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. It has forged itself all through his work and it guarantees the coherence and proper use of the concepts of his method.
The book presents the semiotic method of Greimas in four decisive parts:
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, he proposes a structural semantics in which, from equivalence to narrativity, the concept of value emerges. The way of thinking of the method of Greimas is followed along different subjects, like the semiotic square, the metalinguistic fonction, the generative trajectory, the actantial model, the narrative schema, the modalities, veridiction, up to the passions.
Subsequently, the semiotics of passions offer the opportunity to imagine the origin of the sensitive world. This requires an extension of the method, affecting the epistemological foundation of the semiotics in introducing the valence. 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.
Throughout his work, Greimas does not hide his interest in psychoanalysis. The last part of the book includes 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. He 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 they 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.