Keynote and Plenary Speakers, SSA 42nd Annual Meeting

We are honored to announce that Prof. Thomas Alexander and Prof. William B. Gomes are our keynote speakers at the SSA 42nd Annual Meeting in Puebla, Mexico.

T. A. Photos

Prof. Thomas Alexander

“Mythos and the Semeiotic Reconstitution of Self, Culture, and World”

[Dinner Banquet, Thursday, October 26, 2017]

will discuss the human need or drive for meaning (which I call “the Human Eros” in my work) and how this centers on various central or core meanings that become embodied so as to constitute definitive identities–identities of self, of group or culture, and of world. I call these “mythoi” and not “myths” insofar as their key feature is their importance and value–“myth” carrying with it the association of “falsehood” especially “unscientific falsehood.” (From my point of view, science is loaded with its mythoi like everything else.) These mythoi must be embodied experientially and in cultural praxeis in order to renew and reconstitute a sense of meaning and value in existence. These mythoi employ tropes or cultural types as structural principles. Tropes themselves tend to group in various relational patterns and tensions that I call “constellations.” Much of the “play of signs” in cultural creation lies in exploring, clarifying, and even antagonizing these relations as ways of deepening the world of meaning.


I am a native of New Mexico and grew up with a vivid appreciation of the Native American and Hispanic cultures. This was augmented by my father’s and my grandfather’s interest in Native American culture. I obtained a doctorate in philosophy at Emory University, focusing on the thought of John Dewey. Most of my teaching career has been at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I am the author of John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience, and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling (SUNY Press, 1987) and The Human Eros: Eco-ontology and the Aesthetics of Existence (Fordham University Press, 2013).


William em foto

Prof. William B. Gomes

“How can ‘the play of signs and the signs of play’ become an attractive model for dealing with eidetic and empirical research?”

[Luncheon, Thursday, October 26, 2017]

Advances in technology and faster access to multimedia have radically transformed the ways the communication scientist may operate, both conceptually and practically. These vast and challenging possibilities require creative and embodied means to deal with emerging symbolic processes and innovative human actions. Using semiotic phenomenology as a reflexive guide, I will argue that the play of signs as conscious experience offers a rich and effective way to treat different modes of appearances and their multiple reversals. The play of signs as conscious experience has the potential to provide a systemic and systematic model for empirical research. In turn, the signs of play as an experience of consciousness can lead us to an eidetic model that integrates ontological taxonomies in segmented theoretical fields. The resulting semiosis (framed as a critical consciousness) demonstrates how the triadic semiotic framework supports ontological hierarchy and epistemological interfaces, using artificial agents and virtual reality as examples. I will illustrate my arguments with data and capta from experimental phenomenology.


William B. Gomes (PhD., Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, 1983) is Professor of Psychology at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. His field of interest includes communicology, cognition, epistemology and history of psychology. He has conducted empirical studies on communicational aspects of family relationships, parenting styles, psychotherapy, and inner speech. In English, his work appears in books such as: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Psychology, Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy in an International Context, The Handbook of International Psychology, and International Counseling: Case Studies Handbook. He also has written for journals such as: Frontiers in Psychology, Psychology & Neuroscience, Qualitative Research in Psychology, Quality and Quantity, and Journal of Phenomenological Psychology. He has published 130 articles, 36 book chapters, and edited four books.


Roman Esqueda photo copy

Dr. Roman Esqueda

“Design Thinking as Play of Musement”

[Luncheon, luncheon, Saturday, October 28, 2017]

I will discuss the concept of design thinking and its claim that it is an expression of adductive thinking. Most of design thinking literature makes reference to Peirce´s abduction. Some of this literature is deeply influenced by the need for developing computational models of design processing. On the other hand, we see a very general and intuitive understanding of abduction. But in most of these cases abduction is isolated from three fundamental elements: semiosis, scientific discovery, and pragmatism. I argue that in order to develop an abductive understanding of design thinking, we need to consider other aspects of Peirce´s semiotic. I will present a case of adductive thinking in design thinking to illustrate my argument.


My research interests are cognitive semiotics, rhetoric of marketing, design, innovation and advertising. I have a doctoral degree in philosophy and I spent an academic year as a doctoral researcher at Indiana University, Bloomington (1991-92). I try to develop and prove my research in empirical contexts in marketing research and also in an interdisciplinary group of research in AI. My academic position is at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Cuajimalpa where I teach courses on cognitive semiotics applied to design, communication, and AI. I have written El Juego del diseño (editorial Designio, México), and many articles on my research areas.
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About Farouk Seif

Professor Emeritus, Antioch University Seattle, Washington, a registered architect, an artist, a Fellow of the International Communicology Institute, and the former Executive Director of the Semiotic Society of America.