Another book from the Master of Semiotics. The book explores how semiotics solves the problems of cognition in Neo-Thomist thought. Adler, Maritain and other Neo-Thomists simplified the stages of cognition, confusing the "id quo" generated at one level of cognition with the "id in quo" it becomes when passed to the next level. For example, the "id quo" produced by external senses (species expressa sensuum externorum) becomes the "id in quo" (species impressa) of the internal senses, which in turn produces an "in quo" (species expressa) which becomes an "id in quo" (species impressa) for the active intellect (intellectus agens), which finally yields an "in quo" (species expressa) for the possible intellect (intellectus possibilus), where it becomes material for the first act of intellection as a species impressa. This alternation of species impressa (what goes into the powers of cognition), with species expressa (what flows out of the powers of cognition), makes the semiotic nature of cognition obvious from a Poinsotian/Piercean theory of the sign. Briefly put the species impressa at one level of cognition is the fundament of the sign, the species expressa at that level is the formal sign to the next level of cognition, and the terminus is the species impressa formed at the next level of cognition. Or in Pierce's terms the species impressa at one level of cognition is the basis of the sign, the species expressa at that level is the represent'men to the next level of cognition, and the interpretant is the species impressa formed at the next level of cognition.
There is much more in the book as Deely reconstructs the Maritainian framework in a semiotic guise. It took me a long while to finish it, but it was well worth the read.
Deely has become the most learned voice in semiotics today, having edited the electronic edition of C.S. Peirce's papers, published seminal texts such as the Four Ages of Understanding, and done monumental scholarly work in his edition of John Poinsot's Tractatus De Signis. There is no better philosophical thinker today.