12 Further Sign Definitions or Equivalent proposed by Alfred Lang

Psychology, Univ. Bern, Switzerland (lang@psy.unibe.ch)


All texts proposed by Alfred Lang are not, stricto sensu, definitions of the sign; however they present aspects that relate closely to them. They confirm in all cases analyzes that I have proposed to the continuation of 76 definitions.

[1] W1:307f. 1865 (An Unpsychological view of logic [...])

There are three aspects under which every phenomenon may be considered and which may be regarded also as three elements of the phenomenon. Every phenomenon is in the first place an image; so that it may be considered to be or to contain a representation. In the second place, the phenomenon may be objectified, or looked upon as a reality; in this way it is said to be or (more usually) to contain _matter_. For matter is that by virtue of which everything is. In the third place, the differences of its parts and its qualities may be considered, and in this point of view, it is said to be or (more usually) to contain _form_. For form is that by virtue of which anything is such as it is. [...] Corresponding, then, to internal representation we have a representation, in general, internal or external; which is a supposed thing standing for something else. Corresponding to the matter of phenomena we have the supposition of external realities or _things_; and corresponding to the matter of phenomena we have _qualities_. Of these, representation is not altogether hypothetical since we have at least something precisely similar in consciousness. _Things_ are legitimate hypotheses, as we shall see when we have developed the logic of hypothesis. _Qualities_ are fictions; for though it is true that roses are red, yet redness is nothing, but a fiction framed for the purpose of philosophizing; yet harmless so long as we remember that the scholastic realism it implies is false. When the element of quality is eliminated from _things_ by abstraction,; we have noumenal matter. When the connection with things is eliminated from qualities, we have Pure Forms. When the material and mental element is eliminated from representations we have Concepts or, as I prefer to say in order to avoid the apparent connection with the mind, Logoi. The three prescinced elements are fictions. The embodiment of a pure form in noumenal matter makes a thing with qualities. The realization of a pure form in the mind makes a mental representation. The embodiment of a pure form in a _logos_ united with noumenal matter gives an outward representation. The use of these phrases is to formulate the analysis of a thing, a thougth, and a representation into three several elements on the one side and one common element on the other.

The relevancy of this analysis consists in this, that if logic deals with the form of thought, it can be studied just as well in external as in internal representations, while by so doing we shall avoid all possible entanglement in the meshes of psychological controversy. Logic then deals with representations. But not with all kinds of representations.

Representations are of three sorts.

1st _Marks_ [Indexes, AL], by which I mean such representations as denote without connoting. if the applicability of a representation to a thing depends upon a convention which establihed precisely what it should denote, it would be a _mark_. A proper name is an instance.

2nd _Analogues_, why which I mean such representations as connote without denoting. A picture for instance which is a representation (whether intentional or not) of whatever looks like, really resembles everything more or less, and so denotes nothing; althoughjwe may infer what was intended.

3rd _Symbols_, by which I mean such representation as denote by connoting. Of these three kinds of representations logic evidently refers only to the last, taking account of signs and analogues only when their laws happen to coincide with those of symbols or when combinations of symbols produces non-denotative or non-connotative representations.

[2] W1:311f. 1865 An unpsychological view of logic [...], 2nd version

What else is a thing but that which a _perception_ or _sign_ stands for? To say that a quality is denoted is to say it is a thing. And this gives a hint of the veritable nature of such terms. They were framed at a time when all men were realists in the scholastic sense and consequently things were meant by them, entities which had not quality but that expressed by the word. They, therefore, must denote these things and connote the qualities they relate to.

[2'] And similarly, in a somewhat changed form, less explicitly semiotically, in another version of the same title: W1:313f. 1865, 2nd version]

[3] W1:490-504, 1866, Lowell Lecture XI, most of it, but with omission, also in CP 7.579-596 [The lecture is sort of studies for Some Consequences of the Four Incapacities and related papers and quite extensely deal with semiotic topics such as the true analogy between man and word and so of signs, symbols, things, meaning, stories etc.]

[4] Robin 404 1893 (Grand Logic -- The art of reasoning. Chapter II. What is a sign?) [Selected parts of it appear in CP 2.281, 2.285, 2.297-302 and a complete German translation is in Kloesel & Pape, Semiotische Schriften, Vol. 1:191-201. This text presents Similies, Indices and Symbols and their role in reasoning.]

[5] CP 2.302 1895? The art of reasoning, Ch. 2

Symbols grow. They come into being by development out of other signs, particularly from icons, or from mixed signs partaking of the nature of icons and symbols. We think only in signs. These mental signs are of mixed nature; the symbol-parts of them are called concepts. If a man makes a new symbol, it is by thoughts involving concepts. So it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow. _Omne symbolum de symbolo_. A symbol, once in being, spreads among the peoples. In use and in experience, its meaning grows. Such words as _force, law, wealth, marriage_, bear for us very different meanings from those they bore to our barbarous ancestors. The symbol may, with Emerson's sphynx, say to man, Of thine eye I am eyebeam.

[6] CP 3.433 1896.10

The regenerated logic When an assertion is made, there really is some speaker, writer, or other signmaker who delivers it; and he supposes there is, or will be, some hearer, reader, or other interpreter who will receive it. It may be a stranger upon a different planet, an aeon later; or it may be that very same man as he will be a second alter. In any case, the deliverer makes signals to the receiver. Some of these signs (or at least one of them) are supposed to excite in the mind of the receiver familiar images, pictures, or, we might almost say, dreams -- that is, reminiscences of sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells, or other sensations, now quite detached from the original circumstances of their first occurrence, so that they are free to be attached to new occasions. The deliverer is able to call up these images at will (with more or less effort) in his own mind; and he supposes the receiver can do the same.

[7] L75:235-237 draft D, 1902 Carnegie Application

I define logic very broadly as the tudy of the formal laws of signs, or formal semiotic. I define a sign as something, A, which brings something, B, its interpretant sign determined or created by it, into the same sort of correspondence with something, C, its object, as that in which itself stands to C. In this definition I make no more reference to anything like the human mind than I do when I define a line as the place within which a particle lies during a lapse of time. At the same time, by virtue of this definition, has some sort of meaning. That is implied in correspondence. Now meaning is mind in the logical sense.

[8] L107 1904.10.26 (Letter to M.M. Curtis [a philosophical autobiography of 25pp.)

Every sign is in a triadic relation to an object and to an interpretant, which is brought by the sign into a relation to the object similar to the sign's relation to the object.

[9] CP 8.225n10 1904.07 [Draft probably of a letter probably to Paul Carus]

No sign can function as such except so far as it is interpreted in another sign (for example, in a "thought," whatever that may be). Consequently it is absolutely essential to a sign that it should _affect_ another sign. In using this causal word, 'affect,' I do not refer to invariable accompaniment or sequence, merely, or necessarily. What I mean is that when there is a sign there _will be_ an interpretation in another sign. The essence of the relation is in the conditional futurity; but it is not essential that there should be absolutely no exception. If, for example, in the 'long run' (that is, in an endless series of experiences taken in their experiential order) there WOULD BE as many cases of interpreted signs as of signs, I should say that this 'would be' constitutes a causal relation, even though there were, as there might be, an infinite number of exceptions. If the exceptions are, as they occur, as many or nearly as many as the cases of following the rule, the causality would be in my terminology 'very weak.' But if there is any WOULD BE at all, there is more or less causation; for that is all I mean by causation.

[10] CP 5.554 1906 The basis of pragmaticism (Robin 283)

There must be an action of the object upon the sign to render the latter true. Without that, the object is not the representamen's object. [] So, then, a sign, in order to fulfill its office, to actualize its potency, must be compelled by its object. This is evidently the reason of the dichotomy between the true and the false. For it takes two to make a quarrel, and a compulsion involves as large a dose of quarrel as is requisite to make it quite impossible that there should be compulsion withouth resistance.

[11] CP 5.484 ,1907 (Robin 318, Pragmatism)

But by "semiosis" I mean, on the contrary, an action, or influence, which is, or involves, a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs. <<Semeiosis [Greek letters]>> in Greek of the Roman period, as early as Cicero's time, if I remember rightly, meant the action of almost any kind of sign; and my definition confers on anything that so acts the title of a "sign.")

[12] MS 278 1909

There are three kinds of interest we may take in a thing. First we may have a primary interest in it for itself. Second, we may have a secondary interest in it, on account of its reactions with other things. Third, we may have a mediatory interest in it, in so far as it conveys to a mind an idea about a thing. In so far as it does this, it is a sign; or representamen. (MS 278, p. 34; 1909)