“Why are there linguistic signs?”
“What is a linguistic sign and how does it mean what it means?”
“What effects do linguistic signs have and what precautions are called for when we avail ourselves of them in order to convey our thoughts and feelings, argue with other people or try to move them in any way?”
This complex set of issues, whose roots go back at least as far as Plato and Aristotle, is still of paramount importance today, insofar as it governs the most fundamental questions we ask about language, its meaning and its uses. Throughout debates whose emphasis has shifted hence and forth between logic, grammar, theology, as well as rhetoric and literature, our understanding of what it takes for a linguistic expressions to be meaningful has come in a variety of ways. In order to make sense of this diversity, the consideration of results, even the most recent ones in linguistics, cognitive sciences and information sciences, however essential, is not enough. What is required first and foremost is a second-order model allowing us to catalogue, classify and differentially analyse theoretical patterns that have been implemented throughout history in order to account for the complex phenomenon of meaning as a property of linguistic expression, as a correlate to contents of thought, or else as a product of communication practices.
SÊMAINÔ research project is meant to develop such a methodological device by way of historical comparison between relevant authors and theories. Used as a heuristic filter, it will help us discover and assess (filter “in” and “out”) differences and similarities between them. These as well as other elements of continuity and discontinuity, whose charting is one of the project’s priorities, will be instrumental in identifying both past patterns and margins for future development.
UMR 8163 « Savoirs, Textes, Langage » (STL), Université de Lille 3 (Laboratoire public)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
UMR 8163 « Savoirs, Textes, Langage » (STL), Université de Lille 3
Département de Philosophie, Université de Geneve
Help of the ANR 200,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2016 - 36 Months