Peirce's Theory of Signs

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $47.53
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 20%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (5) from $47.53   
  • New (4) from $47.53   
  • Used (1) from $72.82   


In this book, T. L. Short corrects widespread misconceptions of Peirce's theory of signs and demonstrates its relevance to contemporary analytic philosophy of language, mind and science. Peirce's theory of mind, naturalistic but nonreductive, bears on debates of Fodor and Millikan, among others. His theory of inquiry avoids foundationalism and subjectivism, while his account of reference anticipated views of Kripke and Putnam. Peirce's realism falls between 'internal' and 'metaphysical' realism and is more satisfactory than either. His pragmatism is not verificationism; rather, it identifies meaning with potential growth of knowledge. Short distinguishes Peirce's mature theory of signs from his better-known but paradoxical early theory. He develops the mature theory systematically on the basis of Peirce's phenomenological categories and concept of final causation. The latter is distinguished from recent and similar views, such as Brandon's, and is shown to be grounded in forms of explanation adopted in modern science.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a major achievement, a singularly important work on Pierce's theory of signs and one of the most important works to ever be published on Peirce." - Journal of the History of Philosophy

"...his attempt to demonstrate the relevance of Peirce's semiotics in contemporary philosophical though hinges on a balanced interplay between convincing arguments and documented research. This book insightfully unravels the necessity of overcoming the contemporary philosophical tendency to 'atomize issues', and there is reason to believe that Short's comprehensive study will set the agenda for interesting future developments in Peircean scholarship." —Chiara Ambrosio, University College London: Philosophy in Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521108942
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/19/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

T. L. Short is Chairman of the Board of Advisors to the Peirce Edition Project (Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis). He has published broadly in the philosophy of science, conceptual change, teleology, and aspects of the philosophy of C. S. Peirce in journals such as The Monist, American Philosophical Quarterly, Grazer Philosophische Studien, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society as well as in Biology and Philosophy, Synthese, and Semiotica.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents



1 Antecedents and Alternatives 1

1 Peirce 1

2 Sources of Peirce's Semeiotic in Locke and Kant 2

3 Brentano on Intentionality 6

4 Chisholm, Quine, et al. on Intentionality 11

5 Saussure's Semiology 16

6 Aristotle, the Stoics, St. Augustine 21

2 The Development of Peirce's Semeiotic 27

1 1865-1866: Thoughts as Representations 28

2 1867: The 'New List' 31

3 1868-1869: Thought-signs 32

4 1859-1877: Nominalism versus Realism 36

5 Three Flaws in the 1868-1869 Doctrine of Thought-signs 42

6 Derrida et cie 45

7 1877-1885: The First Flaw Corrected 46

8 After 1885: Consequences of the Foregoing 51

9 1903: The Second Flaw Corrected 53

20 1907: The Last Flaw Corrected 56

3 Phaneroscopy 60

1 The 1902 Architectonic 61

2 The Phaneron and Phaneroscopic Method 66

3 The Language of Phaneroscopy 71

4 1stness and 2ndness 75

5 Two Forms of Generality 78

6 The Experience of Continuity 80

7 The Experience of Causing 82

8 3rdness 84

9 The Categories Interpreted Metaphysically 86

10 The System of Categories 89

4 A Preface to Final Causation 91

1 Strange Objects of Desire 92

2 What Is Mechanical? 94

3 Teleology's Locus Classicus 98

4 A Budget of Errors 103

5 Hume's Ghost 105

6 Ordinary Purposes 108

7 The Mysterious Case of the Surplus Body 112

5 Final Causation 117

1 Explanation in Statistical Mechanics 117

2 Reflections on the Preceding 124

3 Natural Selection 128

4 Evolution and Entropy 133

5 Peirce's Concept of Final Causation 136

6 Comparison to Recent Views 139

7 Purpose's Realm 144

6 Significance 151

1 Teleology as Conjectural and Empirical 152

2 Valuationas Teleological 153

3 'Interpret' Defined 156

4 'Sign' Defined 159

5 'Significance' Defined 162

6 The Breadth of These Definitions 162

7 Peirce's Definitions of 'Sign' 164

8 Peirce's 1907 View 168

9 Significance and Purpose 172

10 Intentionality Explained 174

7 Objects and Interpretants 178

1 Much Groping, No Conclusion 180

2 Immediate, Dynamic, and Final Interpretants 187

3 Immediate and Dynamic Objects 191

4 Peirce's Realism 196

5 Emotional, Energetic, and Logical Interpretants 200

8 A Taxonomy of Signs 207

1 Qualisign, Sinsign, Legisign 208

2 Icon, Index, Symbol 214

3 Iconic, Indexical, and Symbolic Legisigns 222

4 A Common Error Corrected 225

5 Rheme, Dicisign, Argument 231

9 More Taxa 235

1 Principles of Semeiotic Taxonomy 235

2 Dicisigns and Assertion 242

3 Six Trichotomies 248

4 Ten Trichotomies 256

5 Where We Are Now 260

10 How Symbols Grow 263

1 Hypostatic Abstraction 264

2 The Hiddenness of Abstraction 270

3 A Very Virtuous Variety of Vagueness 274

4 Abstraction and Rigid Designation 276

5 Incommensurability and Meaning's 'Location' 279

6 Pragmatism and the Growth of Symbols 285

11 Semeiosis and the Mental 289

1 Contemporary Philosophy of Mind 291

2 Functionalism's Problem with Content 295

3 On Being Simple-minded 301

4 Beyond Biology 303

5 Consciousness and Subjectivity 311

12 The Structure of Objectivity 317

1 Antifoundationalism 318

2 Objectivity 323

3 Peirce's Concept of Science 326

4 A Fixation on Truth 330

5 How Theories Are Tested 333

6 Why Observe? 337

7 Realism, Not Relativism 341

8 How Aims Are Tested 344

9 Objectivity and Freedom 346

Bibliography 349

Name Index 361

Subject Index 365

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)