Skip to main content

Symbols that Stand for Themselves

This important new work by Roy Wagner is about the autonomy of symbols and their role in creating culture. Its argument, anticipated in the author’s previous book, The Invention of Culture, is at once symbolic, philosophical, and evolutionary: meaning is a form of perception to which human beings are physically and mentally adapted. Using examples from his many years of research among the Daribi people of New Guinea as well as from Western culture, Wagner approaches the question of the creation of meaning by examining the nonreferential qualities of symbols—such as their aesthetic and formal properties—that enable symbols to stand for themselves.

157 pages | 22 line drawings | 5-1/2 x 8 | © 1986

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Rhetoric and Communication

Sociology: Theory and Sociology of Knowledge

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Too Definite for Words
3. Metaphor Spread Out: The Holography of Meaning
4. Death on the Skin: Mortality and Figure-Ground Reversal
5. Epoch: Real and Unreal Time
6. The Western Core Symbol
7. Conclusion: Third-order Trope and the Human Condition

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press