From Text to Action, to the Body: Corporeity and Perception Between Semiotics and Philosophy of Language

Lorenzo Altieri


These reflections arise from a double teaching: First from those of Ricoeur, and then those of Jervolino. Particularly strong in their interpretation of hermeneutics, and we may say the philosophical practice as a whole, is the urgency of reality – that is, the need to have interpretation, language and praxis converge. From Text to Action and The Words of Praxis are two of the titles that inspire the following thoughts. They indicate a bearing, a direction in which to search. The basic idea is to go "beyond the text", to understand semiotics and hermeneutics as activities rooted in bodily and experiential practice. The impression is that the relationship between classic semiotics and perception is one of disinterest in the best of cases, and in the worst of ill-concealed annoyance. Having developed as a logical-linguistic theory on the one hand, or as a logic of cultures on the other, traditional semiotics did not deal with the subject of perception and experience in a fruitful way, lingering for a long time on a structuralism-based textualism. From this point of view, the meeting between semiotics and phenomenology – which, even before Merleau-Ponty, makes perception the main object of its investigation, and indeed the very field of its own development – has long been deferred. Our attempt to bring semiotics, phenomenology and the philosophy of language together, in a common space to be drawn, leads us to reflect on the way in which the question of perception has been (or not been) approached at the crossroads of these disciplines. Ours obviously will not be a historiographical reread, but rather a critical one, looking to identify some theoretical nodes that allow us to explore the issues that enliven this reflection. As Ricœur would say, we must move “from text to action”.

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