Chapter Overview "Metanoia or: How Reading changes our World" (Excerpt)

Chapter Two (Analytic Philosophy of Language) examines theories of realistic language from the philosophical discourse of the twentieth century, borrowing terms relevant to a study of metanoia: the hermeneutic circle, slippage of the signifier (as postulated in deconstruction), the semiotic triangle, and the subject of meaning (from the philosophy of language).

This chapter begins with a parallel reading of hermeneutic and deconstructive theses on language and meaning. Here we create a figure for a more radical hermeneutic circle by reversing the roles of each discourse to describe the deconstructive slippage of signifiers, which shifts the meaning of the whole that defines the individual parts. The figure of the hermeneutic circle also provides an image for recursion that closes a relational whole.

From semiotics we adopt the structure for meaning that describes the three relations governing symbol, meaning, and object. We consider metanoia the act of shaping these three relationships in the triangle. Finding meaning is only possible when metanoia closes the triangle of meaning. Tiny modifications in the triangle suffice to further define the already-established meaning.

We will consider analytic philosophy of language (Quine, Davidson, and Kripkenstein), who had the utopian idea for a language capable of signifying all objects, thereby enabling every object to be identified by description or name. By introducing the category of the "subject" (Strawson's individuals would be an example) two major issues can be dealt with: on the one hand, rescuing the existence of objects that stubbornly resist non-contradictory description without renouncing their claim to existence, thereby ensuring the possibility of a true description of things.

While this idea of a semiotic subject was originally intended to convey this contradiction, it soon becomes clear that this idea has wide-reaching consequences. Changing meaning and changing one's mind through metanoia can be considered a semantic event.


Excerpt from: Avanessian, Armen; Hennig, Anke: Metanoia or: How Reading changes our World. A Philosophical Consideration of Linguistic Conciousness. Berlin 2013. PDF