Unlimited Semiosis and the Self

In learning a foreign language, there comes a weird point where you find that you haven't been translating your new language into your old one, and you may find yourself thinking, "How, then, do I understand what is being said?"

Good question, and one that applies just as much to your first language. It is very strange that anyone ever seriously forwarded the idea that all thinking is in words, because it is obvious that the words themselves must be understood, and one can only do that with other words to a limit, without entering into Peirce's "unlimited semiosis." At some point what one needs is not another word but Frege's Sinn, or the idea behind the word.

And at that point we get a little glimpse at the mystery of what we really are.


  1. Anonymous4:17 AM

    It is generally accepted in the field of linguistics that most thoughts are in not only in words, but also mental images. In fact, most of my own thoughts when attempting to learn a new things come in the form of words being packaged into a mental image, depending upon the subject. Oftentimes, when one concept is similar to another, it will be packaged into the mental image that most closely associates with that concept.

    This has helped me in explaining why I cannot quote effectively, and why when I explain certain concepts, I cannot explain it in its original form, but rather as an internalized version of my own making. It also explains why I can score very highly on multiple choice questions, even if I haven't studied the material in question (I will often see a color and/or shape in my mind when reading the choice that best fits my mental categorization of the material).

    Then again, I am also mildly synesthetic.


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