Jeff, List:

Given the consternation that often arises anytime we start talking about
"determination" on the List, I am not sure that--at least in Peirce's
usage--it is really any "simpler" than other concepts like mediation,
representation, signification, etc.  The contemporary notion of
"determinism" as equivalent to what Peirce usually called
"necessitarianism" seems to impart to "determination" the connotation of
"causation," which is not what I take him to have meant by it in this

CSP:  I suspect that there must be some misunderstanding between us of the
meaning of the various terms cognate with "determined." Perhaps, therefore,
I shall do well to state more fully than I did before, the manner in which
I understand Hegel (in common with all other logicians) to use them.
Possibly, the original signification of *bestimmt *was "settled by vote";
or it may have been "pitched to a key." Thus its origin was quite different
from that of "determined"; yet I believe that as philosophical terms their
equivalence is exact. In general, they mean "fixed to be *this *(or *thus*),
in contradistinction to being this, that, or the other (or in some way or
other)." (CP 6.625; 1868)

CSP:  A Sign is a Cognizable that, on the one hand, is so determined (i.e.,
specialized, *bestimmt*,) by something *other than itself*, called its
Object, while, on the other hand, it so determines some actual or potential
Mind, the determination whereof I term the Interpretant created by the
Sign, that that Interpreting Mind is therein determined mediately by the
Object. (CP 8.177, EP2:492; 1909)

CSP:  A Sign is anything of either of the three Universes which, being
*by something other than itself, called its *Object*, in its turn *bestimmt
*the mind of an interpreter to a notion which I call the *Interpretant*; *and
does this in such a manner* that the Interpretant is, thereby and therein,
determined mediately by the Object. (EP 2:497; 1909)

And yet, Peirce acknowledged in a footnote placed shortly after that last
quote, "You will probably object that *bestimmt*, to your mind, means
'causes' or '*caused*.' Very well, so it does to mine."


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

On Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 11:54 PM, Jeffrey Brian Downard <> wrote:

> 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 explanatory work.
> 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?
> --Jeff
> Jeffrey Downard
> Associate Professor
> Department of Philosophy
> Northern Arizona University
> (o) 928 523-8354 <(928)%20523-8354>
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