The Difference That Makes A Difference That Peirce Makes : 27

Re: Peirce ListJohn Sowa

It’s been my observation over many decades that people invoke the “ethics of terminology” mainly to inveigh against everyone’s innovations but their own, so these days I’ve shifted my attention to the “pragmatics of communication”, the critical case being communication across the boundaries and through the filters of diverse communities of usage.  In that spirit, I’ll copy here my last best attempt to construct a bridge between Peirce’s special sense of “formal” and the more generic construals we likely know.

The most general meaning of formal is concerned with form, but the Latin forma can mean beauty in addition to form, so perhaps a normative goodness of form enters at this root.

The Latin word norma literally means a carpenter’s square.  The Greek gnomon is a sundial pointer taking a similar form.  The most general meaning of normative is “having to do with what a person ought to do”, but a pragmatic interpretation of ethical imperatives tends to treat that as “having to do with what a person ought to do in order to achieve a given object”, so another formula might be “relating to the good that befits a being of our kind, and what must be done in order to bring that good into being, and how to tell the signs that show the way”.

Defining logic as formal or normative semiotic differentiates logic from other species of semiotic under the general theory of signs, leaving a niche open for descriptive semiotic, just to mention the obvious branch.  This brings us to the question:

How does a concern with form, or goodness of form, along with the question of what is required to achieve an object, modify our perspective on sign relations in a way that duly marks it as a logical point of view?

cc: Systems ScienceStructural ModelingOntolog ForumLaws of FormCybernetics

This entry was posted in Analogy, C.S. Peirce, Communication, Descriptive Science, Fixation of Belief, Formal Systems, Information, Inquiry, Logic, Logic of Relatives, Logic of Science, Logical Graphs, Mathematics, Normative Science, Paradigms, Peirce, Pragmatic Maxim, Pragmatism, Relation Theory, Semiotics, Sign Relations, Triadic Relations, Triadicity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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