"... indispensable introduction to Peirce's semiotics." -- Teaching Philosophy
"Both for students new to Peirce and for the advanced student, this is an excellent and unique reference book. It should be available in libraries at all... colleges and universities." -- Choice
"The best and most balanced full account of Peirce's semiotic which contributes not only to semiotics but to philosophy. Liszka's book is the sourcebook for scholars in general." -- Nathan Houser
Although 19th-century philosopher and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce was a prolific writer, he never published his work on signs in any organized fashion, making it difficult to grasp the scope of his thought. In this book, Liszka presents a systematic and comprehensive acount of Peirce's theory, including the role of semiotic in the system of sciences, with a detailed analysis of its three main branches -- grammar, critical logic, and universal rhetoric.
In Charles S. Peirce: On Norms and Ideals, Potter argues that Peirce's doctrine of the normative sciences is essential to his pragmatism. No part of Peirce's philosophy is bolder than his attempt to establish esthetics, ethics, and logic as the three normative sciences and to argue for the priority of esthetics among the trio. Logic, Potter cites, is normative because it governs thought and aims at truth; ethics is normative because it analyzes the ends to which thought should be directed; esthetics is normative and fundamental because it considers what it means to be an end of something good in itself. This study shows that pierce took seriously the trinity of normative sciences and demonstrates that these categories apply both to the conduct of man and to the workings of the cosmos.
Professor Potter combines sympathetic and informed exposition with straightforward criticism and he deals in a sensible manner with the gaps and inconsistencies in Peirce's thought. His study shows that Peirce was above all a cosmological and ontological thinker, one who combined science both as a method and as result with a conception of reasonable actions to form a comprehensive theory of reality. Peirce's pragmatism, although it has to do with "action and the achievement of results, is not a glorification of action but rather a theory of the dynamic nature of things in which the "ideal" dimension of reality - laws, nature of things, tendencies, and ends - has genuine power for directing the cosmic order, including man, toward reasonable goals.
Merrell discusses Peirce's thought in relation to that of early twentieth-century philosophers such as Frege, Russell, and Quine, and contemporaries such as Goodman, Putnam, Davidson, and Rorty. In doing so, Merrell demonstrates how quests for meaning inevitably fall victim to vagueness in pursuit of generality, and how vagueness manifests an inevitable tinge of inconsistency, just as generalities always remain incomplete. He suggests that vagueness and incompleteness/generality, overdetermination and underdetermination, and Peirce's phenomenological categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness must be incorporated into notions of sign structure for a proper treatment of meaning. He also argues that the twentieth-century search for meaning has placed overbearing stress on language while ignoring nonlinguistic sign modes and means.
Peirce, Signs, and Meaning is an important sequel to Merrell's trilogy, Signs Becoming Signs', Semiosis in the Postmodern Age, and Signs Grow. This book is not only a significant contribution to the field of semiotics, it has much to offer scholars in literature, philosophy, linguistics, cultural studies, and other academic disciplines in which meaning is a central concern.