Gary R., List:
This is a follow-up to quote and comment further on NEM 4.345.
CSP: The *zero *collection is bare, abstract, germinal possibility. The
continuum is concrete, developed possibility. 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. There is room in the world of possibility for any multitude of
such universes of Existence.
Here Peirce seems to make a distinction between the "zero collection"
(presumably equivalent to the "pure zero" state) as "bare, abstract,
germinal possibility," and the continuum as "concrete, developed
possibility." This seems consistent with defining pure or ideal *possibility
*(Firstness) as indeterminate and "incapable of perfect actualization on
account of its essential vagueness," and continuous *potentiality*
(Thirdness) as "indeterminate yet capable of determination in any specific
case" on account of its essential generality. Peirce then associates the
blackboard with the latter--"The whole universe of true and real
possibilities forms a continuum"--but in this passage, the "line figure"
represents "this Universe of Actual Existence," rather than "merely a
Platonic world" out of which "is differentiated the particular actual
universe of existence in which we happen to be" (CP 6.208).
Both of these passages come from the Cambridge Conferences lectures of
1898. Is there a plausible way to integrate the two mentions of a
blackboard into a single diagram? Could it be that the one in NEM 4.345
(RLT 162-163) corresponds to "a Platonic world" in CP 6.203-208 (RLT
261-263)? In other words ...
- The "clean blackboard" represents "a continuum of some indefinite
multitude of dimensions" [3ns] (CP 6.203).
- The initial chalk mark represents "a springing up of something new"
[1ns] whose continuity "is nothing but the original continuity of the
blackboard which makes everything upon it continuous" (CP 6.203).
- Persistent groups of such chalk marks represent "reacting systems"
[2ns] that result when "the generalizing tendency [3ns] builds up new
habits from chance occurrences [1ns]" (CP 6.206).
- Some of these "reacting systems" aggregate together into multiple
"Platonic worlds" (CP 6.207-208).
- Eventually, "a discontinuous mark" [2ns] is differentiated out of one
of them as "this [determinate] Universe of Actual Existence" (CP 6.208, NEM
What I have in mind here is Peirce's notion that every part of a true
continuum is itself a true continuum. Since each Platonic world is
represented by a merged collection of marks on the blackboard, the latter
is *also *a blackboard; or perhaps we should distinguish it, for the sake
of clarity, by calling it a "whiteboard" whose own continuity is derived
from and dependent on that of the underlying blackboard. It is then "a
discontinuous mark" on the whiteboard, which is itself a merged collection
of white marks on the original clean blackboard, that represents "this
Universe of Actual Existence." If this is heading in the right direction,
then perhaps we can resolve our genial disagreement about the
"ur-continuity" by viewing the blackboard as *creative* 3ns and the
whiteboard as *created *3ns--especially since, unlike the former, the
latter requires both 1ns (whiteness) and 2ns (boundary), without being
reducible to either.
On Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 7:40 PM, Jon Alan Schmidt <jonalanschm...@gmail.com>
> Gary R., List:
> I was pressed for time when I wrote my initial, brief response to this, so
> I am coming back to it to make a few additional comments.
> GR: ... what Peirce calls the "pure zero" state (which, in my thinking,
> is roughly equivalent to the later blackboard metaphor) ...
> After reviewing Sheriff's chapter about all of this, and in light of the
> additional discussions that have happened today, I am inclined to agree
> with you. He quotes CP 6.217, where Peirce calls it "absolutely undefined
> and unlimited possibility--boundless possibility," and adds (importantly)
> that "of *potential* being there was in that initial state no lack."
> That sounds like the clean blackboard to me.
> GR: "'Potential', in Peirce's usage, means indeterminate yet capable of
> determination in any specific case" (CP 6.185-86) [Sheriff, 4).
> This is another helpful definition. By contrast, "an Idea is incapable
> of perfect actualization on account of its essential vagueness" (EP 2.479);
> i.e., it is a possibility (vague), but not a potentiality (general). There
> is still some mixing of these two concepts, but the distinction is
> gradually becoming clearer in my mind.
> GR: I think it is possible to overemphasize this "parallel" [with
> Genesis] ...
> I agree, and I hope that it was clear when I drew the same parallel that I
> was expressing my own view, not something that I attribute to Peirce.
> GR: I would tend to disagree with you, Jon, that this ur-continutiy is
> "creat*ed*" 3ns; rather, I see it as "creat*ive*" 3ns as distinguished
> from the 3ns that become the habits and laws of a created universe. So, in
> a word, my view is that only these laws and habits are the 'created' 3nses.
> I am still mulling this over for myself, but again, I suspect that your
> terminology is closer to expressing how Peirce thought about the blackboard.
> On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 7:22 PM, Jon Alan Schmidt <
> jonalanschm...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Gary R., List:
>> Thanks for the reminders about Sheriff's book; it was one of my first
>> introductions to Peirce's thought, and I even re-read it recently, but I
>> need to review the portions that you mentioned in light of the discussions
>> in this thread. Thanks also for the additional information on the role of
>> the categories in Peirce's classification of the sciences.
>> GR: I would tend to disagree with you, Jon, that this ur-continutiy is
>> "creat*ed*" 3ns; rather, I see it as "creat*ive*" 3ns as distinguished
>> from the 3ns that become the habits and laws of a created universe. So, in
>> a word, my view is that only these laws and habits are the 'created' 3nses.
>> As I said, taking the blackboard to be created Thirdness is no more than
>> a working hypothesis at this point. If the diagram is confined to the
>> blackboard itself, as Peirce's description seems to indicate, then your
>> characterization makes more sense. I am still toying with a couple of
>> other alternatives, as well.
>> GR: How can one deny Peirce's own words here?
>> Yes, any alleged "reading" or "interpretation" that directly contradicts
>> what an author explicitly states in the text is obviously untenable.
>> Jon Alan Schmidt - Olathe, Kansas, USA
>> Professional Engineer, Amateur Philosopher, Lutheran Layman
>> www.LinkedIn.com/in/JonAlanSchmidt - twitter.com/JonAlanSchmidt
>> On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 3:29 PM, Gary Richmond <gary.richm...@gmail.com>
>>> Jon, Edwina, Gary F, Soren, List,
>>> John Sheriff, in *Charles Peirce's Guess at the Riddle: Grounds for
>>> Human Significance*, in commenting on what Peirce calls the "pure zero"
>>> state (which, in my thinking, is roughly equivalent to the later blackboard
>>> metaphor) quotes Peirce as follows: "So of potential being there was in
>>> that initial state no lack" (CP 6.217) and continues, " 'Potential', in
>>> Peirce's usage, means indeterminate yet capable of determination in any
>>> specific case" (CP 6.185-86) [Sheriff, 4). This "potential being" is, then,
>>> decidedly *not *the "nothing of negation," but rather "the germinal
>>> nothing, in which the whole universe is involved or foreshadowed" (CP
>>> Sheriff had just prior to this written: "Peirce frequently drew the
>>> parallel between his theory and the Genesis account" and discusses this in
>>> a longish paragraph. I think it is possible to overemphasize this
>>> "parallel" (and, as I've commented here in the past, Peirce's "pure
>>> zero"--or ur-continuity in the blackboard metaphor--seems to me closer to
>>> the Kemetic *Nun *in the dominant Ancient Egyptian creation myth; while
>>> it should be noted in this regard that Peirce knew hieroglyphics and may
>>> well have been acquainted with this myth).
>>> Jon wrote:
>>> [M]y current working hypothesis is that "Pure mind, as creative of
>>> thought" (CP 6.490) is the Person who conceives the *possible *chalk
>>> marks and then draws *some *of them on the blackboard, rather than the
>>> blackboard itself as a "theater" where chalk marks somehow spontaneously
>>> appear; instead, the blackboard represents *created *Thirdness.
>>> However, I will tentatively grant that your analysis may be closer to what
>>> Peirce himself had in mind.
>>> I would tend to disagree with you, Jon, that this ur-continutiy is "creat
>>> *ed*" 3ns; rather, I see it as "creat*ive*" 3ns as distinguished from
>>> the 3ns that become the habits and laws of a created universe. So, in a
>>> word, my view is that only these laws and habits are the 'created' 3nses.
>>> One way of considering this is via the Ancient Egyptian myths just
>>> mentioned. In these Kemetic myths there is "one incomprehensible Power,
>>> alone, unique, inherent in the Nun, the indefiniable cosmic sea, the
>>> infinite source of the Universe, outside of any notion of Space or Time."
>>> At Heliopolis this Power, the Creator, is given the name, Atum, "which
>>> means both All and Nothing [involving] the potential totality of the
>>> Universe which is as yet unformed and intangible. . . Atum must. . .
>>> distinguish himself from the Nun and thus annihilate the Nun in its
>>> original inert state." (all quotations are from Lucie Lamy's book, *Egyptian
>>> Mysteries: New light on ancient knowledge*, p 8, a popularization of
>>> her grandfather, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz's, great scholarly work in
>>> Egyptology, still not as influential in that field as it ought to be in my
>>> I won't go further into this myth now except to note that even at this
>>> 'stage' of proto-creation that the above "first act is expressed in three
>>> major ways" such that A*tum*, as *tum* in Nun, "projects" himself as
>>> Khepri (that is, becoming, or potential). All the *neteru* ('powers'
>>> according to S. de Lubicz, but usually translated incorrectly as 'gods')
>>> will follow from that priordial 'act'.
>>> Although there might now be this disagreement as to what the
>>> ur-continuity represents, I would not disagree with you whatsoever, Jon, in
>>> your view that it was Peirce's belief that God is "Really creator of all
>>> three Universes of Experience" since opposition to this view would fly in
>>> the face of Peirce own words: "The word 'God' ... is *the *definable
>>> proper name, signifying *Ens necessarium*; in my belief Really creator
>>> of all three Universes of Experience" (CP 6.452). How can one deny Peirce's
>>> own words here?
>>> Returning now to Sheriff's book, after a fascinating Preface (which, for
>>> one example, makes pointed reference to Stephen Hawking's essay, "A Unified
>>> Theory of the Universe Would Be the Ultimate Triumph of Human Reason"),
>>> Chapter 1, "Peirce's Cosmogonic Philosophy" opens with this quote:"[T]he
>>> problem of how genuine triadic relations first arose in the world is a
>>> better, because more definite, formulation of the problem of how life came
>>> Moving on to another topic taken up in this thread, Edwina's claim that
>>> *everything* is semiosic does not seem to acknowledge the pervasive use
>>> of the categories throughout Peirce's *oevre *which does not pertain to
>>> semiotics as such, including his classification of the sciences (as you
>>> mentioned), nor the placement of the first of the cenoscopic sciences,
>>> viz., phenomenology, well ahead of logic as semeiotic in this
>>> classification, nor the content of phenomenology itself, concerned
>>> explicitly with categorial relations in themselves (and there is much, much
>>> else which Peirce emphatically associated with the categories which is not
>>> But considering for now just Peirce's Classification of the
>>> Sciences, Beverly Kent, who wrote the only book length monograph on the
>>> topic, *Charles S. Peirce: Logic and the Classification of the Sciences*,
>>> has a number of things to say about the categories in relation to the
>>> classification. For example, after mentioning that one of his earliest
>>> classification schemes was based on the categories, Kent comments: "Fearing
>>> that his trichotomic might be misleading him, he set it aside and developed
>>> alternative schemes, only to find himself ineluctably led back. Even so, it
>>> was some time before he conceded that the resulting divisions conformed to
>>> his categories" (Kent, 19). Phyllis Chiasson, as I recall, makes much the
>>> same point.
>>> Kent later remarks that regarding his final *Outline Classification of
>>> the Sciences* (which he stuck with, prefaced virtually all his
>>> subsequent works in logic with, and thought "sufficiently satisfactory" as
>>> late as 1911), that Peirce wrote that "most of the divisions are
>>> 'trichotomic' " (Kent, 121) in the sense of involving the three categories
>>> (much as Jon outlined them in a recent post).
>>> Gary R
>>> [image: Gary Richmond]
>>> *Gary Richmond*
>>> *Philosophy and Critical Thinking*
>>> *Communication Studies*
>>> *LaGuardia College of the City University of New York*
>>> *C 745*
>>> *718 482-5690 <718%20482-5690>*
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