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introduction
1. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Andre De Tienne Signs of Transition: An Editorial
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articles
2. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Nicholas L. Guardiano Transcendentalist Encounters with a Universe of Signs
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This essay aims to identify a semiotic consciousness found in New England Transcendentalism, consisting of the worldview that signs are pervasively present throughout nature and society. It finds that this worldview exists as a historical strand of thought stretching through the 19th century and, ultimately, further beyond, thereby making up an early movement in American semiotics. In this context, I furthermore see Transcendentalist thought informing the backdrop of Charles Peirce’s groundbreaking theory of signs later in the century, especially his metaphysical claims about a “universe . . . perfused with signs”1 (1906: EP 2.394). In order to bring into full view the presence of a semiotic consciousness in Transcendentalism, I first address the intellectual history and genealogical roots that helped shape the minds of the Transcendentalists. Relevant influences include those both local to New England and imported from abroad, in particular the theologies of Jonathan Edwards and of Emanuel Swedenborg. Next, I directly examine the ideas of the figurehead of the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson, together with his Concord peers, Amos Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau. Taking them as my case studies, I track the different ways a like-minded interest in signs takes shape within their individual projects. Focus-ing on their descriptions of nature, we find it in their experiences of the natural environment, their understanding of phenomena as representational and poetic, and their belief in the dialogical sharing of ideas across minds and species. Along the way, I further work out some of the aspects of a general theory of signs identifi-able within the Transcendentalist perspective, as well as distinguish it from other theoretical alternatives. Ultimately, I contend that the Transcendentalists held a similar idea of nature existing as a sign representing deep and varied meanings.
3. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Ionut Untea Semioethics and the Average Life: Philosophical Harvesting from Arid Soils
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Concerning the public cultivation of the philosophical vocation, it can be said that some people become sowers, others become reapers, and still others, followers. However, from the followers’ perspective, sometimes the reapers may appear as sowers because they harvest ideas that they did not plant. In the context of globalization, those whose lives have been traditionally deemed “average”—and therefore insignificant—may become critical sources of inquiry for philosophy when it is seen as a way of life. I draw inspiration from semioethics, a branch of semiotics that does not focus on technical discourse, but instead advances the reflection upon signs as one of the most basic philosophical activities. With this perspective in place, even the so-called “average” person can engage in spiritual exercises, either by personally tailoring their way or by following reapers or sowers.
4. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Geoffrey Ross Owens Semiotics and the Suburbs: A Phenomenological Analysis of Urban Frontier Settlements
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The term “Suburb” conjures up a range of images—from the African shanty towns to the affluent exurbs of major cities across Europe and North America. In nearly all cases, the emergence of suburbs is predicated upon the growth and diversity of cities, thus suggesting there is an evolutionary corollary to the evolution of complex societies. This article has two aims: first, to explore Peirce’s phenomenological tripartite evolutionary scheme as a way in which to rein in the disparate portrayals of suburban growth that have been documented throughout the world, and second, to empirically demonstrate its utility for understanding large-scale societal transformation that has given rise to suburban agglomerations and resulted in many convergent evolutionary changes over the past century.
5. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Thaddeus Martin Jaspers on Communicology: The Scission Point Boundary Condition of Existence and Existenz
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A semiotic phenomenology of the scission point boundary condi-tion between Karl Jaspers’s concepts of existence and Existenz reveal them as fundamental distinctions that can manifest in healthy or pathological forms of communication, including the “inner action” of the competing “voices” “heard” by the patient undergoing treatment. My analysis illustrates that the mind, for Jaspers, represents how communicability as truth involves us in a natural rhetorical (tropic) relationship with a society. In this analysis, I frame the problematic boundary between existence and Existenz in the language of Husserl. To provide context, I introduce Jaspers’s semiotics and explicate his theory of communication. Lastly, I connect what we have learned from the scission boundary condition between existence and Existenz to the competing voices of the patient. We discover that for Jaspers, our “selves” are cyphers, striving for communicability in a world of others.
review article
6. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Dario Dellino People and Words Reciprocally Educate Each Other: Semiotic Theory of Learning
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book review
7. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
W. John Coletta, Ryan T. Polacek Critical Global Semiotics
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about the authors
8. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
About the Authors
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9. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Farouk Y. Seif Editorial Introduction: Design and Semiotics: The De-sign Constitution of Reality
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articles
10. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Farouk Y. Seif De-Sign as a Destiny of Negation: The Paradox of Sustaining Boundaries While Traversing Borders
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Boundaries and borders are undefined and ambiguous paradoxical phenomena, but there is a prevalent repudiation of their ephemerality and transitoriness. Crossing unaccustomed boundaries and traversing untried borders can be achieved by understanding the boundless scope of design and semiotics. Since the idea of design and the doctrine of signs are not restricted by either the humanities or sciences, De-sign (fusion of design and signs) is a boundaryless and transdisciplinary perspective that cannot tolerate cultural enclaves, social dogmas, and an insistence on absolute reality. Engaging in the de-sign process is a journey of negation through which human beings can traverse unfamiliar borders while maintaining their familiar boundaries. In negation, we experience paradoxical thinking and cognitive dissonance, which are associated with all antinomies intrinsic to De-sign. These antinomies can be endured by recognizing the audacity of design and the resilient role of signs. Negation goes beyond the perception of rigid borders and the acceptance of absolute boundaries, which frequently incite ethnocentrism and trigger xenophobia. The destiny of negation depends on a sense of wonder, awareness of epistemological fallibilism, and uncommon sense in order to persevere through contradictions between distinctiveness and sameness. Axiologically, where establishing boundaries can maintain identities, traversing borders can never diminish distinctiveness. Paradoxically, by delving into unfamiliar boundaries and crossing over untried borders, we discover ways to transform our own boundaries and reframe our conception of borders. Boundaries are more than barriers; the distances between them are bridges of invisible relations for thrivability and breakthrough insights.
11. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Tiago da Costa e Silva On the Edge of the Unknown: A Relational Account of Intentionality, Formativity, and Transgressiveness of the Process of Design
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The present paper intends to discuss the process of design and its peculiar location at the threshold between the unknown (the insecure place with unknown order) and already established, well-accepted knowledge. The process of design is known for its catalyzing possibilities, often suggesting connections between conceptions, ideas, and solutions to problems by linking an initial formulation with the innovative and upcoming development of a project within a given design context. Thus, the process of design has the power to provide a space for playing, where experiments of thought, the testing of conceptions, the assembling of elements of these conceptions, and the serendipitous conflation of different parts of ideas can take place. Charles S. Peirce’s theory of inquiry—with especial emphasis on the systemic character of semiotics in relation to phaneroscopy, esthetics, logic of abduction and pragmatism—informs the chosen theoretical framework of this paper. Because it also emphasizes the process of discovery, Peirce’s theory of inquiry will be here mobilized to analyze, within the theory of the design process, the transition between critical predicament and an undecided—still to be formed—future. This task consists of stating in futuro the unthinkable in order to render any design project feasible.
12. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Baranna Baker From a Bubbling Swirl of Signs: Fiction, Film, and De-sign
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De-sign is an activity that is a result of semiotic and design processes combined to give a desired outcome. It is an outcome brought about by the conscious mind. But a De-sign outcome can be either tangible or intangible. Intangible results can lead to either an objective or a purely objective product. In other words, it can be a physical result or an imaginative state of mind. This paper explores the latter process of De-sign and how it relates to fictional subject matters and film. A commentary on language, beginning with the alphabet and moving onto the advent of written language, is included. The paper progresses from the world of written language, to an exploration of the mutable, purely objective world of fiction, to the more objective, rigid world of film, where elements left to the imagination, when reading, become fixed with little left for the purely objective activities of the mind. It will be shown that De-sign is an approach common to all purely objective thinking, whether it has an intangible or a tangible final product.
13. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Dora Ivonne Alvarez Tamayo Design in the Time of COVID-19: A Semiotic Angle
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During 2020, humanity is facing an unprecedented event, the COVID-19 pandemic. Societies around the world have been shaken, and human capacities challenged. The effects are of superlative proportions in all human activity, highlighting the systemic condition of life. In order to demonstrate that people can perform Design Thinking for producing innovations, thanks to semiosis, analysis of cases from a pragmatist perspective are developed in this paper; the results show that Design Thinking is not an exclusive way to think of designers. The results also offer the possibility to infer that design-thinking mode activates when change and contextual constraints call for the population to produce alternatives and when the process accelerates facing a crisis. This paper presents a reflection on the concept of “Design Semiothinking” based on the integration of concepts from a design perspective and a pragmatic semiotic approach.
14. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Evripides Zantides Signs of National Identity in the Graphic Design of Cypriot Print Advertisements
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The current study seeks to identify signs of national identity through the design of commercial print advertisements in the Republic of Cyprus. Based on semiotic analysis of socio-cultural perspectives, the paper explores the relationship between images and texts, not only in terms of nonverbal and verbal messages, but also through typography and layout. In doing so, it also focuses on a case study of print advertisements designed for Laiko Kafekopteio (People’s Coffee). The research falls under the constructivist conception of national identity and explores the reading of advertisements as part of commercial nationalism in everyday life. While the findings of the study depict different cultural values and characteristics of the Cypriot national identity, they also portray how the socio-political development of the island is reflected in the design of the advertisements.
15. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
Seema Khanwalkar Designed Environments, Mimesis and Likeness: Exploring Human-Material Ecologies
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This paper attempts to understand the trajectories of  “designed artifacts”, built or produced in the post war periods and its implications for the human body, material, ecology, and mimesis. Has Architecture gradually distanced itself from the body as an authoritative figure in its practice? Is it being seen more and more as an autonomous art, away from the complex web of social and political concerns? There seems to be a rationale to focus on the thinking and considerations that inform the production of architecture because it depends on the realm of conceptual philosophy; and both inhabit each other. The paper tries to address the association of humans with their artifactual environments. My interest stems from a long association of teaching in a college of architecture and design, and attempts to raise questions with regard to meaning and materiality. This paper also, in some sense, unlocks an environmental perspective on the relationship of the human body with the design that gives them shelter, affords actions, affords movement, and affords life in itself. Different patterns of the built environment afford different behaviors and aesthetic experiences. The perceptions of the environment thus limit or extend the behavioral and aesthetic choices of an individual depending on how the environment is configured, likened, imitated, or creatively reinterpreted. This article traverses, domesticity, tactile inhabitation, landscape, mythical realms of Indian architecture to the Postmodern architecture of “weak form”.
book review
16. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
André De Tienne Farouk Seif’s Hypostatic Semiotic Metaphysics
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17. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3/4
About the Authors
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18. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1/2
Jamin Pelkey Sebeok Fellows Issue: Vincent Colapietro and Nathan Houser
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vincent colapietro: tenth ssa sebeok fellow
19. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1/2
Vincent Colapietro The Music of Meaning
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This paper begins as a methodological musement inspired by a suggestion made by C. S. Peirce to William James (1905: CP 8.263). It takes his intellectual life as a complex affair displaying a creative tension between what, on the surface, appear to be exclusive impulses. On the one hand, there is the drive to attain the highest level of conceptual clarity humanly possible. This is of course evident in his pragmatism. On the other, there is his seeming dalliance with concepts so vague as to be possibly not concepts at all (arguably only “tones or tints upon conceptions” [Peirce 1901: CP 1.353]). His lifelong devotion to articulating a categoreal scheme is the most telling example of this intellectual propensity. In this paper, following Peirce’s example with respect to his interest in his categories, then, the author gives himself over to the intimations of intelligibility conveyed by the expression “the music of meaning”. From this musing, he then claims more solid ground by offering an explication of Peirce’s theory of interpretants as the place where that theorist’s account of meaning is to be found. Ultimately, he tries to draw together what has emerged, first, in his methodological musement and, then, in subsequent discussions—his three main topics: music, that mysterious form of time; time, that mysterious form of Being; and meaning.
20. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1/2
Vincent Colapietro Theoretical Riffs on the Blues
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After disambiguating the word, the author explores the blues primarily not as a genre of music but as a sensibility or orientation toward the world. In doing so, he is taking seriously suggestions made by a host of writers, most notably, Ralph Waldo Ellison, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, and Cornel West. As such, the focus is on the blues as an extended family of somatic practices bearing upon expression (or articulation). At the center of these practices, there is in the blues (to modify Foucault’s words) always the patient yet exuberant work of giving articulate form to our impatience for human freedom. But here the distinction between practices of emancipation, by which a people throws off their political domination, and practices of freedom, by which they tirelessly work to make their freed self truly their own, is crucial. In this, the author is guided by an insight provided by Toni Morrison’s Beloved: “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another” (1987: 95). As “an art of ambiguity”, the blues turns out to be also an art of ambivalence: the task of claiming ownership of one’s freed self is one demanding, not only learning to live with irreducible ambiguity but also working toward “an achievement of ambivalence”.