Peirce on Complexity

In Schmitz Walter (ed.), Proceedings of the 7th International Congress of the IASS-AIS (2001)
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In a world of ever growing specialization, the issue of complexity attracts a good amount of attention from cross-disciplinary points of view as this Congress provides evidence. Charles S. Peirce's thought may help us not only to shoulder once again philosophical responsibility which has been largely abdicated by much of 20th century philosophy, but also to tackle some of the most stubborn contemporary problems. The founder of pragmatism identified one century ago most of these problems, and he also mapped out some paths that we could follow to overcome the poverty of contemporary scientistic reductionism. One of these paths is related with the issue of complexity, that lies at the heart of all his conception. Along this line, the aim of my paper is to describe what Peirce can teach about complexity to semioticians coming from very different scientific backgrounds. The lecture will be divided in three sections: 1) a presentation of Peirce, stressing his personal authority as a scientist philosopher, providing also some biographical details; 2) the theory of categories as the heart of complexity according to Peirce and, finally, 3) some consequences of Peirce's notion of complexity in relation with abduction and creativity, semiosis, cross-disciplinarity and communication.
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