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).

Lyceum Schedule [8/15-8/21]

Weekly Schedule of Events

8/16 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

8/17 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, 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 (write “Happy Hour” in the message box) and we’ll see you on Teams!

8/18 Wednesday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

8/19 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!
  • Elementary Latin Class (6:00-7:00pm ET).  Via Romae sunt multa et utile — audes quomodo servus improbus Medus ambulat ad Romam dum servi boni suos dominus in lecticam vehunt.  Legimus et convertimus ex capitulo VI!

8/20 Friday

  • Open Chat (9:30-10:30am ET). Our regular Friday-morning open chat, allowing conversation between those in the West and those in the East–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

8/21 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Emere et vendere–labor mercatorum–est labor periculosus: quia saepe merces pretiosas in mare mersae sunt!  Discemus delphini, Arionis, Orpheus et plus dum legemus et convertemus ex capitulo XXIX!
  • Colloquium Discussion: Immediate or Delayed Hominization? (1-2pm ET).  With the discussion led by Dr. Michel Accad, Lyceum Institute members are invited to read a 1970 article by Fr. Joseph Donceel and a 1995 article by Fr. William Wallace on the question of whether hominization is immediate (upon conception) or delayed (occurring between conception and birth).  You can find the meeting thread here.

UPCOMING

9/1 Wednesday – Two sessions for the Quaestiones Disputatae, open for Inquirere or Defensio.  Morning (for Eastern members) and Evening (for Western members).  Anyone is welcome at either or both sessions.

Fall seminars will begin the first week of October!  Dr. Kirk Kanzelberger will be teaching on Evil, Dr. Matthew Minerd on Art, Aesthetics, and Thomism, and Dr. Kemple on the Metaphysics of God.  DETAILS TO COME THIS WEEK!

Trivium – tentative start date for the Grammar & Composition portion is planned for the week of September 19th.  

Symposium – beginning in October, Dr. Mark McCullough will be leading a twice-monthly discussion session proceeding through Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Details will be shared soon for this new experimental offering.

This Week [5/16-5/22]

5/17 Monday

  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

5/18 Tuesday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!  Nunc triginta minutae prius.
  • Philosophical Happy Hour (5:30-7:00pm ET). Join us for drinks, 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 (write “Happy Hour” in the message box) and welcome to the conversation!

5/19 Wednesday

  • Paradise Lost – Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve (10:00-11:00am ET).  Part 2 of 2.  Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve.  You can read more about this two-week symposium here.
  • Exercitium Linguae Latinae (2:00-2:30pm ET). Legemus ex Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata ut melioremus nostrum locutionem et augeamus familiaritatem vocabulis.

5/20 Thursday

  • Ex Sancto Thoma Legimus (9:30-10:00am ET).  Legemus ex Sancto Thoma et convertit in linguam Anglicam; practicum bonum et utile est!

5/21 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–bridging the international community of the Lyceum Institute.
  • Exercitium in Lingua Latina (11pm-12am ET).  Etiam exercitium in Lingua Latina!  Ista hora conveniens Orientalibus est (11am Manila time).

5/22 Saturday

  • Latin Class(10-11am ET).  Ex capitulo 17, discemus de numeros difficilis, et “responsum incertum nullum responsum est”!

[Symposium] Paradise Lost – Book IX

Paradise Lost

Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve

John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is the most ambitious and complex poem ever written in English. Composed while Milton was blind and in political exile, the poem tells the story of angels’ rebellion in Heaven, the creation of the universe, and humanity’s fall into sin. Equal to its Homeric and Virgilian predecessors, the epic was an instant classic and inspired generations of poets. Today the poem continues to draw readers to its unrivaled depiction of Satan and attempt to “justify the ways of God to men.”

Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve. No prior experience is necessary to join the discussions, though participants are asked to read book 9 and familiarize themselves with a few additional online interview/lectures about the poem prepared by Dr. McCullough.

This two week event (5/12-5/19) is available to all Lyceum Institute members.

(If you aren’t a member yet, first, you may want to re-evaluate your life decisions, and second, you can sign up here.)