Sign Relations • Discussion 2

Re: CyberneticsBernard C.E. Scott
Re: Sign Relations • Definition

Regarding Peirce’s definition of a sign given in the previous post, Bernard Scott writes:

It is very helpful [to] distinguish Peirce’s formal semiotic (his logic) from psychological, and by extension, ‘biosemiotic’ understandings of ‘sign’.

Dear Bernard,

You raise a very important point.  It is critical to distinguish the abstract theory from its concrete applications.  The power of a great theory lies in the diversity of its applications.  But that very power comes with a warning, as the diversity it generates can be the source of dispute and dissension among its appliers and interpreters.

We all know the parable of the seven sightless sages and the polymorphous pachyderm they ponder, so I don’t need to spend a lot of words on the moral of that story here.  But it may be useful to say more about the major misunderstandings occasioned by, the schisms, sects, and splinter groups spawned by Peirce’s extremely general and powerful theory of triadic sign relations.  I’ll attend to that when I next get a chance.


  • Charles S. Peirce (1902), “Parts of Carnegie Application” (L 75), in Carolyn Eisele (ed., 1976), The New Elements of Mathematics by Charles S. Peirce, vol. 4, 13–73.  Online.


cc: CyberneticsOntolog • Peirce List (1) (2)Structural ModelingSystems Science

This entry was posted in C.S. Peirce, Logic, Logic of Relatives, Mathematics, Peirce, Peirce's Categories, Philosophy, Pragmatic Semiotic Information, Pragmatism, Relation Theory, Semiotics, Sign Relations, Thirdness, Triadic Relations, Triadicity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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