Transdisciplinarity of Semiotics

By Gorban, Assoc Prof PhD Paul | International Journal of Communication Research, Jul-September 2017 | Go to article overview

Transdisciplinarity of Semiotics


Gorban, Assoc Prof PhD Paul, International Journal of Communication Research


Contemporary society, philosophical circles of language, as well as the intention of scientists to interpret or deconstruct the world are placed, in what we might call the semiotic subject service in the light of new axiological mutations. In other words, the new epistem of contemporary philosophies is related to the idea that the only reality is the sign.

Semiotics is considered to be a discipline that has in its investigation field the language(s) and significance / communication practices as social practices. Over time this discipline has received various definitions that tried to define its epistemic horizons. Most attempts to define the domain of semiotics came from the philosophy of language, logic and linguistics. However, we learn from the semiotician Thomas A. Sebeok that semiotics has its roots in medicine.

Medical diagnosis is therefore a semiotic science since it is based on the principle that the physical symptom is not represented by itself, but on an internal state or condition. However, later researches in the field will separate the concept of symptom from that of sign, bringing it closer to semiotics than the second.

The first attempts to analyze the sign in nonmedical terms appear in the works of the ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle (384-322 BC) and philosophers from the Stoic school, and especially Augustine (354-430 AD), thinkers who can be considered founders of semiology, being those who have discovered and formulated clearly the semiological nature of human language.

On the path opened by Aristotle, the philosophers of the Stoic school will also develop a semiotic theory of the verbal sign, a theory still valid nowadays. Thus, in the view of Stoic philosophers, the process of speaking involves three elements: a) the sound emitted as a material element; b) the concept or what is in the thought as an immaterial element, called expressible; and c) the designated object, existing in the material world.

Only during the Renaissance philosophers such as R. Descartes, J. Locke, G.W. Leibnitz, I. Kant, G.W.F. Hegel will include the concept of sign in their philosophical systems, from logic and epistemology to knowledge theory and metaphysics. For instance, the English philosopher John Locke has created the term of semiotics, defining its area as a teaching of signs, and arguing that the role of this discipline is to investigate the nature of the signs that serve to the mind for understanding things or to transmit its knowledge others.

John Locke establishes two coordinates, such as: a) words or verbal signs are not a class of signs; while b) for people this class is the privileged one. The English philosopher argues that what we call linguistic universals or concepts do not have an objective reality but, on the contrary, are the creation of the human intellect, and the significance is absolutely arbitrary, being nothing more than signs of the concepts.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, two terms have circulated and, apparently, created confusions or misunderstandings between the theoreticians of sign and relation between the signs, namely semiology and semiotics. …

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