Very rich post, Gary (F), thank you! I've recently been alerted to the
importance of Deacon by Gary (R) and he is now 'on my list'.

On the interesting issue of Deacon's 'Absence' which you raise in the last
paragraph, I wonder whether the Absent is absent from Being or just the
actual world. If the latter, perhaps it is not entirely inaccessible to a
Peircean phaneroscopy fearlessly navigating the Platonic Universe.

Cheers, Cathy

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 4:24 AM, Gary Fuhrman <> wrote:

> Jon, Gary, Ben and List,****
> ** **
> There's another part of the *Minute Logic* which may be related to the
> connection Jon is making between “objective logic” and “categories”. It is
> definitely related to the argument in Terrence Deacon's *Incomplete Nature
> *, which Gary R. suggested some time ago as worthy of study here. We
> haven't found a way to study it systematically, but maybe it's just as well
> to do it one post at a time. Or one thread at a time, if replies ensue.***
> *
> ** **
> The central part of Deacon's argument presents “a theory of emergent
> dynamics that shows how dynamical process can become organized around and
> with respect to possibilities not realized” (Deacon, p. 16). Depending on
> the context, he also refers to these “possibilities not realized” as
> “absential” or “ententional”. His argument is explicitly anti-nominalistic
> and acknowledges the reality of a kind of final causation in the physical
> universe (“teleodynamics”). It has a strong affinity with Peirce's argument
> for a mode of being which has its reality *in futuro*. In other words, he
> argues for the reality of Thirdness without calling it that – indeed
> without using Peirce's phaneroscopic categories at all. (Personally i doubt
> that he is familiar enough with them to use them fluently, but maybe he
> decided not to use them for some reason.)****
> ** **
> “Incompleteness” is a crucial concept of what i might call Deaconian
> realism. In physical terms, it is connected with Prigogine's idea of 
> *dissipative
> structures* (including organisms) as *far from equilibrium* in a universe
> where the spontaneous tendency is *toward* equilibrium, as the Second Law
> of thermodynamics would indicate. Teleodynamic processes take
> incompleteness to a higher level of complexity, but i don't propose to go
> into that now. Instead i'll present here a Peircean parallel to Deacon's
> “incompleteness”. The connection lies in the fact that *incompleteness*is 
> etymologically – and perhaps mathematically? – equivalent to
> *infinity*.****
> ** **
> First, we have this passage from Peirce's Minute Logic of 1902:****
> ** **
> [[[ I doubt very much whether the Instinctive mind could ever develop into
> a Rational mind. I should expect the reverse process sooner. The Rational
> mind is the Progressive mind, and as such, by its very capacity for growth,
> seems more infantile than the Instinctive mind. Still, it would seem that
> Progressive minds must have, in some mysterious way, probably by arrested
> development, grown from Instinctive minds; and they are certainly
> enormously higher. The Deity of the Théodicée of Leibniz is as high an
> Instinctive mind as can well be imagined; but it impresses a scientific
> reader as distinctly inferior to the human mind. It reminds one of the view
> of the Greeks that Infinitude is a defect; for although Leibniz imagines
> that he is making the Divine Mind infinite, by making its knowledge Perfect
> and Complete, he fails to see that in thus refusing it the powers of
> thought and the possibility of improvement he is in fact taking away
> something far higher than knowledge. It is the human mind that is infinite.
> One of the most remarkable distinctions between the Instinctive mind of
> animals and the Rational mind of man is that animals rarely make mistakes,
> while the human mind almost invariably blunders at first, and repeatedly,
> where it is really exercised in the manner that is distinctive of it. If
> you look upon this as a defect, you ought to find an Instinctive mind
> higher than a Rational one, and probably, if you cross-examine yourself,
> you will find you do. The greatness of the human mind lies in its ability
> to discover truth notwithstanding its not having Instincts strong enough to
> exempt it from error. ]] CP 7.380 ]****
> ** **
> This suggests to me that fallibility – which not even Peirce attributes to
> God – is a highly developed species of incompleteness. The connection with
> infinity, and with Thirdness, is further brought out in Peirce's Harvard
> Lecture of 1903 “On Phenomenology”:****
> ** **
> [[[ The third category of which I come now to speak is precisely that
> whose reality is denied by nominalism. For although nominalism is not
> credited with any extraordinarily lofty appreciation of the powers of the
> human soul, yet it attributes to it a power of originating a kind of ideas
> the like of which Omnipotence has failed to create as real objects, and
> those general conceptions which men will never cease to consider the glory
> of the human intellect must, according to any consistent nominalism, be
> entirely wanting in the mind of Deity. Leibniz, the modern nominalist *par
> excellence*, will not admit that God has the faculty of Reason; and it
> seems impossible to avoid that conclusion upon nominalistic principles.***
> *
> ** **
> But it is not in Nominalism alone that modern thought has attributed to
> the human mind the miraculous power of originating a category of thought
> that has no counterpart at all in Heaven or Earth. Already in that
> strangely influential hodge-podge, the salad of Cartesianism, the doctrine
> stands out very emphatically that the only force is the force of impact,
> which clearly belongs to the category of Reaction; and ever since Newton's
> *Principia* began to affect the general thought of Europe through the
> sympathetic spirit of Voltaire, there has been a disposition to deny any
> kind of action except purely mechanical action. The Corpuscular Philosophy
> of Boyle — although the pious Boyle did not himself recognize its character
> — was bound to come to that in the last resort; and the idea constantly
> gained strength throughout the eighteenth century and the nineteenth until
> the doctrine of the Conservation of Energy, generalized rather loosely by
> philosophers, led to the theory of psycho-physical parallelism, against
> which there has, only of recent years, been any very sensible and
> widespread revolt. Psycho-physical parallelism is merely the doctrine that
> mechanical action explains all the real facts, except that these facts have
> an internal aspect which is a little obscure and a little shadowy.****
> ** **
> To my way of regarding philosophy, all this movement was perfectly good
> scientific procedure. For the simpler hypothesis which excluded the
> influence of ideas upon matter had to be tried and persevered in until it
> was thoroughly exploded. But I believe that now at last, at any time for
> the last thirty years, it has been apparent, to every man who sufficiently
> considered the subject, that there is a mode of influence upon external
> facts which cannot be resolved into mere mechanical action, so that
> henceforward it will be a grave error of scientific philosophy to overlook
> the universal presence in the phenomenon of this third category. ]] CP
> 5.62-4; slightly variant reading in EP2:157. ]****
> ** **
> In these terms, Deacon's argument is that “actions” governed by functions
> and purposes are not *parallel* to the physical world but *continuous*with 
> it, i.e. emergent from it but still requiring it for actualization. He
> is essentially carrying forward Peirce's argument above, that there are
> real forms of action that are not mechanical, by incorporating into it some
> of the physical theories and observations that were not available to
> Peirce. Others have been doing this since the mid-20th Century, but
> Deacon's is the most fully developed version i've seen yet that is worked
> out in purely physical terms. This is his way of bringing the psychical
> facts out of the shadows.****
> ** **
> Notice however that Peirce speaks of Thirdness as *present* in the
> phenomenon. Deacon on the other hand speaks of it as Absence (the title of
> his first chapter, appropriately numbered 0). This makes Deacon's
> terminology incompatible with Peirce's phaneroscopy, which “is the
> description of the *phaneron*; and by the *phaneron* I mean the
> collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the
> mind” (CP 1.284). However, i don't think Deacon would argue that his
> Absence (Peirce's Thirdness) is not present to the mind *in any sense*;
> so i don't see this terminological difference as theoretically significant.
> ****
> ** **
> Gary F.****
> ** **
> } Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sustainer
> [Finnegans Wake 5] {****
> ** **
> }{ gnoxic studies: Peirce****
> ** **
> ** **
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