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Applied Interdisciplinary Peirce Studies


Edited By Elize Bisanz

The volume focuses on the application of Peirce’s semeiotic as a methodological tool to establish a common field for interdisciplinary research. Contributors from the fields of biology, architecture, logic, esthetics and neuroscience, among others, work on diverse research problems, unified by the idea of transcending the dyadic limitations of disciplinary restrictions and applying Peirce’s triadic method, and the structure and process of sign relations of the particular problem that has to be solved. The result is an invigorating example of methodological plasticity wherein the reader acquires an understanding of scientific observation within the complex universe of semeiosis relations.

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Peirce’s Root Metaphor within his Experimental Study of Semeiosis (Kenneth Laine Ketner)


Kenneth Laine Ketner

Peirce’s Root Metaphor within his Experimental Study of Semeiosis

Peirce proposed that semeiosis is a natural phenomenon, as real as potential energy or magnetic fields or chemical processes. His study of that real natural phenomenon he labeled Semeiotic—Max Fisch’s essay (1986, 321–355) is definitive on this point. Peirce’s semeiotic, then, is the scientific study of such Semeioses. That comment is parallel to similar remarks such as: “Physics studies magnetic fields” or “Mathematics studies relational structures and processes.” Because semeioses are real, we do not create them—we do make guesses about their nature that are then objectively tested by means of experiments within the zone of reality in which the guess is relevant.

Stephen Coburn Pepper (1942, 84 f.) was an insightful thinker of the mid-twentieth century who proposed a guiding principle that he designated as root metaphor. It is a tool useful for comprehending large-scale hypotheses, which, within various disciplines, are also known as theories. A root metaphor offers a guiding analogy tentatively useful in the process of abduction through which one makes guesses that can be tested using objective techniques. Did Peirce employ such a probing tool? I think he did and suggest that his guiding analogy was Scientific Experimentation (see Scott 2006).

If indeed experimentation is Peirce’s root metaphor, he explored it deeply in what has been called his System of Science (see Peirce 2009 [1891 f.], 45–56). I will attempt to outline...

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