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Downward Determination in Semiotic Multi-level Systems

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Peirce's pragmatic notion of semiosis can be described in terms of a multi-level system of constraints involving chance, efficient, formal and final causation. According to the model proposed here, law-like regularities, which work as boundary conditions or organizational principles, have a downward effect on the spatiotemporal distribution of lower-level semiotic items. We treat this downward determinative influence as a propensity relation: if some lower-level entities a,b,c,-n are under the influence of a general organizational principle, W, they will show a tendency to behave in certain specific ways, and, thus, to instantiate a set of specific processes. Our goal in this paper is to examine the role of downward determination in semiotic systems, conceived as multi-level hierarchical systems.
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Keywords: C. S. Peirce; causation; downward determination; emergence; semiosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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