Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 5, No 2 (2009)

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Meaning and Abduction as Process-Structure: A Diagram of Reasoning

Inna Semetsky


This paper is informed by Charles Sanders Peirce’s philosophy as semiotics or the doctrine of signs. The paper’s purpose is to explore Peirce’s category of abduction as not being limited to the inference to the best explanation. In the context of the logic of discovery, abduction is posited as a necessary although not sufficient condition for the production of meanings. The structure of a genuine sign is triadic and represents a synthesis between precognitive ideas and conceptual representations. The novel model of reasoning is offered, based on the mathematical formalism borrowed from Gauss’ interpretation of the complex number. It is suggested that this model in a form of a diagram not only represents a semiotic process-structure but also overcomes the long-standing paradox of new knowledge. For Peirce, it is a diagram as a visual representation that may yield solutions to the otherwise unsolvable logical problems. What appears to us as a paradox is the very presence of abductive, or hypothetical, inference, as Peircean generic category of Firstness within the Thirdness of the total thought-process. Firstness (feeling), Secondness (action), and Thirdness (reason) together constitute a dynamic structure of experience.

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