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A Process Philosophy of Signs

James Williams

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A new process philosophy of signs, where process becomes primary, and fixed relation secondary

What is a sign? We usually think that it is a fixed relation: a red light signifies ‘Stop’. In his bold new book, James Williams now argues that signs are varying processes: seeing the red light triggers a creative response to the question, Should I stop?

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1. Introduction: The Process Sign

2. The Independent Life of Signs

3. Biology and the Design of Signs

4. Process Signs and the Process Philosophy of Biology

5. The Sign

6. The Process Sign, Structuralism and Semiology

7. The Process Sign After Deleuze and Whitehead

8. The Process Sign is Political

9. Conclusion



About the Author

James Williams is Honorary Professor of Philosophy and member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University. He has published widely on contemporary French philosophy and is currently working on a critique of the idea of extended mind from the point of view of process philosophy.


Internationally renowned Deleuze specialist James Williams develops in this work his original philosophy of signs. A processual, clear and incisive inquiry, discussing analytical and structural formalism, ecological semiology and political issues. A great metaphysical achievement.

- Anne Sauvagnargues, University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense (Paris 10)

In this brilliant, insightful and hugely readable book James Williams draws on the work of Whitehead and Deleuze, amongst many others, to introduce a new way of thinking about signs. As multiplicities of intensive relations that are continually changing, signs are shown to have a life of their own that courses through us even before we set about using them or analysing their meaning. Williams has made a huge contribution to our understanding of how signs both support and disrupt our sense of the world.

- David Webb, Staffordshire University

In this book, James Williams develops his own approach to, and understanding of, what constitutes process and how this can be dealt with philosophically. All of this unfolds within a very careful and insightful reconfiguring of the status of signs. This unfolding is one of the most informative and innovative aspects of this work… A coherent and convincing account, which offers a real contribution.

- Michael Halewood, University of Essex, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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