Meaning, Motivation, and Mind

This essay takes up the concerns of Vygotsky using the categories of Peirce; and it uses these concerns and categories to re-map some of the terrain explored by analytic philosophy and cognitive science. In particular, the central concern is the flexibility of cognitive processes, as created by the interplay of tool and symbol, and as constituting of the relation between organism and environment. The central categories are object, sign and interpretant (qua meaning or 'symbol') and agent, means and ends (qua motivation or 'tool'). And the terrain to be re-mapped is intentionality, or the nature of mental states and speech acts (qua 'Mind'). Finally, this essay has a particular expository strategy: to capture the fundamental features of such cognitive processes, as objects, by using a relatively generative system of diagrammatic signs. All this, then, is a way of tackling human-specific modes of agency--loosely understood as the flexibility and intersubjectivity of cognitive processes underlying means-ends reasoning.