User:Jon Awbrey/INQUIRY 2000

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Apophansis • DIOVIT


Note 1


Subj:  Applying Pragmatic Thinking
Date:  Sun, 28 May 2000 05:28:14 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Lyrist <>

Woke up in the middle of the night with this terrible dream, and a headache to boot,
that people would just keep on talking about the maxims & principles & tenets & so on
of pragmatic thinking, without ever getting around to actually applying them in practice.
Took a couple of aspirin, that were effective against the headache, but that aweful dream
just won't go away ...

| Many definitions of mind and thinking have been given.
| I know of but one that goes to the heart of the matter:—
| response to the doubtful as such.  No inanimate thing
| reacts to things 'as' problematic.
| John Dewey, 'The Quest for Certainty'

| In the middle of the night
| I go walking in my sleep
| Through the jungle of doubt
| To a river so deep.
| Billy Joel, "The River of Dreams"


Note 2


Subj:  Applying Pragmatic Thinking
Date:  Sun, 28 May 2000 06:36:17 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

| The resultant metaphysical problem now is this:
| 'Does the man go round the squirrel or not?'
| William James, 'Pragmatism:  A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking'

For instance, I am interested in what many of us call called "inquiry",
regarded as a "naturally instantiated conduct, humanly engaged" (NICHE).
How can I best articulate the meaning, if any, of this word "inquiry"?
Or take our recent animadversions around and about the issues of what
we call, and even over what we ought to call, "belief" and "knowledge".
All of these controverted issues were still ongoing the last time that
I checked, but without much "issue", not in the sense of the word that
marks either a consensual continuation or a more productive conclusion.

Here's the thing that bothers me:  Why does it not occur to us --
why is it not the very first thing that occurs to us -- to apply the
pragmatic maxim toward a resolution of our difficulties, our dilemmas,
and our doubts?

This is what I fear, that the Peirce Community -- indeed, of all people --
will just continue to talk about the pragmatic maxim, and the tenet that
all thought takes place in signs, and so on, without actually applying
this maxim, or drawing out the consequences in practice of this tenet,
and so on, and so -- but not quite -- forth, in order to resolve the
discussions and the disputes that arise among us.  And how will that
look to others, who find our insights, our maxims, our principles,
and our tenets, all of them put together, doubtful and tentative
and tenuous at best?  Will that not betray a deeper-lying lack
of confidence?  Will that not suggest, and even demonstrate,
what even the most sympathetic suspect, that these may be
nice ideas "in principle", but that they are not really
feasible "in practice"?

Anyway, that's what bothers me about what I see.
That's what wakes me in the middle of the night.


Note 3


Subj:  Scientific Discourse & Primary Publication
Date:  Mon, 29 May 2000 02:08:05 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>


I think that there may be an important issue at stake here,
but I am losing my sense of what name is best to give it.
It may be that the circles of our interests at this time
are just so different from each other that we will just
keep on talking past each other in the way that we have
so far, but I think it is worth another couple of tries.

I am going to try to express myself a little more succinctly
by backing up a little, by taking a slightly different tack,
and by putting to use some of the language that I have been
developing in the context of the HOPE's & FEAR's thread.

I am interested in this pragmatic object that we usually call "inquiry",
as a form of conduct, as a way of life, as what I will now, for a moment,
describe as a "naturally instantiated category, humanly engaged" (NICHE).
The name is meant to emphasize the point of view that regards inquiry as
a natural form of conduct, a genus of activity, among whose examplars we
find many instances of human undertakings, the particular inquiries that
form our experiential samples of everything that possibly forms the form.

I think that one of the most important things that we have to pass on is the
skill of doing inquiry.  To the extent that inquiry is an innate aptitude or
a naturally acquired ability of human beings, as I think that it probably is
to a large extent, then we do not have to worry too much about its survival,
but we merely have to stand out of the way and not put up too many artificial
blocks in the path of its development.  On grounds of aesthetics, efficiency,
formal elegance, and inner consistency, perhaps no better reasons than these,
I think that any form of communication, no matter how rational, no matter how
rigorous, no matter how pointedly it leads up to an assertion, that does not
tell you anything at all about how that assertion actually came to be asserted --
well, let me try to mince my words as best I can and just say that these forms
are not the best, at best, and may even be counterproductive, at their worst.
The Medieval Inquisition, as a form of inquiry, was rigorous enough, I think.
The auto-da-fé of the confessed penitent ended, penultimately, in an assertion.
The rationalizations of such undertakings were unctiously, extremely rational.
I do not see that these qualifications are any probations of a genuine inquiry.
Generally speaking, teaching inquiry by means of authoriy fails rather miserably.
In a similar fashion, using a form of communication that is appropriate to the
conveyance of an authoritative opinion is usually not apt to convey the spirit
of inquiry, even if that spirit was actually involved in coming to that opinion.
The mere appearance of arguments and reasons is not enough -- these things can
be laid on after the fact, after the opinion is formed by way of another route,
disguising rather than revealing the causes that were effective in forming it.
There needs to be a greater integrity about the process, and this requires an
integral relationship between the arguments that are presented in communication
and the arguments, biases, causes, drives, forces, impulses, motives, reasons,
or whatever, that led to the development of that assertion by that asserter.

Now, when the forms of communication are impressed by advisorial, editorial, and
monitorial forces, according to the prior theories, whether explicit or implicit,
of advisors, of editors, and of monitory educators, as to what the admissible forms
of inquiry and its expression are, then what we have here, by looking into what is
allowed to appear in this particular medium, is not a study that is descriptive of
inquiry but a study that is prescriptive of its expression.  The forms that we see
are only the impressions and the reflections of those shapes that we ourselves have
pressed into the material, that we have pressed the material into, and not its own
natural way of being.  People will protest -- they will protest in the place where
it is easiest to protest -- they will say that they are never so compliant, docile,
ductile, malleable, plastic, pliable, and so on, but I think they protest too much.
The Professional Candidate, the Prospective Contributor, are all too willing and
wimpy here -- just ask yourself how much of your life you have wasted rearranging
your references into the format dictated by the "American Pedantical Association"
style sheet of the month, or pick your own favorite here, and that is just for
starters, an exercise designed to wear you down and show you who's boss, just
so you won't even think of insisting on anything of style or of substance more
significant than that, a mere token of how little true independence you have.

So I hope that you will excuse me if I do not appear too overly impressed with Suppe's
so-called "empirical study".  The specious sort of species that he has picked to study --
the Prescribed Communique, the Prestidigital Communication, the Pre-stressed Concretion --
these are not samples of "natural kinds", they are the "artificial kinds" of artifacts
in which we study the images of themselves that a particular culture of people like to
press into their material surroundings.  There is nothing wrong with such a study,
if that is your interest, but it happens to be far from my NICHE, and it will not
do anybody much good to confuse it with what it is not, a study of inquiry as
a natural kind, one that is based on a fair sample of the natural class.

In short, Suppe has not engaged in the study of human beings and their ways of inquiry,
but has restricted himself to the ethology of the critter known as the "plucked chicken".

Amusing and diverting as that may be,
it is just not enough to satisfy me.


Note 4


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Mon, 29 May 2000 16:12:27 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

I think that it might be useful to tug at this piece of the knot, that part that concerns
itself with the nature of abiding, action, adherence, allegiance, alliance, application,
aptness, areté, assertion, assurance, authenticity, awareness, awe, bearing, behavior,
belief, binding, bonding, bounding, canon, ceremony, choice, civility, cognizance,
commitment, community, conduct, confidence, conscience, conviction, counsel,
courage, daimon, debt, decision, dedication, deliberation, determination,
devoir, devotion, diligence, due, duty, engagement, ethics, ethos,
experience, faith, fate, favor, fealty, fidelity, formality,
frankness, genuiness, guarantee, homage, honesty, honor,
lief, liege, limitation, love, loyalty, maturity,
method, musement, nomos, norm, oath, obligation,
ought, passion, penalty, performance, peril,
pledge, plight, predicament, prediction,
preference, prophecy, religion, respect,
responsibility, reverence, risk, rue,
sanctity, seriousness, sincerity,
solemnity, sufferance, surety,
troth, truth, voluntarity,
warrant, will, sticking
to one's word, and
attitudes that
can take up
with respect
to propositions
and their expressions
generally -- to remove all
of this a decent, a respectable,
a safe distance away, if, indeed,
it cannot ever be absolutely disentangled,
from the even greater morass of issues that
envelop and surround and swaddle the prevailing
media of our most privileged publications and the
grindings of those dim, satanic or not, as you deem fit,
but the still purely academic paper mills that may be of
a tangential interest from the standpoint of the life -- I say
the "life", not the mummified imago or the embalmed corpus -- of inquiry,
the form of life that still goes on "Beneath the Wheels" of their Machinations.

So let me go back to Joe's quotation from Peirce on the subject:

| What is the nature of assertion?  We have no magnifying-glass that can enlarge its
| features, and render them more discernible;  but in default of such an instrument
| we can select for examination a very formal assertion, the features of which have
| purposely been rendered very prominent, in order to emphasize its solemnity.
| If a man desires to assert anything very solemnly, he takes such steps as will
| enable him to go before a magistrate or notary and take a binding oath to it.
| Taking an oath is not mainly an event of the nature of a setting forth,
| Vorstellung, or representing.  It is not mere saying, but is doing.
| The law, I believe, calls it an "act."  At any rate, it would be
| followed by very real effects, in case the substance of what is
| asserted should be proved untrue.  This ingredient, the assuming
| of responsibility, which is so prominent in solemn assertion, must be
| present in every genuine assertion.  For clearly, every assertion involves
| an effort to make the intended interpreter believe what is asserted, to which
| end a reason for believing it must be furnished.  But if a lie would not endanger
| the esteem in which the utterer was held, nor otherwise be apt to entail such real
| effects as he would avoid, the interpreter would have no reason to believe the assertion.
| Charles Sanders Peirce, 'Collected Papers', CP 5.546

So, my suggestion for this thread is that we try to focus on this issue all by itself,
well, more or less by itself, independently, in a not-totally-detached sort of way,
from all that other stuff.


P.S.  I really wanted to call this thread "On Sticking to One's Word",
      or, more e-lusive and mysterious, "The Apophantom Strikes Again!",
      but I resisted the temptation to do so, in hopes that the above,
      rather generic, neutral, and "a la descartes blanc" title would
      be more open to any contributions that anybody might have to add.


Note 5


Subj:  Scientific Discourse & Primary Publication
Date:  Tue, 30 May 2000 01:23:18 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

Dear Joe,

It has been pointed out to me once or twice in this Forum,
somewhat pointedly, I might add, that a responsible member
of these discussions is considered no less responsible for
all that, if he or she responds only to those features of
the discussion that "resonate" with his or her momentary
interests, e-phemeral as they may be, relative to the time
and the thread in question.  From everything that I can see,
everybody else here is accorded all of the privileges and all
of the freedom from any further responsibility that one would
expect to be entailed by the status of what I, in presumption
of this status, may freely call an "a la descartes blanche ego".

I have been trying as best I can to move from the actual resonances that I experience,
the likes of which in you and others that you and others have demanded that I respect,
toward a focus that might have a chance of resonating with the more common interests
of the Forum, most especially yourself, the lack of reciprocity in respect of which
can be measured by the distance that this topic has moved from the issues, that were
once of interest to me, since the time that I last tried to raise them, the temporal
moment and the tensed occasion of which time are no longer a part of the collective
historical consciousness of this thread, this now abashed and thoroughly palimpsest
excuse for a thinking reed of e-papyrus, and even then I was only reviving a couple
of interrelated topics that you raised a little earlier in the year.  So I hope that
you will excuse me if it takes me a little time to backtrack and to refocus on this
newly abstracted question, as if none of the real context of it really mattered and
as if the pragmatic embedding of it were only some bug being born by myself.  On top
of all that, I find it not a little ironic that this whole ugly mess began when I paid
you what I thought at the time was a fairly simple and a perfectly sincere compliment,
and that you seem to have had the darnedest time recognizing the utter quality of that.

I am going to quote, once again, the locus where this loco motif first went off the tracks:

> Subj:  Intellectual Property & Knowledge Ecology
> Date:  Sat, 20 May 2000 20:06:17 -0400
> From:  Jon Awbrey <>
>   To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>
> Joseph Ransdell wrote:
> > 
> > I just posted the message below to the September Forum,
> > sponsored by the American Scientist magazine, on open
> > publication of research which I have reported on from
> > time to time here in connection with issues concerning
> > copyright and intellectual property rights.  I think the
> > relevance to Peirce is obvious enough in a general way,
> > but some of you may be unacquainted with the program
> > referred to, called "Napster", which is devised to
> > make it possible to distribute music files on-line.
> > Attempts are currently being made to repress it.
> > There may be others on PEIRCE-L who understand the
> > way Napster works and the import of it better than
> > I do, and I would appreciate corrections or further
> > elucidations.
> > 
> > ==================message posted to SEPTEMBER98-FORUM=============
> > 
> > Though what has been said about Napster is certainly relevant,
> > I don't think the import of it for self-archiving of one's
> > professional work, published or pre-print, has quite come
> > into focus for us here.  Let us leave aside the use of it
> > to pirate music, which is a red herring relative to the
> > concerns of this forum.  What makes it relevant here is
> > its potentialities as a communications technology that
> > can be used to defeat reactionary intellectual property
> > practices.  Now, the likelihood that programs of this type
> > actually will be used extensively for that purpose is another
> > matter, but that cannot be guessed at intelligently without
> > getting clear on precisely what its potentiality is in that
> > respect.  I don't think that has been brought out perspicuously
> > enough and I would like to take a try at it.
> > 
> > Described in its generalized form, what this comes to, on first
> > inspection, at least, is this:  Merely running the program --
> > which is remarkably small given its powers -- has the effect of:
> > 
> > (1) converting one's personal computer into a server which serves up
> > whatever files one wants to make available to corresponding client
> > programs as long as one is connected with the internet, either all
> > of the time or with some regularity,
> > 
> > (2) providing one with the corresponding client program, thereby
> > providing every such server with a clientele extending to everyone
> > else who downloads, installs, and runs the same program on their
> > personal computer, and
> > 
> > (3) providing a dynamical index, continually in process of being
> > updated, which gives push-button access to all files currently
> > available on all such personal servers:  in short, an indexed
> > distributed archive of those materials.
> > 
> > That's quite a lot for a free program that can be installed and
> > run in a few minutes by any klutz who can use a computer at all!
> > 
> > I just want to make a couple of points about this.  The first
> > is that one advantage it offers that is not accommodated by the
> > public archives in process of construction at present is that one
> > can make publicly available many different kinds of resource material
> > in addition to scholarly or scientific research reports proper, and
> > this with extreme ease, simply by clicking a switch for the directories
> > on one's computer which contains these materials.  Now, the significance
> > of this will doubtless vary greatly among the various research disciplines.
> > In some fields this might be insignificant since such resource materials
> > are almost all publicly available in some form, anyway;  but in others
> > it could be an enormous benefit because it could make easily available
> > scholarly and investigative tools of the sort which heretofore have
> > always perished with those individuals who devised them.
> > 
> > One reason for the relatively unprogressive character of many
> > nonscientific disciplines is that the instruments used by its
> > most accomplished practitioners are reconstructed again and again
> > from scratch by every investigator with the same aims, whereas in
> > scientific disciplines the physical character of the instruments
> > has made it possible for them to become a part of what is routinely
> > accumulated for common use in the research tradition, thus allowing
> > for them to be developed and made more powerful over time.  Thus
> > the simple magnifying lens as an instrument of microscopic access
> > transmutes across time into the particle accelerator, and with it
> > the theoretical-experimental understanding of matter that informs
> > its use transmutes as well.  How could that theoretical development
> > have occurred if every generation of physicists had had to master
> > the art of primitive lens grinding again and again and never been
> > able to move past it?  In the humanities, though, we routinely
> > reinvent the wheel and cannot move beyond it in its most simple
> > form.
> > 
> > This provides an incentive for use of the Napster-like technology
> > in addition to whatever incentive, if any, attaches to making one's
> > research reports openly available, and thus tends to encourage the
> > sharing of the latter as a matter of course.  Would people actually be
> > willing to share their research instruments and materials in that way,
> > though?  In time, yes.  Initially, it would be done in a grudging spirit,
> > no doubt, given the mean-spirited fear of intellectual sharing which is
> > presently the norm in many fields;  but this spirit is itself at least
> > in part a heritage of the limitations of the paper-embodied text as
> > research instrument, and in spite of this heritage there are liberal
> > spirits in the humanities who do what they can to move past these
> > limitations whenever possible.
> > 
> > Second, although this Napster-like technology could yield
> > a distributed archival database which could easily grow to
> > be as large and comprehensive in scope as that being developed
> > or provided for by current initiatives, and the techniques for
> > organizing it could become sophisticated enough to make it well
> > worth to use in practice, it would nevertheless have to remain
> > distinct from the database of e-prints currently envisaged
> > because of its highly fluid character, owing to its dependence
> > on the willingness of individuals not only to keep on making
> > the materials available but also to follow routine practices
> > in revision of their work and in the development of their
> > personal instruments of research.  This is so unlikely that
> > the value of it relative to the aims of the present forum
> > could only lie in its side-effect of tending to encourage
> > self-archiving of the stable sort wanted here.  I do not
> > think this should be dismissed as trivial or impertinent,
> > though, merely because it can only be a side-effect.
> > (Think of the side-effects of the automobile.)
> > 
> > To use one of Stevan's favorite metaphors, if the horses,
> > being shown the water, continue to be reluctant to drink,
> > it could be because of inhibitions that can only be addressed
> > in other ways than those that suggest themselves when one thinks
> > of  the problem of open publication only in the simplistic and
> > highly abstract way it is usually described here.   Napster is,
> > potentially, a community-building device because it is essentially
> > a mechanism for sharing something that couldn't otherwise be shared,
> > and that is what a good many people have thought the internet was
> > going to promote:  not a mere porting of existing practices on-line
> > in the interests of efficiency and economy but an occasion for
> > building intellectual communities where that was impossible before.
> > This might very well have bearing on the aims of the present forum.
> > 
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > Joseph Ransdell <> <>
> > Dept of Philosophy -- 806  742-3158 -- (FAX 806 742-0730)
> > Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas 79409   USA
> > (Peirce Gateway website)
> >
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Joe,
> Questions of Intellectual Property have recently arisen in one
> of the Cognet Forums, under the rubric of "Knowledge Ecology",
> which you can get to by following this link: 
> It occurs to me that you might have quite a lot to add to this
> discussion.  (Be advised, however, that the pace of discussion
> there is not likely to be anything like what you are accustomed
> to here.)
> Regards,
> Jon


Note 6


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Tue, 30 May 2000 03:13:00 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

I need to assemble a few materials whose purposes and whose relevance
to this discussion may not be evident for a while, that is, until I can
use them to build the sort of conceptual framework that I presently have
planned out in my mind for them.

I am doing this in order to arrange the sort of context in which
I can begin to address a few of Joe's questions about assertion --
now that we have abstracted this topic from certain problematic
contexts, those on which people may reasonably differ about the
extent to which the creaturely assertions under review are being
observed in their natural habitats, where their natural characters
are most likely to find themselves most clearly revealed, or else
under artificial circumstances of observation, where their natural
forms of living conduct, the patterns of activity that are proper
to them, are almost bound to be distorted, nearly beyond all hope
of recognition, by the various disturbances and the extraordinary
forces that are imposed and impressed on them in these settings.
You must allow me to have continuing difficulties with the
utter absurdities -- with what will seem to me like the
utter absurdities -- of this extraction, but I will try.

Now to work.

First of all, I view the question of assertion, that is to say,
with a tolerable ambiguity, the assertion of a proposition or
the assertion of a sentence that expresses a proposition, as
falling under the general heading of "propositional attitudes",
as Peirce treated it, which is not always the same, of course,
as other people might treat it, whether before or after his time.

This requires me to say how I personally approach the status of a proposition.
So let me read you the following gloss from my worn and tattered undergraduate
phrasebook of philosophy:

| Apophansis.  A Greek word for 'proposition' involving etymologically a reference
| to its realist ontological background (Greek root of phaos, light).  In this sense,
| a proposition expresses the illumination of its subject by its predicate or predicates;
| or again, it makes explicit the internal luminosity of its subject by positing against
| it as predicates its essential or accidental constituents.
| The Aristotelian 'apophansis' or 'logos apophantikos' denotes the fundamental
| subject-predicate form, either as an independent propositional form or as a syllogistic
| conclusion, to which all other types of propositions may be reduced by analysis and
| deduction.  It cannot be said that the controversies initiated by modern symbolic
| logic have destroyed the ontological or operational value of the Aristotelian
| apophantic form.
| Thomas Greenwood, in Dagobert Runes (ed.), "Dictionary of Philosophy', 1962. 

In my usual "irresponsible" fashion, I would not think of disturbing your chance to
freshly contemplate that bit of manna, or sop, if you wish, before I return to add
my own litle bit of chicken-soup gravy.

Got your Breakfast?
Save it for Supper,
Or give it to Spot!




Note 7


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Tue, 30 May 2000 10:56:12 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

A poignant passage from Boethius,
'The Consolation of Philosophy'
(How it all begins with the end):

| Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi,
|   Flebilis heu maestos cogor inire modos.
| Ecce mihi lacerae dictant scribenda camenae
|   Et veris elegi fletibus ora rigant.
| Has saltem nullus potuit pervincere terror,
|   Ne nostrum comites prosequerentur iter.
| Gloria felicis olim viridisque iuventae
|   Solantur maesti nunc mea fata senis.
| Venit enim properata malis inopina senectus
|   Et dolor aetatem iussit inesse suam.
| Intempestivi funduntur vertice cani
|   Et tremit effeto corpore laxa cutis.
| Mors hominum felix quae se nec dulcibus annis
|   Inserit et maestis saepe vocata venit.
| Eheu quam surda miseros avertitur aure
|   Et flentes oculos claudere saeva negat.
| Dum levibus male fida bonis fortuna faveret,
|   Paene caput tristis merserat hora meum.
| Nunc quia fallacem mutavit nubila vultum,
|   Protrahit ingratas impia vita moras.
| Quid me felicem totiens iactastis amici?
|   Qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu.
| Verses I made once glowing with content;
| Tearful, alas, sad songs must I begin.
| See how the Muses grieftorn bid me write,
| And with unfeigned tears these elegies drench my face.
| But them at least my fear that my friends might tread my path
| Companions still
| Could not keep me silent:  they were once
| My green youth's glory;  now in my sad old age
| They comfort me.
| For age has come unlooked for, hastened by ills,
| And anguish sternly adds its years to mine;
| My head is white before its time, my skin hangs loose
| About my tremulous frame:  I am worn out.
| Death, if he come
| Not in the years of sweetness
| But often called to those who want to end their misery
| Is welcome.  My cries he does not hear;
| Cruel he will not close my weeping eyes.
| While fortune favoured me --
| How wrong to count on swiftly-fading joys --
| Such an hour of bitterness might have bowed my head.
| Now that her clouded, cheating face is changed
| My cursed life drags on its long, unwanted days.
| Ah why, my friends,
| Why did you boast so often of my happiness?
| How faltering even then the step
| Of one now fallen.
| Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, c.480-524 A.D.),
|'The Consolation of Philosophy', Translation by S.J. Tester,
| New Edition, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard/Heinemann, 1973.

I will give you all a few moments to collect yourselves -- or is that just me? --
And then I will join you on another, fresher, greener, less tear-e-stained page.


Note 8


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Tue, 30 May 2000 20:12:01 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

The plot thickens, the thread entangles:

| While I was thinking these thoughts to myself in silence,
| and set my pen to record this tearful complaint, there seemed
| to stand above my head a woman.  Her look filled me with awe;
| her burning eyes penetrated more deeply than those of ordinary men;
| her complexion was fresh with an ever-lively bloom, yet she seemed
| so ancient that none would think her of our time.  It was difficult
| to say how tall she might be, for at one time she seemed to confine
| herself to the ordinary measure of man, and at another the crown of
| her head touched the heavens;  and when she lifted her head higher
| yet, she penetrated the heavens themselves, and was lost to the
| sight of men.  Her dress was made of very fine, imperishable thread,
| of delicate workmanship:  she herself wove it, as I learned later,
| for she told me.  Its form was shrouded by a kind of darkness of
| forgotten years, like a smoke-blackened family statue in the atrium.
| On its lower border was woven the Greek letter Pi, and on the upper,
| Theta, and between the two letters steps were marked like a ladder,
| by which one might climb from the lower letter to the higher.
| But violent hands had ripped this dress and torn away what
| bits they could.  In her right hand she carried a book,
| and in her left, a sceptre.
| Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, c.480-524 A.D.),
|'The Consolation of Philosophy', Translation by S.J. Tester,
| New Edition, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard/Heinemann, 1973.


Note 9


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Tue, 30 May 2000 23:23:00 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

The lover sickens, the beloved beckons:

| Now when she saw the Muses of poetry standing by my bed,
| helping me to find words for my grief, she was disturbed
| for a moment, and then cried out with fiercely blazing eyes:
| "Who let these theatrical tarts in with this sick man?  Not only
| have they no cures for his pain, but with their sweet poison they
| make it worse.  These are they who choke the rich harvest of the
| fruits of reason with the barren thorns of passion.  They accustom
| a man's mind to his ills, not rid him of them.  If your enticements
| were distracting merely an unlettered man, as they usually do, I should
| not take it so seriously -- after all, it would do no harm to us in our
| task -- but to distract this man, reared on a diet of Eleatic and Academic
| thought!  Get out, you Sirens, beguiling men straight to their destruction!
| Leave him to 'my' Muses to care for and restore to health."  Thus upbraided,
| that company of the Muses dejectedly hung their heads, confessing their shame
| by their blushes, and dismally left my room.  I myself, since my sight was
| so dimmed with tears that I could not clearly see who this woman was of
| such commanding authority, was struck dumb, my eyes cast down;  and
| I went on waiting in silence to see what she would do next.  Then
| she came closer and sat on the end of my bed, and seeing my face
| worn with weeping and cast down with sorrow, she bewailed my
| mind's confusion bitterly in these verses:  ...
| Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, c.480-524 A.D.),
|'The Consolation of Philosophy', Translation by S.J. Tester,
| New Edition, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard/Heinemann, 1973.

And he and she go on from there,
But as for us, we leave them now --
We have years to go before we sleep,
And premisses to steep before we drink
The dormant virtues of that capital T --
And that's the Truth.


Note 10


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Wed, 31 May 2000 13:15:12 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

| Ergo in numero quo numeramus repetitio unitatum facit pluralitatem;
| in rerum vero numero non facit pluralitatem unitatum repetitio,
| vel si de eodem dicam "gladius unus mucro unus ensis unus".
| Therefore in the case of that number by which we number,
|    the repetition of ones makes a plurality;
| but in the number consisting in things
|    the repetition of ones does not make a plurality,
| as, for example, if I say of one and the same thing,
|    "one sword, one brand, one blade".
| Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, c.480-524 A.D.),
|'De Trinitate' ('The Trinity Is One God Not Three Gods'), in:
|'The Theological Tractates', Trans. by H.F. Stewart & E.K. Rand,
| New Edition, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard/Heinemann, 1973.

Human Nature acts on Human Nature, with more or less Divinity in the mix,
in a space perfused with what Grace you are granted the grace to witness,
and brings forth the Human Artifact (HA), a result that can be accepted,
appreciated, assessed, and assized on many different scales of valuation,
its degrees of art, artfulness, artificiality, artlessness, naturalness,
and so on, being just one among a vast multitude of dimensions that any
real artifact, as any real being, is subject to being valued by the very
Human Nature that takes part in fabricating, fabulating, and favoring it,
that spawns it, spurns it, and inspires it with infusions of its Spirit.

I am learning to live with the Damocles' Sword of "Primary Publication"
that hangs over our heads when I go to visit Joseph at his topic there,
so long as I let him occupy the Principal Chair I feel relatively safe!
And yet that Flaming Writ on the Wall still worries my woebegone sight,
the one that charges no whit nor wit of us to block the way of inquiry!

And so I will keep open this space of my own,
to recreate, resort, retire, retreat upon it,
whenever the need of the occasion demands it,
where I can reflect on a life without agendas,
memoranda, presses to publish my Peirce-ables,
and the whole arma-mentarium and panoply of it.

That is to say "agenda" of an official variety,
written out minutely and dictated from without,
without consideration for the lives yet within,
but I feel sure that you all knew what I meant.

Many are called to that Movable Feast, and Ernestly,
But One so called has to come attired, and Decently,
At a risk of being booted out, and worse, Summarily.
And so, too, One needs One's private room, Modestly,
To suit One's address, One's guarded regard, Warily.

So the underlying question (the question under what lies) remains:
Does the wielding of that Mighty Sword (MS), while it swings there
from a slender hair that just keeps on splitting -- indefinitely? --
does that make these words, that the courtier dares to speak beneath
its all too double-edged aegis, more True, more Good, more Beautiful,
or does it forge them, instead, less True, less Good, less Beautiful?
And with the answer to that triadically-non-trivial question I, for one,
will attest the utility of these instruments, these organa, these words.


Note 11


Subj:  Apophansis -- Adherence, Assertion, Attitude
Date:  Wed, 31 May 2000 14:40:01 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Discussion Forum <>

Fast forward to the time of Peirce, and this salient passage:

| Now, Gentlemen, it behooves me, at the outset of this course,
| to confess to you that in this respect I stand before you an
| Aristotelian and a scientific man, condemning with the whole
| strength of conviction the Hellenic tendency to mingle
| Philosophy and Practice.
| There are sciences, of course, many of whose results are almost immediately
| applicable to human life, such as physiology and chemistry.  But the true
| scientific investigator completely loses sight of the utility of what he
| is about.  It never enters his mind.  Do you think that the physiologist
| who cuts up a dog reflects while doing so, that he may be saving a human
| life?  Nonsense.  If he did, it would spoil him for a scientific man;
| and 'then' the vivisection would become a crime.  However, in physiology
| and in chemistry, the man whose brain is occupied with utilities, though
| he will not do much for science, may do a great deal for human life.
| But in philosophy, touching as it does upon matters which are, and
| ought to be, sacred to us, the investigator who does not stand
| aloof from all intent to make practical applications, will not
| only obstruct the advance of the pure science, but what is
| infinitely worse, he will endanger his own moral integrity
| and that of his readers.
| CSP, RATLOT, 107.
| Charles Sanders Peirce,
|'Reasoning and the Logic of Things',
|'The Cambridge Conferences Lectures of 1898',
| Edited by Kenneth Laine Ketner, Introduction
| by Kenneth Laine Ketner and Hilary Putnam,
| Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1992.


Note 12


Subj:  Forsaking All Sakes But Its Own Sake
Date:  Wed, 04 Oct 2000 15:04:07 -0400
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Peirce Subgroup

Also Sprach Charles Sanders Santiago Peirce:

| Now, Gentlemen, it behooves me, at the outset of this course,
| to confess to you that in this respect I stand before you an
| Aristotelian and a scientific man, condemning with the whole
| strength of conviction the Hellenic tendency to mingle
| Philosophy and Practice.
| There are sciences, of course, many of whose results are almost immediately
| applicable to human life, such as physiology and chemistry.  But the true
| scientific investigator completely loses sight of the utility of what he
| is about.  It never enters his mind.  Do you think that the physiologist
| who cuts up a dog reflects while doing so, that he may be saving a human
| life?  Nonsense.  If he did, it would spoil him for a scientific man;
| and 'then' the vivisection would become a crime.  However, in physiology
| and in chemistry, the man whose brain is occupied with utilities, though
| he will not do much for science, may do a great deal for human life.
| But in philosophy, touching as it does upon matters which are, and
| ought to be, sacred to us, the investigator who does not stand
| aloof from all intent to make practical applications, will not
| only obstruct the advance of the pure science, but what is
| infinitely worse, he will endanger his own moral integrity
| and that of his readers.
| CSP, RATLOT, 107.
| Charles Sanders Peirce,
|'Reasoning and the Logic of Things',
|'The Cambridge Conferences Lectures of 1898',
| Edited by Kenneth Laine Ketner, Introduction
| by Kenneth Laine Ketner and Hilary Putnam,
| Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1992.
| Cf: "Detached Ideas on Vitally Important Topics" (DIOVIT),
|'Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce', CP 1.616-677.

Note:  I have just moved my whole household again, and cannot
find my RATLOT yet, so I will have to fall back on my memory
of previous readings and the somewhat "vivisected" version
of DIOVIT, "Philosophy and the Conduct of Life", in CP 1.



I am going to start again from this point,
and try to say what I count in the offing,
like I have so many times in the pre-quel,
and just hope that I will do a better job,
at least by a bit -- if not, another time.

Now, it may be just a rationalization,
but an interpretation that I offered
in a message to Joe Ransdell is one
that I imagine approaches something
like a key to the matter, if not yet
exactly or perfectly fitting the lock.

So permit me to append this self-quotation,
knowing full well the array of rough edges
that are sure to invite their knocking off.

| The point of what Peirce is saying in the VIT lectures,
| as I read their message, is that inquiry is the adaptation
| specific to intelligent creatures that serves a vital function
| in keeping them alive.  There is no reason for it to have been
| selected, preserved, and developed by evolution otherwise.
| And there is no difficulty about bringing it into connection
| with "vitally important topics" (VIT's), as it was ever thus.
| So what he must be talking about in his proscription against
| meddling is the reserve that we ought to maintain, if we have
| any sense at all, about our letting our conscious and our
| deliberate efforts at inquiry, which we still do so awkwardly
| and so clunkily, interfere with the quasi-mindful inquiries of
| our personified evolution, who has more or less got it as right
| as rain, or righter than we have any right to criticize with the
| facile insights that come in the odd hours of our spare time
| reflections on millions of years of collective wisdom.

Okay, I can see that there are several places where I resorted,
rhetorically speaking, to a likely story, to wit, a very rough
approximation to what even I can presently recognize might have
been a mo'betta truth by far that any one I have dinned before --
but I will leave my gestures toward refinement to another time --
for the moment and the immediate future, I need to exert myself
to focus on the text at hand -- and, at least, this will leave
those who enjoy that sort of thing the fun of hunting out the
rotten erster eggs for themselves.


Note 13


Subj:  Detached Ideas On Vitally Important Topics (DIOVIT)
Date:  Fri, 19 Jan 2001 14:36:01 -0500
From:  Jon Awbrey <>
  To:  Arisbe <>,
       Conceptual Graphs <>,
       RDF Logic <>, 
       SemioCom <>,
       Mary Keeler <>,
       Jack Park <jackpark@VERTICALNET.COM>,
       John F Sowa <>

I appear to be in full "channeling" mode now,
and so I will just funnel what I most humbly
reckon are the most pertinent texts into the
site of your sight here, and try to save all
of the explanations and the justifications
for yet another time, but later.

One or two words of excuse, though, might be of service
in priming the pump of discussion.  My ultimate purpose
is to open your minds just a bit to the mere off-chance
that Charles Sanders Peirce is the root of an alternate
tradition in dealing with the issues of "hermeneutics",
that is, of "interpretation", "semantics", "semiotics",
and "pragmatics", a tradition that is a genuine resource,
that is not yet altogether absorbed by, supplanted by,
or redundant in comparison to what is most likely the
more familiar line of thinking -- traceable through the
works of Frege, Russell, Whitehead, and Wittgenstein --
and thus it has the potential to provide what many of us
opine, and continue to e-pine, would be rather "new" and
what we think will be more adequate and powerful answers.

But I know that this is most likely the work of not a little time ...

Just by way of an introduction, here are the links to
all of my papers that are currently available on-line.
The HTML (Has Tim Made Lunch?) on the one paper that
I did myself -- the first and the last one I ever did! --
is pretty bad, as all "Critics of Hypertext Rhythm"
have never ceased to tell me, so if you are so bold
as to want to print it out, let me know and I can
e-mail you a Word 2000 redaction:


We begin our sampling of DIOVIT at page 150, with a bit of history:

| It is now time to explain to you this Logic of Relatives.  I will first give a
| chronology of the most important papers.  I shall not mention any that are not
| quite fundamental.  Relation was recognized as a part of the subject matter of
| logic by Aristotle and all ancient and medieval logicians.  There is a tractate
| 'De Relativis' probably dating from the 11th century appended to the 'Summulae'
| of Petrus Hispanus.  Ockham and Paulus Venetus treat of it in their extended
| treatises on logic.  Leslie Ellis made a single obvious remark on the application
| of Algebra to it which Professor Halsted thinks makes him the author of the logic
| of relatives.  This remark is really fundamental.  Yet it was exceedingly obvious;
| and was not followed out.  Next came DeMorgan's Memoir.  Then in 1870 [came] my
| first mode of extending Boole's Logical Algebra to relatives.  In 1883 I gave what
| I called the 'Algebra of Dyadic Relatives', which Schröder has fallen in love with.
| In the same volume O.H. Mitchell, in one of the most suggestive chapters that the
| whole history of logic can show, gave a method of treating a logical universe of
| several dimensions, which I soon after showed amounted to a new algebraic method
| of treating relatives generally.  I call it the 'General Algebra of Logic'.  I
| think this the best of the algebraic methods.  In 1890, Mr. A.B. Kempe published
| an extended memoir on 'Mathematical Form' which is really an important contribution
| to the logic of relatives.  Schröder's third volume treats of the subject at great
| length, but in the interest of algebra rather than in that of logic.  Finally about
| two years ago, I developed two intimately connected graphical methods which I call
| Entitative and Existential Graphs.
| CSP, RATLOT, 150-151.
| Charles Sanders Peirce,
|'Reasoning and the Logic of Things',
|'The Cambridge Conferences Lectures of 1898',
| Edited by Kenneth Laine Ketner, Introduction
| by Kenneth Laine Ketner and Hilary Putnam,
| Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1992.
| Cf: "Detached Ideas On Vitally Important Topics" (DIOVIT),
|'Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce', CP 1.616-677.