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Semiotic studies on the emergency of meaning: perception, semioception, enaction, neuroception

Grant number: 15/25854-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2016
Effective date (End): January 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Linguistics - Linguistic Theory and Analysis
Principal Investigator:Waldir Beividas
Grantee:Waldir Beividas
Host Investigator: Francesco Marsciani
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Università di Bologna, Italy  


In my habilitation thesis at the University of São Paulo - "Semiotic theory as an immanent epistemology. A third path to knowledge" - I defended two hypotheses: (i) Ferdinand de Saussure's semiology, founded on the principle of the arbitrary in the theory of signs, presents itself as a true epistemology of knowledge. Language as a semiologic act imposes, through its categories, a certain apprehension of the world. The subject is thus confronted with discursive strategies of veridiction, referential illusion, reality and truth effects that will determine the way the world of human phenomenology is decisively created; (ii) derived from the semiologic act, I proposed the novel concept of semioception, which names the very act of apprehension and construction of the human world. In current researches, it is the concept of perception that is more largely used to explain the emergence of meaning. Conceived by ancient philosophies, it has been continuously updated by psychologies (experimental, behavioral, Gestalt, cognitive) and more so by the phenomenological philosophy of E. Husserl and M. Merleau-Ponty. The notion of perception has also been a reference for the proposal of the concept of enation by neurobiologists F. Varela and H. R. Maturana. It has likewise been taken into account by neuroscientific researches which consider neuronal operations to be the central command of our perception of the world - a task that might as well have been named neuroception. In light of these studies and proposals, it seems important to verify the degree to which the concept of semioception may feed the debate on the emergence of meaning in the scale of human phenomenology. Its theoretical novelty and heuristic potential lie (i) on the avoidance of philosophical idealism, which attributes to the "faculties" of the mind - the cunning of Reason - the management of the intellection of the world; (ii) on the overcoming of difficulties arising from realistic naturalism, which sees all power of perception of beings (animal or human) as "morphogenetic" or "epigenetic" attributes, tools, properties of the flesh, or yet as a gift of Mother Nature - some sort of hidden "creationism", undeclared by most naturalistic sciences, as far as where the most renowned and prestigious players are concerned; (iii) on the possibility of surmounting the issue of "magic leaps" that take place at the "transposition of levels": from the inert level of matter to the living level of organisms, from the protomorphic level of the protozoa to the more complex levels of the central nervous system of animals; from those to the complexity of the human mind; from the transductions operated through the optic encodings of wave frequencies to the semantic coding of their resolutions into "colors" which language imposes on the speakers (this is an example of one of the human meanings we attribute to exogenous apprehension). The concept of semioception aims at overcoming the difficulties brought about by philosophical transcendence of the subject's mind, as well as the hypostasis of natural "properties" of naturalistic researches, by laying its bases on the objectivity of discourses, on the cunning of enunciation, through the semiologic operations of languages, on the task of apprehending and building the human world. Ultimately, semioception is presented in direct debate with the notions of perception, enation, and that of neuroception, which delegates to neurons the management and the workings of the apprehension of the world by men. The research will be undertaken at the University of Bologna under the supervision of Francesco Marsciani - whose habilitation thesis, recently published (2012), has dealt with the analysis of French school semiotics in relation to the phenomenological philosophy of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty -, where it will tackle and develop the first part of the work: to contrast the phenomenological concept of perception and that of semioception. (AU)

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