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International Communicology Institute


    What is Communicology?


Communicology is the science of human communication. One of the Human Science disciplines, it uses the logic based methods of semiotics and phenomenology to explicate human conscious experience and behavioral embodiment within global culture. Communicology is the study of human discourse in all of its semiotic and phenomenological manifestations of embodied consciousness and practice in the world of other people and their environment. Ever since the 1950s, the foundational work of Jürgen Ruesch, Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations (1972 reprint ed.), then Jürgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson in Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry (1951: 277), the commonly accepted network levels of human discourse are:


1. Intrapersonal Communication Level  (or psychiatric/aesthetic embodiment domain of IDENTITY),


2. Interpersonal Communication Level  (or social and object domain of INTERACTION),


3. Group Communication Level (or cultural and normative domain of TRANSACTION), and,


4. Cultural Communication Level (or intergroup and transcultural domain of COMPORTMENT and PRACTICE).


These four interconnected communication network levels contain the communicological process outlined by Roman Jakobson’s theory of human communication (“Verbal Communication”, Scientific American 1972: 37-44). In this homage to the phenomenological work in semiotics and normative logics by Charles S. Peirce, Jakobson explicates the relationship among an Addresser who expresses (emotive function) and an Addressee who perceives (conative function) a commonly shared Message (poetic function), Code (metalinguistic function), Contact (phatic function), and Context (referential function), all operating on at least one of the Ruesch and Bateson levels of discourse in a semiotic world of phenomenological experience, i.e., the Semiosphere (Yuri M. Lotman, Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture, 1990).


Thus, as a young discipline in Human Science research, Communicology is the critical study of discourse and practice, especially the expressive body as mediated by the perception of cultural signs and codes. Communicology uses the logic based research method of semiotic phenomenology in which the expressive body discloses cultural codes, and cultural codes shape the perceptive body—an ongoing, dialectical, complex helix of twists and turns constituting the reflectivity, reversibility, and reflexivity of consciousness and experience. This focus on human embodied comportment is illustrated in the research publication of such authors as  Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Karl Jaspers, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Anthony Wilden.


Because of the breadth and depth of analytic inquiry made possible by a critical examination of the signs and codes of cultures, Communicology is one of the few scholarly disciplines which not only encourages, but also theoretically and practically engages in the three step RESEARCH METHOD of (1) Description [Depiction], (2) Reduction [Definition], and (3) Interpretation [Judgment] of the transdisciplinary understanding of cultural phenomena such that the human sciences/humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, education/pedagogy, and medical/institutional themes and methodologies of inquiry are often blended, or seen as a LOGIC SYSTEM that is (1) Appositional [the condition of Reversibility], (2) Complementary [the condition of Reflexivity], and (3) Dialectical [the condition of Rationality] constitutions of the positive (normal "double articulation" of both the code and the message), rather than as a rule bound game that is dysfunctional, contradictory, or oppositional assertions of the negative (Bateson's pathological "double bind"). Communicology is a science that applies to the full range of discourse mediation in all domains of action, interaction, and transaction whether animal, human, or machine. The three step research methodology is first articulated by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in the Preface to his major work the Phenomenology of Percpetion (1945).


The scope of Communicology includes — but is not limited to — communication, mass communications, popular culture, public relations, advertising, marketing, linguistics, discourse analysis, political economy, institutional analysis, organization of urban and rural spaces, ergonomics, body culture, clinical practice, health care, constructions of disease, health, and rehabilitation, human factors, signage, and so forth. Whenever and wherever the signs and codes of culture impact on the perception of bodily expressive modes, we have a communicological phenomenon to be investigated, interpreted, deconstructed, refigured, and described within a qualitative research methodology contributing to theory construction as understanding. Description is the human science research result in which validity and reliability are Logic Constructs based in the Typicality of necessary and sufficient conditions (Typologies) of discovered systems (Types, Codes), whether eidetic (Tones, Messages based in consciousness) or empirical (Tokens, Significations based in experience). The methodology is inherently heuristic (semiotic) and recursive (phenomenology) as a normative logic in the tradition of Charles S. Peirce and Edmund Husserl.


Research by Communicologists refines the use of Qualitative Methodologies by using practical LOGIC as a basis for reliability (necessary condition) and validity (sufficient condition) for evaluative judgments of evidence. The evidentiary categories of Capta (what is taken by perception; Bourdieu's hexis), Data (what is given by expression; Bourdieu's habitus), and Acta (what is comported in behavioral action; Bourdieu's mimesis) form the basis of the Logic of Typification (Type → Token → Tone) formulated by Charles Sanders Peirce (2.619-644) in which the Aristotelian applications of Abduction [Rule + Result = Case/particular token and tone; a posteriori] and Adduction [Rule + Result = Case/universal type and token; a priori] contextualize Induction [Case + Result = Rule] and Deduction [Rule + Case = Result]. This methodology of Semiotic Phenomenology stresses the combinatory [Both/And Analogue Logic] priority of Eidetic Consciousness [Self embodied Self awareness as transaction] over Empirical Experience [Other awareness as interaction] as illustrated in the eidetic logic of Edmund Husserl, Ernst Cassirer, and Charles Sanders Peirce and the empirical logic of Roman Jakobson, Gregory Bateson, Benjamin Lee Whorf, and Edward Sapir. Applied examples are best illustrated in the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Self ⇔ Other ⇔ World model of transactional existential discourse and Michel Foucault's Quadratic Model of transactional social discourse known as "le même et l'autre" in the ratio Self : Other :: Same : Different. Another excellent introduction to the conjunction of semiotics and phenomenology is Pierre Bourdieu's discussion in the opening pages of the Introduction to his The Logic of Practice (1980). The method of Communicology is named "semiotic phenomenology" by Bourdieu, C. S. Peirce and Maurice Merleau-Ponty all of whom stress the use of Abduction logic in Human Science.



    Who is a Communicologist?


Historically speaking, and as a measure of the speed of technology in changing our lived-world, it is important for those of us using the Internet (www) to remember that Communicology, as the recognized disciplinary subject matter of human communication, did not enter the world of the human and social sciences until 1931 when the American anthropologist and linguist, Edward Sapir, wrote the entry “Communication” for The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Of course, Sapir was building on the monumental work of Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms: Vol. 1: Language, Vol. 2: Mythical Thought; Vol. 3: Phenomenology of Knowledge; Vol. 4: The Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms (1923, 1925, 1929, 1995). Cassirer’s semiotic phenomenology and Edmund Husserl’s existential phenomenology were elaborated in Germany by Karl Bühler, Sprachtheorie (1934), translated in 1990 as Theory of Language: The Representational Function of Language. In parallel fashion, Cassirer and Husserl were elaborated in the USA by the critical contribution of Wilbur Marshall Urban, Language and Reality: The Philosophy of Language and the Principles of Symbolism (1939), a work that first introduced Husserl’s phenomenology to the English speaking world.


Urban’s essay “Cassirer’s Philosophy of Language” in The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer (1949) further confirms his close connection to Cassirer. Urban’s doctoral student, Hubert Griggs Alexander, wrote his 1934 dissertation “The Intelligibility of Time” (published 1945: Time as Dimension and History) explicating and integrating the works of an extraordinary faculty group with whom he studied as a graduate student in philosophy at Yale University: Ernst Cassirer, Edward Sapir, and Benjamin Lee Whorf. In 1967 while teaching at the University of New Mexico (USA) where he could study the Navajo and Hopi languages and sociocentric cultures first hand, Alexander wrote the first textbook, Language and Thinking, devoted to explicating the connection among Communication, Linguistics, and Philosophy, thereby continuing the legacy of the medieval Trivium: Rhetoric, Grammar, and Logic. This paperback has become the definitive, classic textbook for undergraduate and graduate students alike in courses devoted to the PHILOSOPHY OF COMMUNICOLOGY. The foundational model in Chapter One “Communication” is utilized closely by Roman Jakobson in his 1959 model. The third reprint edition uses as a title: The Language and Logic of Philosophy (1988) [available at] to stress that the volume is a unique synthesis of the philosophy of language and theory of human communication in the tradition of Ernst Cassirer. Also theoretically important is Alexander’s “Communication, Technology, and Culture” (The Philosophy Form, Vol 7: Communication, 1968). One of Alexander’s students who encountered these manuscripts in class is Richard L. Lanigan. And as noted, the books of Ruesch (psychiatrist) and Bateson (anthropologist) on Communicology in the early 1950s established the academic discipline of Communicology (see NAMING: A History of the Discipline) in universities in the USA. Also relevant is the fact that in 1971, the first book written on Intercultural Communication was by L. S. Harms. In 1978, Joseph A. DeVito wrote the first university textbook, Communicology: An Introduction to the Study of Communication. Last, the theoretical and applied foundation of Communicology as a scientific discipline took firm shape with the publication by Richard L. Lanigan of The Human Science of Communicology (1992) and his entries “Communicology” and “Structuralism” for the Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, edited by Lester Embree et al. in 1997.



Richard L. Lanigan, Maureen Connolly, and Thomas D. Craig, "What is Communicology? Who is a Communicologist?" (2005),


July 2010


From the Preface of the First Textbook:


An Introduction to the Study of Communication   

 ► 1978

 Book available at

"Communicology is the study of the science of communication, particularly that subsection concerned with communication by and among humans. Communicologist refers to the communication student-researcher-theorist or, more succinctly, the communication scientist. Franklin H. Knower, founder of the International Communication Association, and Wendell Johnson, another major figure in the field of semantics, speech, and learning sciences, have long advocated the use of these terms. The study of communication is still young, and still embroiled in the laborious process of defining itself. Until now, the term communication has been used as a catch-all to refer to three different areas of study: 1) the process or act of communicating, 2) the actual message or messages communicated, and 3) the study of the process of communicating. Communicology is a far more specific and accurate way to describe the focus of this book. It is not a piece of meaningless jargon; rather it represents an attempt to refine the language which relates to the field as a whole in order to pinpoint and clarify the broad areas of study within it" .



Joseph A. DeVito. Communicology: An Introduction to the Study of Communication. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1978, page v, “The Title”. 


   From the Preface of the First Theory Book: 

Phenomenology of Communication:

Merleau-Ponty's Thematics in Communicology and Semiology

  ► 1988

Book available at

"Phenomenology and Communication have been related closely in the recent history of ideas. Yet, the association usually has "communication" located in the guise of linguistics, expression, perception, or cognate views of aesthetics. This is largely the unintentional result of professional disciplinary lines in which the daily practice of Phenomenology as First Philosophy tends to exclude in practice Phenomenology as a modality in the Human Sciences. In this context, the research reported here as a Phenomenology of Communication is an affirmative phenomenological hypothesis in the spirit of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's philosophy. The hypothesis is that philosophy is phenoemnology, and, that phenomenology is a rigorous human science in the mode of Communicology—as it is in other disciplinary modes such as Psychology and Sociology. Indeed, the work of Merleau-Ponty stands as a paradigm case of this hypothesis. However, there is an earlier story to tell."


"The introduction of phenomenology into the English speaking world began with the scholarly interest of communicologists, the persons whose concern is speech and meaning in the lived-world. It was, after all, C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards who in 1923 first announced phenomenology in their classic work The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and the Science of Symbolism. This volume  in its famous "Appendix D: Some Moderns" lists as the first modern, the first person of the contemporary scene, one Edmund Husserl. Ogden and Richards go on to report a very brief précis of Husserl's Logische Untersuchungen and Iden zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. This appendix entry is abstracted from the syllabus for the course of lectures on the "Phenomenological Method and Phenomenological Philosophy" that Husserl gave during June 1922 at London University. Ogden and Richards quote Husserl's own programmatic words: a series of lectures to explicate "a transcendental sociological phenomenology having reference to a manifest multiplicity of conscious subjects communicating with one another".



From the Preface of the Second Theory Book:

The Human Science of Communicology:

A Phenomenology of Discourse in Foucault and Merleau-Ponty

  ► 1992   

 Book available at

"For those who are familiar with my most recent book, Phenomenology of Communication, the present book will be a sequel. For those unfamiliar with that volume, the present book may serve as an introduction to my thinking about semiotic phenomenology and the process of human communication in the shadow of what Hegel called "absolute freedom and terror". For everyone, the book will be the unabashed re-introduction of the term Communicology to name the discipline which studies human discourse. We may expect it will generate some of the same sort of discussion that greeted the disciplinary study of ethical human practice when Aususte Comte suggested the name Sociology to his colleagues. In the age of philology, his academic critics at the universities riled at the use of a Latin-Greek compound word as a name. Yet, almost no one remembers his critics and Michel Foucault has deconstructed and demystified the modernist rationality of the name. There is a lesson in that, perhaps best captured by Umberto Eco's close to The Name of the Rose: "stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" [yesterday's rose endures in its name, we hold empty names.]. The lesson is repeated in Foucault's Pendulum for those who cannot give up "the forgetfulness of rationality", to borrow the Other Foucault's phrase."


"Perhaps more controversial in the chapters that follow is my argument that Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault are linked in very important intellectual and philosophical ways that are often obscured by the tout Paris mentality that sweeps from France to America with much lost in the transatlantic translation. The argument locates itself in the shadow of the medieval Sorbonne with its legacy of the trivium in which grammar, logic, and rhetoric secured the study of discourse as a human practice. It is the brilliant talent of Merleau-Ponty that his discourse is an "incarnate logic enveloped" in the play of grammar and rhetoric. His writing speaks our mind in communis. Equally so, Foucault's discourse is a rhetoric diagnosing the foundational deception of grammaire générale and its façade of positivistic logic. His writing speaks our mind in proprius. The constitution of Self—Other—World and its rupture as Subject—Power—Knowledge is an ambiguity of desire: for Merleau-Ponty, the phenomenological ambiguity of the flesh, and, for Foucault, the semiotic ambiguity of the nameless voice (énoncé; logos). Thus faced with naming the unnameable discourse of power (the aporia which Plato confronts in the Sophist), I am prompted to suggest that we should use the name Communicology to mark the flesh of the nameless voice, lest the anonymous practice of discourse as terror in Modernity continue to subvert the discourse of choice in Postmodernity that Merleau-Ponty was first to call freedom."



Richard L. Lanigan. The Human Science of Communicology: A Phenomenology of Discourse in Foucault and Merleau-Ponty. Duquesne University Press, 1992, pages xv-xvi, "Preface".