Walker Percy, Philosopher (7)

Forthcoming: Walker Percy, Philosopher.

Walker Percy’s Intersubjectivity: An Existential Semiotic or 3 + 3 = 4

Rhonda McDonnell

Rhonda McDonnell argues that Walker Percy’s self-described “radical anthropology” is properly understood as Existentialist semiotics. The cornerstone of this anthropology is his concept of intersubjectivity, which was developed through his examination of language development in humans, his participation in a study of schizophrenics, and his investigation of a broad range of thinkers from the disciplines of science, psychiatry, anthropology, semiotics, and philosophy. Percy’s Existential semiotic predates that of Eero Tarasti, which was independently developed at the turn of the twenty-first century. For Percy, using an Existential Semiotic provides a triadic science in place of traditional binary science. Using this triadic model, he analyzes human communication in terms of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, self and other, authenticity and inauthenticity. Ultimately, McDonnell asserts that Percy’s goal is to posit intersubjectivity as a means to address and potentially heal issues of identity and alienation.

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