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Charles S. Peirce's Philosophy of Signs

Essays in Comparative Semiotics

Gérard Deledalle

Publication Year: 2000

[Note: Picture of Peirce available]

Charles S. Peirce's Philosophy of Signs
Essays in Comparative Semiotics
Gérard Deledalle

Peirce's semiotics and metaphysics compared to the thought of other leading philosophers.

"This is essential reading for anyone who wants to find common ground between the best of American semiotics and better-known European theories. Deledalle has done more than anyone else to introduce Peirce to European audiences, and now he sends Peirce home with some new flare." -- Nathan Houser, Director, Peirce Edition Project

Charles S. Peirce's Philosophy of Signs examines Peirce's philosophy and semiotic thought from a European perspective, comparing the American's unique views with a wide variety of work by thinkers from the ancients to moderns. Parts I and II deal with the philosophical paradigms which are at the root of Peirce's new theory of signs, pragmatic and social. The main concepts analyzed are those of "sign" and "semiosis" and their respective trichotomies; formally in the case of "sign," in time in the case of semiosis. Part III is devoted to comparing Peirce's theory of semiotics as a form of logic to the work of other philosophers, including Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege, Philodemus, Lady Welby, Saussure, Morris, Jakobson, and Marshall McLuhan. Part IV compares Peirce's "scientific metaphysics" with European metaphysics.

Gérard Deledalle holds the Doctorate in Philosophy from the Sorbonne. A research scholar at Columbia University and Attaché at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, he has also been Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Philosophy Department of the universities of Tunis, Perpignan, and Libreville. In 1990 he received the Herbert W. Schneider Award "for distinguished contributions to the understanding and development of American philosophy. In 2001, he was appointed vice-president of the Charles S. Peirce Society.


Introduction -- Peirce Compared: Directions for Use

Part I -- Semeiotic as Philosophy
Peirce's New Philosophical Paradigms
Peirce's Philosophy of Semeiotic
Peirce's First Pragmatic Papers (1877-1878)
The Postscriptum of 1893

Part II -- Semeiotic as Semiotics
Sign: Semiosis and Representamen -- Semiosis and Time
Sign: The Concept and Its Use -- Reading as Translation

Part III -- Comparative Semiotics
Semiotics and Logic: A Reply to Jerzy Pelc
Semeiotic and Greek Logic: Peirce and Philodemus
Semeiotic and Significs: Peirce and Lady Welby
Semeiotic and Semiology: Peirce and Saussure
Semeiotic and Semiotics: Peirce and Morris
Semeiotic and Linguistics: Peirce and Jakobson
Semeiotic and Communication: Peirce and McLuhan
Semeiotic and Epistemology: Peirce, Frege, and Wittgenstein

Part IV -- Comparative Metaphysics
Gnoseology -- Perceiving and Knowing: Peirce, Wittgenstein, and Gestalttheorie
Ontology -- Transcendentals "of" or "without" Being: Peirce versus Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas
Cosmology -- Chaos and Chance within Order and Continuity: Peirce between Plato and Darwin
Theology -- The Reality of God: Peirce's Triune God and the Church's Trinity
Conclusion -- Peirce: A Lateral View

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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INTRODUCTION: Peirce Compared: Directions for Use

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pp. vii-xii

Although the present book is a collection of essays written over fifty years, either in French or in English, according to circumstances, my way of approaching Peirce has always followed the same line which allows me to call them...

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PART ONE: Semeiotic as Philosophy

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pp. 1-2

Just as Saussure’s semiology is a branch of linguistics, Peirce’s semeiotic is a branch of philosophy. Not of any philosophy, but a new philosophy, the paradigms of which are to be clearly deiened if one wants to take full advantage of Peirce’s theory of signs...

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1 -Peirce’s New Philosophical Paradigms

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pp. 3-13

Right from the beginning, the relations of America as New England with Europe were, from the philosophical view, ambiguous, when they were not simply difficult and, in the end, impossible. Peirce is in himself the résumé of this story which I plan to sum up, from the rejection of the European philosophical paradigms to the creation of a new set of paradigms which...

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2 -Peirce’s Philosophy of Semeiotic

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pp. 14-22

Just as the Newtonian notion of Space as God cannot be separated from Newton’s physics, nor Einstein’s strict determinism from his physics of relativity, the following facts concerning the thought of Charles S. Peirce, the inventor of triadic semiotics, cannot and must not be neglected. Peirce is an evolutionist empiricist whose intellectual mentor was Kant...

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3- Peirce’s First Pragmatic Papers (1877–1878): the French version and the Paris Commune

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pp. 23-34

Two of Charles S. Peirce’s articles—both linked to pragmatism—published in The Popular Science Monthly: “The Fixation of Belief” in November 1877: 1–15 and “How To Make Our Ideas Clear” in January 1878: 286–302, appeared...

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PART TWO: Semeiotic as Semiotics

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pp. 35-36

The present part will be devoted to Peirce’s theory of signs. In the first chapter (ch. 4), I shall describe semeiotic as semiotic, that is to say as a method for analyzing anything which appears as a “sign” and, in the second chapter (ch. 5), I shall approach the question of interpreting Peirce or the way of understanding or translating Peirce in another language, yours or mine...

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4 -Sign Semiosis and Representamen

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pp. 37-53

For Peirce, as already noted above (p. 18), the word “sign” has two acceptations: sign-action and sign-object. He calls the first semiosis, the second representamen. Semiosis is the action of the sign, the sign in action, that is to say: in process. For there to be a semiosis, an event A (the sign-object or representamen...

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5 -Sign The Concept and its Use

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pp. 54-64

Peirce’s theory of signs is by description mostly concerned with translation. No sign can be understood without being interpreted. That is why I shall mainly deal here with Peirce’s terminology and its translation or interpretation. It will not be a question of languages proper, but of conceptual expressions of the signs used by Peirce to convey his ideas...

PART THREE: Comparative Semiotics

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pp. 65-66

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6 -Semiotics and Logic A Reply to Jerzy Pelc

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pp. 67-77

I am one of those logicians and consequently (according to Peirce) semioticians who “believe” in Peirce’s theory of signs. That is why I venture to answer Jerzy Pelc’s questions to Peircean semioticians,* although I have to confess that my reading of Peirce is biased by my previous travels...

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7 -Semeiotic and Greek Logic

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pp. 78-86

Now logic, being for Peirce “only another name for semiotic [shmeiotik], the quasi-necessary, or formal doctrine of signs” (2.227), it is difficult to see how one can distinguish philosophy as metaphysics from semiotic as logic. I would like to try to answer this question, and while doing so, to answer...

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8 -Semeiotic and Significs

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pp. 87-99

Lady Welby’s correspondence and writings span a period of more than sixty years. She corresponded altogether only nine years with Peirce, from 1903 to 1911. It was Lady Welby who took the initiative of the correspondence after reading some entries written by Peirce in Baldwin’s...

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9 -Semeiotic and Semiology

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pp. 100-113

Contemporary research on the sign proceeds from two sources: Charles S. Peirce (1839–1914) who is at the origin of the semiotic trend, and Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) who is at the origin of the semiological trend. That there are two trends is simply that Peirce’s and Saussure’s...

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10 -Semeiotic and Semiotics

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pp. 114-119

Did Morris read Peirce? The question I am asking is not meant to be a criticism of Morris. It only implies that I take Peirce as my point of departure and will judge Morris with reference to his fidelity to Peirce, if he read Peirce. Morris’s tripartition: syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics, is undeniably Peircean. The separations between these three classes are not...

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11 -Semeiotic and Linguistics

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pp. 120-126

Philosophers are still divided concerning the importance of Peirce’s philosophy. Nevertheless, if Peirce is accepted today everywhere, and especially in France, it is thanks to the linguists who followed Jakobson’s misreading of Peirce. The cross-reading I propose here is not intended as a criticism of Jakobson, but as a kind of clari¤cation of Peirce. The fact that I worked...

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12 -Semeiotic and Communication: Peirce and McLuhan Media between Balnibarbi and Plato’s Cave

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pp. 127-136

In Swift’s journey to Balnibarbi, communication is by “things,” not by “signs,” because “signs” are “things.” In Plato’s Cave, behind the wall, statues are carried by people whom we do not see nor know. Are they slaves and, in consequence, not human beings? We do not know. What we do know is that we only see images of the statues. Which are the media?...

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13 -Semeiotic and Epistemology

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pp. 137-144

By “epistemology,” we mean the critique of the principles of the logic of scientific research, be it the logic of science or formal logic. As we know, semiotics is another name for logic, according to Peirce, a comprehensive, inferential logic, which is both experimental and formal...

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Part Four Comparative Metaphysics

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pp. 145-146

Peirce’s semeiotic is based on a scientific or “laboratory” metaphysics which is better understood when it is compared to Western classical or rather “seminary” metaphysics, such as Scholasticism. The unity and originality of Peirce’s philosophy of signs appear in all the domains of metaphysics...

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14 -Gnoseology: Perceiving and Knowing

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pp. 147-154

The problem of perception is less the problem of knowing what we perceive than that of knowing whether the way in which we describe perception does not predetermine our reply. Wittgenstein said: “Tell me how you think and I shall tell you what you think...

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15 -Ontology: Transcendentals of or without Being

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pp. 155-161

The Transcendental is de¤ned as what can be found in all kinds of Being. The list of Transcendentals, always three in number, varies from one period to another. For Thomas Aquinas, the three Transcendentals of Being are the One, the True, and the Good. The Beautiful, which for the Modernists...

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16 -Cosmology: Chaos and Chance within Order and Continuity

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pp. 162-169

The question of the relation between chaos and order can be dealt with from many viewpoints, theoretical and practical. From Greek cosmogony to the scientific thought of today, it is the same question which is raised when Western man wants to picture the world he lives in. Our way of thinking has changed since the Greeks and one can hardly compare...

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17 -Theology: The Reality of God Peirce’s Triune God and the Church’s Trinity

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pp. 170-180

Peirce was born a Unitarian. Unitarians believe that only God the Father is God; Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit are the first among the creatures. One of Peirce’s fellow students at Harvard, Charles Fay, had a sister, Harriet Melusina, who not only had become an Episcopalian...

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Conclusion: Peirce a Lateral View

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pp. 181-190

There are as many Peirces as philosophers who read him. Of course, this does not contradict Peirce’s semeiotic. On the contrary, it confirms it. However, one would like to be sure of the correctness of one’s interpretation. That is why I thought of studying Peirce’s...


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pp. 191-196


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pp. 197-199

E-ISBN-13: 9780253108357
E-ISBN-10: 0253108357
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253337368

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 13 figures, 1 bibliog., 2 index
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: Advances in Semiotics