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

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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

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Volume 2013, Issue 196


Lady Welby and Lady Petrilli

John Deely
Published Online: 2013-08-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0044


As Thomas Sebeok led the move globally from semiology as a part to semiotics as the whole of the doctrine of signs, so his close colleague, translator, and collaborator, Susan Petrilli, has proven to be a central figure in the extension of semiotics (as a theoretical understanding of the role of signs in nature and experience) to the practical question of human responsibillty – as the only animal able explicitly to realize the role of signs in the maintenance of life – for the impact of human behavior not only within human society but on the whole community of living things, the biosphere. Just as Charles Peirce was for Sebeok the lodestar for semiotics in its theoretical development, so the close correspondent of Peirce, Victoria Lady Welby, proved to be a lodestar for Petrilli in the development of the practical, ethical extension of semiotics called by Welby “significs” but by Petrilli “semioethics.” Petrilli's vast archival work “reading the works of Victoria Welby and the signific movement,” embodied in her volume Signifying and Understanding, ensures the work of Lady Welby will be central to the developing extension of semiotics into the ethical sphere.

Keywords: ethics; Gaia; Peirce; Petrilli; Ponzio; responsibility

About the article

John Deely

John Deely (b. 1942) is a professor at the University of St. Thomas, Houston 〈 〉. His research interest is the role of the action of signs in mediating objects and things, in particular the manner in which experience itself is a dynamic structure or web woven of triadic relations (signs in the strict sense) where elements (representamens, significates, and interpretants) interchange positions and roles over time in the spiral of semiosis. His publications include What distinguishes human understanding? (2002); The impact of philosophy on semiotics (2003); Why Semiotics? (2004); and Intentionality and semiotics: A story of mutual fecundation (2007).

Published Online: 2013-08-23

Published in Print: 2013-08-15

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 196, Pages 13–20, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0044.

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