Forwarded from Claudio Guerri, who clearly meant to send this to the list. To 
respond (to a peirce-l post) with a post TO peirce-l, click on "Reply All," not 
on "Reply." - Best, Ben

----- Original Message ----- 

Ben, Diane, List,

Time is for Peirce a 'logical time', so there is no real duration... 
Past, Present and Future are just logical considered in a synchronic triadic 

There is an other difficult (and very serious) aspect in Firstness... 
Ben (and lots of other scholars) gives a perfect explanation from a 
philosophical point of view, if we consider ONLY Peirce's writings in it self, 
for the purpose of a logic/semiotic reasoning, for an abstract sign. 
But what happens if we consider a 'real sign' like a jar of mayonnaise if we 
have to make a market research or something more complex as the sign 

      Firstness Design the vague quality 
      Secondness Construction the determinate/singular fact 
      Thirdness Habitability the general law 

 (thanks Ben for the nice table)
Is Design really something 'vague'? 
Yes, it is 'really vague' in respect of the sign-Architecture, since it is only 
the possibility, but is is a very complex and consistent aspect in itself... it 
is a Theoretical Practice (Althusser) in respect to Architecture and its 
content consist in 3 years (in the US) or 6 years studies (in Argentina) in all 
Schools or Faculties of Architecture... though, I would propose to consider 
'possibility' as a very much better option to explain Firstness...


Benjamin Udell said the following on 14/03/2012 04:55 p.m.: 

  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 Secondness.
  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

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