Peirce on the Symbolical Foundation of Personhood


This paper discusses the semiotic and metaphysical framework within which Peirce elaborated a symbolical and dynamical conception of personhood. It exhibits the centrality of Peirce’s early conception of the “unity of consistency” along with its decentering advantages. It describes how this gave rise to a metaphysics of personhood that questions the singularity of individuals. It then conducts a semiotic study of the evolutive process across which something indeterminate evolves into something determinate that increasingly personifies itself following the logic of symbolization, taking into account two major types of indetermination: generality and vagueness. It then considers the kind of teleology at work within personification. It concludes that personhood so conceived is not restricted to only individual human beings, for the process of symbolization at work is not confined to a particular species-specific application.


Peirce, Wittgenstein, personhood, determination, symbol, vagueness, generality

How to cite:

De Tienne, André. “Peirce on the Symbolical Foundation of Personhood.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 5, no. 4 (2021):  79-100. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2021.0040.


André De Tienne
Department of Philosophy, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
420 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA


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