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Sebeok's Semiosic Universe and Global Semiotics

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Abstract:

In the belief that the universe is a semiosic web Sebeok placed no limits on semiotic inquiry as he chose to conduct it. In terms of fields of semiosis and objects of analysis Sebeok's interests ranged from his studies in biology to his reflections relative to linguistics, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and musements relative to narrative aesthetic signs. He was interested in ecology and the signs of deception, sometimes inventing new disciplines to focus on specific aspects in the life of signs, such as zoosemiotics and biosemiotics. Even more significant is his method of inquiry and its ontological foundations. Sebeok was a convinced critic of code semiotics and the restriction of its focus to the human social world, privileging instead the instruments of interpretation semiotics which best accounts for his axiom that life is the criterial attribute of semiosis. Working in such a direction he created the conditions for his global semiotics, an approach which favours conceiving the totality of semiosis, the great semiobiosphere, in a detotalizing perspective, that is, in its interrelated plurality and diversification. The play of musement is a specifically human capacity theorized by Sebeok according to his biosemiotic interpretation of the concept of language as a syntactic modeling device. And let us add that he exemplifies the play of musement in his life as a researcher and critical interpreter of signs beyond prejudicial boundaries, even perhaps beyond the signs of life.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Letterature Straniere, Universita di Bari, Via Garruba n. 6, Bari-70100, Italy. ., Email: s.petrilli@lingue.uniba.it.

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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