DAMASIO Antonio R. Damasio (b. 1944) is a renowned neurologist and neuroscientist. He has opened a new era in neurobiology of the mind. Damasio’s approach is grounded in understanding of neural systems that serve memory, language, emotion and decision-making. He has argued heavily against the Cartesian division of body and mind. Damasio’s main claims are that affect (comprising emotions and feelings of emotions) has an essential and important role in all human reflections, problem-solving and learning, and that there is a crucial distinction between emotions and feelings. Damasio also developed the idea of ‘somatic markers’. His inspirational sources, James and Spinoza, are evident in his books Descartes’ Error (1994), The Feeling of What Happens (1999) and Looking for Spinoza (2003), which have gained considerable cross-disciplinary interest. (MB)
DANESI Marcel Danesi (b. 1943), prolific semiotician based at the University of Toronto. Also a scholar of the Italian language, Vico, media, cognitive linguistics, a specialist on metaphor and well versed in mathematics, Danesi’s key interest has been semiotics. In addition to running the most successful undergraduate semiotics course in the world, he has been a key contributor to research and theory in the field. His works on linguistics,
particularly influenced by Langacker and Lakoff, have made contributions to semiotics as a whole. His textbook publications have also helped to define the field in the last few decades. His collaborations with Sebeok generated modelling systems theory, a perspective and mode of praxis which promises to make a lasting contribution to sign study. Since 2004, Danesi has been editor-in-chief of the journal Semiotica. (PC)
DEACON Terrence Deacon (b. 1950) is an American neuroscientist and biological anthropologist whose research is directed at understanding the nature and evolution of human cognition and communication. The author of over seventy scientific publications on evolutionary biology, Deacon is best known for his 1997 book The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, which applies a Peircean semiotic approach to the question of language evolution. Drawing on findings from anthropology, linguistics and comparative neuroanatomy, as well as from his own laboratory research in cellular and molecular biology, Deacon carefully delineates how the iconic and indexical sign-processing abilities of other species are a necessary but not sufficient stepping-stone to the eventual evolution of self-consciously symbolic human language use and that
human brains and minds evolved their unique characteristics in response to the special demands imposed by symbolic communication. His book Homunculus: Evolution, Information, and the Emergence of Consciousness expands on the arguments about evolutionary semiosis presented in The Symbolic Species by explicating the kinds of self-organizing dynamics that would be necessary for the even prior evolution of physical chemistry into ‘semio-chemistry’ (DNA), and with it, the biological basis of reference. Such an explication, if successful, would establish a much needed explanatory bridge from the scientific findings of classic information theory and physics to the meaning-making processes of semiosis. (DF)
DEDUCTION Deduction is an inferential process with abduction and induction. According to Charles S. Peirce (CP 5.172), deduction merely evolves the necessary consequences of a pure hypothesis. It proves that something must be. Aristotle’s definition of the syllogism coincides with the definition of deduction. Deduction is a necessary, inevitable derivation of a conclusion from the premises (major and minor premises). The perfect syllogism is the
perfect deduction, the inference in which the premises already contain that which is necessary to the conclusion (Analytica priora I, 1, 24 b 17ff. and 24 b 23). If, with Peirce, we consider the relation between premises and conclusion in terms of the triadic relation between what may be called ‘interpreted’ (which includes sign and object) and ‘interpretant’, then we can claim that in deduction this relation is indexical, the conclusion being a necessary derivation from the premises. Signs and arguments (Peirce) are formally dialogical given that both are the result of a dialogue between ‘interpreteds’ and ‘interpretants’, according to varying degrees of dialogicality. In semiotic terms the relationship between interpreteds and interpretants results in signs which – on a scale ranging from a maximum degree of monologism to a maximum degree of dialogicality, otherness and creativity – are (prevalently) ‘indexical’, ‘symbolic’ or ‘iconic’; in terms of logic the relationship between interpreteds (premises) and interpretants (conclusions) results in arguments or inferences of the ‘deductive’, ‘inductive’ or ‘abductive’ type. The varying balance in indexicality, symbolicity and iconicity in any given sign situation, whether or not formally a dialogue, involves variations in the degree of otherness and dialogicality which regulates the relationship between the interpretant (conclusion) and the interpreted (premise) of an argument: in deduction indexicality prevails, in induction symbolicity, in abduction iconicity. Therefore, argumentative value can also be measured in terms of the degree of substantial dialogicality. (SP)
DEELY While Peirce is acknowledged as the greatest American philosopher, John Deely (b. 1942), in his wake, is arguably the most important living American philosopher and is the leading philosopher in semiotics. An authority on the work of Peirce and a major figure in both contemporary semiotics, Scholastic realism, Thomism and, more broadly, Catholic philosophy, Deely’s thinking has demonstrated how awareness of signs has heralded a new, genuinely ‘postmodern’ epoch in the history of human thought. ‘Postmodern’ here means ‘after the modern’ rather than the fashionable intellectual and publishing movement emanating mainly from Paris and associated with the academic trend of poststructuralism from the 1960s onwards (the postmoderns ‘falsely so called’ – Deely 2003b). Deely’s writing on signs calls for a thoroughgoing superseding of the ‘modern’, proposing an understanding of humans as the ‘semiotic animal’ to replace the modern definition as ‘res cogitans’ (see Deely 2005a).