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Eugene Halton
University of Notre Dame
  1. The Living Gesture and the Signifying Moment.Eugene Halton - 2004 - Symbolic Interaction 27 (1):89-113.
    Drawing from Peircean semiotics, from the Greek conception of phronesis, and from considerations of bodily awareness as a basis of reasonableness, I attempt to show how the living gesture touches our deepest signifying nature, the self, and public life. Gestural bodily awareness, more than knowledge, connects us with the very conditions out of which the human body evolved into its present condition and remains a vital resource in the face of a devitalizing, rationalistic consumption culture. It may be precisely these (...)
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  2. The Reality of Dreaming.Eugene Halton - 1992 - Theory, Culture and Society 9 (4):119-139.
    Dreaming is a communicative activity between the most sensitive archive of the enregistered experience of life on the earth, the brain, and the most plastic medium for the discovery and practice of meaning, the mind or culture. Both love and war have been made on the basis of dreams, not to mention scientific discoveries. In ancient Greece dreams were medicinal parts of curative sleeping or "incubation" rites in the temple of Aesculapius, and many psychoanalytic physicians today still consider dreams as (...)
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  3.  51
    The Modern Error: Or, the Unbearable Enlightenment of Being.Eugene Halton - 1995 - In Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash & Roland Robertson (eds.), Global Modernities. New York, NY, USA: pp. 260-277.
    I claim that the underlying premises of the modern era - e-r-a - are false in a way that carries catastrophic consequences. Despite the many genuine achievements of the modern world—which I for one would not want to live without—the spirit of modernity has been one which denigrated the basic conditions of human being. In the name of freedom and knowledge, the modern era gave birth precisely to the non-empathically responding world, the schizoid ghost in the machine, which now threatens (...)
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  4.  53
    Peircean Animism and the End of Civilization.Eugene Halton - 2005 - Contemporary Pragmatism 2 (1):135-166.
    Charles Peirce claimed that logically "every true universal, every continuum, is a living and conscious being." Such a claim is precisely what hunter-gatherers believe: a world-view depicted as animism. Suppose animism represents a sophisticated world-view, ineradicably embodied in our physical bodies, and that Peirce's philosophy points toward a new kind of civilization, inclusive of what I term animate mind. We are wired to marvel in nature, and this reverencing attunement does not require a concept of God. Marveling in nature proves (...)
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  5.  37
    A Long Way From Home: Automatic Culture in Domestic and Civic Life.Eugene Halton - 1992 - In Floyd W. Rudmin & Marsha Richins (eds.), Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism. Provo, UT, USA: pp. 1-9.
    A Long Way From Home: Automatic Culture in Domestic and Civic Life criticizes tendencies toward automatism in American culture and modern life, and calls for a recentering of domestic and civic life as a means to revitalize social life. Keywords: Automatic Culture, Autonomy Versus Automatic, Moral Homelessness, Materialism, The Great American Centrifuge, Consuming Devices, Home Cooking, From the Walled City to the Malled City, Malls, Vaclav Havel.
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  6.  33
    An Unlikely Meeting of the Vienna School and the New York School.Eugene Halton - 1989 - New Observations 1 (71):5-9.
    When painter Fritz Janschka arrived from Vienna to teach at Byrn Mawr College in October, 1949, he entered a culture seemingly as alien to his art as one can imagine. Janschka is one of the co­founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, a group of painters who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna shortly after World War Two. The fantastic realists cultivated a precisely controlled craft informed by traditional methods and modernist sensibilities, incorporating collectively the entire (...)
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  7.  23
    Chicago Schools of Thought: Disciplines as Skewed Bureaucratic Intellect.Eugene Halton - 2012 - Sociological Origins 1 (8):5-14.
    The author criticizes ways in which academic disciplines can be viewed as skewed toward bureaucratized intellect and its requirements and rewards, rather than toward scholarly intellectual life and research. Drawing from the Chicago traditions of sociology and philosophical pragmatism, as well as his own experience of them, Halton goes on to appraise ways in which these traditions have tended to become contracted to limited textbook canons. Donald Levine’s Visions of the Sociological Tradition provides a case in which the broad influences (...)
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  8.  91
    Eden Inverted: On the Wild Self and the Contraction of Consciousness.Eugene Halton - 2007 - The Trumpeter 3 (23):45-77.
    The conditions of hunting and gathering through which one line of primates evolved into humans form the basis of what I term the wild self, a self marked by developmental needs of prolonged human neoteny and by deep attunement to the profusion of communicative signs of instinctive intelligence in which relatively “unmatured” hominids found themselves immersed. The passionate attunement to, and inquiry into, earth-drama, in tracking, hunting, foraging, rhythming, singing, and other arts/sciences, provided the trail to becoming human, and provide (...)
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  9.  41
    Material Culture Preface.Eugene Halton - 2009 - In Phillip Vannini (ed.), Material Culture and Technology in Everyday Life: Ethnographic Approaches. New York, NY, USA:
    Material culture and technoculture not only provide openings to study culture, but raise questions about contemporary materialism and technology more generally as well. Material culture tells a story, though usually not the whole story. The meanings of things are various, and finding out what they are requires a variety of approaches, from simply asking people what their things mean or observing how they use or don’t use them, to backtracking their history, or contextualizing them in broader cultural context. The transition (...)
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  10. Mind Matters.Eugene Halton - 2008 - Symbolic Interaction 31 (2):119-141.
    The great divide of modern thought is whether mind is real or naught. The conceit that either mind is reducible to matter or that mind is utterly ethereal is rooted in a mind-versus-matter dichotomy that can be characterized as the modern error, a fatally flawed fallacy rooted in the philosophy and culture of nominalism. A Peircean semiotic outlook, applied to an understanding of social life, provides a new and full-bodied understanding of semiosis as the bridge between mind and matter, and (...)
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  11.  11
    Mind Matters: Earth to Manning A Reply.Eugene Halton - 2008 - Symbolic Interaction 31 (2):149-154.
    This piece continues ideas developed in my essay, Mind Matters, through responding to the critique of that essay by Peter K. Manning. Manning cannot conceive that human conduct involves full-bodied semiosis rather than disembodied conceptualism, and that the study of human signification requires a full-bodied understanding. The ancient Greek root phren, basis for the concept of phronesis, is rooted in the heart-lungs-solar plexus basis of bodily awareness, and provides a metaphor for a discussion of bio-developmental, biosemiotic capacities as crucial for (...)
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  12.  16
    Pragmatism.Eugene Halton - 2005 - In George Ritzer (ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Theory. New York, NY, USA: pp. 596-599.
    Pragmatism is the distinctive contribution of American thought to philosophy. It is a movement that attracted much attention in the early part of the twentieth-century, went into decline, and reemerged in the last part of the century. Part of the difficulty in defining pragmatism is that misconceptions of what pragmatism means have abounded since its beginning, and continue in today’s “neopragmatism.”.
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  13.  47
    Planet of the Degenerate Monkeys.Eugene Halton - 2013 - In John Huss (ed.), In Planet of the Apes and Philosophy. Chicago, IL, USA: Open Court Chicago. pp. 279-292.
    In the words of Charles Peirce from 1901, “man is but a degenerate monkey, with a paranoic talent for self-satisfaction, no matter what scrapes he may get himself into, calling them ‘civilization…’” Peirce’s concept of degenerate monkey draws attention both to our neotenous or prolonged newborn-like nature as “degenerate” in the mathematical sense of a genetic falling away from more mature genomes of other primates, and also to our monkeying around with the long evolutionary narrative of foraging, through the advent (...)
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  14.  49
    Review of Habermas Theory of Communicative Action. [REVIEW]Eugene Halton - 1989 - Symbolic Interaction 12:333-360.
    Jürgen Habermas’s two-volume Theory of Communicative Action is at once an attempt to develop a socially-based theory of action as an alternative to the subjectivist and individualist underpinnings of much of social theory, a “two-level concept of society that connects the ‘lifeworld’ and ‘system’ paradigms,” a critical theory of modernity which retains the enlightenment ideal of rationally-grounded societies, and a theory of meaning rooted in a developmental logic of world­historical rationality. Habermas seeks to find a via media between totalitarian closure (...)
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  15.  34
    Sociology’s Missed Opportunity: John Stuart-Glennie’s Lost Theory of the Moral Revolution, Also Known as the Axial Age.Eugene Halton - 2017 - Journal of Classical Sociology 17 (3):191-212.
    In 1873, 75 years before Karl Jaspers published his theory of the Axial Age in 1949, unknown to Jaspers and to contemporary scholars today, Scottish folklorist John Stuart Stuart-Glennie elaborated the first fully developed and nuanced theory of what he termed “the Moral Revolution” to characterize the historical shift emerging roughly around 600 BCE in a variety of civilizations, most notably ancient China, India, Judaism, and Greece, as part of a broader critical philosophy of history. He continued to write on (...)
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  16.  18
    Situation, Structure, and the Context of Meaning.Eugene Halton - 1982 - The Sociological Quarterly 23 (Autumn):455-476.
    By comparing some founding concepts underlying developing interest in the role of signs and symbols in social life, such as the nature of the sign in Charles Peirce and Ferdinand de Saussure and in Emile Durkheim and George Herbert Mead, and then exploring recent developments in structuralism and symbolic interactionism, a critical appraisal of their theories of meaning is made in the context of an emerging semiotic sociology.
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  17.  42
    The Axial Age, the Moral Revolution, and the Polarization of Life and Spirit.Eugene Halton - 2018 - Existenz 2 (13):56-71.
    Thus far most of the scholarship on the axial age has followed Karl Jaspers’ denial that nature could be a significant source and continuing influence in the historical development of human consciousness. Yet more than a half century before Jaspers, the originator of the first nuanced theory of what Jaspers termed the axial age, John Stuart-Glennie, mapped out a contrasting philosophy of history that allowed a central role to nature in historical human development. This essay concerns issues related to my (...)
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  18. The Degenerate Monkey.Eugene Halton - 2014 - In Torkild Thellefsen & Bent Sorensen (eds.), Charles S. Peirce in his Own Words: 100 years of Semiotics, Communication and Cognition. Berlin, Germany: pp. 245-251.
    The chapter discusses the following quotation from Charles Peirce: "One of these days, perhaps, there will come a writer of opinions less humdrum than those of Dr. (Alfred Russel) Wallace, and less in awe of the learned and official world...who will argue, like a new Bernard Mandeville, that man is but a degenerate monkey, with a paranoic talent for self-satisfaction, no matter what scrapes he may get himself into, calling them 'civilization,' and who, in place of the unerring instincts of (...)
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