Hegel and the Peircean ‘object’

Keywords: sign structure, Peirce, Hegel, Leibniz, object, concept


Peirce’s semiotics is well known for advocating a triadic, rather than a dyadic, sign structure, but interpretations of how such a structure works in practice have varied considerably. This paper argues that the Peircean ‘object’ is central to understanding Peirce’s philosophical intent and that this element should be construed as a mediating element within the sign rather than as an originating source of it. This interpretation resonates with the fundamentally anti-dualist character of Peirce’s philosophy and it creates potential convergences with the medieval philosophy of Duns Scotus – which was so influential in Peirce’s thinking. Moreover, construal of the ‘object’ as a mediating entity within the sign highlights important parallels with Hegelian thought and the role of the ‘essence’ in the latter’s dialectics. It is argued, indeed, that Peirce’s triadic template for the sign has strong Hegelian roots. This substantially repositions Peirce’s semiotics; it becomes, as in Hegel’s dialectics, an account of concept formation. The over-arching framework in which this takes place, however, retains an adherence to Peirce’s empiricist background and so avoids the reliance on logic which is the defining characteristic of Hegel’s dialectical method.


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Author Biography

Chris Barnham



How to Cite
Barnham, C. (2020). Hegel and the Peircean ‘object’. Sign Systems Studies, 48(1), 101-124. https://doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2020.48.1.06