- Series: Approaches to Semiotics Volume 27 (Book 27)
- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: Mouton De Gruyter (January 1, 1973)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9027925232
- ISBN-13: 978-9027925237
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,105,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Existential Graphs of Charles s Peirce (Approaches to Semiotics Volume 27)
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Peirce set about creating a visual notation for formal logic. The basic idea sounds familiar to anyone who's seen Venn diagrams. (They came from Euler, actually, as did incredible numbers of other things. The term 'Venn diagram' follows the informal convention of naming the thing for the first researcher after Euler to work on it.) Peirce went the extra steps, beyond AND and NOT to existential and universal quantification.
Although his graphical notations - several of them, and contradictory - are of historical interest, I really see no advantage over standard textual notation. The marks lack clear distinctions of order, in the sense that "for all X there exists Y where Z is true" differs from "there exists Y such that for all X, Z is true." The diagrams uses lines, sometimes sprawling and forking across the page, where a simple variable symbol would have sufficed. In fact, a set of letter variables seem clearer in that each has visually distinct shape, unlike the lines. (Lines of different weight and style were already reserved for other purposes.) Worse, the notations were especially ungainly in the day when they were scribbled by hand into a type-set page. Peirce's latest generation of diagrams included colors, metal tones, and more, for expressing possibilities and features of modal logics - decidedly inconvenient, in an age that lacked markers and convenient color printing. He even used the reverse of the sheet on which the graphs were drawn!
Anyone devoted to visual representation of formal concepts should be aware of Peirce's work, if only because bad examples can be so instructive. I have to admit, however, that the peculiar notation of 'existential graphs' has little practical purpose.