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?

Join the live Q&A here
Thursday 7 July 2022 6:00pm ET

(click here to see your local time)
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).

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?

Wisdom & Culture

Too few are the hours dedicated in our day to the pursuit of contemplation: not only the fruits of genuine meditative insight, but also the practice whereby it becomes possible. Yet the philosophical desire sits in all our hearts, realized or not. Join us in either or both of these wonderful seminars to weave philosophical reflection—not mere abstract metaphysics—into the practice of your daily life.

Seven Interfaces of Philosophy – What is knowledge?

Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture – How do we think about culture?

[Summer 2022] Semiotics: Thought and Contributions of 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 (350–430AD), an age that culminated in the thinking of John Poinsot (1589–1644)—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.

Listen to a preview here

Preview – Semiotics as origin of genuine post-modernism.

In contrast, consider this description Deely gives:

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.

Deely 1994: New Beginnings (18–19).

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.

DISCUSSIONS:
July 2—27 August
Saturdays, 3:15-4:15pm ET /
7:15-8:15pm UTC
Tuesdays 10:00-11:00am ET /
2:00-3:00pm UTC

WHERE:
Lyceum Institute digital platform run on Microsoft Teams

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (with a break at the halfway point—see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will discover the enormous contributions to semiotics made by John Deely. The instructor for this seminar is Dr. Brian Kemple, who wrote his dissertation under Dr. Deely, and who is Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Kemple here.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, priced according to likely levels of income. If you wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the suggested rate, it is acceptable to sign up at a less-expensive level. 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).

[2022Su-B] Semiotics: Deely – Participant

Recommended for those who are currently students or with part-time employment.

$80.00

[2022Su-B] Semiotics: Deely – Patron

Recommended for those in professions that do not pay as well as they ought and for whom continued education is especially important (including professors and clergy).

$135.00

[2022Su-B] Semiotics: Deely – Benefactor

Recommended for those with fulltime employment in well-paying professions and sufficient resources to provide a little more in support of the Lyceum Institute and its mission.

$200.00

IO2S Deely – Aquinas: The (Meta)Physics behind Semiosis

…to view Aquinas strictly through the anachronistic and explicitly semiotic lens of the present—or of any thinker who succeeded him—mistakes the crucial role that his thought plays in the development of a doctrina signorum

On 16 April 2022, Brian Kemple will present on “Aquinas: The (Meta)Physics behind Semiosis” at 11am ET (see event times around the world here). 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 Intersection 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 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.

Commentary will be provided by Dr. Matthew Minerd.

Join the Zoom Meeting to Participate

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.

IO2S Deely – Fonseca on Signs

On 26 March 2022, Professor Antonio Manuel Martins presented “Fonseca on Signs”. Martins is a 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.

Commentary is provided by Cristóvão S. Marinheiro, graduate of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and Ph.D. in History of Philosophy in 2010 from the Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV (now Sorbonne Université), with a thesis on Antonio Bernardi (1502-1565). Between 2004 and 2005, he was appointed Research associate (engenheiro técnico de investigação) at the University of Coimbra, where he worked on the commentary on Physics by Manuel de Góis. He worked as a Junior researcher at the Université de Luxembourg between 2005 and 2009, and as a lecturer at the Universität des Saarlandes between 2009 and 2014. Since 2016 he works at the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg in the Rare books and manuscript Department. He has published several articles on XVIth century Aristotelianism.

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.

IO2S Deely – Duns Scotus on Signs: Common Nature, Haecceity, and Signification

On 16 January 2022 at 12pm ET/11am CT (5:00pm UTC – check times around the world here), Dr. Paniel Reyes Cárdenas (author of Scholastic Realism: A Key to Understanding Peirce’s Philosophy and many other works across a broad philosophical range) will present on the contributions of John Duns Scotus to the history of semiotics. As is well-known, Scotus was profoundly influential on Charles S. Peirce, the modern father of semiotics. This presentation is open to the public and can be watched below (live or recorded).

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.

IO2S Deely – Augustine: Instituting the Given Sign

The Latin Age of philosophy was one of the most productive, systematic, and insightful times of intellectual inquiry in human history—despite the oft-given reductive and willfully-ignorant treatment that labels all between the fall of Rome and the rise of the Renaissance as the “Dark Ages”—for which the first major figure was Augustine of Hippo. Most well-known for his Confessions and City of God, works both of a deeply spiritual yet profoundly philosophical nature, Augustine was a contributor the tradition in many other ways, including but not limited to his definition of the sign and distinction of signs into natural and given.

On 15 January 2022 at 11am ET (4pm UTC – check times around the world here), Dr. Brian Kemple (Lyceum Institute) will give a lecture on Augustine’s contribution as well as his errors, and discuss what Augustine’s work provides us both in its historical significance and its overall importance for an understanding of semiotics. Dr. Remo Gramigna will provide commentary. This presentation is open to the public and can be watched below (live as well as recorded).

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.

[2021 Summer] Semiotics: An Introduction

What is a sign?  Though a seemingly simple question, and one which may receive a technically simple answer, attaining a clear understanding of signs is a task both very difficult and very important; so important, in fact, that the whole future of philosophy (and by extension, human knowledge in general) depends upon our getting the answer right.  A great deal of our present difficulty, in the 21st century, follows from several centuries’ failure to attain a true semiotics.  To begin rectifying this, I believe we must draw on a handful of key sources: John Poinsot, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Deely.  In this seminar, we will focus on Peirce and his unique contributions to the foundations of the discipline of semiotics proper and show how we must instantiate an understanding of signs in our day-to-day practices, both practically and theoretically.

Among the specific goals for the seminar are to understand the general theory of semiotics—as the study of the action of signs—which was founded in Charles Peirce and has since been developed; though we cannot truly grasp this notion of signs unless we first understand the categorical basis of Peirce’s thought, or his “phaneroscopy”; and by grasping this phaneroscopy, along with the general notion of “sign”, we will further pursue the goal of understanding how signs play a role in specifically human thinking.

WHEN: Every SATURDAY from 12 June through 31 July 2021, from 3:00-4:00pm Eastern Time US / 7:00-8:00pm UTC.

And every MONDAY from 14 June through 2 August 2021, from 6:00-6:45pm Eastern Time US.

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

In this seminar, lasting 8 weeks (see here for more information on all Lyceum Institute seminars), we will dive into the most central figure encountered along the Way of Signs—that long-abandoned road which Charles Peirce did so much to clear—and through this journey discover the fullest future of philosophical thinking. The instructor for this seminar is Brian Kemple, PhD, the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. You can read more about Dr. Kemple here.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle 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).

[2021 Summer] Semiotics: An Introduction – Standard

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Price is suggested for those with full-time employment.

$135.00

[2021 Summer] Semiotics: An Introduction – Professor / Clergy

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for those employed as educators or clergy.

$85.00

[2021 Summer] Semiotics: An Introduction – Student

Includes full access to the seminar and a free month at the Lyceum Institute. Discount is suggested for students and others with part-time employment.

$60.00

This Week [2/28-3/6]

2/28 Sunday – Inquirere Session (3:00-4:00pm ET).  The first of two sessions this week dedicated to sharpening our questioning after difficult topics of philosophical interest in the Quaestiones Disputatae program.

3/2 Tuesday – Philosophical Open Chat (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for conversation, lively debates, and get to know the Lyceum Institute and its members!  Open to the public: use the “Send Us a Message” form here (and write “Happy Hour” in the message box)!

3/3 Wednesday – Inquirere Session (3:00-4:00pm ET).  The second of two sessions this week dedicated to sharpening our questioning after difficult topics of philosophical interest in the Quaestiones Disputatae program.

3/5 Friday – Open Chat (9:30-10:15am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–part of the truly international nature of the Lyceum Institute.  A good way to bring the thinking of one week to a close and launch into the next.

3/6 Saturday – Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Continuing our immersion in the Latin Language: reading capitulum sextum in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata and establishing our habits of thinking in the language.

3/6 Saturday – Seminar Discussion Sessions.  First at 1:15pm ET we will be finishing out our discussion of Metaphysics: Discovery of Ens inquantum Ens with a consideration of the act of existence as really distinct from that which exists by it.  Second, at 3:00pm ET we’ll be considering how to bring the silence, celebration, and joy a mind attains in leisure out into the world in ​​​​​​​Ethics: The Good Life.

Spring Seminars Open!

The two spring Seminars are now open.  Discussion sessions will begin on March 20.

[2021 Spring] Politics: Postmodern Culture and Principles

This seminar will explore contemporary political and cultural issues from a classically realist foundation, proposing a genuinely “postmodern” response to the crisis of our time. When the term “postmodern” is used today, it typically denotes what is in practice a kind of “hypermodernism,” that is, an ideology which simply takes modern thinking to its logical conclusion (e.g., complete subjectivism, moral relativism, skepticism, nihilism, etc.). What “postmodern” should signify is something which looks beyond modernity, and it is in this sense which we use the term ourselves. Our “postmodern” response against the modern crisis retrieves from pre-modern political philosophy what modernity wrongfully left behind while engaging directly with modern culture. More information & registration.

[2021 Spring] Semiotics: The Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot

There are few works which have received less of the attention they deserve than the Cursus Philosophicus of John Poinsot—more commonly known as John of St. Thomas, for his professed fidelity to the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Within this cursus—a tome spanning 2348 pages—Poinsot addresses logic both formally and materially, as well as many intricacies of natural philosophy pertaining to physics, life, and psychology. But dispersed through these considerations there exists an implicit treatise, one concerned with an element essential to understanding not only topics logical but also natural; namely, the Tractatus de Signis. More information & registration.