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Peirce, meaning, and the Semantic Web

journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2013, 00:00 authored by Cathy LeggCathy Legg
This paper seeks an explanation for the challenges faced by Semantic
Web developers in achieving their vision, compared to the staggering near instantaneous success of the World Wide Web. To this end it contrasts two broad philosophical understandings of meaning and argues that the choice between them carries real consequences for how developers attempt to engineer the Semantic Web. The first is Rene Descartes’ “private,” static account of meaning (arguably dominant for the last four-hundred years in Western thought), which understands the meanings of signs as whatever their producers intend them to mean. The second is Charles Peirce’s still relatively unknown “public,” evolutionary account of meaning, according to which the meaning of signs just is the way they are interpreted and used to produce further signs. It is argued that only the
latter approach can avoid the unmanageable attempts to “preprocess” interpretation of signs on the Web that have dogged the project in its many stages, and thereby do justice to the scale, rapid changeability, and exciting possibilities of online information today.

History

Journal

Semiotica

Event

Semiotica

Volume

2013

Issue

193

Pagination

119 - 143

Publisher

De Gruyter Mouton

Location

Berlin, Germany

ISSN

0037-1998

eISSN

1613-3692

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2013, Walter de Gruyter