Publication details [#13891]

Sonesson, Göran. 2013. The Natural History of Branching: Approaches to the Phenomenology of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. Signs and Society 1 (2) : 297–326. 30 pp.


Adopting a hermeneutical standpoint according to which the addresser always set a task of interpretation for the addressee, rather than simply transferring an artifact, the paper proposes a reconsideration of Peirce’ categories of Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness and more generally of Peirce’s phenomenological semiotics. In pursuing this goal, the author starts out from a comparison between Peircean pheonomenological semiotics and Husserlian phenomenology, and sees in the first an instance of the latter, with the difference that, unlike Husserl, Peirce claimed that all phenomena may fall into a “short list” of three categories, in which each category may be assigned a special type of content. The paper argued that, while this division may not have the general validity claimed by Peirce, it offers enlightenment concerning the domain of communication. Finally, the sub-divisions of the iconic sign - the hypo-icons - are presented and the consequences of Peircean distinction between diagrams and metaphors for the contemporary debates in metaphorology are discussed.