This special issue of Semiotica is dedicated to the work and ideas of one of the most influential semioticians and philosophers of the last five decades. Indeed, Umberto Eco was one of the founding members of Semiotica, which included other luminaries of semiotics such as Thomas A. Sebeok (the journal’s first editor), Roland Barthes, Juri M. Lotman, Nicolas Ruwet, Meyer Shapiro, and Hansjakob Seiler. It is thus the appropriate locus for a retrospective on his legacy, which has shaped large areas of semiotic theory and practice over the years. I met Umberto in the late 1970s during one of the seminars of the International Summer Institute of Semiotic and Structural Studies held at Victoria College of the University of Toronto. As a linguist, at the time I was highly skeptical of semiotics as a method for understanding how the brain generates linguistic meaning. But he changedmymindwith his eloquence, simplicity of articulation, yet profundity of thought, and above all else empathy for his interlocutors. He understood that semiotics could gain ground in cognatedisciplines suchas linguistics, psychology, andanthropology, only if the relevance of its theoretical apparatus was grasped by the practitioners of those disciplines. In 1976, just before we met, he had been among the first to characterize semiotics as a science. Meaning cannot be studied with the same objectivity as, say, physical substances are by chemists. But, as Eco argued, semiotics can still be considered to constitute a science in the etymological sense of the word (as an intellectual and practical activity) for five fundamental reasons (Eco 1976: 74): 1. It is an autonomous discipline. 2. It has a set of standardized methodological tools that allow semioticians to seek answers to specific kinds of questions (What does something mean? How does it mean what it means? Why does it mean what it means?). 3. It generates hypotheses, theories, and models of semiosis, by analyzing the products of semiosis in the form of signs, texts, and other human artifacts. 4. It allows semioticians to make predictions as to how societies and cultures will evolve through semiosic shifts. 5. Its findings can lead to a modification of the actual state of the world.