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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?

Recording of the Live Q&A available to Lyceum Institute Members
Thursday 7 July 2022 6:00pm ET
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).

IO2S Deely – Umberto Eco and the Semiotic Quest for Truth

On Saturday 14 May 2022, at 11am ET (check event times around the world here), Anna Maria Lorusso will present on “Umberto Eco and the Semiotic Quest for Truth”. After Dr. Lorusso graduated in Philosophy with a dissertation in Semiotics, in Bologna, she completed her doctoral research in Semiotics, under the supervision of Umberto Eco. Following a research scholarship, Lorusso became a researcher at the University of Bologna, where she is now Associate Professor, as well as Director of both the First Cycle Degree in Communication Sciences in the Department of the Arts and the Master in Printed and Digital Publishing. Her interests have always revolved around the rhetorical-discursive dimension of culture: forms of collective narrative, dominant rhetorical figures, discursive modalities for stability, and translation and transformation of stereotypes and commonplaces. Recently she has published under many labels of excellence, including Bakhtiniana: Revista de Estudos do Discurso, Estudos Semióticos, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Rivista di Estetica, and Semiotica. At the present date, she is a member of the research group Trame, dealing with memory and cultural trauma, and the President of the Italian Association for Semiotic Studies.

Comment will be provided by Bujar Hoxha, PhD., full professor of Communication Sciences at the South-East European University in Tetovo and Skopje, North Macedonia.

Join the Zoom Meeting to participate in the Q&A

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.

How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

The colloquium lecture delivered in November 2020 by Adam Pugen, PhD “How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan” 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. Pugen in their research, teaching, and publications.

How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

Dr. Adam Pugen

Preview – Dr. Adam Pugen: How to be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuahn

In the fifth of the Lyceum Institute Colloquia, we present our own Adam Pugen, PhD, who brings us a discussion of Marshall McLuhan–who, despite his popularity as a “media guru”, was more fundamentally and consciously a Thomist–a discussion ranging through the influences of Chesterton, New Criticism, Jacques Maritain, analogy and metaphor, the Trivium (especially the deepening and expansion of grammar), and all this aimed at the meaning of what it is to truly be a Thomist in our own times. Not merely incidental but integral to true contemporary Thomism is the wrestling with our techno-media environments–and conversely, to understand in depth McLuhan’s own “medium is the message”, we must understand the Thomistic roots of his thinking.

Full Lecture

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