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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 1, 2001

Lucia Santaella
Pages 49-61

"Matter as effete mind"
Peirce's synechistic ideas on the semiotic threshold

Following Peirce's broad concept of semiosis as a foundation of a field ofsrudy, the semiotics ofphysical nanrre, it is argued that we have to explore the interconnections of Peirce's semiotics with metaphysics. These interconnections will be analyzed in five steps: (I) Peirce's radical antidualism and evolutionism, implied in his synechistic ideas, (2) Peirce's semiotic statement that "all this universe is perfused with signs if it is not composed exclusively of signs" (CP 5.448, n.l), (3) Peirce's bold statement that "matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming physical laws" (CP 6.24), (4) his theory of final causation, which can only be properly understood in the light of semiosis, (5) his metaphysics and his methodeutics in relation to semiotics. The laws of nature are discovered by abductive inference revealing an affinity between the human mind and the designs of nature. Hence, the formal laws of thought are not simply laws of our minds but laws of the intelligibility of things.

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