Peirce's Approach to the Self

A Semiotic Perspective on Human Subjectivity

By Vincent M. Colapietro

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887068836, 165 pages, December 1988
Hardcover : 9780887068829, 165 pages, December 1988

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Based on a careful study of his unpublished manuscripts as well as his published work, this book explores Peirce's general theory of signs and the way in which Peirce himself used this theory to understand subjectivity. Peirce's views are presented, not only in reference to important historical (James, Saussure) and contemporary (Eco, Kristeva) figures, but also in reference to some of the central controversies regarding signs. Colapietro adopts as a strategy of interpretation Peirce's own view that ideas become clarified only in the course of debate.

Vincent M. Colapietro is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Mary's College. He twice received the Douglas Greenlee Award for papers accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, and Chapter Five of this book received the first Charles Sanders Peirce Award from the Peirce Society. He has also received the John William Miller Essay Prize.


"A new and, in some ways, daring interpretation of an aspect of Peirce's thought. Colapietro's view may be found controversial, but he supports it extremely well with reference to unpublished manuscripts as well as more familiar texts. His knowledge of Peirce is impressive and I find his arguments persuasive. He treads his way through the voluminous Peirceian corpus in a masterly way. He sets into relief elements of Peirce's thought that others have not recognized or have even denied, especially his understanding and appreciation of inner reflection and imagination, which Colapietro shows to be compatible with Peirce's rejection of subjectivism and his insistence upon the social nature of the self. As interpreted here, the Peirceian alternative to the Cartesian view of the self, making communication rather than subjectivity the essence of out being and our identity, is convincing and provocative. "  Beth J. Singer, Brooklyn College, CUNY