This article interrogates civility as a semiotic and phenomenological enactment within human relations. We discover that civility is much more than a mere social code. Drawing from the insights of Charles Sanders Peirce, I contend that the lived dialectic of civility and incivility is best understood as an existential boundary setting process. Within this process, semiotic and phenomenological boundaries are instituted between the Self and the Other, the private and the public, the personal and the cultural, and the ineffable and intelligible through communicative praxis. We find that authentic enactments of civility are an ironic testament to the phenomenal (existential) horizon of the private Other, publically bearing witness to those aspects of the Other that must be existentially acknowledged but remain unspoken. Authentic civility is an embodied sign condition that ultimately preserves the ineffable within human experience for the good of the common (the intelligible), not the common good. Some implications of this interpretation to our understanding of civility within postmodern life are discussed.
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