[-empyre-] C. S. Peirce and Code

The question is, in terms of Code and the potentials it brings about (as idea and code intermingle to provide the experience for the reader/participant) do we need to develop new language and approaches related to our understanding of digital Writing? Who best addresses this at this time?

I asked Marcus off list to talk about his ideas on Pierce and how they might be applied to our current subject. I wonder if he might answer here in more detail (although he is busy with the list itself).

Giselle may also want to talk about this.

Peirce defines Semiosis:

By Semiosis I mean an action, an influence, which is, or involves, a co-operation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in anyway resolvable into actions between pairs. (Peirce, 1931, p.484)


I will often return to Peirce's definition of the sign, because it is sufficiently open and all of my media-elements can be considered as signs in terms of this definition:

A sign [or representation] stands for something to the idea which it produces, or modifies. Or, it is a vehicle conveying into the mind something from without. That for which it stands is called its object; that which it conveys, its meaning; and the idea to which it gives rise, its interpretant. (Peirce, 1931, p.171)

Peirce points toward part of the problem:

But an endless series of representations, each representing the one behind it, may be conceived to have an absolute object at its limit. The meaning of a representation can be nothing but a representation. In fact it is nothing but the representation itself conceived as stripped of irrelevant clothing. But this clothing never can be completely stripped off; it is only changed for some more diaphanous. So there is an infinite regression here. Finally, the interpretant is nothing but another representation to which the torch of truth is handed along; and as representation, it has its interpretant again. Lo, another infinite series. (Peirce, 1931, p.171)

PEIRCE, C. 1931. Collected Papers, Volume I-VIII. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
See also
PEIRCE, C. 1966. Selected Writings. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.


Professor Bill Seaman, Ph.D.
Department  Head
Digital+ Media Department (Graduate Division)
Rhode Island School of Design
Two College St.
Providence, R.I. 02903-4956
401 277 4956
fax 401 277 4966


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