“In Memoriam Prof John Deely” e-journal of the Chengdu center


Editor’s Words: The Significance of John Deely’s Pre-modern Research in Post-modern Semiotics
Jia Peng

In every sense, John Deely was a unique scholar in semiotic studies: while most of his peers rely heavily on the thoughts of modern or contemporary philosophers, he, on the other hand, spends decades on the pre-modern philosophic classics and establishes a cenoscopic semiotic system, by returning to medieval doctrines of signs, tracing the threads along pre-modern semiotics to Piecean semiotics, and therefore, laying a solid foundation for the latest trends in post-modern semiotcs: phenomenologic semiotics, biosemiotics, semioethics, etc. He was, in the words of Chinese semiotician Henry Yiheng Zhao, the most erudite and diligent semiotician of our time.

Deely’s work is firstly introduced into China by Jinsong Zhou, who translates and publishes Impact on Philosophy of Semiotics in 2011. After its publication, several Chinese reviews on this work are published, in Signs & Media, and Bulletin of Semiotics and Media Studies. In the following year, Chinese translation of Basics of Semiotics is published. In its translation notes, Zujian Zhang, a famous Chinese scholar, points out the significance of Deely’s redefinition of “Post-modernism” from semiotic perspective and emphasizes Deely’s broad view and great contributions in building a cenoscopic postmodern semiotics.

In this issue in memorial of John Deely, we have solicited the published reviews on and translation of Deely’s works, including the excerpts from the Chinese version of Impact on Philosophy of Semiotics, namely, “‘A Sign Is What’: A Conversation between a ‘Semiotist’and a ‘Realist’Diagram”, “The State of the Questions”, “Demarcating Modernity within Philosophy”, and “How Semiotics Restores Tradition to Philosophy”, and the review by the translator on the English version of this book, in which he compares the systematic philosophic doctrines of signs sort out by Deely to Ariadne’s thread in the labyrinth of semiotics, leading us with our unremitting efforts to rewrite the history of philosophy. In Li Liu’s “Amongst various voices: A Review of John Deely’s Impact on Philosophy of Semiotics, it is argued by the author that Deely’s writing as a sustained exploration of western semiotic epistemology reveals and highlights the bonds between doctrines of signs and studies on meaning. In “Origins and Trends of Semiotics: Review of Basics of Semiotics”, Yijie He makes a critical summary of different traditions in semiotics, and emphasizes the ethnic dimension of Deely’s study. Henry Yiheng Zhao’s memorial essay on John Deely recalls Deely’s friendship and collaboration with himself and other Chinese colleagues, which reminds us Deely’s unwavering support of Chinese semioticians, as well as his great passion for and contribution to semiotic fields, which are the most valuable legacy for all the semioticians today to embrace and carry on.

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