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Philosophy of Education in the Semiotics of Charles Peirce

A Cosmology of Learning and Loving

Alin Olteanu

This book investigates the philosophy of education implicit in the semiotics of Charles Peirce. It is commonly accepted that the acts of learning and teaching imply affection of some sort, and Charles Peirce’s evolutionary semiotics thoroughly explains learning as an act of love. According to Peirce, we evolved to learn and to love; learning from other people has proved to be one of the best ways to carry out our infinite pursuit of truth, since love is the very characteristic of truth. As such, the teacher and the student practise love in their relation with one another.
Grounded within an edusemiotics framework and also exploring the iconic turn in semiotics and recent developments in biosemiotics, this is the first book-length study of Peirce’s contribution to the philosophy of education.
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Chapter 3 Semiotics as Pragmatic Logic


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Semiotics as Pragmatic Logic

In the previous two chapters I explained the conceptual apparatus that this book uses to develop a semiotic theory of learning, namely some key concepts in Peirce’s semiotics and its background. It became apparent that Peirce’s pragmaticism is different from the more popular pragmatism of William James and John Dewey. In this chapter I will explain the authenticity of Peirce’s pragmaticism and its particular significance for education. The accounts of pragmatism that have been mostly used to approach education have not developed semiotics. While semiotics is being applied to education (see Chapter 1) there still is no thoroughly pragmatic semiotics of education. A Peircean Theory of Learning is a pragmatic semiotic educational philosophy.

I will explain that the main reason for the broader horizon of pragmaticism over pragmatism in education consists in the account of experience as semiosis. However, between these two accounts there are some essential similarities, after all Dewey and James inherited their idea of pragmatic philosophy directly from Peirce and supposed, perhaps until Peirce signalized the difference, that Peirce’s doctrine is the same as theirs. It was pragmatism, in conformity to a large extent to Peirce’s doctrine, but still different in some aspects, that gave the proper ground for Dewey’s experience based philosophy of education.

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