Bateson, Peirce, and the Sign of the Sacred

  • Deborah Eicher-Catt
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 2)

I argue that Gregory Bateson and Charles Sanders Peirce, although holding different beliefs about God and religion, share much in common concerning how the body and mind operate as an integrative, recursive communication system. Regardless of their different points of departure on the topic of communication, their philosophic paths necessarily cross at an “interface” that constitutes an epistemological matrix between them. Herein, I explore this matrix and argue that Bateson’s epistemology of the sacred is best understood within a triadic frame of relations offered by semiotician, Charles Sanders Peirce. Specifically, Bateson’s triadic relations of aesthetics, consciousness (mental process), and the sacred are understood by way of Peirce’s existential semiotic categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness. Hence, we come to know sacred existence as a phenomenological sign action of human semiosis. As a result, Bateson’s epistemology of the sacred becomes more accessible as a philosophy of human existence. We see that his epistemology fosters pragmatic insight concerning the relations between aesthetic perceiving and mental process that supports the characteriological growth of human beings in particular and scientific inquiry in general.

Keywords

Gregory Bateson Charles S. Peirce semiotics communication sacred 

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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Eicher-Catt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationCalifornia State UniversityHaywardUSA

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