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The importance of the interpretant for Peirce is that signification is not a simple dyadic relationship between sign and object: a sign signifies only in being interpreted.
As he himself said, “[…] it has never been in my power to study anything,—mathematics, ethics, metaphysics, gravitation, thermodynamics, optics, chemistry, comparative anatomy, astronomy, psychology, phonetics, economics, the history of science, whist, men and women, wine, metrology, except as a study of semiotic” (SS 1977, 85–6).
Peirce also treated sign theory as central to his work on logic, as the medium for inquiry and the process of scientific discovery, and even as one possible means for 'proving' his pragmatism.
The following entry examines these three accounts, and traces the changes that led Peirce to develop earlier accounts and generate new, more complex, sign theories.
However, despite these changes, Peirce's ideas on the basic structure of signs and signification remain largely uniform throughout his developments.
Not every characteristic of the molehill plays a part in signifying the presence of moles.
Pierce Essays In The Philosophy Of Science Essay About Your Life
The color of the molehill plays a secondary role since it will vary according to the soil from which it is composed.
The idea is that the object imposes certain parameters that a sign must fall within if it is to represent that object.
However, only certain characteristics of an object are relevant to this process of determination.
Strictly speaking, for Peirce, we are interested in the , and it is not the sign as a whole that signifies.
In speaking of the sign as the signifying element, then, he is more properly speaking of the sign refined to those elements most crucial to its functioning as a signifier.