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Telos and Object

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

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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 7: Symbols

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7.1. The Nature of Symbols

The third class of sign, according to the relation of signs to their objects, is that of Symbols. They can be roughly defined as those signs which refer to their objects according to a general rule. The scope of this definition and the actual modes in which the general rule governs the sign, however, have undergone some changes in the course of time. In the New List of Categories Symbols are simply defined as those signs

the ground of whose relation to their objects is an imputed character,589

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