PEIRCE-L Digest 1306 -- February 22, 1998

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   From PEIRCE-L Forum, Jan 5, 1998, [name of author of message],
   "re: Peirce on Teleology"   

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Topics covered in this issue include:

  1) Re: A new liberation movement?
	by piat[…] (Jim L Piat)
  2) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  3) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by piat[…] (Jim L Piat)
  4) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  5) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  6) Re: A new liberation movement?
	by Joseph Ransdell 
  7) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  8) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by Charles Pyle 
  9) Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
	by BugDaddy[…] (BugDaddy)
 10) Re: A new liberation movement?
	by Joseph Ransdell 
 11) Persistent Conversation
	by Joseph Ransdell 
 12) Re: A new liberation movement?
	by Cathy Legg 


Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 12:08:10 -0500
From: piat[…] (Jim L Piat)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: A new liberation movement?
Message-ID: <19980222.120812.3910.0.piat[…]>

On Sun, 22 Feb 1998 08:12:18 -0600 (CST) Charles Pyle
>Would it make sense to say that Tom has ceased to function at the 
>of secondness, the level of brute physical being, but that he has not
>ceased to function at the level of thirdness, the level of signs?
>Charles Pyle
Charles, I like that!  Perhaps our continuing activities of interest in
the ideas, values and contributions Tom mediated now become the physical
means by which his thirdness is perpetuated.

Dear Cathy,

Oh dear Cathy, dear Tom and all his loved ones... 

I think in continuing what he loved, we honor him.   You know, as I
mentioned to you elsewhere, I once feared that my own unrestrained
emotional outburst may have been exploitive.  Now I think not.  The paths
are many.   Affectionately,

Jim Piat

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Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 17:19:32 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)

A message Joe Ransdell posted to Peirce-l on 11 Sep 97:

> This is the passage in Peirce that Thomas Riese recently referred to.
> Joe Ransdell
> ==================quote from Peirce CP 6.95 (1903)=================
> 	The first thing to be taken into consideration is the general upshot of
> Kant's _Critic of the Pure Reason_. The first step of Kant's thought --
> the first _moment_ of it, if you like that phraseology -- is to
> recognize that all our knowledge is, and forever must be, relative to
> human experience and to the nature of the human mind. That conception
> being well digested, the second moment of the reasoning becomes evident,
> namely, that as soon as it has been shown concerning any conception that
> it is essentially involved in the very forms of logic or other forms of
> knowing, from that moment there can no longer be any rational hesitation
> about fully accepting that conception as valid for the universe of our
> possible experience. To repeat an example I have given before, you look
> at an object and say "That is red." I ask you how you prove that. You
> tell me you see it. Yes, you see _something_; but you do not see _that
> it is red_; because _that it is red_ is a proposition; and you do not
> see a proposition. What you see is an image and has no resemblance to a
> proposition, and there is no logic in saying that your proposition is
> proved by the image. For a proposition can only be logically based on a
> premiss and a premiss is a proposition. To this you very properly reply,
> with Kant's aid, that my objections allege what is perfectly true, but
> that instead of showing that you have no right to say the thing is red
> they conclusively prove that you are logically justified in doing so. At
> this point, the idealist appears before the tribunal of your reason with
> the suggestion that since these metaphysical conceptions, that repose
> upon their being involved in the forms of logic, are only valid for
> experience and since all our knowledge is relative to the human mind,
> they are not valid for things as they objectively are; and since the
> conception of _existence_ is preeminently a conception of that
> description, it is a mere fairy tale to say that outward objects
> _exist_, the only objects of possible experience being our own ideas.
> Hereupon comes the third moment of Kant's thought, which was only made
> prominent in the second edition, not, as Kant truly says, that it was
> not already in the book, but that it was an idea in which Kant's mind
> was so completely immersed that he failed to see the necessity of making
> an explicit statement of it, until Fichte misinterpreted him. It is
> really a most luminous and central element of Kant's thought. I may say
> that it is the very sun round which all the rest revolves. This third
> moment consists in the flat denial that the metaphysical conceptions do
> not apply to things in themselves. Kant never said that. What he said is
> that these conceptions do not apply beyond the limits of possible
> experience. But we have _direct experience of things in themselves_.
> Nothing can be more completely false than that we can experience only
> our own ideas. That is indeed without exaggeration the very epitome of
> _all_ falsity. Our knowledge of things in themselves is entirely
> _relative_, it is true; but all experience and all knowledge is
> knowledge of that which is, independently of being represented. Even
> lies invariably contain this much truth, that they represent themselves
> to be referring to something whose mode of being is independent of its
> being represented.^2 This is true even if the proposition relates to an
> object of representation as such. At the same time, no proposition can
> relate, or even thoroughly pretend to relate, to any object otherwise
> than as that object is represented. These things are utterly
> unintelligible as long as your thoughts are mere dreams. But as soon as
> you take into account that Secondness that jabs you perpetually in the
> ribs, you become awake to their truth. Duns Scotus and Kant are the
> great assertors of this doctrine, for which Thomas Reid deserves some
> credit too. But Kant failed to work out all the consequences of this
> third moment of thought and considerable retractions are called for,
> accordingly, from some of the positions of his Transcendental Dialectic.
> Nor in other respects must it be supposed that I assent to everything
> either in Scotus or in Kant. We all commit our blunders.
> ============end quote from Peirce CP 6.95================

Thomas Riese.


Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 14:18:44 -0500
From: piat[…] (Jim L Piat)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
Message-ID: <19980222.141846.13062.0.piat[…]>


In hope of being either affirmed or corrected I offer a distillation and
paraphrase of Kant three  thrusts:

I.  All of our knowledge of the world is achieved and limited by (but not
to) the apparatus that is us.

2.  Our knowledge of the world is in the form of propositions.

3.  Our knowledge is of a world not entirely of our own construction but
of a reality that exists independent of our knowledge of it.  We are
limited in how we know the world but this does not mean we have
constructed the world or that the world is a figment of our imagination.


Jim Piat

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Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 20:25:27 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)

Yes, Jim.



Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 21:28:59 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)

Once again, Jim:



Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 15:01:23
From: Joseph Ransdell 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: A new liberation movement?
Message-ID: <[…]>

At 05:30 AM 2/22/98 -0600, Cathy Legg wrote:

>On Thu, 19 Feb 1998 Joe Ransdell reposted:
>> Perhaps it is time for a new liberation movement that protests the
>> disenablement of the dead! It is, after all, something we all have a
>> future as well as present interest in. Indeed, I don't know what our
>> present interest could be if it is not itself something in the future.
>"I don't want to become immortal through my work, I want to become 
>immortal through not dying".
>Woody Allen. 
>However "real" Tom may remain, as idea in the minds of list-members, and 
>in his subtle, profound and utterly unquantifiable impact on the list, 
>the fact remains that he has died. His messages will no longer arrive in 
>my inbox and I miss them.
>At this time so close to his passing, I for one *want* to mourn him as an 
>individual, and to testify to his individual talents, achievements, and 
>his personal qualities. Philosophical exploration of how treatment of the 
>dead might be tailored to benefit the community they were part of all 
>sounds somewhat exploitative to me.
>Just a personal reaction, but one worth sharing, I think.

I don't think it is exploitative, Cathy, and I don't understand why you
think that taking the occasion of the messages on peirce-l in connection
with Tom Anderson's death to do some philosophical exploration is
exploitative in some pejorative sense, especially in view of Tom's own
devotion to the raising of questions.  "Appropriate" is the word I would
have thought more obviously applicable.  But perhaps that, too, is only a
personal reaction.  Then, too, I should think there are very probably some
on the list who have an adverse personal reaction to people expressing
their personal feelings about his death here to begin with, regarding that
as being itself exploitative.  I don't agree with that either.  But most
importantly, I don't agree that there is an orthodoxy of sensibility on
this which is to be recognized here, which seems to me implicit in your not
giving reasons justifying the description of what I was doing as being
"exploitative", as if it were just self-evident.  

I am not offended -- I think you fired that off in a thoughtless moment
just as we all fire off messages thoughtlessly now and again, if we think
with passion at all -- but I do think you should justify your suggestion
that I was being exploitative in what is surely intended to be a pejorative

Best regards,  

Joe Ransdell

Joseph Ransdell - joseph.ransdell[…]  
Dept of Philosophy - 806  742-3158  (FAX 742-0730) 
Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas 79409   USA (Peirce website - beta)


Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 22:17:17 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)

Jim, the structure you gave is so far valid. Even as a theory of 
the physical universe. There is just only one further problem.
It's the problem of 'logical radiation', so to speak. (Peirce once 
said: "logic radiates like light" or so)

>From another point of view: if knowledge is of propositional form 
then for the sake of self-consistency our theory should be of 
propositional form too.

Here the geometry of the syllogism comes in.

We are finished if we can show that 'term', 'proposition' and 
'argument' are "continuous with one another", i.e. a matter of 

For that we have to correct Aristotle a bit. Just a little bit.

It's his 'nota notae est nota rei ipsius'. General transitivity.
The un-analyzability of being. One of Tom's last propositions. You 
certainly remember. You corrected him. But Tom was right. In a rather 
curious way.

It's sometimes also called the "mention--use problem".

But today is Sunday. We shouldn't work too much.
Slow reading!



Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 16:58:46 -0500
From: Charles Pyle 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
Message-ID: <34F09F96.B88804AD[…]>

Jim L Piat wrote:
> Thomas,
> In hope of being either affirmed or corrected I offer a distillation and
> paraphrase of Kant three  thrusts:
> I.  All of our knowledge of the world is achieved and limited by (but not
> to) the apparatus that is us.
> 2.  Our knowledge of the world is in the form of propositions.
> 3.  Our knowledge is of a world not entirely of our own construction but
> of a reality that exists independent of our knowledge of it.  We are
> limited in how we know the world but this does not mean we have
> constructed the world or that the world is a figment of our imagination.

And apparently Thomas Riese agreed with this immediately saying:

> Yes, Jim.

in one message and presupposing point 2 saying in another message:

> if knowledge is of propositional form 
> then for the sake of self-consistency our theory should be of 
> propositional form too.

I have two questions. Is the claim here that these three points
characterize Kant's view? And whether that is the case or not, it is
apparently being assumed as obviously true that #2 is true. But it is
not clear to me that it is true. I know how to ride a bicycle, but that
knowledge is not in the form or a proposition. It seems to me that there
is much I know that is not in the form of a proposition. Am I missing
something here?

Charles Pyle


Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 00:50:00 GMT
From: BugDaddy[…] (BugDaddy)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: The New List (Paragraph 4)
Message-ID: <34ffb242.11313838[…]>

piat[…] (Jim L Piat) wrote:

>On Sat, 21 Feb 1998 12:27:01 -0600 (CST) BugDaddy[…] (BugDaddy)

>>Is it really true that "The unity to which the understanding
>>reduces impressions is the unity of a proposition?"  Is this
>>really true, or do we not in fact have a prior unity in
>>"expressions which are in no way composite."  "Socrates is a man"
>>seems to have less unity than does Socrates, after all.  I'm sure
>>Socrates would have thought so.  Aristotle said "As there are in
>>the mind thoughts which do not involve truth or falsity, and also
>>those which must be either true or false, so it is in speech.
>>For truth and falsity imply combination and separation.  Nouns
>>and verbs, provided nothing is added are like thoughts without
>>combination or separation: "man" and "white" as isolated terms,
>>are not yet either true or false.  In proof of this, consider the
>>word *goat-stag.*  It has significance, but there is no truth or
>>falsity about it, unless *is* or *is not* is added, either in the
>>present or in some other tense."  [*On Interpretation 1]

>>So according to Aristotle, truth and falsity -- which seem to be
>>present in propositions -- imply combination and separation.  Now
>>what is combined is clearly not united, so it seems reasonable to
>>say that propositions are not the unity we are looking for.

>Good points.  A possible alternative interpretation is that the
>conception of the unity that is Socrates carries with it the underlying
>proposition "It , what is."  That which is present (a substance)  IS
>socrates.   In other words, Socrates, to be conceived as a unity involves
>more than the notion of substance or subject alone - it requires
>predication.  Words outside of propositions have no coherence or meaning.
> When you or Aristotle say "Socrates." by itself to mean Socrates,  you
>are implicitly making a proposition (It is Socrates) or (What is present
>is Socrates).  You are predicating the qualities that inhere in Socrates
>to that which is present. 

Hmmm...  I think that the statement that the primary unity is
that of a proposition leads immediately to the denial of
Firstness.  [It probably denies Secondness as well.]  For a First
is what it is in itself.  White is white,not a proposition about

Furthermore, Peirce's assertion seems to destroy poetry.  Does a
poem have no unity in itself or do we have to write an essay
about a poem to find unity, however vaguely related to it?
>>Continuing with Peirce, "This unity consists in the connection of
>>the predicate with the subject; and, therefore, that which is
>>implied in the copula, or the conception of being, is that which
>>completes the (W2.50) work of conceptions of reducing the
>>manifold to unity."  There is unity here, of course, a unity
>>which is brought about by combination and separation.

>>"The copula (or rather the verb which is copula in one of its
>>senses) means either actually is or would be, as in the two
>>propositions, "There is no griffin," and "A griffin is a winged
>>quadruped."  The point to be noted is that we are supposing that
>>all propositions can be expressed by saying "A is B" or "A would
>>be B."  Thus instead of saying "John loves Mary" we would say
>>"John is loving Mary."

>>Actually -- I understand that -- Aristotle's primary copula was
>>*belongs to* rather than *being.*  Thus "humanity belongs to
>>Socrates." rather than "Socrates is a man."  The two concepts
>>seem equivalent -- but are they?  

>Good question.  What happens if we assume they are until we encounter a
>problem with the assumption?


>>Aristotle's thought, was based upon the idea that a substance
>>(John) is capable of supporting various accidents (loving Mary).
>>At this point in the New List, we really haven't discussed
>>Peirce' categories yet so the reader would naturally suppose that
>>Peirce means something like what Aristotle meant.  Yet it is
>>unclear how to do that if substance has been equated to the
>>manifold of sensory impressions.

>I don't think Peirce equates substance to the manifold of sensory
>impressions.  I take substance only as equivalent to the "presence" of
>the manifold impressions.

I am not sure what the difference is.

>>Continuing with Peirce: "The conception of being contains only
>>that junction of predicate to subject wherein these two verbs
>>agree."  I am not sure that I understand this.  The verb is the
>>copula -- or the copula and predicate together.  So where do we
>>get *two* verbs in agreement?

>I think the two verbs Peirce is talking about in this sentence are the
>verbs "is" (as in "A griffin is a winged quadruped")  and "would be" (as
>in if a griffin were present it "would be" a winged quadruped)

Perhaps.  But then, I am not sure how they *agree.*

>>Continuing: "The conception of being, therefore, plainly has no
>>content."  Being seems to be (1) a link between subject and
>>predicate, (2) a mere place holder in propositions using it and
>>(3) the conception of that which satisfies (1) and (2).  In so
>>far as it satisfies (1) and (2) it is a mere homonym.  Thus,
>>perhaps being is pure homonymity.

>I don't fully understand how you are using homonymity here.  I understand
>Peirce as saying  that the verb "to be" connects the substance with what
>it is.  That which is present IS connected with some quality.  I would
>say he connects existence with essence.  That which is present with some

Being is predicated across all ten of Aristotle's categories.
But for Aristotle, the categories are mutually exclusive:  What
is substance is not a quantity; what is time is not a place.  So
if one asks which category being is in, we have a problem.  Yet,
substances are beings; so are quantities, qualities, times,
places...  Being can not exist synonymously in all categories....
It is one thing to say that a man is.  It is another to say that
white is.  It is another to say that a certain time is.  In each
case, the word being means something different.  When one word
takes on several different meanings, it is a homonym.

Some would seek to avoid this by arguing that being is an
analogy.  Thus they say that what I mean in predicating
accidental existence is *something like* what I mean when I
predicate substantial being.

Personally, I believe that *all* words are analogies of some
sort.  The classical example of analogy is found in the word
*healthy.*  For when I say that a man is healthy, I mean one
thing.  But if I say that food is healthy, I mean that food is
the cause of health.  If I say that urine is healthy [another
classical example] I mean that urine is a sign of health.  Thus
the one word has slightly different -- analogous --  meanings
when applied to different subjects.

But I see a problem in saying that being is applied analogously
across Aristotle's ten categories.  For no conceivable analogy
applies to all things.  As Peirce says, being has no content.
Indeed, for being to have content seems to destroy logic.

Now if being is not synonymous or analogous it seems to be
>>I don't know.  I hear people speak of the *analogy of being.*
>>Often one hears people speak of being as *beauty, truth and
>>goodness.*  I might like to dismiss such comments as illogical,
>>but should we?

>I've not heard that expression.  I wouldn't call it illogical I'd call it
>poetic license. Something like - Truth is beauty, beauty truth. That's
>all ye know and all ye need know -

Well, one hears of such things, regarding being.  I suppose that
what people mean is that being is an analogy of beauty, truth and
>>What is Kant's view?

>>Continuing:  "If we say "The stove is black," the stove is the
>>*substance,* from which its blackness has not been
>>differentiated, and the *is,* while it leaves the substance just
>>as it was seen, explains its confusedness, by the application to
>>it of *blackness* as a predicate."  I can't believe what I'm
>>seeing here.  Suddenly Peirce uses the word *substance* in the
>>sense that Aristotle used it.  He does so twice in one sentence.
>>[Is it possible that the text on Arisbe is corrupt?  Should it
>>read *subject* instead of *substance?*]  Was paragraph 3 an
>>exercise in futility, or is Peirce being deliberately ambiguous?

>It says "substance" in _The Essential Peirce _.   I'm not following your
>point here.  I think I've probably been missing something essential in
>what you've been saying even up to this  point - which would explain why
>I'm missing your point here.  Could you say a bit more about why you
>think Peirce might have intended Subject?  For me a subject is a
>substance of which something has been predicated. 

In paragraph 3, we have substance presented in a very vague way.
Yet here, he seems very comfortable in calling a stove a
*substance.*  If a stove is a substance, what about a man or a
dog or a house or a stone?  Indeed, is substance -- after all is
said and done -- the same as Aristotle said it is?

>>Continuing: "Though being does not affect the subject, it implies
>>an indefinite determinability of the predicate.  For if one could
>>know the copula and predicate of any proposition, as ". . . is a
>>tailed-man," he would know the predicate to be applicable to
>>something supposable, at least."  Hmmm.  It would seem that the
>>predicate is a definite determination of the subject.  But here
>>we are looking for a determination of the predicate, itself.

>I think what he's saying here is best revealed in the next sentence to
>the effect that there can be entirely indefinite subjects but there can
>not be entirely indeterminate predicates. We can say there is something
>that exists or is present with the quality X, but we can't say there is a
>something which is present or exists with no determinate qualities. 

No, you have it backwards.  He said that the predicate is
determinable, not the subject.  The subject can be completely

>There can be no Socrates without some qualities that are Socrates.  In
>other words, I think he is saying we can speak of qualities as existing
>without referencing a particular subject of which they are predicated but
>we can not speak of subjects as existing with no specific qualities.  At
>least this is what I think he's saying.  Seems to me that Sartre argued 
>that man was an exception to this notion in that for man qua man
>existence (presence) preceded essence.  That is to say man's essence
>(anything that can be predicated of him) is indeterminate and a matter of
>continuous free choice.  For Sartre, predicating anything of man is to
>reduce him to a mere object.  Thus man chooses his essence. 

Man *is* an object of logic.  I know that when you read the
messages I send you interpret them according to certain
conventions which have meaning only in terms of my objective

Is man an object to himself?  In some sense, perhaps not.  But if
not then man can not know himself.

But what Peirce says is not that every subject must be qualified,
but that every qualification *is* qualified.  This is the
opposite sort of question from what you attribute to Sarte.

>>Continuing: " Accordingly, we have propositions whose subjects
>>are entirely indefinite, as "There is a beautiful ellipse," where
>>the subject is merely something actual or potential; but we have
>>no propositions whose predicate is entirely indeterminate, for it
>>would be quite senseless to say, "A has the common characters of
>>all things," inasmuch as there are no such common characters."
>>Perhaps this explains what he meant in the previous sentences.
>>Certainly the weight of a proposition rests on its predicate.
>>The predicate must always exist for a proposition to have
>>meaning.  The subject must exist only if the predicate requires

>Except, one could argue along with Sartre, for the case of man

You seem to be thinking backward -- even granted Sarte's claims.
The *predicate* must exist.  If sickness did not exist then it
makes no sense to say "Socrates is sick."  This is true whether
we are talking about a man named Socrates, or a dog.  The same is
true of Sarte.  It would make no sense to say "Sarte is sick" if
there was no such thing as sickness.  Whether Sarte is an
*object* or not is irrelevant.  We are concerned about the
predicate, sickness -- or whatever -- not about Sarte, or
>>Thus the sentence "Socrates is sick" would mean nothing if there
>>were no such thing as sickness.  Socrates must exist for the
>>proposition to be true, because the predicate is positive in
>>meaning and must be linked to an existing subject in order to
>>express truth.  On the other hand, the proposition "Socrates is
>>not sick" would be true if there were no Socrates at all.  For
>>*not sick* being a negation is indefinite and does not require
>>that its subject exist.

>>Continuing:  "Thus substance and being are the beginning and end
>>of all conception."  This seems clear enough.  I think it to be
>>compatible with what Aristotle said.  But what is a substance?
>>Are we dealing with Aristotle's substance, a stove or a man?  Or
>>are we dealing with something indeterminate, something *there.*

>I'd say something more like *there*.

OK.  So perhaps Peirce should have said "There is black."  But
what he wrote was "The stove is black."  So I am left with a

Aristotle carefully gave examples for each of his categories.
"To sketch my meaning roughly, examples of substance are *man* or
*horse;* of quantity, such terms as *two cubits long or *three
cubits long;* of quality, such attributes as *white,*
*grammatical;* ..." [*Categories* 4]  In paragraph 3, Peirce
gives a vague description of substance, but no example.  Here we
have an example of substance that is not vague at all and it is
one indistinguishable, from what I can see to what Aristotle
would have used.

>>Finally:  "Substance is inapplicable to a predicate, and being is
>>equally so to a subject."  This seems to be a bit mysterious to

>Yes,  the whole thing is more than a bit mysterious to me.  I'd translate
>the above as:  Mere presence is not what Peirce means by a predicate;
>and, that being (as essence or quality) is not what he means by a
>subject.  Substance goes with the notion of subject and being goes with
>the notion of predicate.

We'll see...

"In essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, 
         in all things charity"

 Life is a miracle waiting to happen.
         William  Overcamp


Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 19:14:26
From: Joseph Ransdell 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: A new liberation movement?
Message-ID: <[…]>

At 08:15 AM 2/22/98 -0600, Charles Pyle wrote:

>Would it make sense to say that Tom has ceased to function at the level
>of secondness, the level of brute physical being, but that he has not
>ceased to function at the level of thirdness, the level of signs?

Charles, let's shift this away from reference to Tom Anderson as exemplary
case to Charles Peirce -- or to the author in general -- which was part of
what I was wanting to work toward doing in the message to which Cathy took

Okay, then, I think that what you say is on the right track but cannot be
correct as you state it since discourse -- semiosis -- involves all three
categories and the thirdness aspect cannot be abstracted in that way.   But
I think what you might actually be wanting to say is rather that the dead
author is no longer able to control the process in some important way, and
I think that is right and that what that might mean, in semiotical terms,
is that the dead author is no longer in position to supply indices other
than those already supplied, whereas the living author can respond to an
interpretation with "But I didn't mean THAT!"  

This does not mean that what the author says has no indexical value such
that the dead author has lost all control in that respect -- our control
via indices clearly extends past the time of utterance and thus cannot be
simply annulled by death - but only that some control has been lost, and it
could be of importance to understand just how this works since subsequent
commentators and editors may -- and probably often do -- take over
authorial functions surreptitiously as it were.  

What I have in mind is that IF it is important to recognize that the author
of something has a special right -- though not absolute and perhaps even
very limited in many cases -- to correct and thus to control
interpretation: "No, that is not what I meant!"; and if that depends
importantly on the control over the indexical function, then paying due
respect to the author entails trying to understand where their ability to
exercise that right ends, so that when it IS being indexically controlled
beyond that point someone else is, in effect, impersonating the author and
can be identified as doing such.  Now this impersonation can no doubt be
legitimate, IF it is recognized for what it is, and may even be necessary
for this purpose or that, but when it is obscured in some way then some
kind of misrepresentation is involved.  

I am not sure that talking about the secondnsss aspect only in terms of
indices is the right way to do it, by the way, given the way secondness
explicates other sign types as well, but I start off with that in order to
get it into semiotical terminology immediately.  

We have to bear in mind that, as regards discourse, indexicality begins
with utterance, which is something that happens at a time and place, but it
is present in discourse in any number of different ways, namely, wherever
some matter of fact must be taken for granted in order to proceed since it
is the appeal to a fact that grounds an index as such.  This is where the
power of control is available to the individual, I think, not at the level
of the symbol (as Humpty-Dumpty thought), nor at the level of the icon,
since likeness is ultimately just given.  What we are talking about, in
other words, are the structures of reference implicit in discourse, and the
chief difference between the dead author and the living one is, from this
point of view, that the dead author cannot produce new text which,
referring to a given text already produced, can alter the structure of
reference it already has.  

But what kind of a limitation is this, really?  The extent to which this
actually limits the significance of the text already in existence is a
matter of the interpretational practices, not simply or even primarily a
matter of the author and his or her real opportunities to say something
more -- to introduce his own brute factuality as an individual into the
process -- since that has only as much effect as the practices of
interpretation allow it to have.  It is possible that there could be
practices which annul the difference between the powers of the living and
the dead author altogether, either by treating the living author as if dead
(by canonizing and completely decontextualizing it, for example: the last
word, the definitive edition, the authoritative text, etc.) or the dead as
if living (recognizing nothing fixed or simply given and de facto settled,
putting no limitations on the role of context and thus completely
relativizing the text to a time and place): surely two unwanted extremes
marking two kinds of lunacy, I should think. That our present practices are
sane, though, seems to me questionable.   

But this is perhaps a good place to stop temporarily.  

Joe Ransdell

Joseph Ransdell - joseph.ransdell[…]  
Dept of Philosophy - 806  742-3158  (FAX 742-0730) 
Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas 79409   USA (Peirce website - beta)


Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 19:19:08
From: Joseph Ransdell 
To: peirce-l[…]TTACS.TTU.EDU
Subject: Persistent Conversation
Message-ID: <[…]>

This one from Phil Agre's filtering service seems uncannily pertinent to at
least one thread on peirce-l at this point.

Joe Ransdell

This message was forwarded through the Red Rock Eater News Service (RRE).
Send any replies to the original author, listed in the From: field below.
You are welcome to send the message along to others but please do not use
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for (un)subscribing, send an empty message to  rre-help[…]

Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 10:53:19 -0600
From: Tom Erickson 
Subject: CFP: Persistent Conversation (abstracts due 3/15/98)


Call for Papers for

         Persistent Conversation: Discourse as Document

               Part of the Digital Documents Track

                  of the Thirty-second Annual
    Hawai'i International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS)
                Maui, HI - January 5 - 8, 1999

This mini-track will explore persistent conversation, the transposition of
ordinarily ephemeral conversation into the potentially persistent digital
medium. The phenomena of interest include conversations carried out using
email, mailing lists, news groups, bulletin board systems, textual and
graphic MUDs, chat clients, structured conversation systems, document
annotation systems, etc. Persistent conversations are interesting because
they blend the characteristics of oral conversation with those of written
text: they may be synchronous or asynchronous; their audience may be small
or vast; they may be highly structured or almost amorphous; etc. The
persistence of such conversations give them the potential to  be searched,
browsed, replayed, annotated, visualized, restructured, and recontextualized,
thus opening the door to a variety of new uses and practices.

We are seeking papers that address issues such as the following:

* Understanding Practice. The burgeoning popularity of the internet (and
intranets) provides an opportunity to study and characterize new forms of
conversational practice. Questions of interest range from how various
features of conversations have adapted in response to the digital medium,
to new roles played by persistent conversation in domains such as
education, business, and entertainment.

* Analytical Tools. The effort to understand practice requires an array of
analytical tools and methods. One goal of this mini-track is to bring
together researchers from disciplines such as Anthropology, Cognitive
Science, Communications, Education, Linguistics, Literary Criticism, Media
Studies, Rhetoric, and Sociology, so as to get a better understanding of
approaches to analyzing persistent conversation.

* Design. Digital systems do not support conversation well: it is difficult
to converse with grace, clarity, depth and coherence over networks. But
this need not remain the case. To this end, this mini-track welcomes
analyses of existing systems and designs for new systems which better
support conversation. Of equal interest are inquiries into how participants
design their own conversations within the digital medium -- that is, how they
make use of system features to create, structure, and regulate their

* Social Implications. The persistence of digital conversation -- which
permits it to be replayed, annotated, and modified -- is a sharp departure
from the transience of oral conversation. Even as this suggests intriguing
new applications, it also raises troubling issues of privacy, authenticity,
and authority. Authors are encouraged to reflect on the implications of
their observations, analyses, and designs.

* Historical Parallels. There is much to be learned with a retrospective
gaze. From the constructed dialogs of Plato to the epistolary exchanges of
the eighteenth century literati, persistent conversation is not without
precedent. How might earlier practices help us understand the new practices
evolving in the digital medium? How might they help us design new systems?
What perspectives might they offer on the social impacts of persistent

Minitrack Chair:

Thomas Erickson
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (remote office)
3136 Irving Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408-2515  USA

(612) 823-3663 (voice)
(612) 823-1576 (fax)

snowfall[…] (preferred)
snowfall[…] (alternate)


March 15, 1998: 300-word abstract submitted to track chairs or
minitrack chairs for guidance and indication of appropriate
content (email submission preferred).

June 1, 1998: Full papers submitted to the appropriate
minitrack chair

Aug. 31, 1998: Notification of accepted papers mailed to

Oct. 1, 1998: Accepted manuscripts, camera-ready, sent to
minitrack chair; author(s) must register by this time.

Nov. 15, 1998: All other registrations must be received.
Registrations received after this deadline may not be accepted
due to space limitations.

HICSS-32 consists of eight tracks:

       Collaboration Systems and Technology Track
       Digital Documents Track
       Emerging Technologies Track
       Health Care Track
       Internet and the Digital Economy
       Modeling Technologies and Intelligent Systems
       Organizational Systems and Technology Track
       Software Technology Track

For more information about these tracks and a list of
minitracks each consist of, please check the HICSS web page for
full listing of the minitracks:
Or contact the Track Administrator, Eileen Dennis, at

Tom Erickson
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
Email: snowfall[…] (preferred); snowfall[…] (IBM confidential)

Minneapolis Home/Office (most of the time)
  3136 Irving Ave. S.
  Minneapolis, MN 55408-2515 USA
  vox: (612) 823-3663  fax: (612) 823-1576

IBM/NewYork Office (6 days a month)
  IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, H1-M09
  30 Sawmill River Rd. Rt. 9A
  Hawthorn, NY 10532 USA
  vox: (914) 784-7577 or 7279 (lab)  fax: (914) 784-7279

Joseph Ransdell - joseph.ransdell[…]  
Dept of Philosophy - 806  742-3158  (FAX 742-0730) 
Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas 79409   USA (Peirce website - beta)


Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 22:24:25 +1100 (EDT)
From: Cathy Legg 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: A new liberation movement?

On Sun, 22 Feb 1998, Joseph Ransdell wrote:

> I am not offended -- I think you fired that off in a thoughtless moment
> just as we all fire off messages thoughtlessly now and again, if we think
> with passion at all -- but I do think you should justify your suggestion
> that I was being exploitative in what is surely intended to be a pejorative
> sense. 


No actually, it was a message I put a lot of careful thought into. I'm 
not sure why you want to describe it as "thoughtless".

As for the use of the word "exploitative", it was being used to express 
an unease I myself felt about certain *ideas*. I believe that 
being able to maintain a distinction between criticising someone's ideas 
and criticising someone's person is the very cornerstone of philosophy. 
My intention might have gotten confused, however, by the fact that my 
message appeared as a reply to one of yours, complete with "Joe Ransdell wrote 
that...", and also by the fact that I labeled my own message as "a 
personal reaction". But it was *a personal reaction to some ideas*, let 
me clear that up now.

I think, however, that, this personal reaction can be given philosophical 
bite. Basically it's about the valuing of secondness, haecceities, the 
individual qua individual, in the face of the Peircean elevation of 
thirdness, the disembodied sign, the individual as function of the 
community to which they contribute over the long-term. I count myself a 
Peircean, but this is one aspect of his thought that I just can't 
swallow, and Tom's death has brought this home to me. 

I have now deleted the particular messages of yours, Joe, I was responding 
to, but there was a passage describing with what I took to be approbation 
a situation whereby the dead might not be honoured *as individuals*, with 
respect to their individual talents and achievements at all. I thought, 
no, there is something to be said against that. You discussed the 
difficult case of serial killers, and how to mourn them, and suggested 
that some means might be thought of that such a death might be turned to 
the benefit of society as a whole (I would be grateful for the exact 
quote if someone would repost....). Again, I had a reaction to that. I 
thought, even a serial killer (or a Stalin) deserves to be mourned for
who they were, and could have been if only....the moments of innocence 
and of trying to grow in such a life, however infinitesimal they turned out 
to be. And then the joke (in an earlier message) about "empowering" the 
dead. Again, to me that assumes that thirdness is everything, which it's 
not, so it's part of the same objection which has been growing in me for 
some time.

In closing, I'd like to say that I'm not averse to the philosophical 
discussion of death. On the contrary, I think it's an interesting and 
worthwhile topic. I do, however, disagree with some of what has been 
said about it on the list. Probably the disagreement will come down to 
one of emphasis in the end. But I felt that a point of view on the matter 
was being neglected, and I wanted to try to deepen the conversation by 
introducing it, even if this entailed creating a little secondness, as 
I expected it would (and it did). I hope that's my right, as a member of 
and long-time contributor to this active and unique list.

Best wishes, and thanks for the response,

Cathy Legg, 
Philosophy Programme,



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