Dissertation Abstract



Dante And Peirce: Iconicity And Unlikeness

in The "Leaves" Simile, "Inferno" Iii


Amy S. Morris


Degree:           PH.D.

Year:             1991

Pages:            00376


Advisor:          Co-chairs: Marga Cottino-Jones; Peter Haidu


Source:           DAI, 53, no. 01A, (1991): 0144


Part One of three investigates the diverse writings of C. S. Peirce (including the mathematical texts as well as secondary material), producing a textual and thematic critical study of his semiotics, considered in the contexts of (a) medieval sign theories (b) the 19th- and 20th-century critiques of metaphysics in both the Humanities and in the "hard sciences" (quantum physics in particular) (c) contemporary debates about the hierarchy of grammar vs. rhetoric (and the black sheep, logic) and (d) other "schools" of semiotics (primarily those of Eco and Greimas) and of literary criticism. Peirce's work represents a fully delineated critique of metaphysics a century before the development of the 20th-century "deconstructive" one; through his analysis of triadicity and continuity, Peirce locates both the infinite regress of difference and the anxiety about it solidly within the limitations of the metaphysical tradition. His own semiotic begins to address the possibilities for reintegration of the epistemologies of the "hard sciences" with those of the "humanities."

          Part Two is a practical presentation of Peirce's triad, "icon, index and symbol,"functions of the sign with respect to its object (including secondary literature), preparatory to deployment of these terms in a literary analysis.

          Part Three is an extensive textual critique of passages from Dante's Divina Commedia and of the tradition (medieval through contemporary) of commentary on those passages, oriented around Dante's exploitation of the trope of simile and the functions of iconicity and indexicality, examining his use of sign structures as they address the world of the non- or trans-linguistic. Dante's alleged involvement with grammatica speculativa, and his overt interests in polisemia, natural language, and philosophical knowledge put him at the scene of the medieval polemics about these issues, and at the crossroads, as it were, where "science" (the tradition in which Peirce locates his own work) and the "liberal arts" (including tensions in the trivium and the quadrivium) begin, Institution:ally and epistemologically, to part company. This textual study is designed to analyze and problematize perspectives provided by the text, the commentaries and the theoretical apparatus (each upon the others).







Accession No:     AAG9218166

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations