Abduction, Deduction, Induction, Analogy, Inquiry : 17


Figure 2. Signs and Inquiry in Dewey

Re: Peirce List DiscussionTom Gollier

I know we’ve discussed the various meanings of the word object that make sense in Peirce’s semiotics and pragmatism generally, so let me just link to a recent comment that turned up in my search for previous mentions.

I am constantly reminded of this favorite line from Peirce:

“No longer wondered what I would do in life but defined my object.”

— C.S. Peirce (1861), “My Life, written for the Class-Book”, (CE 1, 3)

The question of Objects, Objectives, and Objectivity is a persistent one.

The Latin-rooted English object springs from deeper roots in the Greek pragma.  It was a personal revelation to me on first looking into Liddell and Scott and reading all the meanings and ramifications of that vast pragmatic semantic complex.

It is especially the senses of the word object that refer to aims and purposes, in other words, intentional objects and objects of intention, that we are likely to miss if we don’t remind ourselves of their pertinence to pragmatic thinking.

Keeping that variety of meanings in mind, a few more words may help to clarify the reading from last time.

  • There are of course the usual run of behaviorist, causal, stimulus-response theories of “signal processing” and “verbal behavior” that have enjoyed their popularity and never-say-die revivals from the days of Charles Morris to B.F. Skinner, but Peirce’s semiotics includes them as degenerate species of the more solid genre he had in mind.
  • Peirce’s definition of a triadic sign relation is cast at such a level of generality that nothing in it prevents a sign relation L \subseteq O \times S \times I from having intentional objects in its object domain O.
  • To say that coolness is a sign of rain is a perfectly natural statement in English, and I think it would be a more troubling narrowness to exclude it from sense.
  • Semiotic objects are any objects of discussion or thought.  It should be obvious that we talk and think about future, imaginary, intentional, or “virtual” objects all the time.
  • The fact that coolness might be a sign of many other things is exactly what calls for our peripatetic hero to abduce a hypothesis (rain?), to deduce a prediction (dark clouds?), and to test the prediction against further observations (look up!).  All of those features are why we chose Dewey’s story as an illustration of a full-blown inquiry.

Reference

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One Response to Abduction, Deduction, Induction, Analogy, Inquiry : 17

  1. Pingback: Survey of Abduction, Deduction, Induction, Analogy, Inquiry • 1 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

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