Object (correlate)

The object is what the sign professes to represent but can only do in an imperfect way. The relation with its object seems to be the main raison d’etre of any sign, for its first task is precisely to put itself in the place of the object it professes to represent, incorporate its form, and then transmit it to the interpretant. The object always remains out of the sign. The reference to an object has always been the privileged property in the definitions of the sign before Peirce. In the Latin Era, for example, the sign was defined simply as aliquid stat pro aliquo – something that stands for another thing. raditionally, this property of “having an object” is called intentionality (Short, 1981; Liszka, 1996, pp. 111-116). Some logicians, mostly from the positivist tradition, believe that every sign must have a referent in the physical reality, but Peirce’s semeiotic admits a much wider ontology for the object. Everything that can be represented by a sign immediately assumes the semeiotic place of its object, including thoughts, dreams, fictions, emotions, qualities, expectation, possibilities, relations and virtualities (Liszka, Ibidem). If I go to a fortuneteller or astrologer, for instance, the dynamic object of the prediction is my future or “destiny”; if I am sick and go to the doctor, the dynamic object of the medical diagnosis is the disease that it professes to represent. Both prediction and diagnosis are signs that have dynamic objects, so long as they are signs of something, although the first one constitutes a Metaphor over a possible future and the second one a Metonym of an existent phenomenon.