While the work of such expositors as Max H. Fisch, James J. Liszka, Lucia Santaella, Anne Friedman, and Mats Bergman has helped bring into sharp focus why Peirce took the third branch of semiotic (speculative rhetoric) to be "the highest and most living branch of logic," more needs to be done to show the extent to which the least developed branch of his theory of signs is, at once, its potentially most fruitful and important. The author of this paper thus begins to trace out even more fully than these scholars have done the unfinished trajectory of Peirce's eventual realization of the importance of speculative rhetoric. In doing so, he is arguing for a shift from the formalist and taxonomic emphasis of so many commentators to a more thoroughly pragmaticist and "rhetorical" approach to interpreting Peirce's theory of signs.


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