Introduction & Question re Percy reference in Signposts
mfrentz at bbn.com
Fri May 3 14:10:47 EDT 2002
I just joined the group so, in keeping with the suggestions, here's a brief introduction.
I'm a physicist/electrical engineer who discovered Percy through the Catholic Authors show on EWTN. My work in the last
few years has been focused on more computer science driven areas, e.g. information security, which has led me down a
much more philosophical path than I would have guessed. In order to protect information, it would certainly be nice to
be able to define what information is. A Shannon-based information theory has nothing to do with the kind of
information, biologists and anthropologists (e.g Bateson) talks about. Been interested in biosemiotics, and quantum
information (my company is doing a little bit in quantum cryptography). The link to extraordinary physicists (e.g.
Bohm, Wheeler, Deutsch) and theoretical biologists (e.g. Kauffman) is very intriguing. Also have been reading a lot of
theology works (Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Peter Kreeft, Frank Sheed).
It was quite a surprise to find Percy's semiotics nugget buried in Lost in the Cosmos. Which has led me to studying
Peirce (and now even drifting towards Duns Scotus and Ockham). Having been a geek all my life, I now have a whole new
respect for classical liberal studies (inspired mainly by Chesterton). I am trying to make up for that deficit in my
I do have a question for the group. In the Epilogue of Signposts (p. 394 of the Picador edition), Percy in 1987 talks
of his plan to "write a short work on semiotics, showing how the current discipline has been screwed up by followers of
Charles Peirce and Saussure" (by this he was referring to "errant apostles" of Peirce). My question is, does anyone in
the group know if the work he refers to was ever written?
If the work wasn't written, could someone give me some pointers to contemporary semioticians whose work he does respect?
(Langer and Cassirer are on my list). I've been through Cosmos, Message in a Bottle, and Signposts -- I'm hoping
there's some more recent (e.g. post 1975) pointers from Percy on worthwhile semiotics research that I haven't yet
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