Metaphor

Thirdness doubly degenerated in the Second Correlate originates the Metaphor. All types of mental association, as comparisons, are Metaphors. These signs are, therefore, the first moment of any mental representation, since pure Icons and Indexes can only exist in reference to their ground but never in reference to a correlate. In fact, in the New List Peirce affirms, “the occasion of the reference to a Correlate is obviously by comparison” (EP1: 5). Metaphors play a much more important role in logic than it is normally supposed. Maybe they could even be considered the lost bond between semiotic and phenomenology, capable of unifying both of them. This seemed to be Peirce’s opinion when he insisted on the metaphoric aspects grounding semiosis (MS 283. The Metaphor divides its nature between the Symbol and the Icon. On the one hand, it depends on a habit, familiarity or conventionality (brought by the Symbol) and, on the other hand, depends on a qualitative representation of the object (brought by the Icon). Hence, a Metaphor is the quality or possibility of a general predicate. The Metaphor delivers to the Interpreter possible Information in the form of Connotation. This is Peirce’s mature definition for Diagram, too: a hypothetical or merely possible representation of general relations present among objects of a proposition. Metaphors, Diagrams and Images are fundamentally the same thing – associative representations – and Peirce came to group them under the term Hypoicons (CP 2.277). Metaphors enable abductive inferences and have an important role in the Perception, for they participate in the synthesis of the multitude of perceptive impressions into an idea. They are, in fact, the “image” created by the Perceptual Universe (CP 4.539 Fn 2) that we have already discussed in the chapter about the Theory of Perception. Note that the Symbol degenerated in a Metaphor does not have to be necessarily a conscious convention; it can be any law of probability of the nature or a conditional future that does not deplete in any of its instances.