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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 8 Agapic Learning

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CHAPTER 8

Agapic Learning

Science has been presented as a result and stage of evolution (Chapter 1) having as a main symptom an incessant state of metabolism growth (CP 1.232 in Chapter 4). Following this understanding of science I here explain that according to Peirce any growth, of which science is one of the best examples, is only possible due to self-giving love for the other. This conclusion is the immediate result of applying Peirce’s theory of evolution to education. Peirce’s theory of evolution has to be the ground for a Peircean Theory of Learning, since learning is understood as growth (evolution) per excellence.

Peirce did not develop a theory of strictly biological evolution, but generally of cosmological evolution. As such, the principles of cosmological evolution are continuously inherited in biological and cultural evolution. Also, this evolution does not imply a transition from “lesser” life forms to “better” ones, but an evolution of signification, an expansion of the web of signs. As a growth of signification, evolution is not mono-directional and arborescent, but it is circular (or spherical) spreading in an infinity of directions (using Deleuze’s term, evolution is rhizomatic). A less evolved species is not by any means worse than a more evolved one; it is simply different. More evolved is, actually, a clumsy way of expressing an evolution of signification that is closer to the Argument; nevertheless, it is still, at all times, infinitely distant from grasping Truth in...

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