Diane, list

Peirce generally associated the categories with modalities more readily than 
with times:

      Firstness possibility, the may-be the vague quality. 
      Secondness actuality the determinate/singular fact 
      Thirdness (conditional) necessity/destiny, the would-be the general law 

Look up "Firstness" etc. at the Commens Dictionary of Peirce's Terms, whichs 
consists of his own definitions. 

Peirce regarded Secondness as action and reaction. In a letter dated Oct. 4, 
1904, to Lady Welby (Collected Papers v. 8 paragraph 330), he discusses 
secondness, thirdness, and times.
  Generally speaking genuine secondness consists in one thing acting upon 
another, -- brute action. I say brute, because so far as the idea of any law or 
reason comes in, Thirdness comes in. When a stone falls to the ground, the law 
of gravitation does not act to make it fall. The law of gravitation is the 
judge upon the bench who may pronounce the law till doomsday, but unless the 
strong arm of the law, the brutal sheriff, gives effect to the law, it amounts 
to nothing. True, the judge can create a sheriff if need be; but he must have 
one. The stone's actually falling is purely the affair of the stone and the 
earth at the time. This is a case of reaction. So is existence which is the 
mode of being of that which reacts with other things. But there is also action 
without reaction. _Such is the action of the previous upon the subsequent._ It 
is a difficult question whether the idea of this one-sided determination is a 
pure idea of secondness or whether it involves thirdness. At present, the 
former view seems to me correct. [....]
Insofar as action-and-reaction is a thing of the present, Peirce seems to 
regard the present as well as the past as a Second. Then Peirce talks about 
Kant's ideas and how maybe temporal causation is an action upon ideas, not upon 
existents. Then Peirce says:
  [....] But since our idea of the past is precisely the idea of that which is 
absolutely determinate, fixed, fait accompli, and dead, as against the future 
which is living, plastic, and determinable, it appears to me that the idea of 
one-sided action, in so far as it concerns the being of the determinate, is a 
pure idea of Secondness; and I think that great errors of metaphysics are due 
to looking at the future as something that will have been past. I cannot admit 
that the idea of the future can be so translated into the Secundal ideas of the 
past. To say that a given kind of event never will happen is to deny that there 
is any date at which its happening will be past; but it is not equivalent to 
any affirmation about a past relative to any assignable date. When we pass from 
the idea of an event to saying that it never will happen, or will happen in 
endless repetition, or introduce in any way the idea of endless repetition, I 
will say the idea is _mellonized_ ({mellön}}, about to be, do, or suffer). When 
I conceive a fact as acting but not capable of being acted upon, I will say 
that it is _parelelythose_ ({parelélythös}, past) and the mode of being which 
consists in such action I will call _parelelythosine_ (-ine = {einai}, being); 
I regard the former as an idea of Thirdness, the latter as an idea of 
Peirce sometimes spoke of the present as a single instant of zero duration; 
could that kind of present be a first? In its extreme singularity, it would be 
a Second in Peirce's terms. We've talked in the past at peirce-l about how the 
"bare present," as a tiny, indeterminate, phenomenological moment, might be a 

Best, Ben

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Diane Stephens 
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:56 AM
Subject: [peirce-l] a question

In the book Semiotics I by Donald Thomas, he includes a chart which shows 
concepts associated with firsts, seconds and thirds.  For example, a first is 
quality, a second is fact and a third is law.  I understand all but second as 
past as in: 

First - present 
Second - past 
Third - future 

I would appreciate some help.


Diane Stephens
Swearingen Chair of Education
Wardlaw 255
College of Education
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Fax 803-777-3193

You are receiving this message because you are subscribed to the PEIRCE-L 
listserv.  To remove yourself from this list, send a message to 
lists...@listserv.iupui.edu with the line "SIGNOFF PEIRCE-L" in the body of the 
message.  To post a message to the list, send it to PEIRCE-L@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU

Reply via email to