Focus on these key terms allows Deledalle to expound the general features and

terminology of Peirce’s semiotic. A representamen is the sign object: it can function as a

symbol (a general sign acting in a repertory of signs), an index, or icon (likeness to

objects); yet its function as a sign can only be analyzed in the process of semiosis

through a relational act that produces an interpretant effect (38-39). Through semiosis natural or

dynamical objects are transformed into immediate objects: the potential of transforming any

object or stimulus to become part of semiosis, to change from dynamic to immediate object,

led Peirce to argue the whole universe “is perfused with signs, if it is not composed

exclusively of signs” (5.448).

Deledalle notes the semiosis of Peirce’s own ideas, which results in a kind of

“terminological laxity” (42) in the progressive development of a key term like

representamen. This term seems to change from a Kantian mental image or idea, to an

aspect of the process of semiosis, of the mind in the world and thought in action. In the

latter it is a “written, gestural or spoken sign” (43) participating in a continuous, temporal

discourse of a community (51). Deledalle traces a move from mentalist to sociological

concepts of truth and epistemology. Peirce sees a “regressus ad infinitum” in the interplay

of sign act, object and interpretant that is discursive and communicative in effect. Peirce

moves from singular acts of indexicality to a composite discursive account of truth and

mind. The result provides, in a semiotic model, a theory of mind and cognition that “all

thought is in signs” outside of mental signs (43).

There is a fascinating sub-section here on “Semiosis and Time” (50-53) suggesting

temporality as a factor essential to a pragmatic account of semiosis. Temporality involves

more than chronology, but was conceived by Peirce, we know, in terms of synechism or

continuity, as well as the discontinuity of Seconds. Deledalle stresses that the “continuous

temporal process” involved in any semiosis-structural analysis of representamen divorced

from the nuanced “existential” or “instantiated” context of spatial temporal relations, seems

almost impossible in Peircean terms. The temporal process can be understood in

infinitesimal intervals of particular movement, or in long discursive tropes of an expanded

community. Once again, it is the concision of this section that brings forth its own critique:

the topic it introduces is important enough to beg expansion. Gilles Deleuze (1986: 1-11)

has argued against the synchronous nature of structural semiotics, and that any

contemporary revisionist theory needs to be diachronic, and focus on the moving image

conceived in a temporal sequence. A comparative study of Deleuze and Peirce could help

elaborate the topic of temporality and semiosis.

In “Sign: The Concept and Its Use,” Deledalle provides close exegesis of the term

representamen, thus further illustrating the aim of providing a contextualized study of

Peirce’s thought. Through Deledalle’s focus on the etymological shifts of the term, we can

see how Peirce expounds, within a semiotic frame, notions of indexicality, context and

action that remain crucial to behavioral semiotics.

Part Three is the longest section of the book. It comprises eight papers,

commencing with an occasional reply to a fellow semiotician, Jerzy Pelc, that was

previously unpublished. This is followed by an exegesis of Peirce in terms of his reading of

Greek philosophy. “Semiotic and Significs” discusses Peirce’s mature correspondence with

the English linguist Lady Welby, and essays on De Saussure, Morris, Jakobson and

Wittgenstein follow. An unusual inclusion addresses the semiotic potential of Marshall

McLuhan’s writing on mass media, and seeks to commence what is claimed as a semiotic

of media.

The papers of Part Three have a valuable goal: to approach the comprehensive and

divergent writings of Peirce in terms of their reception by or comparison with that of other

philosophers. It is an innovative and useful approach in which themes of the preceding

Parts are dispersed, repeated and elaborated. The paper on De Saussure seems entirely

satisfying and helpful, with a detailed focused approach to a question that is often put:

how similar or different are “the a priori conditions” of Peirce’s and De Saussure’s thinking?

(100) Can Peirce’s Representamen be equated with De Saussure’s signifier? Detailed

comparisons are presented in tabulated lists. In conclusion, the social basis of sign theory

is acknowledged: nevertheless, Deledalle sees a psychologism in De Saussure that can be

contrasted with Peirce’s anti-psychologist behaviorism. The triadic dynamic of Peirce’s

schema cannot be reduced to De Saussure’s mentalist-based dyadic model. The paper

ends with a useful, diagrammatic attempt to map De Saussure within a more inclusive and

comprehensive Peircean schema.

The controversial topic of the use of Peirce by Charles Morris, and comparison of his

behaviorism and the semiotic behaviorism of Peirce, are directly addressed in “Peirce and

Morris.” The differentiation of physiology and natural signs, and human signs and

language, has been an issue in all branches of modern semiotics. Inquiry into corporeal

and facial signs and gestures has been too readily classified as physiological, rather than

classified according to a suitable repertoire or theory of sign types. Can one suggest that a

comparison of the behaviorism of Morris, and his mentor Peirce, might provide more

illumination about the boundary of natural and social signs, and corporeal behavior

generally, than the current fashion for biosemiotics?

Critical analysis of Jakobson’s appropriation of Peirce follows the discussion of

Morris, and then comparison between analytic themes of Wittgenstein, Frege and Peirce.

Once again, the strategy of employing such critical comparative readings seems

successful, and limited only by their length. One always wants more, much more, principally

because such comparison is a useful, indeed necessary way to expound Peirce in the

context of a history of ideas. Can one truly specialize in Peirce without regard for his place

in the crowded and competing fields of modern philosophy and semiotics? Undoubtedly

such comparative study will need to be based on a coherent reading of Peirce, something

that Deledalle provides in Part Two.