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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 9 The Peircean Theory of Learning and Phenomenology


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The Peircean Theory of Learning and Phenomenology

This chapter explains how this semiotic approach to learning brings new insights to the phenomenological developments in education. I argue that semiotics, being coextensive with the phenomenological school, broadens the phenomenological research horizon, as well generally as particularly in education. The key to the new semiotic insights stands in semiotics’ specific concepts, those of sign and semiosis. Thus, I propose semiotics as a cosmological framework for phenomenology, where the phenomena populating the world are meaning phenomena, signs that is, cooperating in semiosic triads.

The phenomenological tradition set in motion by Edmund Husserl is coherent with Peircean semiotics, especially in what concerns learning, particularly because both of these schools assume a mereological (diagrammatic) structure of existence (see Chapter 6). Two epistemological developments were noted in the previous chapters: (1) that iconic turn semiotics is phenomenological (see present volume, Chapters 1 and 3 and also Stjernfelt in Bundgaard and Stjernfelt, and Stjernfelt 2007) and (2) that phenomenology is already an established approach to education (e.g. Peters 2009). I explain that semiotics’ recent phenomenological turn can generate a semiotic turn in phenomenology, as Peirce’s hypoicon (image, diagram, metaphor, see Chapter 2, Section D) concepts provide a rich apparatus for mereological analysis. Using Peirce’s schematic semiotics for mereological analysis implies identifying phenomena with meaning phenomena, that is signs. Moreover, I explain that the phenomenological approaches to education have developed positions close to Peirce’s agapistic principle of...

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