Semiotic categories of Pierce
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semiotics, semiosis, sign, meaning, symbol, category, monad, dyad, triad, pragmatism, language

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Mamenko, T. (2020). Semiotic categories of Pierce. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, 2(1), 123-141.


The article considers the semiotic categories of Pierce: Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness. Their development led Pierce to critique the modern theory of the dual sign and to construct the logic of relations in the structure of the sign based on the triad of sign, object, and interpretant. The modern dualism of the sign, in which the two components, the signifier and the signified, were connected, is replaced by Pierce's process model, due to his introduction of interpreters into the structure of the sign. Peirce drew on the methodological implications of the four incapacities—no genuine introspection, no intuition in the sense of non-inferential cognition, no thought but in signs, and no conception of the absolutely incognizable—to attack philosophical Cartesianism. This allows Pierce to rethink the classical atomistic concept of language and show that a sign does not exist in isolation as a single idea or symbol, but is always woven into a grid of other signs. Thus, Pierce's approach demonstrates a holistic approach to language and reality as a system of signs. For Pierce, the concept of semiosis was a central concept of his semiotic theory. According to Pierce, no object functions as a sign until it is perceived as such. Each sign is able to generate an interpreter, and this process is almost endless. The idea of semiosis expresses the very essence of the relationship between the sign and the outside world - the object of representation exists, but it is inaccessible, as if «hidden» in a series of semiotic mediation. However, knowledge of this object is possible only by studying the signs generated by it. To know what a given sign denotes, the mind needs some experience of that sign's object, experience outside of, and collateral to, that sign or sign system. In that context Peirce speaks of collateral experience, collateral observation, collateral acquaintance, all in much the same terms
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