Signs, Language, and Behavior

Signs, Language, and Behavior

Signs, Language, and Behavior

Signs, Language, and Behavior

Excerpt

This book aims to lay the foundation for a comprehensive and fruitful science of signs. It attempts to develop a language in which to talk about signs, whether the signs be those of animals or men; whether or not they themselves constitute a language; whether they are signs in science or signs in art, technology, religion, or philosophy; whether they are healthy or pathic, adequate or inadequate for the purposes for which they are used.

The book is written from the point of view first expressed by Charles Peirce, that to determine the meaning of any sign "we have . . . simply to determine what habits it produces." Signs are therefore described and differentiated in terms of the dispositions to behavior which they cause in their interpreters. The approach is, in a wide sense of the term, behavioral, and owes much to the theories of behavior developed by George H. Mead, John Dewey, Edward C. Tolman, and Clark L. Hull. But the logicians, too, have in their own way contributed greatly to the understanding of signs, and our account also draws upon their results, especially upon the analyses of Rudolf Carnap.

A comprehensive theory of signs must take into account the work of linguists, estheticians, psychopathologists, and social scientists. Since no person can be trained adequately in all these fields, the science of signs must be developed co-operatively. I have been fortunate in obtaining such co-operation to a remarkable degree during the various rewritings of this work. And for this co-operation I am very grateful.

Rudolf Carnap, C. J. Ducasse, Lewis E. Hahn, Clark L. Hull, Abraham Kaplan, Willis Moore, I. A. Richards, and Edward C. Tolman were careful critics of various parts, or the whole, of earlier versions of the book. And in conversation or comments on special chapters I have received throughout the years many valuable suggestions from Manuel J. Andrade, Max Black, Leonard Bloomfield, Frank G. Bruner, Egon Brunswik, Karl Bühler, Norman Dalkey, Estelle DeLacy, John Dollard, Alfred E. Emerson, Erich Fromm, Ruth Herschberger, Hein rich Klüver . . .

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