Philosophy of the Sign

By Josef Simon
Translated by George Heffernan

Subjects: Semiotics
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791424544, 291 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791424537, 291 pages, July 1995

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Table of contents

Introduction to the Translation

Preliminary Remarks and Delimitations

1. Foreword to the Theme
2. Being and Sign since Aristotle
3. Delimitation from Semiotics
4. Archetype—Image—Illusion
5. Pointing Sign and Naming Sign
6. Preliminary Remark on Method

Philosophy of the Sign

7. Sign and Meaning
8. Sign and Concept
9. First Excursus to Peirce
10. Arbitrariness
11 The Proposition
12. Prospositional Parts
13. Problem Solving
14. The Same Thing and Different Things
15. Interpretation and Reference
16. Sign and Sensibility
17. First Excursus to Kant and Hegel
18. Semantic Positions
19. Signs and Things (Sensing, Perceiving, Thinking)
20. Negation as a Primitive Sign
21. Time I
22. Thought Schemata, Space and Time of Consciousness
23. Acting
24. Sign Convention
25. Understanding Others. Translatability
26. Signs of Natural Science
27. Sign and Time. The Human Being and the State
28. The Sign "Being"
29. Nietzsche Relieves Ontology of Its Position
30. Philosophical Questions
31. The Truth of the Sign and the Truth of Being
32. Kant on Sign and Being, Sensibility and Understanding
33. Philosophy of the Sign and Transcendental Philosophy
34. Time II
35. Communicative Understanding of Being
36. Infinite Clarity
37. Sign and Language
38. The Language of Philosophy and Its "Essence"
39. Particular Languages
40. Limits of Linguistic Signs
41. Sign and Relation
42. The Sign "I" and Freedom
43. Death as a Sign
44. Signs and the Interior of Things
45. Freedom in the Interpretation of Signs
46. "Internal Linguistic Form"
47. Sign Interpretation and Truth
48. Nature and the Claim of the Overview
49. Writing, Sound and Time
50. Teleology as Approximation
51. Signs, Concepts, Metaphors
52. Particular Metaphors: The Easy and the Hard, the Light and the Dark
53. The Human Being as a Sign and Its Philosophical Explications
54. Time Modes
55. Signs "for" Actions
56. Legal Signs
57. Insulating-Isolating Sign Reference
58. The Problem of Systematic Philosophy
59. Deus sive natura?
60. Signs of the Times



This book presents a coherent philosophy of signs without postulating objects to which they refer or meanings which they express.


In this book, Simon wields Ockham's razor like a scythe to argue historically and systematically for a coherent philosophy of the sign as sign with an unprecedented minimum of ontological and semantical commitments. Deconstructing Plato, Frege, and Husserl, he accounts for signs without positing the existence either of meanings which they express or of things to which they refer. Indeed, he shows that one cannot understand anything that is not a sign, so that one never gets to meanings without signs or things beyond signs.

This confinement of signers and signees to a network of signitive relationships with no possibility of escape to a metasignitive "reality" characterizes Simon's philosophy of the sign. He draws on an extraordinarily wide range of sources, from Classical to contemporary, from modern to postmodern, from Anglo-American analytic to Continental European, for example, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Hamann, Herder, Kant, von Humboldt, Hegel, Nietzsche, Peirce, Frege, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, and Quine. A bonus is that this book provides insight into major developments in the contemporary German-speaking realm.

Josef Simon is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bonn. George Heffernan is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Merrimack College.