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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Obituary for John Deely

I have written an obituary for my dear colleague and friend John Deely, who passed  January 6th. The obituary, co-written with Yogi Hale Hendlin and Jonathan Beever, is titled "A world of signs: in memory of John Deely (1942–2017)" and will appear in Zeitschrift für Semiotik´s special issue on biosemiotic ethics, to which John contributed.


Geremia said...

Can you please post a PDF of your obituary online? thank you

Morten Tønnessen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morten Tønnessen said...

I cannot do that at this point. An open access version will appear online in a year or so. For now, here´s an excerpt:

A World of Signs
In Memory of John Deely (1942–2017)

Zeitschrift für Semiotik
Band 37 • Heft 3-4 (2015)
Seite 211-213
Stauffenburg Verlag Tübingen

Morten Tønnessen, University of Stavanger
Yogi Hale Hendlin, University of California
Jonathan Beever, University of Central Florida

Who was John Deely? For many years to come that question will be raised. Opinions will differ. He was a passionate intellectual. He was not always right, but when he was wrong, he tended to be wrong in interesting ways. He was a learned man and a lover of cheap puns.

His thinking was radically historical, radically independent of the considerations of others, and in some respects radically new. He wanted to rewrite history. Not only the history of semiotics, but furthermore the history of philosophy, or more generally the history of human being in the world.


Philosophically, he cared only for two things: our history and our future. Some considered him narrowly as but a semiotician. But he was a true semiotician a n d a true philosopher, aiming, as he always did, at human self-comprehension. He was a historian and a futurologist. In his visionary outlook, the here and now was just a means to get to the future. Semioticians and philosophers alike have a lot to learn from him. Indeed, our inspiration as editors for this special issue on biosemiotic ethics came in large part from John’s 2014 talk at the 12th World Congress of Semiotics in Sofia, Bulgaria (cf. Deely’s contribution to this issue). Biosemiotic ethics owes him a great debt that, like the semiotics he so thoughtfully examined, can only be carried out through its development, refinement, and passing of the torch through time in a wonderful world of signs