Jon, list: Because something is 'vague and figurative does not mean that these
vague figures can ever move beyond such imagery; there is no inherent
requirement for clarification. I am reminded of the various nursery tales and
myths that remain - vague and figurative.
There is no reason to conclude that the NA is a clarification of 1.412 and
inserts a 'divine creator'.
You write: "By 1898, Peirce clearly held that everything in all three
categories (or Universes) is Real, even though only that which belongs under
Secondness is Actual--i.e., Ideas (or ideal possibilities) and Signs (or Mind)
are Real, not just Brute Actuality (or physical facts)."
I disagree with your claim that the three categories are 'real', in the sense
that they refer to universals. I do not consider that the three categories are
synonyms for the three Universes - these universes, in my reading, are, like
the three modes of argument, a different analytic framework. I read the three
categories as modes of organization of matter/mind . Firstness, in my reading,
is a state of immediate feeling/experience. It is not a generalization or
universal. Secondness, in my reading, is an awareness of differentation. And
Thirdness, in my reading, is the development of habits-of-organization. These
habits can be understood as 'generals', as 'real' but - are capable of
evolution and adaptation. And, Thirdness only functions within Matter/Mind,
i.e., within a triadic Sign.
And you and I also read the terms differently. I consider that the triad of
O-R-I is the Sign, whereas you refer to the Sign as = the Representamen. And in
addition, the Representamen in my reading is not always 'mental'; i.e., four of
the ten Sign classes do not include Thirdness in their make-up.
I consider the 'possibility that is vague' to be Thirdness-as-Firstness not
pure Firstness as Firstness. And Thirdness-as-Secondness is yet another
generality - an interesting indexical probability. These are both 'real'. But
again, Thirdness only functions within the triadic Sign.
As to your claim that Mind is more fundamental - again, I'll disagree. I don't
see how the one can function without the other. I simply don't read where Mind
can 'be real' without matter just as Thirdness cannot 'be real' without being
embedded within a triad.
And I don't see that 'matter exists as a discontinuity of Mind'. Rather,
matter, in my reading, exists as an expression of Mind'. Just as in that
crystal...which is an expression of Mind.
Certainly Secondness is discontinuous by virtue of its functioning as
discrete, individual, particular..in 'perfect' [linear] time...but that does
NOT mean, in my reading, that it is separate from Mind..i.e., I don't see the
blackboard as Mind!!! and matter as bits of chalkmark on it.
So- we disagree quite a bit in our readings of Peirce.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Alan Schmidt
To: Edwina Taborsky
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2016 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [PEIRCE-L] Peirce's Cosmology
ET: I consider the two arguments, one that explains the universe is
self-organized and evolving with its full identity only emerging as the Final
Interpretant in the future; and the other that the universe relies on an a
priori Mind/God - to be incompatible.
Peirce stated in what you quoted from CP 1.412, "Our conceptions of the first
stages of development, before time yet existed, must be as vague and figurative
as the expressions of the first chapter of Genesis." This is relevant in at
least two ways--something "vague and figurative" is subject to subsequent
clarification, which is what I am suggesting that CP 6.490 accomplished; and
"the first chapter of Genesis" obviously presents a cosmology that explicitly
includes a divine Creator.
ET: Realities are generalizations - and generals do not 'exist' except
within the particular. Your outline is Platonic - with Ideal Forms that are
Real. Again, Peirce was not a Platonist and his generals, even though real, are
part of the particular instantiation.
As I quoted previously, Peirce's outline in "The Logic of Continuity" is
explicitly Platonic in precisely this sense. By 1898, Peirce clearly held that
everything in all three categories (or Universes) is Real, even though only
that which belongs under Secondness is Actual--i.e., Ideas (or ideal
possibilities) and Signs (or Mind) are Real, not just Brute Actuality (or
CSP: Another doctrine which is involved in Pragmaticism as an essential
consequence of it ... is the scholastic doctrine of realism. This is usually
defined as the opinion that there are real objects that are general, among the
number being the modes of determination of existent singulars, if, indeed,
these be not the only such objects. But the belief in this can hardly escape
being accompanied by the acknowledgment that there are, besides, real vagues,
and especially real possibilities. For possibility being the denial of a
necessity, which is a kind of generality, is vague like any other contradiction
of a general. Indeed, it is the reality of some possibilities that
pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon. (CP 5.453; 1905)
CSP: In other places, I have given many other reasons for my firm belief
that there are real possibilities. I also think, however, that, in addition to
actuality [Secondess] and possibility [Firstness], a third mode of reality must
be recognized in that which, as the gipsy fortune-tellers express it, is "sure
to come true," or, as we may say, is destined [Thirdness] ... (CP 4.547; 1906)
I know that you disagree, but I honestly think that it is abundantly clear
from these and other writings that Peirce was a "three-category realist" from
about 1896 until the end of his life, as Max Fisch argued.
ET: I don't see that 'matter as effete mind' means that mind and matter
I did not say that they are separate, I said that mind is more fundamental.
In Peirce's terminology (CP 6.24-25), mind is "primoridal," while matter is
"derived and special." Thus matter cannot exist without mind, but mind can be
real (note the difference) without matter. In fact, Peirce's cosmology seems
to indicate that matter exists as discontinuity of mind.
CSP: The whole universe of true and real possibilities forms a continuum,
upon which this Universe of Actual Existence is, by virtue of the essential
Secondness of Existence, a discontinuous mark--like a line figure drawn on the
area of the blackboard. (NEM 4.345; 1898)
On Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 7:07 PM, Edwina Taborsky <tabor...@primus.ca> wrote:
Jon, list - I'll try to reply below
1) ET: I consider that the two descriptions of the emergence of the
universe are not compatible.
JON:I just offered a lengthy argument showing that they are compatible.
This obviously does not prove the correctness of either or both accounts, but
it does demonstrate that they are not contradictory.
EDWINA: Sorry- but your argument despite its length does not convince me.
I consider the two arguments, one that explains the universe is self-organized
and evolving with its full identity only emerging as the Final Interpretant in
the future; and the other that the universe relies on an a priori Mind/God - to
2) ET: The 1.412 description is specific in 'the original chaos,
therefore, where there was no regularity, was in effect a state of mere
indeterminacy, in which nothing existed or really happened 1.411.
JON:That "nothing existed or really happened" means that nothing was
actual; it does not entail that nothing was real.
EDWINA: Realities are generalizations - and generals do not 'exist'
except within the particular. Your outline is Platonic - with Ideal Forms that
are Real. Again, Peirce was not a Platonist and his generals, even though real,
are part of the particular instantiation.
3) ET: THought separate from matter????
JON: Well, yes. This is not problematic at all for me--or for Peirce,
since he affirmed "the physical law as derived and special, the psychical law
alone as primordial," because "matter is effete mind"; i.e., there can be mind
without matter, but not matter without mind (CP 6.24-25). I addressed this in
the past thread about "Peirce's Objective Idealism."
EDWINA: I disagree with your interpretation. I don't see that 'matter as
effete mind' means that mind and matter are separate. My interpretation is that
- as in the frog and the crystal - they are not separate.
4) ET: My reading of this - a pure disembodied mind - is that it is
Platonic - and this contradicts Peirce's basic Aristotelianism which does not
allow for Mind separated from Matter.
JON: Although Peirce self-identified more with Aristotle, there are still
Platonic aspects of his thought, some of them quite explicit. For example,
with respect to cosmology, we have already brought up the last Cambridge
Conferences lecture, "The Logic of Continuity," in this thread.
CSP: From this point of view we must suppose that the existing
universe, with all its arbitrary secondness, is an offshoot from, or an
arbitrary determination of, a world of ideas, a Platonic world; not that our
superior logic has enabled us to reach up to a world of forms to which the real
universe, with its feebler logic, was inadequate ... The evolutionary process
is, therefore, not a mere evolution of the existing universe, but rather a
process by which the very Platonic forms themselves have become or are becoming
developed ... In short, if we are going to regard the universe as a result of
evolution at all, we must think that not merely the existing universe, that
locus in the cosmos to which our reactions are limited, but the whole Platonic
world, which in itself is equally real, is evolutionary in its origin, too ...
At the same time all this, be it remembered, is not of the order of the
existing universe, but is merely a Platonic world, of which we are, therefore,
to conceive that there are many, both coordinated and subordinated to one
another; until finally out of one of these Platonic worlds is differentiated
the particular actual universe of existence in which we happen to be. (CP
6.192, 194, 200, 208; 1898)
Peirce clearly stated here--several times, in multiple ways--that "a
world of ideas, a Platonic world" (i.e., mind) precedes "the existing universe,
with all its arbitrary secondness" (i.e., matter). Just because something is
"Platonic" does not entail that Peirce rejected it.
EDWINA: I consider the above quotation to be an analysis of
conceptualization [our ideas, our factual experiences] - and not of the three
categories and of matter and mind nor of the integral embodiment of the one
with the other - as in the decapitated frog or the crystal.
5) ET: I think you and even Peirce are, indeed, using the arguments for
the 'existence of God' from Anselm, the classical ontological argument, that If
one can think of a perfect Being, then, this perfect being is real....and..if
such a belief is common, then, this is 'evidentiary' proof that such a being
JON: This is definitely not the argument that I am using, nor the one
that Peirce used. What we are discussing is more akin to the so-called
"cosmological" and "transcendental" arguments, since it is grounded primarily
in the reality of order and intelligibility in the existing universe. It has
nothing to do with what "one can think" or "a perfect Being."
ET: I consider that this analysis is insufficient as proof ...
Who said anything about "proof"? We have different hypotheses, for which
we have marshaled our supporting evidence; and as previously agreed, "many
others have to read Peirce - and - your and my comments - and make up their
minds as to how 'accurately' we interpret him."
ET: I cannot explain these two, to my reading, very different
descriptions of the emergence and evolution of the universe of mind and matter
- and simply have to leave it as that: I cannot explain it.
Jon: You really should not give up so easily. As I am sure you are
aware, Peirce would not countenance throwing up our hands and deeming anything
to be inexplicable; it is one of the "solutions" that he identified as blocking
the way of inquiry. Besides, I already offered you an alternative
explanation--maybe he just changed his mind between 1887-1888 and 1908. Of
course, another is that at least one of your readings is incorrect.
EDWINA: Your explanation is that both of his analyses are compatible
[mine is that they are incompatible]. So...did he change his mind? Am I
incorrect? I simply don't know and so far, your explanations have not convinced
me to agree with your view that the two are compatible. So....I DO have to
leave it at that!
After all - I am reading the early outline as explaining a
self-organized, evolving universe where both Mind and Matter co-evolve together
- focused on Final Cause/ Interpretant; that is, there is no pre-determined
agenda. Evolution is open to spontaneity, even when constrained by habits.
The later outline sets up an a priori Mind, separate from Matter and with
a certain amount of determination [Truth] in its nature.
I simply don't see the two outlines as compatible....and so, must run and
bury myself in the fictional haven of Downton Abbey for an hour or two. But ..I
appreciate our discussion.
On Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 4:47 PM, Edwina Taborsky <tabor...@primus.ca>
Jon, list - I'm going to continue to disagree with your interpretation.
I consider that the two descriptions of the emergence of the universe are not
compatible. But - as to why Peirce wrote the two - of course, that is beyond
The 1.412 description is specific in 'the original chaos, therefore,
where there was no regularity, was in effect a state of mere indeterminacy, in
which nothing existed or really happened 1.411. And his outline of the
emergence of both matter and mind seem to me, [I've provided the quotes before]
a clear outline of the self-organization and evolution of both.
There is, in this outline, no a priori Mind - pure or otherwise.
Then, in 6.490, Peirce talks about the 'disembodied spirit or pure
mind, has its being out of time' - This is clear - that we have here an a
priori agency which "is destined to think all that is is capable of
thinking".THought separate from matter???? This means, also, that this Pure
Mind is NOT a 'state of utter nothingness'.
My reading of this - a pure disembodied mind - is that it is Platonic
- and this contradicts Peirce's basic Aristotelianism which does not allow for
Mind separated from Matter.
That is, throughout Peirce's many discussions of Mind and Matter and
his discussion of the three categories - we do not read [as far as i can
recollect] any hint of their separation, any suggestion that Mind is
'disembodied' and 'full-of-its truths'. Indeed, Thirdness is, as embedded
within Secondness/Firstness - always able to change and evolve its habits,
something a pure Mind would not do.
So- my reading of these two sections is that they are two completely
different outlines, and are incompatible with each other. I think you and even
Peirce are, indeed, using the arguments for the 'existence of God' from Anselm,
the classical ontological argument, that If one can think of a perfect Being,
then, this perfect being is real....and..if such a belief is common, then, this
is 'evidentiary' proof that such a being exists. I consider that this analysis
is insufficient as proof - and that the very notion of a 'pure mind'
contradicts the outline of a self-organized mind-matter universe that Peirce
provided in 'A guess at the riddle'.
I cannot explain these two, to my reading, very different descriptions
of the emergence and evolution of the universe of mind and matter - and simply
have to leave it as that: I cannot explain it. As an atheist and someone who
accepts the power of self-organization and evolution, I admit to being drawn to
the 1.412 Guess at the Riddle [and other outlines of agapasm and evolution]
rather than the agential power-of-god outline. But that doesn't mean anything
conclusive - other than an awareness of my own predeliction for the one outline
versus the other! But - I do think they are incompatible.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Alan Schmidt
To: Edwina Taborsky
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2016 5:05 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [PEIRCE-L] Peirce's Cosmology
ET: I think you will have to admit that neither you nor I know for
sure which of the two arguments for the emergence of the universe are 'really
held' by Peirce.
On the contrary--I think that we do know for sure, or at least have
to assume, that Peirce "really held" what he said in "A Guess at the Riddle" in
1887-1888, and "really held" what he said in "A Neglected Argument" in 1908.
This is why I always try to include the date with any quotation from him--it is
important to recognize its timing within the overall development of his
thought, which was far from static.
The question, then, is simply whether the 1908 statements that I have
cited represent a significant change in his views over two decades, or if they
are compatible with the 1887-1888 paragraph that you quoted below. Again, I
think that CP 6.490--which also dates to 1908, and in fact was intended
precisely to serve as a supplement to "A Neglected Argument"--strongly suggests
the latter conclusion. My apologies in advance for the lengthy excerpts this
A full exposition of the pragmaticistic definition of Ens
necessarium would require many pages; but some hints toward it may be given. A
disembodied spirit, or pure mind, has its being out of time, since all that it
is destined to think is fully in its being at any and every previous time. But
in endless time it is destined to think all that it is capable of thinking.
Order is simply thought embodied in arrangement; and thought embodied in any
other way appears objectively as a character that is a generalization of order,
and that, in the lack of any word for it, we may call for the nonce,
"Super-order." It is something like uniformity. The idea may be caught if it is
described as that of which order and uniformity are particular varieties.
Pure mind, as creative of thought, must, so far as it is manifested in time,
appear as having a character related to the habit-taking capacity, just as
super-order is related to uniformity.
I have already discussed the hint that Ens necessarium is "pure
mind." The rest of this passage implies that thought is always "embodied" in
some kind of "super-order," of which order and uniformity are two examples.
Peirce then draws an analogy--the thought-creating character of pure mind is to
the habit-taking capacity as super-order is to uniformity. Since he just said
that uniformity is a particular variety of super-order, the habit-taking
capacity must be a particular variety of the thought-creating character of pure
mind. Recall that the "second flash" of CP 1.412 came about "by the principle
of habit"; so evidently it was a manifestation of pure mind, as creative of
thought. Likewise for the "other successions ever more and more closely
connected, the habits and the tendency to take them ever strengthening
themselves." While CP 1.412 might plausibly be interpreted in isolation as
describing "the self-organized emergence of the Universe" with "no metaphysical
Agent" involved, CP 6.490 indicates that the habit-taking capacity depends on
there being such an Agent.
Now imagine, in such vague way as such a thing can be imagined, a
perfect cosmology of the three universes. It would prove all in relation to
that subject that reason could desiderate; and of course all that it would
prove must, in actual fact, now be true. But reason would desiderate that that
should be proved from which would follow all that is in fact true of the three
universes; and the postulate from which all this would follow must not state
any matter of fact, since such fact would thereby be left unexplained. That
perfect cosmology must therefore show that the whole history of the three
universes, as it has been and is to be, would follow from a premiss which would
not suppose them to exist at all. Moreover, such premiss must in actual fact be
true. But that premiss must represent a state of things in which the three
universes were completely nil. Consequently, whether in time or not, the three
universes must actually be absolutely necessary results of a state of utter
nothingness. We cannot ourselves conceive of such a state of nility; but we can
easily conceive that there should be a mind that could conceive it, since,
after all, no contradiction can be involved in mere non-existence. A state in
which there should be absolutely no super-order whatsoever would be such a
state of nility. For all Being involves some kind of super-order.
This is a difficult passage, but it s me to strikes me as a kind of
reductio ad absurdum for any claim that the universe came about without the
Reality of God. A "perfect cosmology" conforming to such a claim "must not
state any matter of fact," but must instead "follow from a premiss which would
not suppose [the three universes] to exist at all." As a result, "the three
universes must actually be absolutely necessary results of a state of utter
nothingness"; that is, "A state in which there should be absolutely no
super-order whatsoever." But in such a state, absolutely nothing is absolutely
necessary; in fact, there cannot be any Being whatsoever, since "all Being
involves some kind of super-order." Hence the Reality of God--an eternal
Being, Ens necessarium--is the only premiss that can account for the reality of
the three universes, without already assuming it.
Any such super-order would be a super-habit. Any general state of
things whatsoever would be a super-order and a super-habit. In that state of
absolute nility, in or out of time, that is, before or after the evolution of
time, there must then have been a tohu bohu of which nothing whatever
affirmative or negative was true universally. There must have been, therefore,
a little of everything conceivable.
Peirce explicitly mentioned the first chapter Genesis in CP 1.412,
and invoked it again here--tohu bohu is the Hebrew expression in verse 2 that
is usually translated as something like "without form and void." The notion of
a state where "nothing whatever affirmative or negative was true universally,"
which thus involves "a little of everything conceivable," is consistent with
Peirce's late theory of a continuum. It does not consist of discrete points,
as Cantor and others defined it, but of potential points that are welded
together and thus indistinct. Even this description is misleading, because the
contiguous points do not comprise the continuum; the latter is the more
fundamental concept. The principles of non-contradiction and excluded middle
thus do not apply, unless and until an actual point is determined, which is a
discontinuity. Continuity is generality, and generality of any kind is
impossible in the absence of super-order and super-habit; i.e., the Reality of
There must have been here and there a little undifferentiated
tendency to take super-habits. But such a state must tend to increase itself.
For a tendency to act in any way, combined with a tendency to take habits, must
increase the tendency to act in that way. Now substitute in this general
statement for "tendency to act in any way" a tendency to take habits, and we
see that that tendency would grow. It would also become differentiated in
This really says nothing different from the last sentence of CP 1.412
that you quoted. So it looks like Peirce has not changed his basic cosmology
over the intervening two decades; he has simply clarified the necessity of the
Reality of God before it ever could have gotten off the ground.
On Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 2:35 PM, Edwina Taborsky <tabor...@primus.ca>
I think you will have to admit that neither you nor I know for sure
which of the two arguments for the emergence of the universe are 'really held'
by Peirce. There is, A, the self-organized emergence and evolution of Mind
and Matter within the axioms of the three categories - and this reference to
the embodiment and evolution of Mind with Matter is found all through Peirce's
writings. And, there is, B, the introduction of an a priori agency, God, in a
later text- without any real examination of the relation of Mind and Matter in
this god-created universe.
Your reliance on "IF it's written at a later date, THEN, this means
Peirce believed in its axioms even more' - is merely your view of linear
writing. Then, there is your own open declaration of theism - and my equally
open declaration of atheism. These have to affect each of us.
This leads me to conclude that - as I said, neither you nor I know
which of the two arguments is 'really held' by Peirce. I think we'll have to
leave it at that.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Alan Schmidt
To: tabor...@primus.ca ; Peirce-L
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2016 2:42 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [PEIRCE-L] Peirce's Cosmology
ET: What i read from the above is the self-organized emergence
of the Universe.
Peirce wrote "A Guess at the Riddle" in 1887-1888 and "A
Neglected Argument" in 1908. The latter, including its various drafts, states
explicitly that in Peirce's belief, God is Really creator of all three
Universes of Experience and everything in them, without exception. This means
that either (a) he changed his mind at some point during the intervening twenty
years, or (b) he saw no incompatibility between the two positions. His
cosmological remarks in CP 6.490, written only a little later in 1908 than the
article itself, suggest strongly that (b) is the case.
Jon Alan Schmidt - Olathe, Kansas, USA
Professional Engineer, Amateur Philosopher, Lutheran Layman
www.LinkedIn.com/in/JonAlanSchmidt - twitter.com/JonAlanSchmidt
On Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 8:26 AM, Edwina Taborsky
Gary R - you wrote:
"I am not an atheist because, for one thing, I refuse to
'reduce' the origins of this cosmos to an improbably singularity (a Big
Bang--and, as you probably know, there is not one version of this theory, but
several, and competing theories as well, although the current scientific dogma
won't allow for that).
Nor do I see self-organization (a sound enough principle) and
self-creation (whatever that may mean) as the only principles of semiosis, life
I certainly won't critique or comment on your rejection of
atheism as that's hardly my right, but I'd like to comment on the 'singularity
of origin of our universe' [Big Bang] and self-organization.
With regard to the singular explosive origin, there certainly
are numerous theories, including for or against the Big Bang. Since I am
rejecting a metaphysical origin [God] as the origin of the universe, I stick
with the Big Bang for now. I refer to Peirce's 'A Guess at the Riddle'...
"The original chaos, therefore, where there was no regularity,
was in effect a state of mere indeterminacy in which nothing existed or really
Our conceptions of the first stages of development, before time
yet existed, must be as vague and figurative as the expressions of the first
chapter of Genesis. Out of the womb of indeterminacy we must say that there
would have come something, by the principle of Firstness, which we may call a
flash. Then by the principle of habit there would have been a second flash.
Though time would not yet have been, this second flash was in some sense after
the first, because resulting from it. Then there would have come other
successions ever more and more closely connected, the habits and the tendency
to take them ever strengthening themselves, until the events would have been
bound together into something like a continuous flow.....' 1.412
What i read from the above is the self-organized emergence of
the Universe. There is no metaphysical Agent [God- which requires an a priori
agency, something which the Scholastics dealt with by not dealing with it
except within belief] - but - the basic principles of organization of the three
categories ARE there. And that's all three - pure spontaneity, discrete
instantiations, and regularity or habit-taking. These are all aspects of Mind -
and matter, as Peirce constantly wrote, is 'effete Mind'. So, Mind seems to be
primal...and even, self-organized.
As Peirce outlined in his examples of crystals as
instantiations of Mind, or the decapitated frog which, lacking a brain, 'almost
reasons. The habit that is in his cerebellum serves as a major premiss. The
excitation of a drop of acid is his minor premiss. And his conclusion is the
act of wiping it away. All that is of any value in the operation of
ratiocination is there, except only one thing. What he lacks is the power of
prepatory meditation" 6.286.
Just so- the above triad is a semiosic action - and equally
applicable to a crystal, which also lacks the power of prepatory meditation but
does have the entire semiosic act/syllogism within it.
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