Signing in the Flesh: Notes on Pragmatist Hermeneutics

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This article offers an alternative to classical hermeneutics, which focuses on discursive products and grasps meaning as the play of difference between linguistic signs. Pragmatist hermeneutics reconstructs meaning through an indefinite triangulation, which brings symbols, icons, and indices to bear on each other and considers a meaningful occasion as an embodied semiotic process. To illuminate the word-body-action nexus, the discussion identifies three basic types of signifying media: (1) the symbolic discursive, (2) the somatic-affective, and (3) the behavioral-performative, each one marked by a special relationship between signs and their objects. An argument is made that the tension between various type-signifying media is unavoidable, that the pragmatic-discursive misalignment is an ontological condition, and that bridging the gap between our discursive, affective, and behavioral outputs is at the heart of ethical life.


Ethics; Hermeneutics; Pragmatics; Semiotics


Semantics and Pragmatics | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology | Sociology of Culture


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