The Semiotic Stance

This essay argues that the pervasive twentieth century understanding of meaning--a sign stands for an object--is incorrect. In its place, it offers the following definition, which is framed not in terms of a single relation (of standing for), but in terms of a relation (of correspondence) between two relations (of standing for): a sign stands for its object on the one hand, and its interpretant on the other, in such a way as to make the interpretant stand in relation to the object corresponding to its own relation to the object. Using this definition, it reanalyzes key concepts and foundational arguments from linguistics so far as they relate to anthropology and psychology. Such terms include: concept, intentional state, motivation, ground, iconicity, speech community, norm, performativity, joint-attention, embodiment, intersubjectivity, agency, role, functionalism, pragmatics, social construction, realism, and natural language.