Power, action, signs: Between Peirce and Foucault

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42 (3):347-366 (2006)
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Abstract

: This paper argues that pragmatists must be more cognizant of the concept of "power" and its consequences. To demonstrate this, I show how Foucault's analytics of power can be brought into Peirce's theory of signs. Central to both philosophers is the role of action. Using the concept of action, I explain that Foucault's conception of power, action on actions, can be understood as structuring Peircian habits, which are rules for action. From here I build out to Peirce's semiotics, illustrating how power channels the meanings of signs in certain directions. The rest of the paper is dedicated to reconstructing in light of Foucault Peirce's claim that the subject is nothing more than the signs it uses. I argue that any understanding of the subject must account for the subject being distributed through a field of power. The paper concludes by proposing a new "philosophy of the subject" which seeks to reconcile Foucault's concerns with those of pragmatism

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