The Ghosts – Notes from a Field Study

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Four traditions have contributed to Western semiotics: semantics including the philosophy of language , logic, rhetoric and hermeneutics. However, both John Deely and Umberto Eco [ 1 , 2 ] have claimed the need to re-read the history of philosophy, and maybe of other disciplines, from a semiotic point of view. In the Western world, the first semiotic incursions can be traced back to the Greeks.

This introductory paper shows how knowledges from the past haunt the present and future of semiotics in various ways. The reflection functions as a catalyst to connect the diverse papers collected in this volume, contributing to point out the contemporary relevance of semiotics and its interdisciplinary applications. The phrase has acquired new meanings in artificial intelligence. It was used by Arthur C. Indeed, cybernetic advance is so rapid that there is already software that tracks the electrical activity of human nervous systems, collecting patterns of thoughts and emotions in order to map entire human life experiences, turning them into searchable data i.

These prostheses are extensions of the body as much as of the mind, since they map machine algorithms upon artificial limbs. All these contemporary immersive technologies explore the imbrication of digital simulations with body schemata.

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Continuing our incursion on etymological roots, the origin of the term semiotics shows interesting parallels that make obvious the human desire to transcend death through memory and representation, that is, the use of signs that try to make present that which is absent. Indeed, the haunting figure of the ghost sign, simultaneously absent and present, dead and alive, was always already there in the etymology of the term semiotics.

According to Detienne and Vernant, these terms were also used in fortune telling, astronomy and navigation, referring to signals coming from the gods and alluding to cunning knowledge associated with the goddess Metis pp. For instance, the fact that Socrates was wise and just is a anonymous sign that wise men are just b pp. One of the fragments presents an early description of triadic semiotics Deely p.

And just as written marks are not the same for all men, neither are spoken sounds.

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Many sources were lost during this period, either because of war or because of lack of interest in scribal preservation. In the s, a series of excavations that took place at Herculaneum an ancient Roman town located at the skirts of Mount Vesuvius and covered with debris after the 79 CE eruption unveiled a great collection papyrus. Among these, there was a treatise by Epicurean philosopher Philodemus of Gadara c. Peirce would derive semiosis [ 8 , 9 ].

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While the Stoics defended deductive inferences established from a priori principles, the Epicureans trusted empirical inductive testing. Thus, scholasticism and medieval semiotics developed within theology and the trivium of the three liberal arts, concerned primarily with textual exegesis and hermeneutics: grammar, dialectic logic and rhetoric.

During this period, realist and nominalist positions debated over the existence or not of universals. A proponent of nominalism, William of Ockham — considered universals to be signs without an existence of their own, but standing for individual objects.


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A new era of interest and research on the nature of signs began in the ages of rationalism and British empiricism. This move was also associated with an epistemological shift: from the perceiving subject to the observed empirical object experiment [ 10 ]. It had the advantage of coming from a Latin version based on an earlier Greek source, rather than via Arabic translations. I bring to the fore these issues of translation and the differences in symbolic representation because the late s and early s mark the expansion of Gutenberg printing press as well as the rupture of the ancient unity between calculation, natural philosophy and alphabetic writing [ 11 ].

The ensuing separation continued to pose the problem in philosophical debates between demonstrative and dialectical reasoning, as scholars tried to explain how singular items of experience were part of universal knowledge, a problem explored by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz — His idea of innate human knowledge led John Locke — to combat Cartesian deduction with inductive empiricism. Limitations arose in both cases, as knowledge was treated as an object, thus creating a boundary between the liminal being, of which one is conscious, and the ineffable being the sublime for which there was no articulation Reiss p.

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The semiotics of George Berkeley — maintained that words do not always stand for ideas and that they have other functions such as referring to passions. Johann Gottfried Herder — sustained that human cognitive capacity only has access to the exterior marks of things signs and that these do not express the things themselves, only their names.

Immanuel Kant — Critique of Pure Reason postulated basic conceptual categories of human thought as a priori tools for making sense of the world. This topic was also explored by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing — in his work Laocoon , a prominent example of the study of iconicity in the arts. A precursor of the studies on iconicity was Giambattista Vico — , whose philosophy was also influential upon Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling — or Novalis — , and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel — and, more specifically, Bernard Bolzano — continued to develop a pragmatic dimension of semiosis by exploring different types of signs from the point of view of perception visual and auditory signs, gestural and verbal signs.

In the twentieth century, the study of semiotics takes a definite impulse. Victoria Lady Welby — has been recently acknowledged an important female precursor. In Philosophical Investigations , Edmund Husserl — developed a phenomenological theory of signs and meaning which explored the phenomenon of awareness and attention.

Husserl argued that some phenomena are not immediately perceived in themselves. Such assertion already implied a gap between the objects as sign signifier and as thing signified. Under the impetus of Ferdinand de Saussure — , Louis Trolle Hjelmslev — and Algirdas Julien Greimas — , the European structural approach relied on the supremacy of discourse and emphasized the dyadic correspondence between the material sign signifier and its referent signified.

It was later criticized under poststructural and deconstructive criticism i. Peircean semiotics, as both metaphysics and epistemology, reconfigures any simple binary distinction between phenomena sensation, perception and noumena unmediated referent or event that exists without sense or perception as an irreducible triadic relationship [ 14 ].

This interest for the intentional aspects of communication gradually gave way to the theory of affordances [ 16 ].

1. Introduction

With word, image, and sound this website transfers you to the excavation experience of a trained archaeologist who unearths interactive past cultural presence. The past material remains are exposed and manifest through the skills of an actor with extensive film, TV, and theatre experience , who is immersed in and enacting various participatory and performative roles during the execution of cultural contextual scenarios in the excavation process.

At these sites of excavation, the past-present- and future occupy one node of symmetrical space. Follow me on Academia. By Mary on April 2, Powered by WordPress and Tweaker3 , tweaked by Bridget. Life and death are not defined by Western scientific realities alone.

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There is more to the world, reality, and life and death than what we read, hear, view, and learn from various mediated forms including, but not exclusive to, social networks, the internet, TV, film, and paranormal radio podcasts. It is one that is grounded in thousands of years of first-hand field experiences. Please contact us at cuicospirit hotmail. Visitor Count.

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