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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 6 From Icon to Argument


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From Icon to Argument

In Chapter 2 I introduced Peirce’s sign typologies, including the concepts of Icon and Argument. In this chapter I explain why the Icon plays an essential role in learning and how learning can be defined as the passage from Icon to Argument. I consider that this is a broad, comprehensive account of learning which, unlike other attempts at definition, does not reduce the richness of the learning experience to the limitations of a theoretical framework. In the same time, while it does not narrow down learning, accounting for it in all its aspects, it is deeply insightful from the semiotic perspective.

The Icon has been presented as the sign which in its existential relation to the object presents a similarity (Chapter 2). This means that the Icon is the sign which signifies by means of similarity, a likeness that is. The phenomenon of signification occurring by similarity shall be referred as iconicity. The difference between Icon and iconicity is purely conceptual since the Icon, like any sign, is a phenomenon. In the present work the term iconicity refers to the general phenomenon and the term Icon shall refer to particular signification phenomena. An Icon can be analysed, while the sign’s iconicity can also be analysed. Even though it would not be conceptually wrong to discuss “a sign’s Icon” it would be somewhat strange and perhaps misleading, since the Icon is a sign type. Therefore the...

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