Semiosis in the Postmodern Age
"Who are we to suppose we are capable of comprehending the world of which we are a part, and what is the world to suppose it can be understood by us, minuscule and insignificant spatiotemporal warps contained within it?" This provocative question opens Floyd Merrell's study of postmodernism and the thought of Charles Sanders Peirce, part of the author's ongoing effort to understand our contemporary cultural and intellectual environment. The specific focus in this interdisciplinary study is the modernism/postmodernism dichotomy and Peirce's precocious realization that the world does not lend itself to the simplistic binarism of modernist thought. In Merrell's examination of postmodern phenomena, the reader is taken through various facets of the cognitive sciences, philosophy of science, mathematics, and literary theory. Merrell's consideration of Peirce's complex and inadequately understood concept of the sign is enhanced through numerous charts and figures. Theories, hypotheses, and speculation in the physical sciences are then brought to bear on Peircean semiotics. The final chapter critiques the often undiscriminating acceptance of postmodern practices in today's academic world.
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Page 54 - Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have.
Page 5 - Modern environments and experiences cut across all boundaries of geography and ethnicity, of class and nationality, of religion and ideology: in this sense, modernity can be said to unite all mankind. But it is a paradoxical unity, a unity in disunity: it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and anguish. To be modern is to be part of a universe in which, as Marx said, "all that is solid melts into air.
Page 24 - The man who embraces a new paradigm at an early stage must often do so in defiance of the evidence provided by problem-solving. He must, that is, have faith that the new paradigm will succeed with the many large problems that confront it, knowing only that the older paradigm has failed with a few. A decision of that kind can only be made on faith.