Jon S, Gary F, Gary R, List,
I've been thinking about Peirce's explanations of how signs represent objects
to interpretants. In this vein, I'd like to ask a straightforward question
about the relation of determination and the role it seems to play in his
account of semiosis. Some have suggested that the relation of determination
seems awfully vague--so much so that it is hard to see how it can do any
For my part, I think Peirce is engaging in a strategy of explaining richer
sorts of relations and processes, such as representation and signification, by
appealing to the relatively simpler relations of determination. The centerpiece
of the account, I tend to think, is the explanation of how the object
determines the sign, and of how the sign determines the interpretant, so that
the object is able to determine the interpretant via the mediation of the
sign--and via the relations that the sign bears to the object and interpretant.
I find Peirce's explanatory strategy to be quite promising precisely because
(1) it offers an account of what is involved in this mediation and (2), this
process of mediation does seem to be central in understanding processes of
representation and signification.
So, let me ask, is Peirce offering a strategy of explaining more complex sorts
of relations and processes (i.e., mediation, representation, signification,
etc.) by appealing to those that are relatively simpler (i.e., determination)?
If so, is there good reason to think this might be a winning strategy?
Department of Philosophy
Northern Arizona University
(o) 928 523-8354
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