Representationism and Presentationism

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 43 (1):53-89 (2007)
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This article examines Peirce's semiotic philosophy and its development in the light of his characterisations of "representationism" and "presentationism". In his definitions of these positions, Peirce overtly pits the representationists, who treat percepts as representatives, against the presentationists, according to whom percepts do not stand for hidden realities. The article shows that Peirce's early writings—in particular the essay "On the Doctrine of Immediate Perception" and certain key texts from the period 1868–9—advocate an inferentialist approach clearly associated with representationism. However, although Peirce continues to deny the cognitive import of first impressions throughout his philosophical career, the new view of perception that emerges in the early 1900s indicates a significant move in the direction of a presentationist point of view, a development partly corresponding to changes in his theory of categories. The strongest evidence for this reading is found in Peirce's contention that the percept is not a sign. The discussion concludes with considerations of possible objections and alternatives to the proposed interpretation in addition to some reflections on the consequences and relevance of Peirce's turn toward presentationism.



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Mats Bergman
University of Helsinki

References found in this work

Putnam and the Relativist Menace.Richard Rorty - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (9):443-461.
9 The Development of Peirce's Theory of Signs.T. L. Short - 2004 - In C. J. Misak (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Peirce. Cambridge University Press. pp. 214.
A misunderstanding of Peirce's phenomenology.Joseph Ransdell - 1978 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (4):550-553.
The direct contextual realism theory of perception.John R. Shook - 2003 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 17 (4):245-258.
On some philosophical accounts of perception.George S. Pappas - 2003 - Journal of Philosophical Research 28 (Supplement):71-82.

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