“Periple on the Shores of Meaning,” the new book by Ioanna Tsivakus - Wishevoke

“Periple on the Shores of Meaning,” the new book by Ioanna Tsivakus

Panteion University Professor Ioanna Tsivakus’ new book (I. Sideris Publications) has been published. The author analyzes the subject under the poignant title “Around the Shores of Meaning”. social and political action at least in Western societies, including Greece. It develops the context of a culture that today, due to its complexity, it is difficult for us to give the appropriately aggressive name. A culture that is often equated with capitalism and especially with its modern version, neoliberalism. He emphasizes that the complicity of theoretical thought in the spread of the principle of functionality in modern Western culture has been overlooked.

Using selected texts from Western social ontology from the New Times to the current era of the technology boom, the book attempts to highlight the responsibility of thought in establishing a functional type of meaning. Although the coupling of mind and society is presented in all texts, it is not treated as a constitutive part of the things of the world. In doing so, he contributed to the transformation of Western civilization into a “functional” civilization that does not strive for the spirituality of sensory phenomena and social units.


THE Ioanna Tsivakus (photo) She is Professor Emeritus at Panteion University. Before her academic career, she worked with foreign multinational companies in the field of business administration and planning and was a member of the management committee of the University of the Aegean. During her teaching and research activities, she dealt intensively with the sociology of organizations – public and private organizations – and focused primarily on the phenomenon of institutions and their interactions with actors as well as on social relationships. Her academic work brought her into contact with the major currents of theory of practice, with the consequences of digital technology on human consciousness, but also with the new conditions that informational/internet-based collaboration creates in the areas of social action.

Here is a more detailed summary of the content, published by the editor with the obvious aim of introducing the reader to a complex topic:

In order to approach the contemporary complex, pluralistic and at the same time contradictory social phenomena of Western society with any probability of success, one is forced to re-tread the paths of social ontology taken by great social thinkers in the past. The search for an ontological inquiry seems to have been banished from the realms of sociological thought these days, as the present and present, the constant social changes and the prevailing intellectual climate of uncertainty are so pervasive that a renewed theoretical search into components of society as deemed unnecessary.

And yet such a claim is not true. A reading of important texts in social theory clearly shows that the essence of social entities consists of one fundamental element, and that is meaning. Meaning emerges in all analyzes as a constitutive, ontic datum, and it is this perspective that piqued the author’s interest in A Cruise on the Shores of Meaning.

In every historical era, social life revolves around the axis of meaning. Every manifestation of it, every phase of our culture, uses meaning to give form and content to relationships and things that not only surround us but also define the social space and time in which we ourselves are constituted as human subjects. It is therefore not a question of the absence of an ontological given for social entities, but of the lack of an investigation into the type of each dominant meaning, a fact that gradually led us to stop referring to the nature and quality of meaning, but on this partial logic in its properties and above all, as today, in its functionality.

The treatise’s interest in meaning lay in its evolutionary path: how it was transformed from a meaning that exhorted a life worth living human existence, that is, from a moral/value meaning as conceived and elaborated through metaphysical thought, into a functional meaning, Motive for obtaining everyday objects that bring joy but can also capture life in its own essence, i.e. in its own function and use.

While over the centuries function has defined the way in which the satisfaction of vital needs has become possible, its functionality – d It permeates all dimensions of the dominant meaning in the West and is reduced to a stable component and guiding principle of it. In this sense we should not speak of neoliberalism, but of functional culture.

Through the organizational order, the meaning of which lies at the core of every system of social action, the importance of functionality is established by industrialism and proves that ultimately it is not – as is commonly claimed – the emphasis on means at the expense of ends that defines us Culture, but it is the loss of meaning of the operating principles. An obsession that was methodically consolidated through the definition and organization of operations aimed at the use and exploitation of the things of the world. This functional progression of meaning was so strong that, with a few exceptions, it benefited from theoretical thinking that placed meaning itself in the service of the processing needs of social systems and human existence.

The author, having taken a congruent stance with the ontological concepts of essence and substance in Aristotle and the Church Fathers, acknowledges the responsibility of social ontology for the slide of thought towards groundlessness in some constant, and proceeds with a critical commentary selected texts from their philosophical and social ontology to demonstrate their responsibility in operationalizing meaning. Starting from Spinoza, he continues the theory of utilitarianism, traveling through the world of Hegel’s idea and the work of Marx to reach the 20th century. Starting from the rich reflections of the 20th century, he approaches those of Weber and Simmel, but also of Castoriadis and the idiosyncratic functionalism of Searle, and thus arrives at Luhmann’s communication theory and the search for critical realism and the practices of Baskar and Bourdieu and Foucault, until it lands in the fluid world of social networks.

With the aim of concluding her commentary on meaning with the so-called “digital ontology”, the author moves on to an ontological study of technology, which allows her to highlight the total conquest of meaning and our culture by the concept of functionality in today’s time. In her attempt to find a way out to give meaning again to her value references, she draws on the meaning that still exists in the context of everyday practices and enriches and fertilizes the life of the “ordinary person”.

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