James Jakόb Liszka
March 11, 2016
In his early work, Peirce characterizes information in its ordinary sense as an increase in factual knowledge, and is concerned to show how it can be expressed propositionally. However, beginning in 1893, and culminating in work done in 1906, Peirce conceives of information more abstractly as linked to the “form” in the object, and the sign more broadly as the communication of form. I argue that these more abstract and broader notions of sign and information have two advantages. First, they provide a basis and explanation for how meaning can emerge from non-meaningful processes. Second, they allow for a wider application of Peirce’s sign theory to all living organisms, as well as non-organic communication processes, such as message transmission and computer operation. By separating information from meaning, the details of Peirce’s semiotic theory can remove some of the mystery of how meaning emerges in the semiotic process.