Gary R., List:

Thank you for your characteristically thoughtful and thought-provoking
response.  Up until now, I have been considering all of this with the
mindset that the child's scream must be analyzed as *one *Sign.  Upon
reflection, I realize that such an approach fails to take proper account of
the nature of a *genuine *Sign as "something that exists in replicas" (EP
2:411; 1904).  What you seem to be suggesting--please correct me if I am
misunderstanding--is that the same "thing" can be a Replica of *more than
one* Sign.

In this case, as Gary F. observed, the girl's scream is, for her,
"primarily a natural sign," or what I have started calling a
*degenerate *Sign--an
instinctive physical reflex, rather than an intentional "utterance"--such
that all six Correlates are Existents (2ns).  As such, I get the sense that
many of the steps in the *internal *chain of events, from the contact of
the child's finger with the hot burner to the propagation of sound waves
from her vocal chords--including both of those phenomena themselves--could
conceivably be analyzed as *dynamical*, rather than *semiosic*.  Why should
we treat the girl's scream as the Dynamic Interpretant of a particular
neural pattern within her that represents the hot burner, rather than as
merely the last in a series of strictly dyadic causes and effects?  If she
effectively *cannot help* but scream, is this really an example of
Sign-action at all?  The same questions arise regarding the flight of a
bird upon hearing a loud sound.  I have some vague notions of possible
answers, but I am hoping that you (or someone else) can provide a clear

For the mother, on the other hand, the scream does not produce any
kind of *deterministic
*response.  Although it probably triggers certain "motherly instincts," she
rushes into the kitchen *deliberately*; presumably she *could *ignore the
child if she were so inclined, as a neglectful parent might be.  From her
standpoint, the child is the *utterer* of the Sign that is the scream, even
if *unintentionally*; and therefore, the girl is indeed where we must
"look" to "find" the Sign's Dynamic Object, "the essential ingredient of
the utterer" (EP 2:404; 1907).  However, I am still not convinced that it
is the child *herself*; typically when a Sign *has *an utterer, the Dynamic
Object is *not *that utterer, but whatever the utterer (as the saying
goes) *has
in mind* upon uttering the Sign--in this case, perhaps the *pain *that the
girl is sensing.  The Immediate Object is then the combination of
attributes of *this particular scream* that the mother's Collateral
Experience leads her to associate with previous *screams of pain or
distress* that she has heard, both from this child and from others, which
likely differentiates them somehow from *other kinds* of childish screams.

This, then, takes us back to my first paragraph above.  For the mother, the
girl's scream is a *Replica*--a Token of a Type--which it obviously *cannot
*be for the child.  The Dynamic Object of the corresponding *genuine *Sign
is presumably something like *pain or distress in general*.  Hence the
context-dependence of any *concrete *instance of *actual *semiosis--necessarily
involving Replicas--is quite evident here.

Does any of this make sense?  To be honest, it all still feels highly
conjectural to me, so I am expecting (hopefully constructive) criticism.
In fact, I can already anticipate that Edwina will reject it right
away--understandably, given her very different model of semiosis--but I am
eager to see what you and others have to say.


Jon Alan Schmidt - Olathe, Kansas, USA
Professional Engineer, Amateur Philosopher, Lutheran Layman -

On Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 6:12 PM, Gary Richmond <>

> Jon, Edwina, list,
> Jon, while I am tending to agree with you on much of your analysis, I
> still can't agree with you in the matter of the Dynamic Object for the
> mother. You wrote:
> JAS: In this case, I am wary of drawing a sharp distinction between "the
> child's semiosis" and "the mother's semiosis"; are they not continuous?
> I do not see the semioses as continuous which is not to say that there is
> no continuity. There's a continuity of communication, shall we say, but the
> dynamic object of each person's semiosis is different in my opinion.
> The mother's semiosis at that moment of its occurrence seems to me not
> determined by the oven at all, but by her daughter. So in my view the
> Immediate Object of the mother concerns the oven not at all. Rather it is
> grounded (in Peirce's sense of the ground of a sign, which he later terms
> the immediate object: 'selected' characters of the DO) in the child
> herself.Again, the ground of he semiosis cannot be the child in the
> entirety of all her characters (an impossibility), but exactly those which
> are predominant, her scream, perhaps the look on her face, etc. So, again,
> as I see it the Dynamic Object for the mother is the child, while those
> several characters which form the ground of her semiosis (equivalent to her
> immediate object) contribute to a wholly different IO-R-II-DI, and so a
> different Sign, than her daughter's, again, the consequence of their having 
> *entirely
> different* Dynamic Objects.
> Edwina, while my understanding of the semioses involved here seems closer
> to yours than to Jon's, I do not agree that the child's scream in the DO.
> For just as the DO was the oven, while the heat (a character) from the
> flaming burners led to the child's pain (a character) that grounded her
> semiosis, it was the child as DO whose scream (a character for her mother)
> grounded her mother's semiosis.
> Jon continued:
> JAS: It seems to me that there must be some semiotic connection between
> the hot burner and the mother's eventual response to the child's cry,
> because the one would not have happened without the other.
> Well this kind of thinking would, I believe, lead to an infinite regress
> going as far back as the child's conception, and probably much further back
> than that. It seems to me a kind of post hoc, propter hoc version of that
> regress. What you point to ("the one would not have happened without the
> other") seems to me more like physical than semiotic determination.
> JAS: Why regard the girl's scream as having a different Dynamic Object for
> the mother than it does for the child?  Is it not the very same Sign?
> I do not *at al*l see it as "the very same Sign." In my view there are
> two signs, not, however, unrelated, and even intimately connected by the DI
> of the child leading to the IO of the mother: but still *two distinct
> signs*(at least) Here I think Edwina and I may be in at least partial
> agreement.
> So, I think I already offered a reason in my earlier post as to why I
> think our views are so different GR: ". . . in my understanding the
> interpretant standing "in the same relation to the Sign's Dynamic Object as
> the Sign itself does"  doesn't apply to both signs, but to the child's
> sign and* not *to the mother's (as you've been analyzing the semioses).
> The remainer of your analysis follows from your viewpoint which, as I see
> it, goes well beyond the example into habit-change and the like which will
> in my view necessarily involve more time, more semiosis, additional signs,
> etc. than the discrete analysis put forth here. This is not to suggest that
> the habits of the mother and the daughter will not lead to perhaps
> life-changing habit change. But you yourself have noted that these will be
> very different habits: not touching flames in the future for the child; not
> leaving the child alone in the kitchen in the future for the mother. Again,
> this stark difference in habit-change strongly suggests to me two different
> signs, not one.
> Best,
> Gary R
> [image: Gary Richmond]
> *Gary Richmond*
> *Philosophy and Critical Thinking*
> *Communication Studies*
> *LaGuardia College of the City University of New York*
> *718 482-5690 <(718)%20482-5690>*
PEIRCE-L subscribers: Click on "Reply List" or "Reply All" to REPLY ON PEIRCE-L 
to this message. PEIRCE-L posts should go to . To 
UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message not to PEIRCE-L but to with the 
line "UNSubscribe PEIRCE-L" in the BODY of the message. More at .

Reply via email to