Edwina,

 

I think we should thank you for being so honest about the principles which 
guide your “interpretation of Peirce.” You’ve explained why your practice of 
interpreting Peirce does not require that “close attention to his text in its 
context” which I stated to be my criterion. But it’s long been evident from 
your practice that your criteria are quite different.

 

For instance, yesterday you wrote that “The graphic diagram of the semiosic 
triad [1.347] shows that the triad can never be an isolate but is networked 
with other triads. Therefore, within Peircean semiosis, - everything is 
interconnected and dynamic.” But anyone who actually looks at the diagram in 
its context (CP 1.343-49) can see that it is NOT a “diagram of the semiosic 
triad,” but a pair of existential graphs; and what the diagram illustrates is 
“that while a graph with three tails cannot be made out of graphs each with two 
or one tail, yet combinations of graphs of three tails each will suffice to 
build graphs with every higher number of tails.” The context is a version of 
Peirce’s so-called “Reduction Thesis.” But you feel free to “interpret” this 
text, with its diagram, as an argument that “within Peircean semiosis, - 
everything is interconnected and dynamic.”

 

Now you have explicitly acknowledged the principles which justify such an 
“interpretation of Peirce” — which is, by those principles, irrefutable. It 
simply is your “interpretation of Peirce” because you say it is, and any 
difference or lack of connection between your “interpretation” and what Peirce 
actually said is quite irrelevant, as for you there are no “limits of 
interpretation” (Eco 1990), no grounds for argument that one “interpretation” 
is more accurate than another. Moreover, by your principles, any attempt to 
reach a consensus on what Peirce means is misguided, as that would leave open 
“no possibility of debate or discussion.”

 

Perhaps, for the sake of contrast, I should clarify own my own hermeneutic 
principles. My claim that Peirce was “exact in his use of terms” is of course 
comparative, not absolute, and is based on many years of close attention to 
Peirce’s texts. But the principle here is a common-sense one that, for me, 
applies to any writer from whom I hope to learn something new: I assume that he 
means exactly what he says and says exactly what he means, until I have 
sufficient reason to abandon that working assumption. In Peirce’s case, this 
means assuming that he is innocent until proven guilty of violating his Ethics 
of Terminology. I have of course come across instances where a lack of 
exactitude, or an outright “slip of the pen,” is made obvious by the context, 
or where he says something that appears inconsistent with what he said in 
another context. But still I read Peirce in the hope that by doing so I’ll 
learn something new, or at least notice something that I wasn’t previously 
aware of. Accordingly, I read on the working assumption that he means what he 
says, and says what he means. If I read on the assumption that he means what I 
say, or says what I mean — or skim through a text looking for bits that I can 
conveniently lift out of their own context and insert into my own prior 
“interpretation” — I’m not likely to find any challenges to my already-fixed 
beliefs in that text.

 

In short, Edwina, you have your beliefs and your “interpretation of Peirce” and 
you are welcome to them. You are also free to interpret other posters on the 
list according to your own inclinations, as you generally do, rather than 
giving close attention to what they actually say. (I think we can do without 
the name-calling, though.) We should also thank you for occasionally citing 
actual Peirce texts in a way that some list readers find useful. I just hope, 
for the sake of Peirceanity, that they pay more attention to the texts in their 
own contexts than to your “interpretations” of them.

 

Gary f.

 

 

From: Edwina Taborsky [mailto:tabor...@primus.ca] 
Sent: 15-Sep-16 13:57



 

Gary, list: I disagree with you that Peirce was exact  in his use of  terms, 
and frankly, his work is so complex that it is open to analysis and 
interpretation. If it were not open to analysis and interpretation - then, 
there would be no possibility of debate or discussion. We could simply recite 
his texts, all agree to their singular meaning....and..walk away. Nothing to 
interpret, nothing to analyze. Just agreement.

 

But this is not the case. Peirce's own analysis evolved, developed and is 
complex. We've seen this in the long and often quite argumentative debates that 
have taken place on this list regarding, eg, the three modes of thought, the 
meaning of various terms, etc. 

 

So - I don't know what you are suggesting as the proper mode of 'interpretation 
and analysis of Peirce' on this list- When you suggest that any different 
interpretation is, instead of being a different interpretation - is instead a 
'personal semeiotic theory'. I think that such authoritarianism is not 
conducive to the study of Peirce.

 

Edwina

----- Original Message ----- 

From: g...@gnusystems.ca <mailto:g...@gnusystems.ca>  

To: peirce-l@list.iupui.edu <mailto:peirce-l@list.iupui.edu>  

Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2016 11:54 AM

Subject: RE: [PEIRCE-L] Peirce's Theory of Thinking

 

Edwina (and list),

 

I agree with your opinion that the focus of this list should be on the 
interpretation and analysis of Peirce and the use of his analytic framework for 
scientific or philosophical purposes. I think everyone in agreement with this 
should therefore refrain from presenting their beliefs about semiosis, or their 
personal semiotic theories, unless  their relation to Peircean semiotics can be 
demonstrated by specific reference or citation to what Peirce actually wrote 
and the context in which he wrote it. When we are focussed on interpretation 
and analysis of a specific Peirce text (such as his “Neglected Argument” 
paper), the discussion should refer to (and preferably quote) specific parts or 
aspects of that text, along with any other Peirce texts relevant to the issue. 
Lacking such accurate and specific reference, any claim that a personal theory 
is an interpretation of Peirce represents nothing more than a personal belief 
and is outside the focus of this list.

 

Interpretation of a writer as exact as Peirce in his use of terms requires 
close attention to his text in its context, not free improvisation on his 
themes within a context of one’s own design.

 

Gary f.

 

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