A method for repairing the breakup between sense and consciousness, symptomatic because of the suspicion according to Paul-Laurent Assoun. The method proposes to use the values of an axiology to thwart insignificance imposed by the modernity.
In search of a method to speak scientifically about meaning, Algirdas J. Greimas has developed over the years a semiotics with a remarkable terminological apparatus. However, it is difficult to access because of its jargon, which may seem intimidating.
Instead of the terminology, this book emphasizes the way of thinking of Greimas, divided in five different parts. It has forged itself all through his work and it guarantees the coherence and proper use of the concepts of his method.
The first part illustrates the context from which the method of Greimas emerges: the Methodenstreit in Germany, the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty or the epistemological minimum. Greimas disposes in this way of the surface of the signifier, in exploring the depths of signification.
Then, with his structural semantics, Greimas introduces, from equivalence to narrativity, the concept of value. The way of thinking of the method of Greimas becomes clear in following the introduction of the concept value along the different subjects of his theory: the semiotic square, the metalinguistic fonction, the generative trajectory, the actantial model, the narrative schema, the modalities, veridiction, up to believing and the passions.
Subsequently, the semiotics of passions offer Greimas an opportunity to imagine the origin of the sensitive world. This requires an extension of the method, in introducing the valence, affecting the epistemological foundation of the semiotics. But it implies also an anthropological objective: escaping from the insignificant with the help of a kind of axiological cogito, known from the work of Jules Lequier et Raymond Ruyer. The book of his friend Charles Singevin, Dramaturgie de l’esprit, is at the heart of this change.
Throughout his work, Greimas does not hide his interest in psychoanalysis. The object is intriguing to Greimas, but he is struggling with “the psychoanalytical method”. The fourth part of the book explains this logic between semiotics and psychoanalysis. Afterwards, it follows some themes related to the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to show how it is engaging in a direction opposite to semiotics. This is illustrated for example with rhetorics, the oblique of discourse or the symbolic ambiguity.
Greimas aspires to introduce new axiologies to counter the insignificance that awaits man in modernity. This is the anthropological stake that emerges from his method. From the predecessor of structural semantics until the passions, Greimas becomes more and more a moralist, leaning on the Lacanien concept of “assumed communication”. Greimas is positioning himself as such into the epistemology of his time, characterized by Paul Ricoeur with the three masters of suspicion: Marx, Nietzsche and Freud.
Paul-Laurent Assoun shows how these master of suspicion open wide the door to a dehiscence between meaning and consciousness, as Greimas, master of trust, opens a narrow door to mend meaning and (con)science in order to restore the adhesive strength of belief in values.