From the tree to the labyrinth

umberto eco di tullio pericoli

In the 100 pages of first chapter of Umberto Eco new book From the tree to the labyrinth (Dall’albero al labirinto. Studi storici sul segno e l’interpretazione, Bompiani, nov 2007), Eco writes about semiotic dictionary and encyclopaedia and discusses – trough diagram and charts – the problem of definition and classification. I found it very thought-provoking and it remember me the Nietzsche quote that I tell to my students when I want to point out they have to incorporate indeterminacy when working as designers:

Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases — which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal

Umberto Eco collects in this volume a series of studies on the history of semiotics and philosophy of language written in recent years. Among curious topics and questions that have made the history of Western philosophy through the whole history of our culture, he writes about metaphors and dogs, from the Cabala to the medieval falsification …

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