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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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A. The main argument

This monograph advances a theory of learning grounded in the semiotics of Charles S. Peirce. It develops a teleological semiotic view of education, thus approaching learning and education in terms of signification phenomena. On the grounds of Peirce’s pragmaticism and his semiotic terminology, the theory is a thoroughly philosophical expression of the critical common-sense opinion that only love is a purpose in itself. One of the central assumptions is that any growth can only be a going out of the self (an ecstasy). As such, the self has to focus on a non-self, on the other, in order to evolve. Therefore, to expand a self’s knowledge by learning is to go out of the self, towards the other, towards the knowledge of the other and her intention of sharing her knowledge. Teaching is characterized by the same movement: going out of the self, reaching for the other’s knowledge with the intention of giving, of offering, whatever the self has to offer (be it second degree equations, Kantian deontology, information about the weather, or chocolate). As such, learning, education, research and all other human endeavours are justified by and have solely this rationale: to fulfil the principle of love. The main argument is that learning, as well generally as in educational contexts, is only possible as a manifestation of love. This is supported on the ground that learning can only occur freely, being a phenomenon of discovery of similarities, and love is characterized...

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