Critical Notices/Études critiques

The Age of the Sign: New Light on the Role of the Fourteenth Century in the History of Semiotics*

Ludger Kaczmareka1

a1 University of Münster

Semiotics, the age-old investigation of signs, is still striving for acknowledgement as a scientific (and academic) discipline. Though the ‘linguistic turn’ in the philosophical disciplines seemed to be followed by a ‘semiotic turn’ in many sciences during the 1970s, efforts were not crowned by great success. When seen from a certain distance, a definition of semiotics as a discipline can only be obtained from its history. Research into the sources of the human pre-occupation with signs, and with concepts or conceptions of signs, is really desirable and even necessary when a field of considerable scientific interest at the brink of being awarded the rank of a discipline runs the risk of getting lost between the unificationism of the Morris-type and the elegance of pseudo-mathematical empty classificationism (such as demonstrated in the late Max Bense's Stuttgart School) on the one side, and profitable exploitation of the sign's popularized design qualities on the other.


* Joël Biard, Logique et théorie du signe au XIVe siècle, Vol. 64: Études de philosophie médiévale (Paris: Librairie Philosophique Vrin, 1989), 344 p. Page references are to this work.