Prof.Eero Tarasti

(Academic Information and Intellectual Development)


(1. 简历,2.著作,3.自述)

1. Academic Background


complete name: Eero Aarne Pekka Tarasti
b. 27.9.1948 in Helsinki
married: spouse Eila Marita Elisabet Tarasti,pianist and musicologist
title: Professor of Musicology, Semiotician





Studies at the University of Helsinki 1967-1975
Ph.D. at the University of Helsinki 1978
Music studies (piano) at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki 1967-1975

Studies abroad:

Music: Vienna 1972
Paris 1973 (Ecole Normale de Musique), with Jacques Février
University: Paris 1974-75(Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)
Rio de Janeiro 1976(Universidade Federal)


Professor of Arts Education,University of Jyv?skyl? (Middle Finland) 1979-83
Professor of Musicology, University of Jyv?skyl? 1983-84
Professor of Musicology, University of Helsinki, since 1984

Other Academic Activities(学术活动):

President of the IASS/AIS (International Association for Semiotic Studies), since 2004
Vice-President of the IASS/AIS in 1990-2004
Founder and President of the Semiotic Society of Finland, since 1979
Founder and President of the Music Society of University of Helsinki, since 1989
Director of the International Semiotics Institute at Imatra, Finland(ISI) since its
foundation in 1988
Director of the international research project Musical Signification since 1986
Director of the Finnish Network University of Semiotics, since 2004
Director of the research project “Philosophies of performance” at Finnish Academy of
Sciences (2008-09)
Research director (part-time) at the University of Lapland, Rovaniemi (2008- )

Fellow of the Japan Foundation 1991
Fellow of the Advanced Studies Institute at the Indiana University, Bloomington
in 1993
Research Associate at the RCLSS (Research Center for Language and Semiotic
Studies, IU; Bloomington) in 1987 and 1994
Visiting Professor at the University of Paris I, Sorbonne in the Spring of 1995

Visiting Professor at the University of Tartu, Estonia,1997-98
Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis,1999
Visiting Professor at the University of Paris VIII,2002
Visiting Professor at the University of Aix en Provence,2002
Poste d’accueil pour recherche par CNRS/Université de Paris I(Pantheon-
Sorbonne), 2008
Part-time research director at the University of Lapland, Finland, from 2008
Director of the EU project ‘Paneuropean Doctoral Program in Semiotics’ from 2009

Membre du Conseil Scientifique & Ecole Doctorale Arts Plastiques, esthétique et sciences de l=art, Université de Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne, since 1998

Member of the Board at Istituto Superiore Scienze Umane (directed by Umberto Eco),
Bologna, since 2005

Guest lectured in almost all the European Countries, Russia, United States, Mexico,
Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Japan.

Organized over 80 international symposia in Finland and abroad


Member of the Executive Committee of the IASS/AIS (International Association
for Semiotic Studies) since 1979-
Member of the Academia Europaea since 1987
Member of the Academy of Informatization, Moscow since 1994
Member of the Board of the South-Eastern European Semiotic Center, Bulgaria, since 2000
Member of the Grant Selection Committee for the International Kyoto Prize, Japan, 1996
Member of the Wihuri Foundation International Prize Committee 2000,2003, 2005 and 2009
President of the Finnish Musicological Society 1995-98
President of the Finnish Society for Aesthetic 1986-87
Member of the Finnish Science Society since 1998
Member of the Scientific Academy of Finland since 1990


Member of the Board of Niilo Helander Foundaton
Member of the Board of Pro Musica Foundation
Member of the Board of Promotion of Finnish Art Music Foundation


Member of the International Editorial Board of "Seemiootikee", Sign Systems Studies,
University of Tartu
Member of the International Editorial Board of the Journal "DeSignis" (Publicacion de la
Federación Latinoamericana de Semiótica)
Member of the International Editorial Board of the Journal ’Signa’ (Spanish
Society of semiotics)
Member of the Editorial Board of Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology (Poznan)
Member of the Editorial Board of “Lithuanian musicology”
Member of the Advisory Board of TRANS (electronic journal on musicology and ethnomusicology, Barcelona)
Member of the Advisory Panel of “Musica Humana”, Journal of Korean Institute of Musicology
Member of the Advisory Board of “Perspectiva Interdisciplinaria de Musica”, UNAM, Mexico
Member of the Honorary Committee of LEXIA, Journal of Semiotics, Turin, Italy
Member of the Editorial Board of Jean Sibelius Gesamtausgabe
Chief Advisor of the Chinese Semiotic Studies, Nanjing Normal University Press


ASémiotique et musicologie - Eero Tarasti@, a film about the life and work of
ET, in French and English (4 hours), produced by Maison des Sciences de
L=Homme, Paris, 2004, in the collection AEntretiens. Les archives de la recherche en
sciences humaines et sociales@ (available also at internet: http://www.msh-paris.fr)



Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1997
Honorary Doctor of the Estonian Music Academy, 1999
Honorary Doctor of the New Bulgarian University, Sofia, 2001
Honorary Fellow of the Victoria College, University of Toronto
J.V.Snellman Prize of the University of Helsinki 1997
The Science Prize of the City of Helsinki, 1998
Honorary Member of the Richard Wagner Society in Finland 2008
Fellow of the International Communicology Institute, Washington D.C. ,USA, 2010

The 1st Class Medal of the White Rose Order of Finland 1999
The Medal of the Order of Rio Branco, Brazil (the category of
Officials) 2000
Chevalier de l=Ordre Palme Académique, France, 2004


2Publications (books only)(书籍出版)

Myth and Music. A Semiotic Approach to the Aesthetics of Myth in Music,
especially that of Wagner, Sibelius and Stravinsky 1979 (Berlin: Mouton; in Finnish 1994; in French Mythe et musique, Michel de Maule 2003);
Heitor Villa-Lobos 1996 (North Carolina: McFarland; in Finnish 1987);
A Theory of Musical Semiotics 1994 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press);
Musical Signification (ed.)(Berlin:Mouton) 1995; Semiotics of Music (ed.) 1987 (Semiotica); Semiotics of Finland (ed.) 1991 (Semiotica); La musique comme langage I-II(ed.) 1987-88 (Degres); Sémiologie et pratiques esthetiques (ed.) 1991 (Degres);
Center and Periphery (ed. Acta Semiotica Fennica ASF) 1990; On the Borderlines of
Semiosis (ed. ASF) 1992;Introduction to Semiotics? (in Finnish) 1990;
The Dream and Exaltation of Romanticism (in Finnish) 1992; Le secret du professeur
Amfortas (novel, in French, Paris: L'Harmattan) 2000; Musical Semiotics in Growth
(ed. ASF/IU Press) 1996; La sémiotique musicale (Presses Universitaires de Limoges)
1996; Examples (in Finnish) 1996; Semiotics of Music (ed. in electronic journal
Applied Semiotics, Toronto, Canada); Heroes of Music (in Finnish)
1988; Snow, Forest, Silence. The Finnish Tradition of Semiotics (ed.) 1998;
The Correspondence (of the School Years and Years of Formation) between E.T. and
Hannu Riikonen 1961-76 (in Finnish) 1998; Musical Signification: Between Rhetoric and Pragmatics (ed. together with Gino Stefani and Luca Marconi), (CLUEB, Bologna) 1998;
Existential Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) 2000; Signs of Music(Berlin:Walter de Gruyter) 2002. The Realities of Music.An Encyclopedia (in Finnish)(Helsinki University Press, 2003), Values and Signs (in Finnish)(Helsinki: Gaudeamus) 2004, Portraits – Interpretations, Reminiscences,Stories (in Finnish, Imatra: ISI), 2006. La musique et ses signes (Paris: L’Harmattan) 2006, Music and the Arts I-II,(Imatra, Acta semiotica fennica), 2006. Maamme Suomi (Our Land Finland), ed. together with A. Tiitta, J. Nummi and R. Stewen, Helsinki: Weilin et G??s, 2007.Fondamenti di semiotica esistenziale (transl. by M. Berruti), Bari-Roma: Laterza Editore, 2009. Fondements de la sémiotique existentielle(traduction par Jean-Laurent Csinidis), Paris: L’Harmattan 2009; Existenzialnaja semiotika(in Bulgarian, transl by Ivaylo Krastev, Kristian Bankov),Sofia: New Bulgarian University 2009.Communication – Understanding/Misunderstanding. Proceedings from the 9th World Congress of IASS/AIS (ed.) I-III, Imatra: Acta semiotica fennica, 2009.I segni della musica. Che cosa ci dicono i suoni,Milano: Ricordi/LIM, 2010.

Articles (文章)

published 400 articles in many languages about semiotics, musical semiotics,
music theory, history, aesthetic and analysis.


Gaudeamus, Helsinki
Helsinki University Press
Indiana University Press
Laterza Editore, Bari-Roma
McFarland, North Carolina
Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin
New Bulgarian University, Sofia
Presses Universitaire de Limoges
L'Harmattan, Paris
Werner S?derstr?m, Helsinki
Michel de Maule, Paris
LIM, Lucca


3Self-Description of Intellectual Development
??(a preface to the Chinese edition of Existential Semiotics)


I published the first book on a new theory of semiotics I had since the beginning called‘existential semiotics’in 2000, at Indiana University Press. I still feel gratitude for the late Thomas A. Sebeok accepting my manuscript to his series Advances to semiotics.However, the director of the IU Press JohnGallman asked me: What is existential semiotics? Is it the same as existential life?He certainly had then in his mind something like Walden by Henry Thoreau,one of those American transcendentalists.
Yet,my theory is definitely a product of a European scholar. In fact, if I would now like to introduce myself to the international audience I would like the following text to be printed on the back cover of any of my new book: “… a European scholar, musician and writer of Finnish origin, known worldwide by his activities in semiotics.”I am in the first place a researcher, university professor, and have now published altogether 30 books, mostly dedicated to semiotics and musicology. About fifteen years ago I started to develop a completely new approach to semiotics, which discipline had fascinated me since my student time. But even before getting in touch with French structuralism, and Claude Lévi-Strauss in the first place, and then Algirdas Julien Greimas and his famous Paris school, I had read German philosophy. I had translated into my native language Finnish parts of Hegel’s Science of Logics and Time and Being by Heidegger. That happened when I was twenty years old.But then my interest grew in ethnology and anthropology and I left for Brazil to study the myth and music among Indians. Nevertheless, at the same time I always continued my music studies, piano as my major, first at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, then in Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, and later in Bloomington, the US. This may seem to be far afield from such a strictly philosophical issues as existential semiotics, but it certainly has had at least a subconscious impact on my writings. In my career, I often heard to say when I went to scientific congresses: Tarasti is not a scholar, he is a musician.But when I appered as a musician I was again said: Tarasti on not a musician, he is a scholar.
As a semiotician my choice of ‘school’ was certainly French semiotics, but enriched by theories from American, Russian, Italian, and European semiotics in general. However, after having published my first novel in Finnish, Estonian and French entitled the Secret of professor Amfortas,I felt freed from my early phases as a semiotician following my teachers’paths, and had the courage to launch something more of my own. That became also a return to my ‘roots’in German and French philosophy in the line of Kant,Hegel, Kierkegaard, Schelling, Goethe, Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Marcel etc.
Therefore one of the characteristics of this new approach is that it combines theories and ideas from several language areas and traditions within the European and American scope. After my first book at IU Press, I published a new remarkably expanded and reedited version of it in French and Italian:Fondements de la sémiotique existentielle (Paris: L’harmattan 2009) and Fondamenti di semiotica esistenziale (Bari: Edizioni Giuseppe Laterza). These new versions differed from the American one in that they focused on pure theory and epistemology, more than in applications which were prevailing in the earlier one. However, the Chinese version includes both the old one and new ones and so it is so far the most completed version of the theory. If one looks at the indexes of those two new versions one can get an overview of the emphasis in my approach i.e. by noting just how often certain authors are mentioned. We get the list of persons such as:Theodor Adorno,Roland Barthes, Ludwig v. Beethoven, Rudolph Carnap, Claude Debussy, Umberto Eco,J.W. v. Goethe, Algirdas J. Greimas, Friedrich Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl,Karl Jaspers,Immanuel Kant, S?ren Kierkegaard, Julia Kristeva, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Juri Lotman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles S. Peirce, Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ferdinand de Saussure, Friedrich W.J. v. Schelling, Friedrich Schiller, Aldred Schütz, Thomas A. Sebeok, Jean Sibelius, Leo Tolstoi, Jakob v. Uexküll, Georg Henrik v. Wright, and Richard Wagner. This may be revealing for the entire orientation in the background.
If you ask me to explain in a few sentences what is involved in existential semiotics, I could answer the following. It is an effort to create a new epistemic basis for sign studies, parting from which also new types of semiotic analysis could be possible.Why then would we need such new analyses, should we not be satisfied with the glorious achievements of the‘ classical semiotics’and its various generations from Saussure and Peirce to Lévi-Strauss, Greimas, Eco and Lotman, and then to the postmodern and poststructuralist issues by many contemporary scholars from Roland Barthes, to late Foucault and Kristeva etc.The new theory is needed since the reality is in constant flux and change, and theories are always absolutisations of concrete experiences. I do not believe that in 2011 we are any longer in any‘post-‘ phase of something but rather in a new human condition, in a world which has radically changed from the previous centuries by the global,huge explosion of communication. But also in a situation in which what the classics in various traditions said hundreds and even thousands years ago may be amazingly actual and open new avenues for the contemporary perplexing world.That is why I would like to call the semiotics of our time – and semiotics has always been the avant-garde of thought and science–a neosemiotics.Yet, in this‘human condition’the existential semiotics launches many notions and categories, which are partly completely new, partly old ones but seen now in semiotics. For instance from classical semiotics are herited such concepts as isotopy, modality, semiosphere, biosemiotics, Ich-Ton, khora, signification and communication; quite new terms are endosign, exosign,presign, actsign, postsign, transsign, quasisign, genosign, phenosign, metamodality; and new in semiotics such as transcendence, Dasein, Schein or appearance etc. Some terms in earlier versions have not been translated at all from their original languages to preserve their subtle nuances.

A semiotic theory always tries to be something universal, i.e. valid for all the time, places, and actors, so is the case of existential semiotics as to its aspirations. Like so often in the history of idea, the old concepts and theories remain valid within the new one as its special cases.So anyone can continue to be Greimassian, Peircean, Lotmanian semiotician if one wishes. But the configuration of this knowledge? we have reached by now is a new one,I presume.

Moreover, one could not imagine a better test for the validity of a theory than to translate it to a completely new language, to move and try to transplant it to a new cultural soil.

This Chinese version of my theory would never have become a reality without my previous contacts with Chinese scholars and semioticians. In this respect I want to mention particularly as the first one my colleague You Zheng Li,who brilliantly represents the semiotic approach in China;I guess that the reception of this book in China will be largely depending on the devoted work he has done already with his translations and monographs of semiotics in Chinese language. My first contact with China itself took place three years ago when I was invited to an international congress of Chinese Semiotic Society realized by Nanjing Normal University. First encounter with a new civilization is always an extremely fascinating and challenging experience. If in my young years such one had been for me my stay in Brazil, now it was this Chinese journey.This international gathering confirmed Nanjing as the place of next world congress of the IASS/AIS, for the first time in the Orient, as we dare to say in the Europe. My thanks go to my Chinese colleagues: Yiheng Zhao, Jiazu Gu, Zhang Jie, Ji Haihong, Lu Zhenglan, Wen Zhao. Yet, above all I want to thank deeply my Chinese translators, who have done this incredible work with full devotion, I mean Wei Quanfeng and Yan Xiaofang. Without your perseverance and enthusiasm this book would not have become a reality either.

Helsinki, Jan. 4, 2011

Eero Tarasti


Copyright @ 2010 - 2012 www.semio2012.com Inc. All rights Reserved