Gérard Deledalle, Charles S. Peirce’s Philosophy of Signs. Essays in Comparative
Semiotics. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000.
Reviewed by Geoffrey Sykes
For the past four decades Gérard Deledalle has been the main
exponent of American philosophy in France. Books such as La
Philosophie Américaine and À la Recherche d’une Méthode have become widely
known and circulated. Much of his exposition has been centred at l’Université
de Perpignan, in southwestern France, in regular weekly seminars that ran
for over 25 years until his retirement. Commencing with his personal association
with John Dewey, Deledalle’s scholarship, including several publications on
Peirce, would seem to run counter to postwar French interest in structural and
Marxist semiotics, and philosophical traditions. Yet it is part of his professional
achievement not only to represent pragmatism as a minority, mainly American
influence, in France, but through its advocacy to help question and overcome
stereotypical divisions between European and American thought. Through
personal and professional contacts, he has introduced the work of James, Dewey
and Peirce, and pragmatism generally, to thinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze and Lacan.
Such introductions, and the consequent influence of pragmatism on post-structural French
thinking, cannot be underestimated, and testify to Deledalle’s role in modern French
philosophy and semiotic theory.