A discussion — well, more like a series of posts and counterposts — arose last week on the Facebook Page of the Charles S. Peirce Society, and I’ve been going back over it this week because it seemed to invite a useful re-examination of some old but important issues. There appears to be some sort of disagreement, or maybe just failure to communicate, but I’m still having trouble putting my finger on what the source of the issue might be.
One factor seems to be different understandings about the relationship between Peirce’s brand of semiotics and standard first order logic. One thing I’ve noticed before is that people who view Peirce’s work through the filter of first order logic are not likely to see what many of us appreciate in his semiotic approach to logic. There are commentators on Peirce’s logical systems who treat them as nothing more than first order logics in other syntaxes, but I am not one of those. There is something more general and powerful going on with Peirce’s conception of “logic as formal semiotic”, in other words, a normative science of signs.
I still see that factor playing a role in the background of the animadversion but I’m beginning to think there’s probably a much simpler explanation.