Having gotten a better handle on Peirce's concept of a Quasi-mind, we can
now make another attempt at sorting out what he meant by "perfect sign" in
EP 2:545n25. Here is a summary of what that text tells us about it.
- It is the aggregate formed by a Sign and all the Signs that its
occurrence carries with it, and involves the present existence of no other
Sign except those that are its ingredients.
- It is not in a statical condition, because it is an existent that
acts; and whatever acts, changes.
- Its every real ingredient is aging, its energy of action upon the
Interpretant is running low, its sharp edges are wearing down, and its
outlines are becoming more indefinite.
- It is perpetually being acted upon by its Object, receiving from it
the accretions of new Signs that bring it fresh energy and kindle the
energy that it already had, but which had lain dormant.
- It constantly undergoes spontaneous changes that do not happen by its
will, but are phenomena of growth.
- It is a Quasi-mind and the Sheet of Assertion of Existential Graphs.
The Perfect Sign involves the *present *existence (2ns) of *only* those
Signs that comprise it, which are aging and wearing down; yet it continues
receiving accretions of *new *Signs (3ns) from its Object and undergoing
*spontaneous *changes (1ns). After further contemplation, I now believe
that Peirce was describing *the same thing* here as in the passage about
"the ideal sign" that I have mentioned previously, which he wrote a couple
of years earlier.
CSP: What we call a "fact" is something having the structure of a
proposition, but supposed to be an element of the very universe itself. The
purpose of every sign is to express "fact," and by being joined with other
signs, to approach as nearly as possible to determining an interpretant
which would be the *perfect Truth*, the absolute Truth, and as such (at
least, we may use this language) would be the very Universe. Aristotle
gropes for a conception of perfection, or *entelechy*, which he never
succeeds in making clear. We may adopt the word to mean the very fact, that
is, the ideal sign which should be quite perfect, and so identical,--in
such identity as a sign may have,--with the very matter denoted united with
the very form signified by it. The entelechy of the Universe of being,
then, the Universe *qua *fact, will be that Universe in its aspect as a
sign, the "Truth" of being. The "Truth," the fact that is not abstracted
but complete, is the ultimate interpretant of every sign. (EP 2:304; 1904)
Contrary to my previous hypothesis, "Perfect Sign" is *not* synonymous with
"Quasi-mind"; instead, it designates the Truth that corresponds to the
Universe. As such, it also satisfies the last bullet above, since the
Sheet of Assertion or Phemic Sheet is not only a Quasi-mind, but also "a
Seme of *The Truth*, that is, of the widest Universe of Reality" (CP 4.553;
1906). Of course, this does not at all entail that a Quasi-mind and the
Universe are the same thing.
CSP: … one and the same construction may be, when regarded in two
different ways, two altogether different diagrams; and that to which it
testifies in the one capacity, it must not be considered as testifying to
in the other capacity. For example, the Entire Existential Graph of a
Phemic Sheet, in any state of it, is a Diagram of the logical Universe, as
it is also a Diagram of a Quasi-mind; but it must not, on *that* account,
be considered as testifying to the identity of those two. It is like a
telescope eye piece which at one focus exhibits a star at which the
instrument is pointed, and at another exhibits all the faults of the
objective lens. (NEM 4:324; 1906)
Any comments? I am guessing that these topics must simply not be of much
interest, or people are just very busy these days, since I find it hard to
believe that everyone agrees with everything I have been posting. :-)
Jon Alan Schmidt - Olathe, Kansas, USA
Professional Engineer, Amateur Philosopher, Lutheran Layman
www.LinkedIn.com/in/JonAlanSchmidt - twitter.com/JonAlanSchmidt
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