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Steven Skaggs :
Thu, 13 Jun 1996 11:22:06 -0400

 But I am afraid that Peirce was closer to realism than to
>nominalism. Otherwise, why the need of including the "object" and making
>it into a  tryad?
>Saussure was clearly a nominalist. This is where our troubles began. So
>if we would leave the "object" on the side for a while, perhaps we could
>concentrate in resemblances only.

Katya, I think you're right: Peirce was a realist - in the final analysis
(! a weak Peircian attempt at humor :)

One can adopt a Peircian perspective and be a realist in the sense that one
believes that a final interpretant will be reached (unfortunately this is
only possible after an infinite period of time so the question is
reopened). Or one can take the Peircian perspective and be a nominalist
(while still adopting the 'object') be denying that interpretants funnel
toward a final state at all. [Again to refer to the most interesting debate
in the physics of consciousness, this parallels a disagreement over the
'existence' of what they call the 'Omega Point'. But that's getting off the
immediate subject]

Well, let us all agree to leave this issue of realist/nominalist. There
seems to be concensus that one of the advantages of semiotics is that such
dualities are avoided by placing attention at the level of the sign.

Let's see if we can tease out the notion of Peirce's 'object' a bit more.
We really need Joe Ransdell here, but let me get it started.

Think of a number between 1 and 5.
Type it on the screen.
I read a 4.
When I read '4' that's my interpretant.
The number on the screen was the representamen or sign vehicle.
Your thought was the object.
Your thought was itself an interpretant (of a preceding semiotic event).

The lesson here is that objects are not 'real' (and certainly not
necessarily physical), but are position markers in the semiosic chain.

>The problem I see in this terminology is "object" , apart from conflating
>what Morris distinguishes so well (Designatum and denotatum), can be
>understood as objective, target.

Ok, maybe another word: 'notation' - as in denotation or connotation? - any

And "vehicle" for similar reasons (may
>be understood as keeping within, or carrying in (Lakoff's conduit metaphor).

'Signifier' isn't a bad term for this, I agree. Although I like the
transport connotation in 'vehicle'.

>Also, I disagree signs produce an interpretant.

An interpretant is a state within a given sign event. An interpretation is
produced 'through' sign action, not as the result of a sign as in S > I.

>intepreters ...
Interpreters themselves are 'states of belief'. I agree with you that there
are interpreters, but your and my values about this are dependent upon sign
action. So to say that interpreters produce signs (putting interpreters
before signs) is, strictly speaking, invalid.

>...produce signs qua signs.
Do you mean realizing that we live in a semiotic world? No, Katya, I
disagree. My retina responds semiotically, but without knowledge about what
its doing.

I realize I draw the point finely here, but there is a crucial decision we
all have to make: the price you pay for a triadic structure is complexity.
The value is its ability to be applied across non-human and perhaps
non-animate domains.

Steven Skaggs

>> McCarthy: "Even machines as simple as thermostats can be said to have
<< Searle: "What beliefs does your thermostat have?"
>> McCarthy: "My thermostat has three beliefs - it is too hot in here, it
>>is too cold in here, and it is just right in here."

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