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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 9, 2016

Metaphors, semiotics, and future studies

Eero Tarasti
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


Metaphor is one of the key concepts of semiotics. This essay has been written with the aim in mind of defining a new application of the field of semiotics, namely what I call ‘future studies’. The paper deals with three issues: (i) the theory of metaphors as such, much discussed in the semiotic literature; (ii) what semiotics says about the future; and (iii) what kind of semiotics we are considering here. I propose to explore the problem of metaphors and the future of semiotics in the light of my own new theory, which I call ‘existential semiotics’. Existential semiotics is a combination of the continental philosophy and the semiotic tradition. It investigates sign phenomena in our living world i.e. Dasein in the light of transcendence and its appearance. This new semiotic theory stems from the Paris school and maintains many of its central notions.


Professor Jie Zhang became my friend at several congresses of semiotics where he brought a large delegation from Nanjing Normal University. Moreover, he was responsible for the most perfect realization of the IASS/AIS World Congress at NNU in 2012. Thanks to this event and the ensuing publication of the conference proceedings in English, the Chinese semiotic tradition has come to the center of attention in our discipline. Due to the activities undertaken by Professor Zhang, Chinese semiotics is now known all over the world. Together with many other remarkable Chinese semioticians he has opened avenues for semiotic studies in his country. One may characterize Chinese semiotics as ecumenical since it fosters all important schools and subject matters in our field. In his own research Jie Zhang has distinguished himself by his studies in Russian semiotics and culture. I am honored to contribute to this volume and I wish Professor Zhang continued success in his brilliant career as a researcher and administrator.


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Published Online: 2016-6-9
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

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