Sunday, July 15, 2012

Real and Replica

In the "Kaina Stoicheia" — a slow-read of this piece is going on on the Peirce list — Peirce distinguishes the replicas of representation from real things.
"In the first place, a sign is not a real thing. It is of such a nature as to exist in replicas. … A real thing does not so exist in replica. The being of a sign is merely being represented.  Now really being and being represented are very different." ["Kaina    Stoicheia," p. 303] 
But a thing like the chairs here in Starbucks are replicas as well, replicas of each other via a diagram or a design, which would seem to make the diagram the real thing and the chairs replicas.  Is this something true of commodities or mass-produced objects?  Or, is it more generally true? A kind of Hegelian reversal of what is real and what is replica?

As signs become symbols:
"I must and do admit that a symbol cannot exert any real force. Still, I maintain that every sufficiently complete symbol governs things, and that symbols alone do this.  I mean that though it is not a force, it is a law." [Ibid., p. 313]
As the symbol, with ongoing successful applications, takes on the force of law, it would seem to become the real thing.  That is, what were the "real things" would become instances of that law, replicas in terms of its applications, and the law would become the reality.
"A diagram, indeed, so far as it has a general signification, is not a pure icon but in the middle part of our reasonings we forget that abstractness in great measure, and the diagram is for us the very thing." [CP 3.362]

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