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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 26, 2014

The Tartu Synthesis in Semiotics Today Viewed from America

  • John Deely
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


By the 20th century’s end, semiotics had definitively emerged as the most historically and theoretically proper name for the study of how signs work in human experience, both in its cultural dimensions and in its inevitable dependency upon the physical environment and universe, which extends far beyond cultural influence and which the very existence of culture presupposes. Probably the single most key figure, as it were, “presiding over” this emergence was the Hungarian-American Thomas A. Sebeok. But key to Sebeok’s weaving of the “semiotic web” of a global awareness of sign-action within the intellectual culture of the 21st century was his appreciation and integration within his vision and work of two key background figures, both associated with Tartu University, namely, Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman. I would like to comment on how the heritage of these two figures have proved to be the foundation stones - in some ways more important even than the, so far, more widely recognized figures of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce - for the future of semiotics within university life and intellectual life generally.

Published Online: 2014-4-26
Published in Print: 2012-12-1

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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