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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Berkeley the Semiotician

Once I had hoped to be a semiotician. But then I decided, what the heck, be a full otician! In any case, Berkeley's philosophy of science is remarkably Peirce-like; consider the following passages:
Now, these rules [of the arts and sciences] being general, it follows that they are not to be obtained by the mere consideration of the original ideas, or particular things, but by the means of marks and signs, which, being so far forth universal, become the immediate instruments and materials of science. It is not, therefore, by mere contemplation of particular things and much less of their abstract general ideas, that the mind makes her progress, but by an apposite choice and skillful management of signs...
If I mistake not, all sciences, so far as they are universal and demonstrable by human reason, will be found conversant about signs as their immediate object...
I am inclined to think the doctrine of signs a point of great importance and general extent, which, if duly considered, would cast no small light upon things and afford a just and genuine solution of many difficulties. -- Philosophical Writings, pp. 308-311

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