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John Deely on Semiotics and Logocentrism

Within current philosophy, David Clarke has made a belated attempted to define semiotic itself in the restrictive terms already established as proper to semiology: an “attempt to extend analogically features initially arrived at by examining language use to more primitive signs, with logical features of language becoming the archetype on which analysis of these latter signs is developed”. It is simply a misnomer to title a book based on such a thesis Principles of Semiotic. To try to reduce semiotic to the status of a subalternate discipline within the dimensions of current linguistic philosophy already evinces adherence to the modern perspectives of idealism which semiotics points beyond.

Among modern philosophers, the one who struggled most against the coils of idealism and in the direction of a semiotic, was Martin Heidegger. His failure to free himself from the modern logocentrism is, to be sure, a testimony to its pervasiveness in modern culture, and to the scale of the task semiotic in its fullest possibilities has to face. Yet in the debate between realism and idealism, he is the one who perhaps most clearly brough tot he fore the fact that, whatever its drawbacks and “no matter how contrary and untenable it may be in its results”, idealism “has an advantage in principle” over realism. That advantage lies in the simple fact that whenever we observe anything that observation already presupposes and rests within a semiosis whereby the object observed came to exist as object—that is to say, as perceived, experienced, or known—in the first place.

No one, including Heidegger, realizes this fact better than the semiotician. Indeed, at the heart of semiotics is the realization that the whole of human experience, without exception, is an interpretive structure mediated and sustained by signs. So it is perhaps not surprising that much of the original semiotic development in our time has taken place along the tracks and lines of a classical idealism in the modern sense, an environment and climate of thought within which the structuralist analysis of texts and narratives is particularly comfortable.

Yet we are entitled to wonder if such a perspective is enough to allow for the full development of the possibilities inherent in the notion of a doctrine of signs—to wonder if the “way of signs” does not lead outside of and well beyond the classical “way of ideas” of which Locke also spoke. We are entitled to wonder if what we need is not rather, as the recent collaborative monograph by Anderson et al. calls for, “a semiotics which provides the human sciences with a context for reconceptualizing foundations and for moving along a path which, demonstrably, avoids crashing headlong into the philosophical roadblock thrown up by forced choices between realism and idealism, as though this exclusive dichotomy were also exhaustive of the possibilities of interpreting human experience”.

Such a development seems to be what is taking place in the tradition of semiotic. This tradition, in fact, given its name by Locke, had reached the level of explicit thematic consciousness and systematically unified expression only very late—as far as we currently know, not before the Tractatus de Signis essay in 1632 by the Iberian philosophy of Portuguese birth, John Poinsot.

John Deely 1990: Basics of Semiotics [8th edition], 5-6.

For much more on John Deely, see the Wikipedia entry, a lengthy bibliography [1965-1998] [1999-2010], an obituary written by Christopher Morrissey, and the many presentations at the International Open Seminar on Semiotics: A Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing.

A Vision of the Good

The following is a summary of key points raised in our weekly Philosophical Happy Hour discussion of 9 November 2022 during which we discussed the lacking vision of the good in our contemporary society.

Ideologies and False Idols

Why do left-leaning progressive politics seem ascendant in the Western world? One does not need to dig deep into the past to answer the question. Simply stated: progressive ideology presents a credible, albeit vague, image of the good. It is motivated by a final cause, and therefore provides a purpose for its adherents. By nature, material comforts and pleasures attract us. So, too, does the idea of self-determination seize us: the ideal of pursuing freely whatever goods we find desirable. Even as it touts values like diversity, equity, and inclusion—and authoritarian means to their realization—progressive ideology uses these words to paint a utopian image.

Conversely, those identifying themselves as “conservative” appear as uninspired, motivated by no vision of the good but, at best, ideals of governmental non-interference. At worst, they appear as reactionaries—in possession of no reasoned belief, but stimulated by threats against their comforts. In the short-term, this may gain adherents and even stoke enthusiasm. But it does not produce an enduring image and results in only a brief movement. (One can see this, I believe, in the “MAGA” phenomenon.) Others may point to God or the afterlife, but—more often than not—such beliefs seem divorced from the real world.

Ideologies—whether enduring, as on the progressive side, or transitory, as on the conservative—draw adherents who lack integral habits of purposive living. This lack of purposive life makes itself felt most keenly in the experience of loneliness. As our ability to communicate declines, so too do our relationships with others. Increasingly, conditions of isolation envelope the Western individual (and perhaps especially the American). Simple ideological mantras, which do not require careful thinking, allow groups to feel united without having to communicate. Numbers of close friends decline; ideologies sweep up the lonely.

Discovering the Good in Speech

What can we do? There is no magic bullet. There is no easy solution. What we face is not a technological shortcoming, but an essentially human difficulty. Loneliness is not new. Arguably, everyone experiences it at some time, and in some degree. What resolves loneliness is being-with others in a properly human manner. This manner requires conversation: listening to one another, speaking to one another; writing to one another, reading one another. Real conversation attends to more than just the words, even as the words make it properly human. It attends to the person.

In our digital age, we must learn new habits for attending to persons. The screen reduces the reality of the other to a two-dimensional abstraction. We talk at one another, instead of with. Anything truly good is a good to be shared. It requires community. Atrophied linguistic abilities undermine our ability to form community, and therefore to discover the good. Think: when you receive good news, your first impulse is, most likely, to share it with others. If you cannot find anyone with whom that news can be shared, disappointment follows.

We at the Lyceum Institute talk often of community. While most of us possess some meaningful associations—family, religion, perhaps a few close friends—in close geographical proximity, we nonetheless recognize that we benefit from one another’s presence (even digitally). This benefit consists in our real conversation. We share ideas, humor, beliefs, struggles, and—most of all—a desire to grow in knowledge, understanding, and the love of wisdom.

It’s not perfect. But it is good.

Why “Epistemology” is not a Science

In a certain way, writing this title and essay pains me: I first fell in love with philosophy in an undergraduate course titled “epistemology”. It was a difficult course to take in my sophomore year. We spent the first half of it reading Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, on which we had to write an essay answering the question, “How does Kant say synthetic a priori judgments are possible?” Myself and several other students spent many hours puzzling over this question. I recall the moment I put it all together, and, using a classroom whiteboard, frenetically drew out a diagram as a means for trying to explain it. I turned around to befuddled looks. Fortunately, another student—with a better mind for drawing diagrams—converted my mess into something neatly organized.

The second half of the course was spent not only in refuting Kant’s theory, but in demonstrating the Thomistic approach to the question of human understanding. This latter part of the course was much more edifying. But it was the process of puzzling out the Kantian schema that the habit of philosophical inquiry hooked itself into my soul, never to let go.

The “Problem” of Epistemology

In that Thomistic portion of the course, we were assigned to read—in addition to the works of Aquinas—a wonderful book by Louis-Marie Régis, with the unfortunate title of Epistemology. In the preface to this richly-poetic work of philosophy, Régis has this to say about his titular concern:

The history of philosophy is often compared to a great cemetery in which tombstones succeed each other in awful continuity and with their Hic jacet [here lies], write the many chapters of a sad encyclopedia—an encyclopedia of man’s repeated but always insufficient efforts to attain truth. Instead of this pessimistic simile, I prefer that of a maternity ward wherein the intellect, always in gestation, is periodically delivered of a theory which to all which to all outer appearances is newborn, but whose internal structure reveals a heredity that makes it contemporaneous with the very origins of philosophical speculation. That is why the history of philosophy is much more a history of birth and rebirth than one of death—a genealogy more than a necrology. Our intellect needs time in which to progress, and time, bearer of old age and death to material life, becomes an agent of rejuvenation to the life of the mind.

The problem that we are now about to tackle is a brilliant confirmation of the thesis just stated. Officially, its birth is dated 1637, at the printing shop of Jean Maire in Leyden; its father is René Descartes, who gave it the name Discourse on Method and assigned it a very definite vocation—to teach man “to reason well and to seek for truth in the sciences.” Unofficially, our problem is much older than the published date of its birth would lead us to suspect, and the baptismal name given it by Descartes is only one of the many terms applied to it by thinkers of all ages. We might even say its name is Legion and that the history of its pseudonyms would furnish material for a large volume. Not only is its name legion, but so are the guises under which it appears; its art of camouflage, of being visible or invisible, of revealing itself or escaping notice, would fill the wiliest chameleon with envy.

Louis-Marie Régis 1958: Epistemology, 3-4.

Indeed, the problem Descartes seized did not begin with Descartes. The problem was known to him only because of Montaigne, the Parisian Ockhamists, and the Jesuits at La Flèche: the problem knowledge. As Régis goes on to detail in later pages, the context of skepticism grounded both Descartes’ Discourse and Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. So, too, the modern thinkers made consensus a driver of truth and disunity a demonstration of falsehood. Finally, each struggles with apparently contradictory accounts being given in one and the same mind: as sense and intellect may seem to contravene one another.

The “epistemological problem” truly is a problem. But, as stated, it long antedates Descartes. Moreover, the moderns fundamentally misstate the nature of the problem from the very beginning. It is not a problem of certainty or clarity. It is not a problem of “transcendence”, that is, of the mind reaching the extra-mental world. Nor is it a problem of consensus. Rather, it is a problem of impediments to resolution—most of which impediments, today, were built by the moderns themselves.

The Problem of “Epistemology”

What is a “problem”? It is something to be solved. A solution, applied to a problem, removes the problem. Can we remove the problems of knowing? Is there a solution which will dissolve our difficulties? Or do these difficulties—myriad in name and guise—spring up from our very nature as human beings?

Science always springs from the inquiry made by human minds. It has, therefore, an artificial character to it: we model its structure, its procedures, its conclusions. But even when we create sciences of man-made objects—even objects that exist only by the activity of human minds, pure objects we might say—these sciences are fulfilled only by making known intelligible realities independent of our thought. We attain knowledge by resolving our understanding to these realities. A science, to be fruitful as knowledge, must have some resolution to nature; even if it is specifically the nature of the human intellect capable of producing artificial things and objects.

Thus, at the foundation of every science is its “subject”, the intelligible rationale within which all its objects are investigated and to which they must be resolved. There must, in consequence, be lines of demarcation at which point something begins and something ends. The science of philosophical physics, or “natural philosophy” as many call it, concerns itself with the subject matter of mobile being, ens mobile: being insofar as it is capable of motion. The science of biology concerns itself with mobile being insofar as it is alive, i.e., insofar as it has an active potency of motion from within itself. The science of metaphysics concerns itself with being insofar as it is being, that is, in the widest possible extension with an eye specifically towards the principles whereby beings exist.

What is the subject for the science of epistemology? Knowledge, one might say, or the processes of human knowing. But where do these processes begin and end? Is knowledge a something in the mind? Are we concerned with knowledge as an accident residing in an individual human substance? But even as such an accident, it is—we may posit and not here defend—intrinsically and necessarily intentional: ordered towards making known its object, that is. We might say, therefore, that the accident of knowledge is always a relative accident. Knowledge is what it is by the relation which the concept provenates in order to make known its object. But which relations constitute knowledge? Only intellectual ones? Or do we know anything, in fact, without perceptual relations also? Do we need to include sense relations? Or the physical relations which enable sensation to occur?

Put in other words, there is no point of demarcation for a “science” of “knowledge”. Any theory of “epistemology” intrinsically and explicitly includes doctrines of “ontology”—and vice versa. I would challenge everyone to think about this term, “epistemology”, and whether it misleads us.

Perhaps I will follow this up with further posts in the future. In the meantime, I would suggest the word “noetic” as an alternative suitable in most cases where one would use the term “epistemology” to discuss the doctrines concerning knowledge.

Anyone interested in this point should also read John Deely’s Intentionality and Semiotics (where he mentions this point several places, as can be found in the index).

Musings on Extrinsic Formal Causality and Practical Signs

This is not quite how I envisioned this first blog post turning out… Originally, I had considered writing something on the issue of the political common good, focusing on the plurality of common goods in relation to the political exercise of social justice in its original and true sense (namely, the right ordering of various goods within a social whole).  Oh well… That will be my next posting.

I am in the midst of working on a monograph devoted to a topic dear to my heart, concerned with (broadly speaking) the being of culture, exposited in line with a rigorous Thomistic metaphysic.  I am at a point of writing where I need to discuss the topic of extrinsic formal causality.  Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post that teases out some of the ideas that will eventually enter into that particular chapter of my work.

The Platonic and Neo-Platonic universe is one that is dominated by the notion of extrinsic formal causality.  According to a kind of somewhat pedestrian, “kitchen table” Platonism, which philosophy professors often teach their undergraduate students, the world would be a kind of imitation of the transcend realm of the Forms or Ideas.  However, as any astute reader of Plato himself knows, many seeds for Aristotle’s own thought are found all throughout the written expression of the master’s thought, from which he drank for so many years.  Thus, in the Timaeus, we find the need to posit (by way of myth) a “receptacle” into which the form would be reflected (thus inserting material causality into the Platonic metaphysic), as well as the famous “Craftsman” (or “Demiurge”), who looks at the Forms and places them into the matter-receptacle(s), thereby making mutable copies of the immutable ideal realities (thus inserting efficient causality into the metaphysic).  Although Neo-Platonism would more clearly articulate the role of a kind of cosmic teleology, with all things going forth from the One and magnetized to return thereto (to the degree that this is possible), Plato’s conception of the Idea of the Good no doubt is the seed for such reflection on universal metaphysical gravitation.  (Think of how powerfully such teleology is expressed in Aristotle’s own account of the particular causality exercised by the First Cause when he discusses this not in the Physics but, rather, in the Metaphysics.)

But, with all of that being said, the most powerful of causes that operates on the Platonic and Neo-Platonic mind is extrinsic formal causality: the “really real” is to be found in the Ideas, with everything else being a copy thereof.  Thus, the world is full of copies and images, derivative realities whose intelligibility points to an external source upon whose model they were fashioned.  The Christian mind would readily develop this Platonic insight into the philosophical-theological metaphysics of the “Divine Ideas.”

It is, however, all too tempting for Christian philosophers to rush to the heights like this.  It comes from a laudable and pious sentiment.  But, the bright light of theological concern can tend to bleach out the importance of more quotidian realities.  Thus, among scholastics, one will most often speak of the “artistic idea” by which an artist fashions his or her work.  But such discussions are a kind of quick scaffolding for the sake of accomplishing the real construction: just enough elaboration so that one can then move on to the “truly important topic” concerning the Divine Ideas, the artistic exemplars of all created beings.

However, let us consider phenomena that are far more down to earth.  As I sit here typing, I see all sorts of things in my office.  A mug of coffee sits at my right.  Pens sit next to papers.  Slightly behind me, alongside the wall, there is a piano with a music book open, instructing me on the harmonization of a Bach chorale.

The last example is instructive (and, of course, purposely chosen).  Note the verb in the final clause: the book is instructing me.  Obviously, the sense of this verb is not the same as when it is used in its proper sense, referring to the activity of a teacher in relation to his or her students.  The act of instruction involves a kind of efficient causality.  But, for all that, is the transfer a mere metaphorical rhapsody?  No, for the most essential aspect of teaching is the act of presenting ideas before the mind of another, the “presentation of the object” to be known.  And this is something that the music text does to the person who has eyes to see.

Let us presume that I have never seen this harmonization of the “Darmstadt” melody before.  As someone who can somewhat plunk away at a piano, I have the agentive capacity to interpret music so as to then “transfer” its “message” to the tips of my fingers.  But, I cannot so transfer the “Darmstadt” melody until I know it.  In other words, my playing this melody depends, for its very being, upon the details intelligibly arranged on the paper.  And what is dependence in being?  It is a relationship of effect to cause.  My performance of this melody today must be “formed” by the message of the music pages.  My agency receives its form from outside of me—it is influenced by a causality that is, at once, extrinsic and formal.

In its merely “natural” being, the book of chorales is of use for starting a bonfire.  If civilization were to collapse, and if all modern Western music notation were to be forgotten, these properties would remain.  But, to the eyes of cognitional human agents, with a certain cultural and habituated ability to actualize the intelligibility that has been placed in these signs, the book is a window on the soul of a particular kind of music.  It pulls the musician into its orbit and expresses an intelligibility that is there in the paper—but in alio modo esse, according to another manner of existence.  It provides the “measure”, the right proportioning (at least in general terms), for my music playing.

And if one has eyes to see, one will realize that even blank paper itself also exercises this sort of causality.  In a literate culture in which writing upon paper is a possibility, a blank piece of paper is seen for the artifact that it is.  It is a practical sign of a kind of activity.  When viewed within the particular cultural context of sign interpretation, it is a kind of invitation to activity, it specifies a kind of activity: qua paper, this is something to be written on.  Sure, it can specify other activities too: make paper airplane from this, or cut out shapes from this, etc.  But the point remains, insofar as it brings into our minds the possibility of a practical activity—that is, insofar as this artifact is part of the relation-complex that leads my mind beyond the paper to a given kind of activity—the paper, precisely in this relational structure, becomes a sign, a practical sign.

We are surrounded by practical signs directing our action—they are everywhere.  They perfuse the world.  And although this kind of causality is exercised most clearly in human agency, where choice intervenes so as to constitute new forms of intelligibility, there is a real sense in which such extrinsic formal causality perfuses lower forms of activity as well.  When several trees interact with their environment so as to “communicate” with each other through their root systems, the various fungi and elements that take part in these processes have intelligibility as part of a kind of organic communication system only if one takes into consideration the life pattern of the trees in question.  In other words, the intelligibility of this system of activity, precisely as a unified system of activity, derives its intelligibility from the particular organic capacities of the plant life in question.  Even here, there is a kind of “extrinsic information” which gives an intelligibility that is not merely present in the uncoordinated activity of the parts of this now-active plant communication system.

But, I have gone on too long already.  I merely wanted to tease about on this topic to get a feeling for where the mind might go when writing on it.  Hopefully, though, this musing begins to get you thinking.  You’ll never look at the world the same again: the edge of the road is a practical sign (exercising extrinsic formal causality) telling you not to drive over it; the dashes between lanes indicate to you a kind of legal driving pattern; a driveway is an invitation to drive there and not on a lawn; a door handle is an invitation to turn and open a door; and in just the right context, a steep and open snowy hill begs you to ski down it.             

Extrinsic formal causality is everywhere, for the world is perfused with signs, both speculative and practical.  Let him who has eyes to see see.

A Reflection on Loneliness

In the weekly Philosophical Happy Hour of the Lyceum Institute this past Wednesday (9/21), the topic of conversation turned to friendship and loneliness. It seems today that many in this twilight of modernity have been struck with loneliness. This should never be confused with merely “being alone”. Loneliness, rather, is the lack of true personal relation. Loneliness is not the mere absence of present relations: it is the wound of relations lost, or never grasped, relations through which two persons become somehow as one. Loneliness is the wound made by an absence of friendship.

But what is friendship? We often hear tell of “real” friendship, in contrast to mere acquaintance, or casual friendship, or something of the like. Often, this adjective “real” is drawn upon a discussion of friendship found in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, in which friendly relations are classed according to what we might call the utilitarian, the pleasurable, and the true. Utilitarian friendships are those that ease our being with others by virtue of pleasant and friendly dispositions: as when one makes small-talk with the cashier or the barista, or one’s casual co-workers; being friendly makes one’s exchanges with others go more smoothly, and so it is useful to be friendly in such cases. Pleasurable friendships are those wherein the basis of the relation is some third thing that both persons enjoy: bowling, a sport, a certain television show, a band, a video game, a football team, etc. Where the utilitarian friendship focuses mostly on the good that oneself receives by being pleasant to the other, the pleasurable friendship consists in the unity of the two persons which is affected by that common object.

True friendships, by contrast, are held to be those in which each person takes the good of the other as though it is his or her own. It is not in some third thing, nor in oneself, that the goodness of the friendship is found, but in that which is of genuine benefit or good for the other. This should not be confused with a “pure altruism” or any other—for the good of the other does not demand an absent consideration of the self, and, indeed (as I hope we will discuss some other day), altruism presupposes an individualism that would have been quite alien to Aristotle—for it is fundamentally a relational unity with the other. But I think it a mistake to denominate this true friendship alone as “real” friendship.

The word “real”, that is, receives a great deal of abuse, being conflated very commonly with both “true” and “actual” as to its significance. Something is “real” to the degree that it can have an effect on something other. The object of an irrational fear, for instance, may not be “real” in and of itself—there is no “real monster” in the closet—and yet its effect of making the child scared undoubtedly is real. Likewise, someone may not really be a friend, in the sense that he does not have in himself a care for your own good, and you may even know this explicitly, and yet you would be sad to lose the relationship with him, say, because he quits playing the game or the sport which you have in common.

Moreover, the third thing through which we bond with others in such a manner may become, as it were, a transparent lens through which the other appears. A bowling buddy may become a best friend. But we are more likely to form true bonds when the object of our attention itself is something that reflects deeply upon ourselves and our nature. A casual pursuit does little to impact our being; one does not likely develop in human personhood through rolling a ball down the lanes, and though much is gained from competitive team sports—the ability to work together, discipline, etc.—these remain largely at the surface of who we are. Most importantly, whatever the common objects of our social interaction, they must be approached thoughtfully if we are to get beyond the veil and see the other.

⚘ Meanings we live in: Husserl’s theory of meaning and the surrounding world | Hamid Malekzadeh

Hamid Malekzadeh (PhD in Political Theory, University of Tehran) is the Executive Manager of the Iranian Society for Phenomenology (ISP) as well as the co-editor-in-chief of the Iranian Yearbook of Phenomenology (IYP). Some of his publishing are I Am A Not-Others: An Inquiry in Concreteness of the Political Subject (Pajvak, Tehran: 2014) and Embodiment and The Transcendental Basis of Politics: An Essay in Political Ontology (Gam-e-Nou [New Step]: Forthcoming). He is also the translator of Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau Ponty, Beauvoir by Sara Heinämaa (Gam-e-Nou [New Step]: 2021).

Malekzadeh began his study of politics with a focus on the concept of recognition in Hegel’s system of thought and sought the explanation of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology in search of an explanation for the relationship between the individual Ego and collectivities. In recent years, the discussion of the ontology of politics from a phenomenological point of view with a focus on the body and embodiment, intentionality, and Husserl’s Egology have been the most important topics that he has focused on.

Mohammad Shafiei obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University, in 2017. Currently, he works in the philosophy department of Shahid Behesti University. His doctoral thesis has been published under the title Meaning and Intentionality. a Dialogical Approach. Besides publishing articles under labels such as the Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso, the South American Journal of Logic, Synthese, and Análisis Filosófico, Shafiei has also co-edited, with prof. Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen, Peirce and Husserl: Mutual Insights on Logic, Mathematics and Cognition. His areas of interest include phenomenology, philosophical logic, semiotics and Metaphysics. He is co-editor of two forthcoming volumes, one with prof. Pietarinen on further links between phenomenology and phaneroscopy, and the other with Dr. Iulian Apostolesco on possible synergies between Husserlian phenomenology and Leibniz’ monadological metaphysics.

2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics (IO2S) | Website

This collaborative international open scientific initiative and celebration is jointly organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.

⚘ Reality’s Windows ☀ Joseph DeChicchis

After reviewing the academic context of the SSA’s 1975 formation, DeChicchis reconsiders Deely’s 2001 comment about the SSA’s first president in light of Deely’s purchase of two books about structuralism and model theory.

Homepage: https://www.uc.pt/fluc/uidief/act/io2s
Auditorium: https://www.uc.pt/fluc/uidief/act/io2…

Joseph DeChicchis, Ph.D., Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, is the president of Historic Elizabeth, a Pennsylvania charity whose mission includes the verification of information about the Monongahela and Youghiogheny river areas. Outside of Pennsylvania, he has produced a nationally syndicated (USA) radio program, studied various minority indigenous languages (e.g., Qʼeqchiꞌ, Ainu), been a professor of linguistics, and served as a language policy consultant. He is the director of the Deely Project.

John Reid Perkins-Buzo is Associate Professor in Media arts and Studies at Southern Illinois University. His scholarly work concerns the semiotics of João Poinsot especially as explored in the works of John Deely. He studied semiotics at St. Louis University under Professor Fr. Ralph Powell O.P. (John Deely’s mentor and doctoral advisor), and the renowned medievalist, Professor John Doyle. He has published articles in Semiotica, Punctum, iDMAa: The Journal of Digital Media Arts and Practice, and other scholarly journals. His artwork has appeared in several publications and major international events such as SIGGRAPH and the San Francisco International Film Festival. He is currently at work on a book about virtual production (forthcoming from Routledge, 2023), and a volume on the semiotics of digital media. He has a continuing interest in Deely’s doctrine of a realist semiotics, particularly its parallel in realist film theory stemming from Andre Bazin in the 1950s and more recently explored by film scholar Ian Aitken.

2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics (IO2S) | Website

This collaborative international open scientific initiative and celebration is jointly organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.

Philosophy, Faith, and Signs

The Lyceum Institute brings two more seminars available to the general public, each taught by a uniquely qualified professor: Dr. Matthew Kenneth Minerd, translator of many, many works of Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, will teach us the philosophical thought of the “Sacred Monster” of Thomism; Dr. Brian Kemple, the only student ever to complete a doctoral dissertation under John Deely offers insight into the semiotic thought and contributions of a man once rightly called the “most important living American philosopher”. Listen to previews and sign up below. Discussion sessions for the seminars begin on July 2nd.



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Philosophizing in Faith – What is final causality?

Deely’s Contributions to Semiotics – A new postmodern era?

The Semiotics of John of St. Thomas | by Anabela Gradim

This event is part of the activities of the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics: a Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing, cooperatively organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, the International Center for Semiotics and Intercultural Dialogue, Moscow State Academic University for the Humanities and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.

Anabela Gradim graduated in Philosophy at the University of Porto. She holds a Masters Degree, a PhD and a DsC (Título de Agregação, in Portuguese) in Communication Sciences from the University of Beira Interior (UBI). Her PhD was obtained in 2004 with the dissertation “The communicational dimension of Peirce’s semiotics” (A dimensão comunicacional da semiótica de Peirce). She teaches Journalism, Communication and Methodology at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the UBI. She is the scientific Coordinator of the Research & Development Unit Labcom – Communication and Arts, and Director of the PhD Program in Communication Sciences at UBI. Her research interests revolve around Journalism, Science Communication, Semiotics, Rhetoric and the interface between these disciplines and the digital media plus Cyberculture. She has coordinated and been involved as a researcher in ten research projects, has authored numerous books, book chapters and scientific papers in the fields of journalism, semiotics and science communication.

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. Philosophical interests and areas of study include: Thomas Aquinas, John Poinsot, Charles Peirce, Martin Heidegger, the history and importance of semiotics, scholasticism, phenomenology; as well as ancillary interests in the liberal arts, technology, and education as a moral habit. 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). In addition to being the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, he is the Executive Editor of Reality: a Journal for Philosophical Discourse.

June 10, 2022 / 1pm (EDT), 6pm (UTC+1h)
Lecturer: Anabela Gradim

Commentator: Brian Kemple

Chair: William Passarini

Zoom Link to Meeting

Reclaiming Wisdom – Summer Fundraising Campaign

Reclaiming Wisdom – Perennial Truths for the Digital Age

Once the center of Western culture, the University has lost its way.  For centuries, it was a force both stabilizing and civilizing, training young minds to discover the perennial truths by which they were elevated above the merely material concerns of our baser nature.  The University was a center of wisdom, guiding us to the principles by which we ought all to live. 

Today, however, we observe a culture in decay, and the root cause is the University itself… [read more]

The universities have abandoned the pursuit of wisdom for that of skills, for profits, for worldly success, for the latest ideological fashions.  What they have abandoned, we will reclaim.

The past two years have seen the Lyceum Institute continue to grow, develop, and has resulted in excellent work being done by our Faculty Fellows.  As our members and friends alike know, the Lyceum has not only already accomplished a great deal, but has the potential to do much more.  While money makes nothing happen of itself, it does help to remove some impediments for those striving to realize that potential.

And so, this summer, from June through August, we are ambitiously striving to raise $10,000.  We would be enduringly grateful to anyone who helps us reach that goal—or even just to reach towards it.  As a not-for-profit organization, we rely on the generous donations of supporters like yourself.  

Reclaiming Wisdom

Support the Lyceum Institute in providing access to perennial truths for the digital age and fostering a love and pursuit of wisdom through a community dedicated to bettering our philosophical habits.