Systems Of Interpretation • 6

Figure 2. An Elementary Sign Relation

Figure 2. An Elementary Sign Relation

Re: Peirce List DiscussionJon AwbreyJohn Collier

I strongly agree, Jon.  Reading meaning into artefacts of the representation is not typically transparent.  I would say that the whole symbol represents the sign with its threefold character and that the node is not some separate signifier.  To put it on this level is, as you suggest, a category error.

Precisely.  And “artefact” is a very choice word here, with all the right connotations.  It would be unfortunate if this trivial “triskelion” figure became a caltrop to our thought, blocking the way of inquiry.  Aside from the ellipses we added to call attention to a couple of derivative dyadic relations, somewhat loosely called denotative and connotative in our paper, it is merely typical of the 3-spoke figures in common use when I was first learning Peirce’s theory of signs, often arising to point out the differences between Saussure’s dyadic semiology and Peirce’s triadic semiotics.  But the intervening decades have taught me mostly all the ways that diagrams and figures of that sort can be misinterpreted when the conventions of interpretation needed to understand them are not up and running.  It can be instructive to carry out post mortems on the various maps of misreading, though.  If one is not up for the morbidity of that then it is probably wiser to move on to more viable representations.


  • Awbrey, J.L., and Awbrey, S.M. (Autumn 1995), “Interpretation as Action : The Risk of Inquiry”, Inquiry : Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 15(1), pp. 40–52.  ArchiveJournalOnline.
  • Awbrey, S.M., and Awbrey, J.L. (September 1999), “Organizations of Learning or Learning Organizations : The Challenge of Creating Integrative Universities for the Next Century”, Second International Conference of the Journal ‘Organization’, Re-Organizing Knowledge, Trans-Forming Institutions : Knowing, Knowledge, and the University in the 21st Century, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.  Online.
  • Awbrey, S.M., and Awbrey, J.L. (May 2001), “Conceptual Barriers to Creating Integrative Universities”, Organization : The Interdisciplinary Journal of Organization, Theory, and Society 8(2), Sage Publications, London, UK, pp. 269–284.  Abstract.
This entry was posted in Artificial Intelligence, Communication, Community of Interpretation, Diagrammatic Reasoning, Diagrams, Interpretation, Interpretive Frameworks, Knowledge, Knowledge Representation, Logic, Logic of Relatives, Logical Graphs, Objective Frameworks, Peirce, Peirce List, Relation Theory, Semiotics, Sign Relations, Triadic Relations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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