Abstract: The field of semiotic studies requires borders to function as a discipline but as a living science it is essential that those borders be unheeded. Semioticians must be free to roam over the entire range of knowledge for, as Thomas Sebeok observed, semiotics “circumscribes what we can know.” Consequently, semioticians must cross borders often lingering at the edges of boundaries that separate fields of study, hopefully seeing with eyes unveiled by the obscuring margins of the paradigms of bounded disciplines. When Charles Peirce opened the modern field of semiotic studies, he understood that what lay before him was a new wide-ranging area of research so vast that the most he could do was survey the far-flung territory and prepare the way for future semioticians. His own intellectual labor was punctuated by conceptual border concerns, some of the more engaging ones involving his classifications of sciences and of signs. I will focus on some of the semiotic territory Peirce staked out which has special relevance for today’s emotive messaging.
Bio: Nathan Houseris Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Indiana University in Indianapolis (IUPUI) and President of the Charles S. Peirce Foundation. He has served as Director of the Peirce Edition Project and the Institute for American Thought and as President of the Charles S. Peirce Society and the Semiotic Society of America. From 1993 to 2009 he was General Editor for the Indianapolis critical edition of Peirce’s writings and he co-edited the two-volume Essential Peirce and Studies in the Logic of Charles Sanders Peirce. He is the author of over forty articles on Peirce’s theory of signs and semiotic philosophy. His recent work has focused on non-rational belief and social mind.
SSA 44th Presidential Address
Semiotic Negation: Sustaining Boundaries While Traversing Borders
Abstract: Through semiotic negation humans can traverse borders while maintaining boundaries. But the notion of negation is paradoxically complicated; it requires paradoxical thinking in dealing with cognitive dissonance that is associated with all antinomies intrinsic to reality. Negation is intimately tied to deep understanding of the audacity of design and the resilience of signs. Such understanding goes beyond the perception of rigid borderlines and acceptance of absolute boundaries which frequently trigger xenophobia. Negation is a destiny that can never remain within the confined boundaries of the sociocultural establishment nor those religious dogmas that insist on absolute reality. The destiny of negation requires a sense of wonder and an uncommon sense to persevere through the contradictions between distinctiveness and sameness. Axiologically, where establishing boundaries can maintain identities, traversing borders can never diminish distinctiveness. Boundaries are more than barriers; they are bridges where two different cultures encounter each other for thriveability.
Bio: Farouk Y. Seif, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Antioch University, Seattle, USA, President of the Semiotic Society of America (SSA), former Executive Director of the SSA, a registered architect, an artist, and a Fellow of the International Communicology Institute. His main interests are design and semiotics for social and cultural change, paradoxes, transdisciplinarity, and transmodernity. His forthcoming book De-sign in the Transmodern Worldis a state-of-the-art integration of design and semiotics. He has taught design for social innovation and contributed to semiotic congresses since 1999. He taught in universities and lectured at conferences worldwide.