Charles W. Morris on truth. Towards a semiotically oriented epistemology




C. W. Morris, Semiotic theory of truth, True signs, Pragmatism, Theory of signs


Truth is a very complex phenomenon that has exercised a fascination upon the human mind for millennia. Discussion on truth and falsehood goes back to the earliest day of philosophy and has continued ever since. Semiotics, as an independent discipline, has shown some interest towards this subject, although the research conducted in this field has been scant. This paper focuses on one aspect of this issue for it discusses the semiotic conception of truth in Charles Morris’ work. The reasons for this proposal are threefold. Firstly, in Sign, Language, and Behavior (1946), Morris tackles at length the problem of truth from a semiotic perspective. He offers a thorough and very technical account of truth that lays down the theoretical underpinnings for addressing this issue from a semiotic stance. Secondly, Morris develops an interesting yet overlooked conceptual apparatus. He introduced a precise and lucid set of semiotic distinction of the terms such as ‘truth, ‘adequacy’, ‘reliability’, ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’ as applied to signs, which all deserve close scrutiny. One of Morris’ merits was to underscore that when such terms are applied to the study of signs, they must be kept distinct for they are independent terms. Thirdly, Morris’ theory of truth deserves attention because it has been almost neglected in contemporary semiotics. Thus, the goal of this study is to rework Morris’ stance on the subject, review the main theoretical distinctions that Morris formulated in regard to the semiotic conception of truth, and to discuss whether this pragmatic account on truth is still applicable today.


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Biografia do Autor

Remo Gramigna, University of Turin

Post-doctoral researcher FACETS at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


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Como Citar

Gramigna, R. (2022). Charles W. Morris on truth. Towards a semiotically oriented epistemology. Estudos Semióticos, 18(2), 82-105.



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