Sign as form

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[opening paragraph]: That human orientation to the world uses signs, indeed is bound up with signs, has been known and discussed since antiquity. The concept of the sign was first and foremost supported by a certain familiarity: that signs abound in the world was considered common sense. The word ‘sign’ thus designated something that realizes a certain mode of being — an essence — in Being. More precisely, signs serve to make intelligible what is not in itself observable. This is reflected, for example, in the medical usage of the terms semeion and signum.1 Therefore, signs could be distinguished from other sorts of things and investigated in their specificity.2 Rhetoric, for instance, distinguished between verba (words) and res (things).3 This consequently led to a sub-ontology of sign-using beings and, in this context, to an ontology of language. Both knowing names and giving names was thought to require a certain artistry — in particular, a knowledge of the nature of things. And the same holds for writing.4

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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