File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0304, message 19

Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 09:41:30 +0100
Subject: BHA: Peirce and CR

Looking at the work of Peirce, I was struck by some other interesting similarities with CR.

He has three fundamental categories of being - what he originally called Quality, Reaction, and Mediation but later changed to Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness to avoid the connotations of the words.

He explains these in many different ways and they are very abstract, but as the following quotes show, there seem to be distinct overtones of the Real/Actual/|Empirical.

"I will only mention here that the ideas which belong to the three forms of rhemata are firstness, secondness, thirdness; firstness, or spontaneity; secondness, or dependence; thirdness, or mediation." ('The Critic of Arguments. II. The Reader is Introduced to Relatives', CP 3.422, 1892) 

"Firstness is the mode of being which consists in its subject's being positively such as it is regardless of aught else. That can only be a possibility. For as long as things do not act upon one another there is no sense or meaning in saying that they have any being, unless it be that they are such in themselves that they may perhaps come into relation with others. The mode of being a redness, before anything in the universe was yet red, was nevertheless a positive qualitative possibility. And redness in itself, even if it be embodied, is something positive and sui generis. That I call Firstness. We naturally attribute Firstness to outward objects, that is we suppose they have capacities in themselves which may or may not be already actualized, which may or may not ever be actualized, although we can know nothing of such possibilities [except] so far as they are actualized." (Lowell Lectures, CP 1.25, 1903)

     "Let us begin with considering actuality, and try to make out just what it consists in. If I ask you what the actuality of an event consists in, you will tell me that it consists in its happening then and there. The specifications then and there involve all its relations to other existents. The actuality of the event seems to lie in its relations to the universe of existents. A court may issue injunctions and judgments against me and I not care a snap of my finger for them. I may think them idle vapor. But when I feel the sheriff's hand on my shoulder, I shall begin to have a sense of actuality. Actuality is something brute. There is no reason in it. I instance putting your shoulder against a door and trying to force it open against an unseen, silent, and unknown resistance. We have a two-sided consciousness of effort and resistance, which seems to me to come tolerably near to a pure sense of actuality. On the whole, I think we have here a mode of being of one thing which consists in how a second object is. I call that Secondness." (Lowell lectures, CP 1.24, 1903)

 Now in genuine Thirdness, the first, the second, and the third are all three of the nature of thirds, or thought, while in respect to one another they are first, second, and third. [---] The third is thought in its role as governing Secondness. It brings the information into the mind, or determines the idea and gives it body. It is informing thought, or cognition. But take away the psychological or accidental human element, and in this genuine Thirdness we see the operation of a sign." (Lowell Lectures, CP 1.536-537, 1903)


Dr. John Mingers
Professor of OR and Systems
 Warwick Business School
 Warwick University
 Coventry CV4 7AL UK
phone: +2476 522475
fax: +2476 524539

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