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Telos and Object

The relation between sign and object as a teleological relation in the semiotics of Charles S. Peirce


Luca Russo

The semiotics of Charles S. Peirce is conceived as an essential part of a comprehensive philosophical outlook. The study of signs is carried on for its bearing on the knowledge of reality; therefore the relation of signs to objects is the core concern of Peirce’s semiotics. This study looks at this question on the background of Peirce’s philosophical system, individuating in the theories of reality and of knowledge the key issues which allow a philosophically grounded definition of the sign-object relation. The concepts of teleology and of final cause reveal themselves to be the essential conception which emerges from these two issues. The underlying teleological tendencies in the use of signs justify their gnoseological reliableness.

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Chapter 2: The Triadic Structure of Signs


As already anticipated, the development of a theory of categories based on phenomenology changed altogether the context in which semiotics is grounded. Phenomenology does not give Peirce merely a new definition for some theoretical concept, it furnishes him the way to derive the structure and the distinctions of semiotics in a general and unified way. First of all, it must be noted that the signs themselves find a collocation among the possible kinds of thing, as typical representatives of the category of Thirdness.

2.1. The Triadic Structure of Signs in General

Within the category of Thirdness, the most important role is played by representations or signs:

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