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Monday, March 30, 2009

Deleted post

This post has been removed at the request of the author of most of its content — B.U. 11/27/2015.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peirce's contributions to Baldwin's Dictionary

Ben, you might want to include among the links here the page on my site devoted to
Peirce's Contributions to Baldwin's Dictionary. The whole Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology is now online in a few places, as you've noted in your Wikipedia Peirce-bibliography page, but those online versions are not very easy to use for finding Peirce's contributions to it, unless you already know where to look. The page on my site makes it easier to find them, especially those in the P-Z range, than any other resource i know of. Some are included in the file itself, and i've given the original Baldwin page numbers for those i haven't yet had time to include. The Peirce Edition Project will eventually publish a volume devoted to these, no doubt, but that's probably at least a decade away; in the meantime, i think my page can be useful to researchers. (I'd like to include more of the P-Z entries in the file itself but have some other priorities at the moment.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ransdell's principles for The Peirce Blog

Now that we've got The Peirce Blog fairly well launched, I'll post (having obtained Joseph Ransdell's general permission) the peirce-l post which he sent suggesting the idea for this blog.

But first, this note which Joe sent to peirce-l yesterday:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joseph Ransdell"
To: "Peirce Discussion Forum"
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 11:38 AM
Subject: RE: [peirce-l] Query

Irving Anellis asks whether "this new Peirce blog is a replacement for the listserve forum".

No, definitely not. The idea is rather to augment the functionality of the peirce-l forum by establishing some connections that will result insomething like an accumulating memory of the forum user community. In otherwords, the Peirce Blog could be regarded as a facility of the forum. The ARISBE website could be regarded as another facility of it. All three --peirce-l, ARISBE, and The Peirce Blog -- are independently based. But the real world physical basis -- the vast global complex of computing machinery-- underlying all of it is not normally of interest to the participants or users of the facilities.


Joseph Ransdell
ARISBE website:
PEIRCE-L archives:

Now for the main course. You can read the thread with further posts by clicking on the link
From: Joseph Ransdell
To: "Peirce Discussion Forum"
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 8:04 PM
Subject: [peirce-l] problem of giving real memory to the forum

To the list generally, but to Ben Udell and [name deleted at request of the named — B.U. 11/27/2015] in particular:

In reading through your messages recently in connection with the tables you created, Ben, I noticed that you were able to provide links (URLs) which not only accessed the messages in the archives effectively but also enabled access to the attachments to the messages, such as some of the diagrams of the sign classification system. This will doubtless seem relatively trivial to you, but It never occurred to me that one could do this. Thinking about this referential ability rather than about the content retrieved, it occurred to me that with one additional element added, namely, something like a topical blog or a topically ordered system of blogs for referential messages of that sort, it might be possible to provide something like a real memory structure for the forum, or perhaps I should say a standing basis for such a structure. Or at least a step towards that.

I suppose the memory structure proper for the forum would have to be regarded as primarily a property of its user community -- a complex of skills and propensities of use -- rather than of any technical structure of access such as the internet as a physical mechanism or the computer as a programming resource for shaping that mechanism might provide. But you certainly don't have human memory simply in virtue of having a record of informational content available for use in principle in the form of archives containing configurations of switches on computer systems here and there if people cannot avail themselves of these mechanisms easily enough and "naturally" enough for them to be willing to go to the trouble of doing so. The archive for the Lyris listserver system which PEIRCE-L uses (which was not of my choice) enables access in principle and is of some practical use but not much, as it seems to me, unless it is augmented in some way. Your use of it shows that it can in fact be used effectively, but this is a special skill (or is embedded in a complex of skills) that most of us don't have and won't be likely to cultivate enough to make it possible to integrate that continually accumulating archival content into an ongoing collective understanding that would constitute a real growth of an ongoing communal understanding unless some further component is added to it: some further facility that would be, in some sense, constantly at hand. Something like the blog, or a system of blogs, might provide what is wanted -- one which featured messages like yours in response to Søren, which leads very efficiently back into the archival material and makes it current again.

I realize that this might seem at first to be describing an exercise in futility, in which one is simply adding more to what is going to be forgotten, but what is missing in the above description is the nature of the forum itself and the possible connection of the blog with the forum. The forum is essentially constituted by (1) the listserver broadcast mechanism, which insures that what is said is made directly available to the members of the forum (who can of course ignore it just as what is said in a public forum like a plaza can simply be ignored by others in the plaza), and (2) the imagination of those to whom the messages are broadcast who naturally add to the bare message they receive the idea that others are more or less simultaneously experiencing it (i.e. it is AS IF they were and that qualification, though recognized, is simply ignored as the imagination tries to fill out enough context to make what is said intelligible). I think the reason the discussion tends to die down when I am not making my presence known in one way or another is not because it is me that people are addressing primarily but rather because if I am contributing regularly it is simply taken for granted that at least one person will be reading what is said, which functions as a sort of guarantee that at least somebody -- and, who knows?, maybe a great many people -- is listening to what one is saying. And most people -- nearly everyone, I think -- finds it difficult to say anything at all when they do not think there is anyone who is hearing or is going to be hearing what they say.

The point is that it is the BROADCASTING function of the listserver than constitutes its special virtue, whereas the blog lacks that virtue but has another virtue (also as a sort of imaginative illusion) which the listserver lacks, namely, the messages appearing there have a sort of seeming constancy of enduring or standing presence: one need only look further down the page or perhaps laterally across the page to another column to perceive those others waiting patiently to be read, if there is any possible interest in doing so, whether one actually does so or not. The messages of the listserver have an ephemerality as they disappear to give temporary presence to others. Of course one can simulate continuing or constancy of presence -- the sense of availability -- to some extent with listserver discussion, too, by keeping all messages and sorting through them as necessary, but this quickly tends to get too difficult as the messages pile up to provide the illusion of old messages simply being readily at hand unless one spends much time as they come in in categorizing them and moving them about -- the subject headers are not in general reliable enough for the necessary illusion -- whereas the blog provides enough initial organization to eliminate that to a substantial degree by embodying, in effect, a critically informed ordering within the process of the blogging entry. To be sure, the blogs must then be ordered, and so on, but the ordering principle(s) might somehow be neatly incorporated on the front page of the blog.

Well, something like that. Anyway, what I am suggesting is that if were to somehow introduce a coordinated blogging as a regular feature of the forum in addition to its broadcast function, we might be taking an important step toward developing something like a true memory here. How to do this, though, I do not know. But my guess is that you and others will have a much better insight into this than I, and be able, perhaps, to isolate further factors as well that might somehow be added that would contribute to that goal.

I should add that I've been thinking about this sort of thing also in connection with the Facebook and Windows Live programs and the combinations of facilities they involve, the former because it seems to have captured something about the need to establish personalities as standing substantial factors in holding content together in an intelligible way, and the latter because of its feeble attempt to combine that with tools such as the word processor, the spreadsheet, the database, and so forth. It is not the goals of Facebook as such which interest me but rather the elements it has pressed into service and other uses to which some combination of them might be put.

I mention [deleted as per above — B.U. 11/27/2015] as well because of his experience with his [ — B.U. 11/27/2015] project, which seems to have a far more ambitious aim than this but which might include something bearing importantly on this.


Joseph Ransdell
ARISBE website:
PEIRCE-L archives:
P.S. (about an hour after I first posted this). Clark Goble a few days ago set forth some ideas which told me what this blog could start out by doing, thus giving me the impetus actually to launch it.

Metaponderance on 'A Neglected Argument'

Tracy Witham at his blog Metaponderance discusses features of Peirce's "Neglected Argument for the Reality of God" (Click on the essay title for Peirce's complete essay). His posts on the article are a tad too thoughtful for me to quickly summarize here, so here are just a few notes.

In his post "'A Neglected Argument'" (March 7, 2009), near the discussion's end, Witham says that Peirce's view of God "turns the Templeton Foundation's Big Question, 'Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?' on its head. To investigate Peirce's point of view we would have to ask, 'Does Science Make Belief in God More Credible?'"

In his post "A Fascinating Feature of Peirce's Neglected Argument'" (March 13, 2009), Witham starts off by saying that Peirce's "A Neglected Argument" has "this extraordinary feature: It blocks critique on the level at which it is presented. That feature is at once, potentially, a troubling and/or exciting feature of the argument. It deserves our attention."

In his post "Peirce's 'Suggestion' of God" (March 16 2009), Witham starts off by saying about Peirce's "A Neglected Argument" that "1. It overturns the usual view that science and belief in God are at odds. And 2. It has a one-way valence with respect to logical entailment." Witham says, among other things, that the Anthropic Principle can't be used against Peirce's argument.
Witham also gets at something which seems to me to be at least akin to a transcendental argument, possibly a retorsive argument, about an abductive inference. If human understanding's aptness and provision for its own future stages suggests something mindlike about the universe, then a critique of the analogy arguably supports it by purporting to understand it, enough so at least to make it impossible to eliminate the suggestion of God's existence.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New address

It was now or never. I've changed The Peirce Blog's address to

Tardy update: Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All that ism

It could be a parlour game, among some, to list all of Peirce's isms. He, who was quining distinctions before Quine was a gleam in any eyes, and who was careful to leave doors open and anticipate his own future thought, was also "ismatic" to a fault.

The next level is to say where, in his classifications, his isms belong.

So what I have omitted or misplaced? How well do you know Peirce?


  • Phenomenology or Phaneroscopy. Tri-categorialism, trichotomism, triadism.
  • Normative Sciences.
    • Esthetics.
    • Ethics.
    • Logic. Presuppositons of logic: Fallibilism (refusal of absolute certainty).
      • Speculative Grammar, or Philosophical or Universal Grammar, or Stechiology (includes classification of signs).
      • Critic, or Logical Critic, or Logic Proper (includes study of the modes of inference).
      • Anti-intuitionism (that all cognition results from inference, some of which is unconscious). Anti-foundationalism here? And where is "here"? Stechiology? Critic? Methodeutic?
      • Critical common-sensism (Thomas Reid's common-sensism combined with fallibilism). Again, Stechiology? Critic? Methodeutic?
      • Methodeutic, or Philosohical Rhetoric, (the theory of inquiry). Pragmatism, Pragmaticism (that one's conception of a thing consists in one's conception of the thing's conceivable practical consequences). Synechism (importance of it to hypotheses.). Or does synechism come earlier in logic? Or earlier than logic?)
  • Metaphysics.
    • General Metaphysics, or Ontology. Scholastic Realism about generals and about modalities.
    • Religious Metaphysics.
      • On God. Monotheism. Moreover, God is the necessary being, real although not an actually existent individual or reactive.
      • On the soul. Anti-necessitarianism (we are free, though destinies solicit us)
      • On immortality. (The soul persists though perhaps in indefinitely attenuated form)
    • Physical Metaphysics. Objective Idealism (that matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming laws). Tychism (that chance is real). Anancism (that mechanical necessity is real). Agapism (that creative love is real)
    Peirce opposed:
    Nominalism, Materialism, Idealism Absolute Idealism (thank you for the correction, Joe!), Dualism, Foundationalism, Necessitarianism, and...?

    This is useful to me for the Charles Sanders Peirce article at Wikipedia. Its account of his thoughts is organized along his classifications; so, in order to outline his critical common-sensism, I need to know where it belongs in his classification.

    Any help here would be appreciated.

    Out of Our Minds

    Hey, Folks!

    As a first post on this spiffy new blog... is anyone familiar with the book Out of Our Minds by Cal Berkeley philosopher Alva Noë? Here's an excerpt from an interview he did with Salon... and if I'm not deluded I think what he says here seems either "Peircian" or in the ballpark, as far as mentality and the inner versus outer shag-nasty dilemma...

    Imagine that we find the Holy Grail of neurobiology, the patterns of neural activation that correlate perfectly with different events in our mental lives. We would still never understand or make sense of why those correlations exist. There is no intrinsic relationship between the experience and the neural substrates of the experience. We always need to look at what factors bring the two together. The environment, other people, our needs and desires -- all these things exist outside the brain and have to be seen as essential parts of our selves and consciousness. So we aren't just our brains, we're not locked inside our craniums; we extend beyond our skulls, beyond our skin, into the world we occupy.

    ...and further along...

    Seeing is a certain way of relating to the world around you; the brain plays a critical role in supporting that relation. It's not revealing something about the cells themselves -- or the way they are firing -- that does the explanatory work. Rather, it's understanding the way the cells participate in a larger interaction with the world that will shed light on what it is to see. This is a whole new way of approaching the problem. The "it's all in your brain" approach doesn't work. If we expand our idea of the machinery of mind to include the body and the world, whole new ways of thinking about and explaining consciousness come into view.

    The whole interview is located here...

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009


    The Definition of the Week (link repaired!) is "Zero" at the Peirce Edition Project’s branch at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), where members are at work on Peirce's contributions to the Century Dictionary for Volume 7 of Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition.

    The excerpt begins with some nice concision:

    The defect of all quantity considered as quantity; the origin of measurement stated as at a distance from itself; nothing, quantitatively regarded.
    Then Peirce whisks you through the techno-historical aspect of a thermometer's scale. Each week they have a different definition at that same URL, so you might want to stop by there now (at the link at this post's start) and enjoy Zero, sez I (awful pun there).

    * *

    Which numbers spark the most curiosity? Among the smallest positive integers, that number is Three, no surprise there. But why is Eight even hotter? Thirteen has an unfair advantage. But Zero out-sparks them all, if Wikipedia readers are anything to go by. Meanwhile, the article statistics service is described on its own page as "very much a beta service."

    February 2009
    Wikipedia Article Traffic Statistics
    -1 (number)134
    0 (number)87,771
    1 (number)14,174
    2 (number)14,041
    3 (number)20,008
    4 (number)16,563
    5 (number)13,564
    6 (number)11,161
    7 (number)18,734
    8 (number)30,496
    9 (number)14,681
    10 (number)7,774
    11 (number)5,654
    12 (number)16,718
    13 (number)45,924(with a 6.5K spike on Jan. 13th)
    14 (number)11,921

    New blog

    Ben, all,

    Great work getting this going, Ben. In  line with the principles Joe recently outlined, I hope it helps to create a new dimension of group memory for  peirce-l. 


    Tagging and searching

    It looks fine to me, Ben! I was a little surprised not to see a place in the layout for a list of labels. From the conversation on peirce-l i gathered that labels or keyword tags would facilitate finding information in the peirce-l archives and elsewhere. We can of course search the blog for a key word, but if the blog is successful in attracting a lot of users and posts, then a search of the whole blog text for common words will increasingly tend to produce too many hits and defeat the purpose. Since labels can be listed alphabetically, that could help to mitigate this problem. For instance someone looking for information on Peirce's use of the term "information" would look for that word in the list of labels first, and then use the "Search" function if it didn't appear there.

    But maybe i'm assuming too much about what this blog is for. And maybe this post should be on peirce-l rather than here. But i thought i'd try it out anyway.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    It may look funny

    I'm still playing around with the new-fangled template, so the layout may look a bit strange sometimes today.

    Ben Udell (Blog Admin)
    Send email

    Clark's idea:

    The idea for this specific blog comes from Clark Goble (corrected!), whom I'm sure won't mind my quoting his post at peirce-l this one time without asking in advance:
    One of my favorite blogs, Enowning, actually does nothing but (a) search for interesting blog posts on Heidegger, quote a snippet and link to it and (b) post short paragraphs out of major works on Heidgger that are illuminating. Lots of blogs try to do longer posts but while I like many of those blogs I think the authors have a hard time maintaining the energy. Following a model ala Enowning but perhaps allowing submitted longer posts would be extremely valuable IMO).
    But, as to quoting, Clark adds in his following post:
    One thing to keep in mind though (and this is true of any mailing list) is privacy. A lot of people feel a little freer to write on a mailing list because they know only a small group of people read it. (Even if in theory it is searchable) Some people don't like the idea of egregious errors and stupid comments coming back to haunt them. (Me, I tend to think the greatest impediment to learning is being thought a fool. When you don't care if you look like an idiot you're more open to experiment and inquiry.)

    Anyway, if we do a blog make sure we get permission to quote anyone from the list.


    This is the first post at Peirce Lines. Of course I could change my mind and delete it.