Interpretant (correlate)

The need of an interpretant is the great difference of the Peircean semeiotic when compared to other theories that take into consideration only the relation sign-object. For Peirce, it is not possible to have meaning without the production by the sign of an interpretant that presents itself as another sign resulting from the action of the first. In other words, the object determines the interpretant only through the sign, but the sign has the power of determining the interpretant directly. The interpretation is an essential property of semeiosis, for the succession of interpretants guarantees the evolution of the sign towards a final truth, which is the movement of information and signification. eirce clearly distinguishes three types of interpretants, but there is a lot of controversy about their internal divisions. Some commentators, such as Fitzgerald (1966, p. 78), claim that only the dynamic interpretant should be trichotomized into emotional, energetic or logic. Short (1981, p. 213) believes that each of the three interpretants must be divided according to the three categories, producing a set of nine subtypes. Liszka (1996, p. 120), in his turn, affirms that the division emotional/energetic/logic is merely a terminological variation from immediate/dynamic/final and, therefore, the total number of possible interpretants of the sign should be kept to three. Our position aligns with Short’s because his proposal seems to us closer to Peirce’s own vision. In his late classificatory exercises, Peirce always put the three stages of interpretants (immediate, dynamic and final) among the ten trichotomies. In other words, Peirce always left implicit that each of the three interpretants should suffer internal triadic divisions. In fact, it would not be mathematically possible to come to 66 classes of signs using ten aspects and a rule or material implication if the three interpretants were not counted as aspects divisible as trichotomies according to the three categories.