Gary F., List:

I finally had a chance to take a look at the two letters in EP 2 that you
mentioned.  Here are each of the three Universes as defined in the one to
Lady Welby, followed by the corresponding text in "A Neglected Argument."

CSP:  One of these Universes embraces whatever has its Being in itself
alone, except that whatever is in this Universe must be present to one
consciousness, or be capable of being so present in its entire Being.  It
follows that a member of this universe need not be subject to any law, not
even to the principle of contradiction.  I denominate the objects of this
Universe *Ideas*, or *Possibles*, although the latter designation does not
imply capability of actualization. On the contrary as a general rule, if
not a universal one, an Idea is incapable of perfect actualization on
account of its essential vagueness if for no other reason.  For that which
is not subject to the principle of contradiction is essentially vague. (EP

CSP:  Of the three Universes of Experience familiar to us all, the first
comprises all mere Ideas, those airy nothings to which the mind of poet,
pure mathematician, or another might give local habitation and a name
within that mind. Their very airy-nothingness, the fact that their Being
consists in mere capability of getting thought, not in anybody's Actually
thinking them, saves their Reality. (CP 1.455)

These are basically consistent, although the letter to Welby clarifies that
"capability of getting thought"--what Peirce's definition of "Idea" in CP
1.452 called "capacity for getting fully represented"--"does not imply
capability of actualization."  This is thus the universe of pure
possibility, rather than potentiality.  Whatever belongs to this universe
"is not subject to the principle of contradiction" because it "is
essentially vague."

CSP:  Another Universe is that of, first, Objects whose Being consists in
their Brute reactions, and of, second, the facts (reactions, events,
qualities, etc.) concerning those Objects, all of which facts, in the last
analysis, consist in their reactions. I call the Objects, Things, or more
unambiguously, *Existents*, and the facts about them I call *Facts*.  Every
member of this Universe is either a Single Object subject, alike to the
Principles of Contradiction and to that of Excluded Middle, or it is
expressible by a proposition having such a singular subject. (EP 2.479)

CSP:  The second Universe is that of the Brute Actuality of things and
facts.  I am confident that their Being consists in reactions against Brute
forces, notwithstanding objections redoubtable until they are closely and
fairly examined. (CP 6.455)

These are also basically consistent, and the letter to Welby confirms that
whatever belongs to this universe is "subject, alike to the Principles of
Contradiction and to that of Excluded Middle."

CSP:  The third Universe consists of the co-being of whatever is in its
Nature *necessitant*, that is, is a Habit, a law, or something expressible
in a universal proposition.  Especially, *continua *are of this nature.  I
call objects of this universe *Necessitants*.  It includes whatever we can
know by logically valid reasoning. (EP 2.479)

CSP:  The third Universe comprises everything whose being consists in
active power to establish connections between different objects, especially
between objects in different Universes. Such is everything which is
essentially a Sign--not the mere body of the Sign, which is not essentially
such, but, so to speak, the Sign's Soul, which has its Being in its power
of serving as intermediary between its Object and a Mind.  Such, too, is a
living consciousness, and such the life, the power of growth, of a plant.
Such is a living constitution--a daily newspaper, a great fortune, a social
"movement." (CP 6.455)

These seem to have some important differences.  In particular, the letter
to Welby describes the scope of this universe in terms of habits, laws, and
(especially) continua, rather than Signs.  It then goes on (EP 2.480) to
discuss how a Sign, rather than always belonging to the third universe, can
be a Possible (Tone or Mark), an Existent (Token), or a Necessitant
(Type).  The letter to James confirm that "A *Sign *is anything of either
of the three Universes ..." (EP 2.497)

Here we see the association of the modality of Signs with the three
categories, as Edwina has been advocating--and therefore the three
universes, if my hypothesis is right that the latter correspond to (and
perhaps even replace) the former.  It thus leaves me wondering how to
interpret CP 1.480, where Peirce stated that "a triad if genuine cannot be
in the world of quality nor in that of fact" and "a *thoroughly *genuine
triad is separated entirely from those worlds and exists in the universe of
*representations*."  One plausible explanation is that Peirce simply
changed his mind about this between c.1896 and 1908; another is that what
he meant by "world" or "universe" in c.1896 was different from what he
meant by "universe" in 1908.  I will obviously need to think about this
some more.

As for the discussion of "Universes" and "Categories" in "Prolegomena to an
Apology for Pragmaticism" (CP 4.547-549), it is not clear to me that Peirce
used either of those terms there in the same sense in which we are using
them here.  I will quote the concluding paragraph--where he aligned the
"three Universes" with the "modes of reality," which are presumably the
"Modes of Being" that he had just identified as Actuality, Possibility, and
Destiny--in case anyone would like to comment further on it.

CSP:   I will now say a few words about what you have called Categories,
but for which I prefer the designation Predicaments, and which you have
explained as predicates of predicates. That wonderful operation of
hypostatic abstraction by which we seem to create *entia rationis* that
are, nevertheless, sometimes real, furnishes us the means of turning
predicates from being signs that we think or think *through*, into being
subjects thought of. We thus think of the thought-sign itself, making it
the object of another thought-sign. Thereupon, we can repeat the operation
of hypostatic abstraction, and from these second intentions derive third
intentions. Does this series proceed endlessly? I think not. What then are
the characters of its different members? My thoughts on this subject are
not yet harvested. I will only say that the subject concerns Logic, but
that the divisions so obtained must not be confounded with the different
Modes of Being: Actuality, Possibility, Destiny (or Freedom from Destiny).
On the contrary, the succession of Predicates of Predicates is different in
the different Modes of Being. Meantime, it will be proper that in our
system of diagrammatization we should provide for the division, whenever
needed, of each of our three Universes of modes of reality into *Realms *for
the different Predicaments. (CP 4.549)



On Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 7:47 PM, Jon Alan Schmidt <>

> Gary F., List:
> Thank you for those references.  I was thinking about conducting a search
> myself, and you have saved me the trouble, although I may still do some
> digging through CP.  I will take a look as soon as I can, although I am
> traveling tonight and tomorrow and do not have my hard copy of EP 2 with me.
> Regards,
> Jon Alan Schmidt - Olathe, Kansas, USA
> Professional Engineer, Amateur Philosopher, Lutheran Layman
> -
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 5:03 PM, <> wrote:
>> Jon, Gary R et al.,
>> I’ve been away for a couple of days and haven’t yet caught up with the
>> discussion. However I’ve done a bit of searching through Peirce’s late
>> texts to see whether I could confirm your suggestion that Peirce “seems
>> to have shifted toward discussing "Universes" rather than "categories.” I
>> found a couple of extended discussions of the difference between
>> “Categories” and “Universes,” one in the “Prologemena” of 1906. But I also
>> found two other places where Peirce writes of “the three Universes”: the
>> long letter to Welby of Dec. 1908 (EP2:478 ff.) and a 1909 letter to James
>> (EP2:497). He doesn’t refer to Categories in these letters, so that would
>> seem to support your suggestion. I found very little that uses *either*
>> term from 1909 on.
>> I see that Gary R. has corrected me on my reference to the
>> ‘ur-continuity’, and I’ll leave any further comments on that until I catch
>> up with the thread.
>> Gary f.
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