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⚘ The Profile of John Deely as a Semiotician and a Philosopher | Eero Tarasti

On 3 January 2023 at 12:00pm ET (noon – see event times around the world here and join the live Q&A here), Eero Tarasti will present on “The Profile of John Deely as a Semiotician and a Philosopher”. Tarasti is professor of musicology at the University of Helsinki (chair) in 1984-2016. He was President of the IASS/AIS – International Association for Semiotic Studies, 2004-2014 and is now its Honorary President. In 2016 he has founded the Academy of Cultural Heritages.

He studied music in Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, and then in Vienna, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Bloomington. He got his PhD from the University of Helsinki (1978) after studies in Paris with Claude Lévi-Strauss and A. J. Greimas. He is one of the founders and the director of the international research group Musical Signification since 1984.Tarasti has become Honorary Doctor at Estonian Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, New Bulgarian University (Sofia), Indiana University (Bloomington), University of Aix-Marseille, and Gheorghe Dima National Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca, Rumania.

He has published about 400 articles, edited 50 anthologies, and written 30 monographs; among them one finds: Myth and Music (1979), A Theory of Musical Semiotics (1994), Heitor Villa-Lobos (1996), Existential Semiotics (2000), Signs of Music (2003), Fondéments de la sémiotique existentielle (2009), Fondamenti di semiotica esistenziale (2010), Semiotics of Classical Music (2012, in French 2016), Sein und Schein, Explorations in Existential Semiotics (2015), and Transcending Signs: Essays in Existential Semiotics (2023); two novels: Le secret du professeur Amfortas (2002) and Retour à la Villa Nevski (2014, in Italian L’heredità di Villa Nevski 2014, in Finnish Eurooppa/Ehkä 2016). He has supervised 150 PhDs in Finland and abroad.

Commentary will be provided by Bujar Hoxha.

Join the Live Q&A Here.

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.

POSTPONED ⚘ Anthroposemiosis, Augustine, Poinsot, Peirce and Deely | Javier Clavere

Dear all,

Due to unforeseen yet gratifying work commitments, Professor Doctor Javier Clavere requested a postponement of the lecture entitled “Anthroposemiosis, Augustine, Poinsot, Peirce and Deely and the Production of Human Knowledge and Experience”, the date of which shall be made public as soon as possible.

To all of you we beg for understanding, and please be tuned to the Auditorium on our website (https://www.uc.pt/fluc/uidief/act/io2s/auditorium/) as well as our email announcements, especially but not only if you intended to participate in today’s session.

To you all, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for what is proving to be a breathtakingly rewarding year of joint learning on semiotics and celebrating the memory of John Deely.

Godspeed, semioticians.

On 12 November 2022 at 11am ET (see event times around the world here and join the live Q&A here), Javier Clavere will present on “Anthroposemiosis, Augustine, Poinsot, Peirce, and Deely”. Dr. Clavier holds the Mary W. McGaw Endowed Chair in Music at Berea College, and is an award-winning performer and scholar that crosses over the worlds of keyboard performance, music theory, music technology, sacred music, and semiotics. As a polymath, his research interests include semiotics, systems theory, entrepreneurship and the arts, semioethics, Stoicism and Christianity, sacred music and signs, popular music and semiotics, Foucault studies, semiotics and globalization, multi-modality, and the semiotics of educational processes. As an artist, Javier has performed in many prestigious concert series across the United States, South America and Europe performing with orchestras, in solo recitals and chamber music.

His research in educational leadership includes peace and conflict resolution-transformation through the arts, as well as leadership in systemic change, diversity and inclusion, higher education administration, assessment in higher education, and strategic program design. He is a member of the Diversity Scholars Network (DSN) and the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), as well as a fellow at the University of Michigan, the New Leadership Academy, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and the Salzburg Global Seminar’s “Culture, Arts and Society programs”, (Conflict Transformation Through Culture: Peace-building and the Arts), Salzburg, Austria.

In 2019, the government of his hometown, Rosario, Argentina, along with the state senate, recognized his professional accomplishments with a lifetime achievement award as a “Distinguished Musician.” The legislature, in an official governmental motion, ratified the award by vote and awarded Clavere at the Espacio Cultural Universitario of the National University of Rosario, Argentina.

Commentary will be provided by António Manuel Martins, Full Professor at the University of Coimbra and a member of both the Institute for Philosophical Studies and the Institut International de Philosophie. His main area of activity is Philosophy. His main research interests are: theories of justice; Ancient Philosophy; ethics; and epistemology. Expertise in: Philosophical Systems; Greek Philosophy; and Theory of Justice. Presently he is working on: Hellenistic Philosophies; Aristotle; Causality; and Categories. His book Logic and Ontology in Pedro da Fonseca (in Portuguese), jointly published in 1994 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the now dissolved National Board for Scientific and Technological Research (Junta Nacional de Investigação Científica e Tecnológica), remains a seminal source for the latest studies on the Coimbra philosophical tradition.

Join the Live Q&A here.

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.

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.