Bob, thanks for jumping back into the conversation with such gusto! This inquiry seems to me increasingly interesting, challenging, and, so, valuable.
Since I'm myself pressed for time with the college term beginning this week, I'll try to keep this post short. You wrote re: my gloss of the first Peirce quotation you gave in this thread, that you thought:
RL: The IO of a sign is ontologically dependent on the sign itself; no sign, no IO. This is very different from the DO of a sign. The being of a DO does not dependent on whether a given sign represents it.
While it is certainly true that "the being of a DO [is] not dependent on whether a given [emphasis added] sign represents it," yet it seems to me that my/our collateral knowledge of the DO is built up from various IOs in consideration of it. So, "the Dynamical Object. . . is the Reality which by some means contrives to determine the Sign to its Representation." CP 4.536 (see Ben's recent post for more of this passage) and that "means. . . to determine the Sign" is, as I see it, our various IOs of the Reality (DO) determining signs of it. Thus, no DO no IO, no IO no Sign. As I recall, Peirce's the order of semiosis is: some portion of Reality == Direct Object -> Indirect Object -> Sign -> Interpretant Sign. For example, I am intrigued by a particular piece of Greek sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I view it from various angles and see features which suggest to me that it is dated too early; later, at home I do further research and find that, indeed, the Classical date has recently been put into question with a later Hellenistic dated being proposed; I return to the museum and find that my present visual experience confirms that Hellenic date; some years later I find that the MMA now gives the later date. So, the DO (the sculpture) determined my IOs (which included visual signs, thought signs, etc.), that is, which determined those internal Signs which with other Signs (e.g., my research) lead me to that Interpretant Sign having the meaning of the 'correct' date of the piece.
So, yes, in a genuine triadic relationship such as those involved in semiosis, all three aspects are necessary and none may be omitted in consideration of an actual semiosis. But your "no sign, no IO" seems to me to reverse the semiosic process--that the object determines the sign for its interpretant. Or, perhaps, if one suggests that the IO is dependent on a sign or signs, those signs would be involved in earlier collateral experience as signs of that Reality. Then, that complex Sign may truly represent aspects of a DO (upon which it is dependent, which is what I was trying to stress in my gloss of your first Peirce quotation, I think). However, I may be missing your point here. Perhaps, if you would comment on what you meant by "The IO of a sign is ontologically dependent on the sign itself" that would clarify things for me.
Turning now to your next question concerning the "ad hoc" matter, I've already found your exchange with gnox on this issue most interesting and promising, so I won't say much here on it as I'm hoping you'll both have more to say about it (as has already been intimated). But for now, and just to respond to one question you had about a specific 'take' I had on this matter, that percepts, percepua, signs and immediate objects (as the consciousness of something or, simply, consciousness, as in another of Ben's recent Peirce quotations which includes this: "The cognition itself is an intuition of [that of which we are conscious of's] objective element, which may therefore be called, also, the immediate object." W 2:204), these seem to me present in every moment of our waking day, that is, even when we are not in the 'scientific mind set', perhaps just 'musing' or engaged in some other, non-scientific 'business'. Still, you are quite right that Joe is rightly concerned here with inquiry (and, even in our non-scientific experience, all of learning, according to Peirce, is the result of some kind of at least informal inquiry). So, I'll be following this ad hoc discussion closely, even as I meant to suggest that its findings may also have relevance and significance beyond science, say, for example, in pedagogy.
Finally, concerning the matter of objective idealism in Peirce, you wrote:
[RL] As I read it, Peirce's objective idealism is not directly relevant to these questions about IOs and DOs. As I understand it, Peirce's objective idealism ("matter is effete mind") is a form of monism, according to which mind and matter are not two radically different kinds of substance.
You comment that Peirce's form of objective idealism is a monism concerned especially with the relationship "between different types of lawfulness" is, I think, right on target. However, as I see it, the IO is related to Peirce' position of objective idealism insofar as we stand in a very peculiar relation to all this mind/matter/lawfulness because, to some extent, we can and do come to know (scientifically and otherwise) at least aspects of this objective reality because we are evolutionarily equipped to do so. It is because we can reflect on those signs representing the real characters of the cosmos that our interpretations of the world can have generalizable (not just personal) meaning. Or better, since we can share our ideas, even have some of them scientifically confirmed by others, they can come to us to approach truths of an objective Reality, and precisely because we have found a method to arrive at this quasi-consensus as we approach the resolution of some question as a community of scientific interest. So, as I see it, the definition of objective idealism is a mere starting point: a critical method (involving the rhetoric of Pragmaticism) is needed. It methodologically pulls into it DO (involving, typically, shared collateral experience of some reality) -> IOs -> Ss -> Is -> tending towards a Final Interpretant which is not mine nor yours but ours. Finally, you wrote:
[RL] I'm not sure how this interfaces with the question whether IOs are always ideas, i.e., items that are mental and thus always internal to some or other mind (and, to reiterate something I wrote in my earlier response to gnox, it's that sense of "idea" that I think Peirce has in mind in that Feb 26 1909 letter to James from which I quoted in my first post).
It is true that while "[t]he Sign may have any Modality of Being, i.e., may belong to any one of the three Universes; its Immediate Object must be in some sense, in which the Sign need not be, Internal," as Ben quoted Peirce in a letter to Lady Welby. But are shared ideas--as connected to individuals' IOs--"always internal to some or other mind" in some ultimate sense? As IOs, clearly the answer is yes. But, even if they were originally internal to some mind, yet they can be shared, transmitted, so to speak.They are, after all, nothing more nor less than our conscious experience of things which we typically use language and other human signs and symbols to express to ourselves and to others (they are not, that is, impenetrably locked up in any ones head). I offer you, say, my fresh abduction, and now it is also yours; that is, we share it, might both devise tests of it, etc. It is the same sign, Peirce would say (no doubt with different interpretants being generated). Indeed, it seems to me that communication presupposes that I intend to share my inner life in some way, to some extent, to some purpose, and in the doing of that--when there is shared meaning--that thought goes "out into the world," is, again, no longer only my thought.
>>> Robert Lane <rlane <at> westga.edu> 2/26/2011 5:07 PM >>>
Hi Gary, list,
As with my earlier reply to gnox, I'm replying to your message without
first reading through everything else that's come along since. (I fear
that if I wait to respond until I've thoroughly caught up, I'll fall
ever further behind and never respond at all!) So I hope not
everything I say here is obsolete.
I agree with a lot of what you wrote in your first contribution to
this thread (2/16/2011). Here I'll respond to just three of the points
you made in that message.
> (1) I would tale the meaning of the first Peirce quotation (CP 4.536,
> 1906)) to be that the representation of a sign is dependent on the
> Reality which it represents (that is, it is not that Reality but, at
> best, a representation of some aspect of it); and, that the IO/DO
> distinction is based on this fundamental distinction between dependent
> representation and Reality.
That passage, again, is: "I have already noted that a Sign has an
Object … But it remains to point out that there are usually two
Objects …. Namely, we have to distinguish the Immediate Object, which
is the Object as the Sign itself represents it, and whose Being is
thus dependent upon the Representation of it in the Sign, from the
Dynamical Object, which is the Reality which by some means contrives
to determine the Sign to its Representation." (CP 4.536, 1906;
“Prolegomena to an Apology For Pragmatism”)
I'm not sure I understand your gloss of this passage yet. Here's how I
read it... The being of the IO of a given sign depends on that sign
actually representing that object, i.e., it depends on that sign
actually being the sign that it is, i.e., it depends on the fact that
that sign IS. The IO of a sign is ontologically dependent on the sign
itself; no sign, no IO. This is very different from the DO of a sign.
The being of a DO does not dependent on whether a given sign
represents it. (An aside: If I'm right that Peirce, in this passage,
is saying that the IO's being depends on the being of the sign of
which it is an IO, it is difficult to see how this later view can be
reconciled with the 1868-69 theory in the way that Joe seems to have
wanted to reconcile them. On that reconciliation, in a continuum of
thought-signs about X, each thought-sign represents X mediately, by
way of its (less mediate) representation of an earlier thought-sign of
X; and those intermediate thought-signs of X (those that come
"between" X itself and the thought-sign that represents X) function as
IOs of that thought-sign. But how could the being of an earlier
thought-sign of X be dependent on the being of a LATER thought-sign of
> Now. turning to your two questions regarding this, you first seem
> to ask if Joe, in limiting this IO/DO distinction to that distinctive
> limit of problematic cases, that is, those in which the question (the
> sign) has been put into doubt, doesn't finally make the distinction "ad
> hoc"? Your last question is whether or not Peirce himself made the kind
> of distinction which Joe is making in this paper?
> As I've already written a lot here, I'll only comment, without
> argumentation, that as regards the first questions, that I think that
> Joe's distinction may seem "ad hoc" at first glance, but may prove in
> fact not to be. On the other hand, I think Joe's distinction may be
> limited in yet another way; namely, in reflecting upon the IO only in
> inquiry, whereas we're experiencing immediate objects in all sorts of
> ways in the course of any ordinary day. So, it may be that there is a
> place for Joe's distinction in inquiry, but not more generally.
I wrote further in my response to gnox about the worries I have about
Joe's view making the IO/DO distinction an ad hoc distinction. What
you say here about inquiry vs. non-inquiry piques my curiosity, but
I'm not yet seeing how it saves the distinction, on Joe's approach,
from ad-hockery. The abuses of the distinction about which Joe was
concerned all occur within the context of some sort of inquiry or
other, right (semiotic, metaphysical, etc.)? Or maybe I'm missing your
> You ask whether or not a sign's immediate object is not always an idea
> "even if that sign is a true cognition about things external to the
> mind" (RL). Quick response: Peirce is an objective idealist, as I see
> it. There is no problem here as to the objectivity and Reality of the
> sign: I have a "true cognition" of a thing and that is the thing itself
> in that aspect for me. How else is any thing to have any Reality for
> us? In this manner two of us may truly speak of our collateral
> observations of the 'same' object external to our minds. Yet, it remains
> for us--individually and together, as it were--an idea.
As I read it, Peirce's objective idealism is not directly relevant to
these questions about IOs and DOs. As I understand it, Peirce's
objective idealism ("matter is effete mind") is a form of monism,
according to which mind and matter are not two radically different
kinds of substance. But this is not a simple neutral monism. For
Peirce the important question is, not what type of substance there is
in the world, but what the relationship is between different types of
lawfulness. It is as if he is saying that there is only one sort of
stuff and the interesting question about it is not what it is, but how
it behaves, i.e., what sort of laws govern its behavior. On his view,
psychical laws are “primordial,” while physical laws are “derived and
special”. In other words, psychical laws evolved first, and physical
laws evolved from them. I'm not sure how this interfaces with the
question whether IOs are always ideas, i.e., items that are mental and
thus always internal to some or other mind (and, to reiterate
something I wrote in my earlier response to gnox, it's that sense of
"idea" that I think Peirce has in mind in that Feb 26 1909 letter to
James from which I quoted in my first post).
Robert Lane, Ph.D.
Secretary-Treasurer, Charles S. Peirce Society
Associate Professor and Director of Philosophy
Department of English and Philosophy
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA 30118
678 839 4745
rlane <at> westga.eduhttp://www.westga.edu/~rlane
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