“From Medieval Signatura Rerum through Modern Pansemiotic Thought to Psychological Conception of the Person as an Irreducible Sign-Mediated Self”

The concept of the universe as a universe of signs has a long history in many traditions and cultures. Particularly in the case of Western thought, the idea of a hidden order, only accessible to those who know about its encryption in signs, can be traced back to the very notion of metaphysical Logos in ancient Greece. There seems to be a drift from medieval conceptions linking man and sign in a cosmos inhabited by signs of all kinds to contemporary varieties of this relationship. The linkage between signs and human kind has undergone two intertwined changes in Western culture. On the one hand, from an onto-anthropological perspective, a transcendent assumption of Natur as a conundrum where all things have an esoteric meaning was replaced by a more epistemological or science-friendly (though not antireligious) version. Current pansemiotic thought considers that the essential structure of the material and spiritual universe, from the lowest layers of life and physical-chemical microframe, implies coding and decoding of any kind (Barbieri, 2015; Koch, 1998). On the other hand, from a psychological-psychoanalytical perspective, the man as individual, namely each man, the person as singularity, has been redefined as the result of determinant meaningful effects from environmental experience. The semiotic side of things and events affects the individual like a conditioning matrix in which the ordering of signs shapes the self endelibly. Put together, both displacements represent a round trip.