, while understanding itself less and less.

If you enjoyed this lecture, please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute with a small donation.

Lyceum Schedule [8/15-8/21]

Weekly Schedule of Events

8/16 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

8/17 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  Open to the public: use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Happy Hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

8/18 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

8/19 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Elementary Latin Class (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Via Romae sunt multa et utile — audes quomodo servus improbus Medus ambulat ad Romam dum servi boni suos dominus in lecticam vehunt.  Legimus et convertimus ex capitulo VI!

8/20 Friday

  • Open Chat (9:30-10:30am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

8/21 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Emere et vendere–labor mercatorum–est labor periculosus: quia saepe merces pretiosas in mare mersae sunt!  Discemus delphini, Arionis, Orpheus et plus dum legemus et convertemus ex capitulo XXIX!
  • Colloquium Discussion: Immediate or Delayed Hominization? (1-2pm ET).  With the discussion led by Dr. Michel Accad, Lyceum Institute members are invited to read a 1970 article by Fr. Joseph Donceel and a 1995 article by Fr. William Wallace on the question of whether hominization is immediate (upon conception) or delayed (occurring between conception and birth).  You can find the meeting thread here.

UPCOMING

9/1 Wednesday – Two sessions for the Quaestiones Disputatae, open for Inquirere or Defensio.  Morning (for Eastern members) and Evening (for Western members).  Anyone is welcome at either or both sessions.

Fall seminars will begin the first week of October!  Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger will be teaching on Evil, Dr. Matthew Minerd on Art, Aesthetics, and Thomism, and Dr. Kemple on the Metaphysics of God.  DETAILS TO COME THIS WEEK!

Trivium – tentative start date for the Grammar & Composition portion is planned for the week of September 19th.  

Symposium – beginning in October, Dr. Mark McCullough will be leading a twice-monthly discussion session proceeding through Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Details will be shared soon for this new experimental offering.

Lyceum Schedule [8/8-8/14]

Weekly Schedule of Events

8/9 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (6:00-6:30pm ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!  Testing out varied times for practice!

8/10 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:o0am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  Open to the public: use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Happy Hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

8/11 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (6:00-6:30pm ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!  Testing out varied times for practice!

8/12 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Elementary Latin Class (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Discimus de familiam Iulii et Aemiliae, etiam villam et hortum!  Legimus et convertimus ex capitulo V!

8/13 Friday

  • Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

8/14 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  “Quis est ille dominus tuus cui mare et venti oboedire videntur?” Medus inquit Lydiam.  Et ea instruit eum miraculos Iesu.  Legemus et convertemus ex capitulo XVIII!

UPCOMING

8/21 Saturday – A Colloquium Discussion on Immediate or Delayed Hominization.

9/1 Wednesday – Two sessions for the Quaestiones Disputatae, open for Inquirere or Defensio.  Morning (for Eastern members) and Evening (for Western members).  Anyone is welcome at either or both sessions.

Fall seminars will begin the first week of October!  Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger will be teaching on Evil, Dr. Matthew Minerd on Art, Aesthetics, and Thomism, and Dr. Kemple on the Metaphysics of God.  Keep your eyes open for more!

Trivium – stay tuned for updates!

This Week [7/4-7/10]

Weekly Schedule of Events

7/5 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.
  • Semiotics: An Introduction (6:00-6:45pm ET).  The second discussion of the week for the Semiotics seminar–discussing C.S. Peirce’s “What Is a Sign?” and “Of Reasoning in General”, wherein we see the application of his categories to his semiotics in a consideration of the procession of thought.

7/6 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:00-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  Open to the public: use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “Happy Hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

7/7 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

7/8 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:00-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!

7/9 Friday

  • Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Colloquium Q&A (6:30-7:30pm ET).  Our own Dr. Michel Accad, MD, answers our questions concerning his lecture and articles on Wholes and Parts: A Thomistic Refutation of Brain Death.  You can learn more about the colloquium here.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

7/10 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Heu!  Marcus, discipulus improbus, esse vanidicus patefaciet.  Et Iulius argutiolam exercebit!  Legemus et convertemus (in linguam Anglicam) capitulum XXIII ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata.
  • Seminar Discussion Sessions: Already halfway through!  Where does the time go?
    • ​​​​​​​Science: Aristotle’s Organon (1-2pm ET).  Taking over for the second half of the seminar, Professor Boyer will undertake to show for us the necessary conditions of science (ἐπιστήμη) by leading the participants through a close reading of Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, I.1-4.
    • Semiotics: An Introduction (3-4pm ET).  Though provisionally mentioned throughout heretofore, a close examination of the nature of triadic relations now shows itself as necessary for progressing deeper into an understanding of Peirce’s semiotics as revealed in some of his personal correspondence with Lady Victoria Welby and William James.
    • Thomistic Psychology: World and Passions (5-6pm ET).  We continue this week with a consideration of the passion of sorrow, turning our attention from its causes and effects to a consideration of its remedy: how do we, in this world today, overcome not only the sorrows of lost particular goods, but the sorrow underlying our culturally-enmeshed lives?

Defending and Meditating on First Principles

The colloquium lecture delivered in May 2020 by Dr. Matthew Minerd, “Defending and Meditating on First Principles: Wisdom and Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange” is now available to the public. You can listen or download below. Please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute if you enjoy this lecture! Your donations allow us to support talented academics like Dr. Minerd in their research, teaching, and publications.

Defending and Meditating on First Principles: Wisdom and Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Dr. Matthew Minerd

Preview – Dr. Matthew Minerd: Defending and Meditating on First Principles – Wisdom and Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

From an Aristotelian perspective, domains of discursive knowledge which are called “science,” or epistêmê, are concerned above all with the drawing of per se conclusions in light of first principles.  Though such knowledge is concerned with its first principles, its bent is turned toward the conclusions that those principles illuminate. By contrast, wisdom, sophia, sapientia, takes up a loftier task still: defending and meditating upon its very principles, as well as all other things in light of those principles.  This lecture will briefly present this theme in the work of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., discussing how sapiential meditation on first principles undergirded much of his philosophical and theological work, imbuing it with a deceptive simplicity which, in fact, is quite illuminating. 

Full lecture now available below.

Full Lecture – Dr. Matthew Minerd: Defending and Meditating on First Principles – Wisdom and Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

If you enjoyed this lecture, please consider supporting the Lyceum Institute with a small donation.

This Week [11/29-12/5]

Events this week at the Lyceum:


12/1 – Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Grab a drink and have a chat about the eternal things! Always open to suggested topics: any questions you may have, feel free to bring them. I’ll be updating people on 2021 seminars and talking about the future of the Lyceum Institute, so if you’re interested in our growth, this would be a great chat to attend. Use the “Send Us a Message” form here (write “happy hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

12/4 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute. Great way to get a diverse set of well-informed philosophical perspectives.

12/4 Friday – Colloquium: Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human (6:15-7:00pm ET). Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger, lecturer in philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Faculty Fellow of the Lyceum Institute, will be answering our questions in a live Q&A session on his excellent lecture, already available through the Lyceum Institute platform. You can find more details here.

12/5 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions. The penultimate discussion sessions for our 2020 Fall seminars. In “Thomistic Psychology: Cognitive Life”, we will look closely at the nature of the act of understanding in human beings, as a complementary action of intellect and perceptual faculties. In “Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of John Deely”, we tackle one of the most important but challenging contributions that Deely gave us: the notion of physiosemiosis, that is, that virtual sign action permeates all dyadic relations and thereby grounds the possibility of growth and development in the universe.

We’ll also have a new Trivium module up soon!


Be sure also to check out the Lyceum Institute Shop! Stylish merch where the proceeds support the mission of the Lyceum! Look good, make your coffee more smarter, and help us change education for the better.

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Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human

In the sixth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present Faculty Fellow Kirk Kanzelberger, PhD, who brings us an insightful, lengthy, and challenging discussion of Walker Percy, Charles Sanders Peirce, and their collected efforts to battle the Cartesian presuppositions.

ABSTRACT: “Our view of the world, which we get consciously or unconsciously from modern science, is radically incoherent,” argues Walker Percy in “The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind.” The dualism of Descartes — the rift between man as psyche and man as organism — continues to pervade our inherited view of the world and scientific practice. And yet it was a century ago and more that Charles Sanders Peirce indicated the road to a more coherent anthropology based upon the crucial datum of the triadic sign-relation that unites “mental” and “physical” in one single natural event.

This lecture explores Percy’s argument and its background in the thought of Descartes and Peirce, and provides an assessment of this final public articulation by Percy concerning the issues that preoccupied him as a writer: the contemporary predicament of the human being, lost in the cosmos that it understands more and more, while understanding itself less and less.

Dr. Kanzelberger’s lecture is now available to all members at the Lyceum Institute. The live question and answer session will be held on 4 December 2020 (Friday) at 6:15pm ET/3:15pm PT. Colloquia lectures are released the year after publication at the Lyceum, and Q&A sessions are reserved for members. For information on signing up for the Lyceum, see here.

Preview – Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger, Mending the Cartesian Rift – Walker Percy on Being Human