Home » Welby

⚘ 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.