Symbol

Thirdness in the Second Correlate originates Symbols: habits usually established conventionally (EP 2: 460-461) by a mind or community. A word, a text, a book, an entire library, all the content of the Internet or any other cultural manifestation based on representations by convention are Symbols (CP 4.447). Peirce goes further, however, and affirms that man himself is a Symbol, since the mental habits and dispositions that guide him are not different, in the essence, from those guiding the evolution of the meaning of any particular word. Both men and words are always in evolution by experience or usage, incorporating new qualities, developing its potentialities of expression and information and, occasionally, dying (CP 7.591). If we accept Peirce’s metaphysical supposition that the universe is mind, then we can affirm, on a quite generic way, that Symbols feed everything that exists and remains in time and space. The Symbol is not necessarily a sign frozen by habit, although we can find Symbols almost crystallized by laws that have depleted them from their evolutional possibilities. In most cases, however, the Symbol is alive and in continuous development, fed mainly by chance present in the objects they profess to represent. Their force to determine their Replicas is in a conditional mood, usually expressed by a law of probability: given certain conditions, we expect with some degree of certainty that an event will occur.