Metonymy

Secondness of Thirdness in the Second Correlate originates what we will call Metonymy. This sign is the instantiation of a Symbol. It possesses, therefore, a divided nature between the indexical and the symbolic. The Metonymy is the connection of an Index that is the Subject of a Proposition, to a Metaphor, which is its General Predicate. Therefore, the Metonymy is essentially cognition, an existent Information produced by means of Denotation. The Metonymy is an association by contiguity (cf. CP 3.419) between the Index and a representation of a General Object already present in the mind of the interpreter, that is, of an Idea or General Predicate. Examples of Metonymies are proper names, personal or relative pronouns, common or abstract names, demonstrative pronouns and symptoms. When interpreted as Rhemas, Peirce calls them Cyrioids (CP 8.181). Note that the General Predicate, of which the Metonymy is a specialization, must already be in the mind of the interpreter. It should have been formed by collateral experience, which is a process of familiarization with the Object, given in Perception, which enables us to create an “image” of the Perceptual Universe. The Metonymy is, in fact, the only way to internalize Information, for it is the measure of the Predication. Even the weathercock indicating the direction of the wind, for long sustained by Peirce as a perfect example of an Index (CP 2.286) is actually a Metonymy. The weathercock can only play its informative role if there is, from the Interpreter’ part, a previous familiarity with its mechanism. Without this collateral experience, it is not possible for the Interpreter to know what the weathercock is doing when it points mechanically to this or that direction. Every medical symptom is a Metonymy, too for it is an Index materially connected to the disease it represents. In addition, it appears in the body of the patient with habitual characteristics already consolidated by the medical knowledge and expressed by the manuals of medical symptomatology – possessing, therefore, a General Predicate. The meteorological symptoms are also good examples of Metonymies. As in Metaphor’s case, the Symbol that contributes to the Metonymy must not be necessarily conventional. It can be a would-be, a Symbol whose general Form grows and develops in time (cf. CP 5.432). It is this material connection between the current Index and the future conditional of the Symbol that animates what we call final causation, or intelligent Purpose. In logic, every conditional proposition uses Metonymies to represent its object, as these signs express the relation of Philonian material implication, or consequentia de inesse (CP 3.442), between the Subject (Index) and the Form of the General Predicate. Actually, every proposition that is not merely indexical, but professes to represent cognition is, in its essence, conditional – including those that logic traditionally calls categorical proposition (CP 3.440; cf. Short, 2004, p. 13). We will discuss this issue a little more when we describe the 66 Classes of Signs.