2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics

A Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

Announcing the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics to all friends of the Lyceum Institute!

The occurrence of this seminar over the calendar year 2022 also marks the 80th anniversary of Deely’s arrival. Although Deely would most certainly instruct us not to focus on celebrating his life, but instead on developing the Way of Signs, there seems to be no downside to accomplishing both of these tasks simultaneously. Hence, this seminar seeks to render homage to his genius and further develop his work. Deely spent a lifetime studying semiotics and fostering a network of semioticians from around the planet. Hopefully, his mission is here dutifully echoed, as we attempt to congregate a number of distinguished experts in the field of semiotics in a shared enterprise to provide a formative environment openly accessible to the general audience through a series of presentations on semiotics and its history, with particular care for Deely’s historical perspective and the challenges presented to semiotics in the world today. In doing so, chances are that we match Deely’s aspiration for future generations to acknowledge the core significance of semiotics and its history for the evolution of human understanding.

On 13 October 2021, at 9:30am ET, a live interview will be held with Dr. Brian Kemple, Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, discussing the legacy and influence of Dr. John Deely, the preeminent philosophical mind of his lifetime (1942-2017) and the thinker most responsible for developing semiotics into the 21st century. You can watch the interview here.

The 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics is presented 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 and the Mansarda Acesa.

[Fall 2020] Semiotics: John Deely

Semiotics–toward which human beings took their first explicit steps in the beginning of the Latin Age of philosophy, in the work of St. Augustine of Hippo–is that by which we begin in a true postmodernism. This is one of the key and perhaps surprising claims of John Deely (1942–2017). That is, often today what is called “postmodernism” is nothing more, in fact, than an ultramodernism: a fragmentary, distorted view of the world grown out of the errors of modern philosophical thinking, run toward its natural, incoherent conclusions.

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In contrast, consider this description Deely gives in his 1994: New Beginnings (18 and 19):

In a word, postmodernism is the opening of a passageway from the age of classical modern philosophy to an epoch as distinct from the modern age as the modern age was from Latin times, or Latin times from the ancient Greek period. The opposition of modernity to Latin (and Greek) times eventually took the form of the opposition of idealism to realism in philosophy. Postmodern thought begins, properly speaking, not so much by rejecting this opposition as by transcending it, for in experience integrally taken, mind-dependent and mind-independent being assert themselves equally–not “equally” in the quantitative sense, but “equally” in the sense of components both asserting themselves in different ways at different times and in different proportions throughout the course of human life, both together making up the one fabric of our lives we call “experience”.

What was needed for philosophy to mature [to postmodernism] was not so much a shift as an expansion, an expansion of the notion of reality–and with it, being–to include the whole experience as the prior ground out of which human understanding arises and on which it throughout depends. From the start, being should have been an inclusive, not an exclusive and oppositional notion. Being is not only “that which can only be said in many ways” (Aristotle), but that out of which the division between what is and what is not independent of the mind arises (Aquinas), and not in any finally fixed way, but differently according to the time and circumstances of the one experiencing such a contrast among objects.

To understand and affect this maturation into postmodernity, we will turn our attention in this seminar to the major contributions to semiotics given by Deely: the proto-semiotic history, an expanded doctrine of causality,  the retrieved and clarified notion of relation, the concept of physiosemiosis, the continuity of culture and nature, the notion of purely objective reality, and the real interdisciplinarity which semiotics fosters. This is an advanced seminar which provides a serious challenge to all participants.

WHEN: Saturdays from 17 October through 12 December 2020 (no session on 28 November), from 3:00-4:00pm Eastern Time US.

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

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principal 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).