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Metamorphoses of Meaning: The Concept of the Ideal from a Semiotic Perspective

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the concept of the ideal in relation to Umberto Eco's semiotic theory and his notion of the "encyclopedia". By encylopedia, Eco means the totality of knowledge generated by humans. This knowledge is stored in artefacts, which, for Eco, appear as an 'enormous library composed of all books and encyclopedias - all papers and manuscripts, documents of all centuries, including the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians and the inscriptions in cuneiform'. This resembles the way Ilyenkov invokes the Hegelian vision of 'the whole grandiose materially established intellectual culture of the human race, in and through which this individual awakens to "self-consciousness". The chapter also explains that the artefactuality and the materiality of signs are downplayed in Eco's analysis, since the activity of meaning-making coupled with the transformation of the material world is omitted from his otherwise sophisticated and careful semiotic view.

Keywords: ancient Egyptians; Evald Ilyenkov; Hegelian vision; hieroglyphics; Umberto Eco's semiotic theory



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