Making Meaning of Eco

Begins 18:15pm

[SS Do you understand what Eco means in the last 110 pages of his Theory of Semiotics?]

[OS You mean the first 110 pages of his theory, but the last 110 pages that we have read?]

[SS You sound like Eco.  You know what I meant!!]

[OS Well it is important to be clear, otherwise it could cause misunderstandings. Eco is saying that Semiotics is a term used to understand how we make meaning through the use of signs and symbols.]

[SS I thought all semiotics is about the making of meaning?]

[OS Yes, that’s true and meaning is also part of the study of Linguistics.  Linguistics is the study of the structure and meaning of language. But semiotics is the study of meaning outside, and even ‘beyond’ language.  Eco doesn’t shy away from the complexity of understanding the meaning of signs and symbols.  He embraces it.]

[SS Why can’t he make the meaning of his understanding of Semiotics clearer?]

[OS We would have to ask him. But my guess is that the subject itself is so difficult and complex that it’s hard to make it simpler.]

[SS But if it’s not so simple is it worth understanding?]

[OS Oh yes.  Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it won’t be superbly rewarding when our understanding of the meaning grows.  After all it’s part of anthropology.  Of understanding and making sense of the culture that surrounds us?]

[SS But we are just degrees of the self inside this author’s head.  Why should it matter to us?]

[OS Because the relationship between the structure of the world that surrounds us is critical to understand how we operate. It’s about how we communicate and articulate the world around us so we can take action. We wouldn’t be having this conversation, for example, if semiotics wasn’t something we were grappling to understand.]

[SS I am not grappling with semiotics.  Seems clear enough.  I am just struggling with Eco and ‘markers’, ‘interpretants’, ‘referents’, ‘denotations’, ‘connotations’, ‘infinite regression’….. and on and on.  I mean he does go on and on.  He adds more and more words and bits of theory to the ‘big’ theory with every page we turn.]

[OS Well he does make it clear that because ‘semiosis explains itself by itself’ it is continually circular.  Remember that on page 71?]

[SS You are more precise than I am.  All the pages are a blur to me.  Not sure what is on which.]

[OS Well.  Don’t give up.  We will just keep going.  Umberto Eco will help us get a little closer to understanding the outside world and Margaret Archer will help us understand the mind of the individual.  Between the two, we should have a better understanding of how we can make the world a better place.]

[SS Hold on there.  I never signed up for the goody goody stuff.  I am happy to just quip every now and then.  I am just piping in whenever and wherever I feel like it.  After all this Phd is starting to take over.  It’s my job to remind us all of the important stuff:  eating, sleeping, drinking and a little bit of feeling.  Like right now, I would like to remind us that it’s time to have dinner and get warm.]

[OS Ok. That sounds like a good ending to this evening.]

Ends 6:40pm

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