2020-01Discussion Papers, Comments, Book Reviews
Eco on Interpreting the Sign: The Limits of Narrating that which Cannot Be Theorized


Eco says that which cannot be theorized must be narrated. What about that which cannot be narrated? What must we do about (and at) the limits of interpretation, especially as (performative) narration. This review essay takes a method from Giambattista Vico and applies it to the interpretation of Laurent Binet’s portrayal of Umberto Eco in his novel The Seventh Function of Language (2015). Comparing the character of Eco with the thought of the historical Eco we find coincidences and other angles at incidence that reveal some portion of Binet’s underlying interpretation of Eco, and it limits.


Umberto Eco, semiology, semiotics, Laurent Binet, narration, interpretation, Vico

How to cite:

Auxier, Randall E. “Eco on Interpreting the Sign: The Limits of Narrating that which Cannot Be Theorized.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 1 (2020): 102-109. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0009.


Randall E. Auxier
Department of Communication Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Communications Building, Mail Code 6605, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA


Auxier, Randall. “Eco, Peirce, and the Pragmatic Theory of Signs.” European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 10, no. 1 (Special Issue on Eco and Pragmatism, edited by Claudio Paolucci) (July 2018): 1-12. https://journals.openedition.org/ejpap/1112. https://doi.org/10.4000/ejpap.1112.

Barthes, Roland. Elements of Semiology. Translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968.

Binet, Laurent. The Seventh Function of Language. Translated by Sam Taylor. New York: Picador, 2017.

Eco, Umberto. The Limits of Interpretation.  Edited by Thomas A. Sebeok. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990.

Goetsch, James R. Vico’s Axioms: The Geometry of the Human World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Peirce, Charles Sanders. Illustrations of the Logic of Science. Edited with notes by Cornelis de Waal. Chicago: Open Court, 2014.

Paolucci, Claudio. Umberto Eco: Tra Ordine e Avventura. Milano: Feltinalli, 2017.

Privitello, Lucio Angelo. “Umberto Eco’s Adventurous Orders: A Critical Review of Claudio Paolucci, Umberto Eco: Tra Ordine e Avventura.” Journal of Italian Philosophy 1, no. 1 (2018): 88-113.

Vico, Giambattista. The New Science. Translated by T.G. Bergin and Max Fisch. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968.

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