A rather amusing, if slightly ominous illustration of the point I am trying to make here has just popped up in the daily mayhem. Let’s call this one:
Syntax Proposes, Pragmatics Disposes — or —
When Does A Question Become A Command?
The big thing that classification maniacs tend to forget about types of signs in a sign relational theory of signs is that they are always interpretive and relative, never essential and absolute.
- An icon is an icon when it’s interpreted as an icon.
- An index is an index when it’s interpreted as an index.
- The same goes for term, sentence, argument by any name.
Category theorists and computer scientists call that “polymorphism” and they study the isomorphisms that relate the various types.