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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.23

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.228
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.634

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2010, Issue 182


Ancient tradition and modern audacity: On the (proto-) semiotic ideas of Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz

Massimo Leone
Published Online: 2010-11-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2010.059


The article proposes a short bio-bibliographic profile of the seventeenth-century Spanish polymath Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz, exposes the main contents of one of his Latin works, the Grammatica Audax (litt.: “the Audacious Grammar”), and focuses on the passages of this work that shed new light on the history of semiotic ideas. The paper dwells, in particular, on the first part of the Grammatica Audax, the Methodica, where Caramuel adopts the linguistic approach of Renaissance speculative grammars and elaborates his ideas on the combinatorial nature of linguistic expression, the definition of meaning, the types of signification, the naturalness versus conventionality of signs and words, etc. Two points of the Grammatica Audax are deeply relevant vis-à-vis the history of semiotic ideas: first, Caramuel's speculations on signs as relations; second, his original conception of signification as “moral or virtual transubstantiation.” The paper concludes by emphasizing the importance of rekindling the interest of contemporary semioticians in Caramuel's neglected works. Like most Catholic scholars after the Council of Trent, Caramuel conceived of signs, signification, language, and communication so as to provide a theoretical ground for early-modern Catholic spirituality against the critiques of Protestant theologians. Yet, such a theological effort gave rise to (proto-) semiotic insights whose importance for the development of modern and contemporary semiotics should not be underestimated.

Keywords:: Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz; Grammatica Audax; transubstantiation; early-modern semiotic ideas; Catholic semiotic ideas; semiosis

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Published Online: 2010-11-04

Published in Print: 2010-10-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2010, Issue 182, Pages 247–268, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2010.059.

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