Gary M.,


The passage in Deely to which you refer defines Peirce’s concept of Firstness 
by collecting several quotations from Peirce that refer to it. I’m not sure why 
you have singled out one of those quotations in connection with “metaphysical 
concerns”, but i think a better acquaintance with Peirce’s phaneroscopic 
(phenomenological) categories would serve you better in the task of 
interpreting both Peirce’s text and Deely’s. Both of them are referring 
primarily to logic, i.e. semiotic, and while it is true that just about any 
principle of logic “potentially refers to metaphysical concerns”, those 
concerns are secondary and derivative. Comparisons with Heidegger’s terminology 
are even more remote, in this context. I think you’d be better advised to 
peruse Selection 28 in EP2; the passage from Peirce that Deely quotes from CP 
5.469 is a variant reading from that same MS (318), the MS in which he 
introduces the term “semiosis”.


Gary F.


} The confusions which occupy us arise when language is like an engine idling, 
not when it is doing work. [Wittgenstein] {


 <> }{ gnoxic 
studies: Peirce




From: C S Peirce discussion list [mailto:PEIRCE-L@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU] On Behalf 
Of Gary Moore
Sent: April-26-12 2:38 AM
Subject: [peirce-l] Fw: [peirce-l] Fw: [peirce-l] PEIRCE QUOTATION FROM JOHN 


Dear Doctor Rose,

Thank you for your reply! 


The quote from John Deely had an important original context because it 
potentially referred to metaphysical concerns with “positive internal 
characters of the subject”. 


Now, in my incredibly small experience with Peirce, I have noticed there are 
times when he pays strict logical attention and times when he is more 
‘colloquial’. Sometimes the ‘colloquial’ is not just ‘ordinary discourse itself 
– which I have argued elsewhere in relation to Umberto Eco ALWAYS triumphs over 
philosophical discourse [which is always a mere interruption to ‘ordinary 
discourse’ that always goes on to render philosophy insignificant] – but rather 
refers to old style ‘metaphysics’ as he does here. 


Deely has several special [to himself] issues that would put the Peirce quote 
into a completely different light possibly. One such issue is the theological 
‘soul’. Another relates to his very good book on and continuing high regard for 
Martin Heidegger. I would think neither Peirce nor Heidegger would accept 
literally the metaphysical connotation of “positive internal characters of the 
subject”. Heidegger, in whom Deely most properly and almost uniquely recognizes 
the semiotic aspect of Heidegger [something I was lucky enough to see in 
Heidegger’s 1916 doctoral thesis on the categories of John Duns Scotus whom 
Peirce admired]. 


Heidegger would unreservedly reject any literal reference to “internal” and to 
“subject” in his “Dasein” or Being-there since it is a field of experience 
presented to the human being which, as far as it is ‘known’ is completely 
‘external’ and open to be delimited by language. It would seem to me Peirce 
would do the same since it seems to me that for him experience is an 
undelimited whole or totality. But I could very well be wrong on this for 


Heidegger does recognize obscurely an unknown aspect of Dasein. But since such 
a ‘thing’ is not experienced directly and is not related to language as either 
‘ordinary’ nor ‘philosophical’ discourse, it can only be approached obliquely 
or asymptotically. The Heideggerian scholar William J. Richardson SJ does this 
with Lacanian psychoanalysis which, it seems anyway, Deely disapproves of. The 
point is, it seems with both Heidegger and Peirce, the popular phrase “What you 
see is what you get” is taken in a strict and radical sense. I think also both 
consider the ‘unconscious’ as a matter of historicity being logically being 
teased out of the long dream of language which completely overwhelms any one 


Another issue with Deely and Heidegger related to this is Deely’s seemingly 
strict separation between human consciousness, which dreams the dream of 
language, and the ‘animal’ which largely does not do so. Heidegger also 
separates the two but simply as an observation and method of trying to delimit 
language within manageable bounds, and not because of a religious agenda since 
he explicitly holds for an “atheistic methodology”. In other words, if he had 
found another animal than human being he could converse with, he would have no 
ideological or theological problem, being more attuned to Nietzsche in this 


Therefore I raise another question: “Does Peirce raise a distinct separation 
between the human being as the only linguistic animal, and if so, where, and if 
not, where?”


Gary C. Moore



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