Final interpretant (aspect)

The final interpretant is “the manner in which the sign tends to represent it to be related to its Object” (CP 4.536), that is, it is the sign itself projected in that future. It is that thing the sign will be transformed into in the final opinion. In other words, it is the purpose the sign should fulfill through its long way, (Johansen apud Santaella, 2000, p. 85). That is the reason for placing the final interpretant on the telic axis of the Signification – and not on the axis of the Interpretation – as in the case of the immediate and dynamic interpretants. Many commentators have disregarded this aspect. They affirm that the final interpretant is the end to which a series of dynamic interpretants tend. But this is an undue reduction of the conditional (and inexhaustible) characteristic of the final interpretant to a finite number of dynamic interpretants. Actually, Peirce himself confessed that his conception of the third interpretant “was not completely free from mist” (CP 4.536). Nevertheless, in a letter to Welby of 1909, he affirms emphatically the conditional nature of the final interpretant: “My Final Interpretant is the one Interpretative result to which every Interpreter is destined to come if the sign is sufficiently considered. (….) The Final Interpretant is that towards which the actual tends (SS, p. 111 apud Santaella, 2000, p. 74). As the other two interpretants, the final interpretant can be trichotomized too; it may be a destined quality (Emotional Final Interpretant), a destined existent (Energetic Final Interpretant) or a destined law (Logics Final Interpretant). If it is a quality, the sign will be a pure quality or some form of degenerated quality in the final opinion; if it is an existent, the sign will be either a sinsign or a degeneration of a symbol into a replica. If it is a law, then the sign will necessary be a legisign.