On the Medieval Theory of Signs

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Umberto Eco, Costantino Marmo
John Benjamins Publishing, Jan 1, 1989 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 224 pages
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In the course of the long debate on the nature and the classification of signs, from Boethius to Ockham, there are at least three lines of thought: the Stoic heritage, that influences Augustine, Abelard, Francis Bacon; the Aristotelian tradition, stemming from the commentaries on De Interpretatione; the discussion of the grammarians, from Priscian to the Modistae. Modern interpreters are frequently misled by the fact that the various authors regularly used the same terms. Such a homogeneous terminology, however, covers profound theoretical differences. The aim of these essays is to show that the medieval theory of signs does not represent a unique body of semiotic notions: there are diverse and frequently alternative semiotic theories. This book thus represents an attempt to encourage further research on the still unrecognized variety of the semiotic approaches offered by the medieval philosophies of language.
 

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Contents

On animal language in the medieval classification of signs
3
Denotation
43
Section II
79
Natural semiotics and the epistemological process
81
Directions in contemporary interpretations of the Modistae
107
Ontology and semantics in the logic of Duns Scotus
143
Mental signs and the theory of representation in Ockham
195
The series Foundations of Semiotics
225
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About the author (1989)

Umberto Eco was born in Alessandria, Italy on January 5, 1932. He received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Turin in 1954. His first book, Il Problema Estetico in San Tommaso, was an extension of his doctoral thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas and was published in 1956. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was published in 1980 and won the Premio Strega and the Premio Anghiar awards in 1981. In 1986, it was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Prague Cemetery, and Numero Zero. He also wrote children's books and more than 20 nonfiction books including Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. He taught philosophy and then semiotics at the University of Bologna. He also wrote weekly columns on popular culture and politics for L'Espresso. He died from cancer on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84.

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