Teobaldelli, Paolo: "The Semiotic Turn in Karl-Otto Apel's Philosophy"


The problem, then, lies not in the goal of the general argumentation, but in its methodology, since it would have been necessary to inquire and to verify what conception of meaning is encapsulated in the folds of the notion of linguistic game (see Teobaldelli 1998a) which are the consequences of such a conception. The gnoseological setting of the linguistic game leaves no room for meta-pragmatics, for a linguistic game of all possible linguistic games, because by doing so it would abandon its own gnoseological setting.
Thus we have to return to ourselves the question: is Apel's setting a gnoseological one as well? In its first instance (Apel 1962), this question remains unsolved, since Apel never arrives at a clear position on the problem of his interpretation of Wittgenstein's thinking. Yet in the following itinerary (Apel 1973), in order to find a semiotic escape from the suspicion of the nonsensicality of philosophy posed by Wittgenstein, he enlarges his frame of reference through a direct confrontation with the work of Peirce. In this way he turns to a more direct reflection on meaning, which is of the utmost pertinence to our present investigation.
Consequently we will now directly analyze such an itinerary.

5.The Semiotic Transformation of Philosophy and their Principal Junction

Apel believes that the subject of science in Peirce would not be the pure consciousness of Kant, but rather

a real community of experiment and interpretation, in which an ideal, unlimited community is simultaneously presupposed as a telos. This community can be experienced in a sense, as can its signs and actions, but not as an object of experience that could be described extrinsically and explained as an observational datum. Rather, it is experienced as the intersubjective medium of communication about the conceptual preconditions for the possibility and validity of descriptions and explanations of observational data (p.110)

Apel again proposes his argumentation of linguistic games as having a unique pre-condition, namely the transcendental pre-comprehension as dialectic unity; the difference is that here it becomes the ideal unlimited community. Apel believes it possible, through the Peircian conception of the sign-based mediation of knowledge, which is, unlike the Wittgensteinian equivalent, always intersubjectively (and conventionally) conceived, ultimately to find this transcendental dialectic unity right in the community of communication as the community of interaction. The transcendental linguistic game thus becomes possible because sign-mediated knowledge is not only the kind oriented towards the object but also the intersubjective knowledge of the presupposed form of linguistic interpretation: here, it would seem, Apel finds the self-reflexive principle which might permit him to build a transcendental philosophy.
But we have to ask ourselves if this principle is satisfactory enough to afford the problematic junction of the notion of the transcendental linguistic game as the pre-comprehension of all linguistic games (see Teobaldelli 1998). If we exclude the counterfactual verifying required by Peirce, what, then, is the criterion with which we can acquire consensus within the Kommunikationsgemeinschaft?

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