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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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Volume 2016, Issue 213


Semiotics and education, semioethic perspectives

Susan Petrilli
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Lettere, Lingue, Arti, Italianistica e Culture Comparate, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Via Garruba 6, Bari, Puglia 70122, Italy
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Published Online: 2016-08-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0078


“Semioethics” is a neologism coined in the early 1980s to highlight the relation between signs and values, identity and otherness. It keeps account of Victoria Welby’s concept of “significs” and of Sebeok’s “global semiotics” with its critique of glottocentric and anthropocentric tendencies. Together both sources, significs and global semiotics, provide the context for contributions from semioethics to education. Semioethics recovers the ancient vocation of semiotics, originally “semeiotics,” for life and its wellbeing. It elicits the importance of applying an interdisciplinary approach and a “detotalizing method” in education by contrast to the totalizing approaches of grand narratives. The human being is endowed with a “primary modeling device,” also called “language,” and with it “syntactics.” Semioethics considers the role of these special characteristics that specify the human being as a human being, a “semiotic animal,” and addresses the human propensity for creativity, critique, and responsibility for health over the globe, both in terms of physical-organic materiality, the body, and of semiotic materiality, signs and values. These characteristics can be developed and enhanced through a specifically “linguistic education” with a particular emphasis on otherness, dialogue, and listening. Practicing semioethics becomes more pressing in the face of the relational dynamics between the historical-social and biological spheres, between culture and nature, between semiosphere and biosphere, and between semiotics, biosemiotics, and education.

Keywords: education; interlingualism; global semiotics; modeling; responsibility; semioethics


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-08-13

Published in Print: 2016-11-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2016, Issue 213, Pages 247–279, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0078.

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