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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 18, Issue 1/4, 2002

Douglas Jones
Pages 127-142

Limiting the Unlimited
Eco’s Realistic Pragmatism

Umberto Eco’s notion of an “open work” embraces a Peircean pragmatism in order to avoid the extremes of both a bounded authorial intent and an unbounded post-structuralism, but this brand of pragmatism does not succeed in providing objective constraints on interpretation due to an unnecessary commitment to a Saussurrean net of meaning signification. Eco’s arguments for this commitment fail upon simple phenomenological reflection, and the whole commitment proves to be unnecessary for Eco’s fruitful insights of the open work. Successful interpretation of an open work requires both intersubjectivity and actual presence.

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