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⚘ The Agonistic Dimension of Peircean Semiotics and Its Postmodern Interpretations: Sebeok, Deely, Petrilli | Ionut Untea

On 5 January 2023 at 12:00pm ET (see event times around the world here and join the live Q&A here), Ionut Untea will present on “The Agonistic Dimension of Peircean Semiotics and Its Postmodern Interpretations: Sebeok, Deely, Petrilli”. Untea is currently a fellow-in-residence at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, in Stuttgart, where he is researching on the semioethic and aesthetic coordinates of the “social compact” and intercorporeal relationships. In 2021, he has taught a course entitled “Intercultural Philosophy: Semiotic Approaches and Aesthetic Themes” as a Visiting Professor at Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro. Since 2016, he has been teaching History of Western Philosophy and Semiotics at Southeast University, Nanjing. He previously taught at the University of La Rochelle, and was a postdoctoral fellow of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD) at the University of Geneva. He obtained his doctorate in 2013 at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), in Paris. He holds Romanian citizenship, having obtained his first degrees in philosophy and theology at the University of Bucharest. His focus is on the modern and contemporary intersections between semiotic, moral, political and religious thought. He has published recently “Peircean and Confucian Interpretations of Self-Development: Semiotic, Normative and Aesthetic Aspects,” Philosophy East and West 72.1: January 2022: 188–209. His recent work has appeared in academic journals such as The American Journal of Semiotics (2021), Semiotica (2021), Ethical Perspectives (2021, 2019), Philosophical Forum (2019), Journal of Aesthetic Education (2020), Politics and Religion (2019), The Monist (2018).

Commentary will be provided by Dr. Elize Bisanz.

Join the Live Q&A Here.

Abstract: C.S. Peirce’s optimistic appeal to the power of agapasm to somehow magically overlook the interruptions in the development of the signs’ and the species’ life generates an ambiguous heritage in semiotics which may push postmodern thinkers to unwillingly remain under the influence of the Cartesian perspective that gives little importance to what may be seen as a thinking activity of matter itself. Those who have engaged with this aspect of the (either biologically living or non-living) matter’s semiosic activity as an actual thinking of matter, and which manifests itself in the outer world as growth and overgrowth, are Thomas Sebeok, John Deely and Susan Petrilli. For Thomas Sebeok, it is not sufficient to simply marginalize the possibility of decay and death, as Peirce did by asserting that they are “mere accidents or secondary phenomena” in a universe dominated by the unfolding of life (CP 6.58). Sebeok elaborates on the species’ specific capacities to reintegrate in their interpretant, that is to “subserve the general purpose,” as Peirce has said (CP 6.303), overgrown bodily devices that have been formed under the pressure of fear of decay and death generated by potential competitors or predators. While the weight of mind, in the Cartesian sense, is weakened in Sebeok’s thought, it may be that this weakening is done in favor of a collective mind. The one who will push even further the weakening of the Cartesian cogito by questioning again the phenomenon of growth is John Deely. However, by explicitly rejecting Peirce’s appeal to a “final, or ideal cause” (CP 1.212), Deely leaves the door open for an unbounded thinking agon of matter (a phenomenon this time occurring even for inorganic matter). Powered by “pure play,” overgrowth would tend to subordinate semiosis, since Deely sees potentially any “degenerate” sign relationships as a mere pregeneration of more perfect processes. This view tends to marginalize Peirce’s efforts to place agapasm as a counterbalancing force in the universe. Taking inspiration from Victoria Welby’s view on translation, Susan Petrilli weakens even further the weight of the Cartesian approach to mind, by depicting the phenomenon of thinking (in tone with Deely, but without his focus on “pre-generation”) as something that is not the exclusive prerogative of mind, as an independent substance, but rather as a process of vibration, akin to that of digestion. In this perspective, “corporeality” and reason are not distinguished from each other, but rather infused into each other.

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.

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.