Semiotics: A Transdisciplinary Quest for Meaning

Communication, Meaning, Semiotics, Transdisciplinary, Semiology.

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August 25, 2022

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Human communication, often defined as the transfer of information between human beings, is better understood as the exchange of meaning between them. It has been discovered that meaning hardly makes sense outside the context of communication. Efforts to make sense of meanings date back to the classical times from the metaphysical postulates of Plato and Aristotle, which establish basic paradigms for the interpretation of the relation between 'ideas' and 'individual forms' as correlates of linguistic signs through Locke’s postulates of a fully-fledged system of ideas pre-existent to language, Condillac’s acknowledgement of the constitutive role of signs, which allow a level of cognitive organization beyond that of animals to the modern realization of the dependence of the mind on language and its social character which lead directly to Humboldt's linguistic relativism. One of the most dynamic breakthroughs in the understanding of human communication and the meanings exchanged therein is semiotics which is often defined as the science, doctrine, or study of signs and has become one of the traditions used in the study of communication. Combining historical inquiry and content analysis as methodological tools, this study explores the trajectory of semiotics, its nature, and dynamics and posits that because signs are socially and culturally polysemous, the use of semiotics requires exposure to diverse disciplines or at least more than one discipline in order to be able to properly underscore its multimodal tenor.