Vico and Lotman: poetic meaning creation and primary modelling


  • Tuuli Raudla Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu Tiigi 78, 50410 Tartu



The article is based on theories of meaning creation and the concepts of archaic mind of Juri Lotman and Giambattista Vico. It compares the notions fantasia, ingegno, memoria and poetic logic by Vico with Lotman’s concepts of text, memory and modelling systems. Donald Phillip Verene’s and Marcel Danesi’s interpretations of Giambattista Vico’s work are also taken into consideration in the analysis. The article aims to bring out the characteristic features of archaic meaning creation. The archaic mind is considered to be fundamentally poetic. Its main mechanism of generating new meaning is metaphorical identification of two otherwise separate elements. The creativity of this act lies in the presumption that imagination is needed to bring these two elements together — they cannot be identified with each other by the means of syllogistic logic. The archaic mind does not operate mainly with generic concepts, as rational mind does. It forms imaginative universals instead, which are based on the sense of identity between objects or their parts, not on the sense of similarity/ dissimilarity of distinct features of objects. This process forms the basis of poetic modelling, which is primary in relation to verbal modelling.


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How to Cite

Raudla, T. (2008). Vico and Lotman: poetic meaning creation and primary modelling. Sign Systems Studies, 36(1), 137–166.