Ockham's logic marks an important, though not the only important, step in the process that might be described as a progressive ‘mentalization’ of sign. The idea behind this process is the contention that without some sort of ‘intentionality’ the phenomena of sign, signification and semiosis in general must remain inconceivable. This tendency of relocating the notions of sign and signification from the realm of spoken words to the sphere of the mind is characteristic of the mentalist logic arising in the early 14th century, and remaining dominant throughout the later Middle Ages. Words or signs, insofar as they concern rational discourse, were traditionally held to be the essential subject matter of logic. According to mentalist logic, however, the ‘words’ or ‘signs’ primarily relevant to logic are not the spoken words, but the trans-idiomatic mental words (verba mentis) or mental concepts. Thus, in later medieval logic, as already in Burleigh and Ockham, the mental sign will be the focus of logical semantics. According to a distinction introduced by Peter of Ailly (1330–1421) in the second half of 14th century, …a thing can be called a sign in two senses. In the first sense, because it leads to an act of knowing the thing of which it is a sign. In a second sense, because it is itself the act of knowing the thing. In the second sense we may say that a concept is a sign of a thing of which such a concept is a natural likeness — not that it leads to an act of knowing that thing, but because it is the very act itself of knowing the thing, [an act that] naturally and properly represents that thing (Peter of Ailly, Concepts, 1980, 17).

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