Re: Peirce

From: Jay Lemke (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2005 - 14:24:29 PST

This is a famous question, and Peirce specialists can answer better than I.

But in a letter, Peirce wrote that "as a sop to Cerberus" he had explained
semiosis and especially the interpretant in mentalistic terms, because
otherwise he thought no one would understand what he was trying to say. He
was quite ahead of his time.

I believe that ultimately the relations of
representamen-object-interpretant are meant to be purely LOGICAL (i.e.
formal) relations, at least initially, in CSP. I think he eventually moved
to a more "system" -like view, in which semiosis is a process conducted by
some material system, in which the logical relations are instantiated.

He may well have been a "mentalist" in general, but he certainly did not
regard mind as more fundamental than or prior to meaning, semiosis, or,
certainly, logic.

I won't speak for Uslucan's interpretation of Peirce.


At 08:50 AM 1/17/2005, you wrote:
><?xml version="1.0" ?>
>Hello everybody,
>On 2004-12-20 I sent you this message but I didn’t get through. It ‘s a
>little late in the day, but …
>My name is Ini Haket and I am from the Netherlands. I’m glad to have the
>opportunity to participate in your discussions. I read the article about
>Peirce and it left me with the following problem.
>Did I find a mentalistic conception of meaning in Uslucan’s article? When
>I started reading, I expected to find more about meaning and especially
>about topics like embodied meaning, meaning as a relation with the world
>or joint understanding. I found far less about meaning, than I expected in
>an article about signs. Why isn’t for instance meaning in fig 1 en 2 in
>the middle instead of two times sign in one figure? What I found gave me
>the impression that meaning is mainly made inside the subjects head. It is
>true Uslucan writes that the interpretant is “the act as an entity (101).
>This could mean that the interpretant is something like a transaction in
>Dewey’s terms. But meaning is not linked to the interpretant: it is “the
>images the sign creates in the mind of the person (101) In other places I
>don’t find the act but just the subject (103: “… the role of the subject –
>the interpretant – is evident: it is the determination of the meaning of
>signs.” ; also 99 and 100). Did I get this al wrong or is either Peirce or
>Uslucan’s interpretation of his work mentalistic?

Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276

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