User:Jon Awbrey/Inquiry Driven Systems Archive
- 1 The Pragmatic Cosmos
- 2 Reflection on Reflection
- 3 Document History
- 3.1 Inquiry Oriented Systems 2003
- 3.2 Inquiry Oriented Systems 2004
The Pragmatic Cosmos
- File: IDS -- IOS -- Pragmatic Cosmos.txt
- Date: 10 Jun 2005
- Copy: Pragmatic Cosmos -- 10 Jun 2005 -- Inquiry List
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos This Section describes an arrangement for organizing the normative sciences, namely, aesthetics, ethics, and logic, that I call the "pragmatically ordered normative sciences". It presents a scheme of dependence, precedence, and oversight orderings that I will also refer to as the "pragmatic cosmos". This is the organization of the normative sciences that best accords with the pragmatic approach to inquiry, incidentally framing and introducing the order of the normative sciences that I intend to use throughout the remainder of this work. From this point on, whenever I speak of "the cosmology" or "the order" of the normative sciences without further qualification, it will always be some version of the pragmatic cosmos that I mean, all the while taking into consideration the circumstance that the theme still leaves a lot of room for variation in the carrying out of its live interpretation.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) By way of making a first approach to examining the relationships that exist among the forms of human aspiration that we exercise in our normative practices and study in the normative sciences, let me suggest that the study of states or things that satisfy agents in some way is what we know most broadly as Aesthetics, that the study of actions that lead agents toward these goals or these goods is what we know most generally as Ethics, and that the study of signs that indicate these actions, whether positively or negatively, is just Logic. Understood this way, logic involves the enumeration and the analysis of signs with regard to their "truth", a property that makes the sense that it can only in the light of the actions that are indicated and the objects that are desired. In other words, logic evaluates signs with respect to the trustworthiness of the actions that they indicate, and this means with respect to the utility that these indications exhibit in a mediating relation to their objects. As an appreciative study, then, logic prizes the properties of signs that allow them to collect the scattered actions of agents into coherent forms of conduct and that permit them to indicate the general courses of conduct that are most likely to lead these agents toward their established objects. From this "pragmatic" point of view, logic is a special case of ethics, one that is concerned with the conduct of signs, and ethics is a special case of aesthetics, one that is interested in the good of actual conduct. Another way to approach this perspective is to start at the "end", that is, with the "good" of anything, and to work back through the maze of actions and indications that lead up to it. An action that leads to the good is a good action, and this puts the questions of ethics among the questions of aesthetics, as the questions that contemplate the goods of actions. A sign that indicates a good action, that shows a good way to act, is a good sign, and this puts the domain of logic squarely within the domain of aesthetics. Moreover, thinking is a sign process that moves from signs to interpretant signs, and this makes thinking a special kind of action. In sum, the questions that logic takes up in its critique of good signs and good thinking are properly seen as special cases of aesthetic and ethical considerations.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) The circumstance that the domain of logic is set within the domain of ethics, that is further set within the domain of aesthetics, does not keep the outlook of each dominion from rising to such a height along an independent dimension or an orthogonal direction that each keeps a watch over all of the domains that it is set within. In sum, then, the image is that of three cylinders that stand on concentric bases, telescopically extending through a succession of heights, with the narrowest mounting to the highest, and the broadest developing the most basic, all of them rising to the contemplation of a summit that virtually completes their perspective, as if wholly sheltered by the envelope of the cone that they jointly support, no matter what its ultimate case may turn out to be, whether imaginary or real, rational or transcendental. Logic has a monitory function with respect to ethics and aesthetics, while ethics has a monitory function solely with respect to aesthetics. By way of definition, a "monitory function" is a duty, a role, or a task that one discipline has to watch over the practice of another discipline, checking the feasibility of its intentions and its indicated operations, evaluating the conformity of its performed operations to its intentions, and, when called for, reforming the faith, the feasance, or the fidelity of its acts in accord with its aims. A definite attitude and particular perspective are prerequisites for an agent to exercise a monitory role with any hope or measure of success. The necessary station rises from the observation that not all things are possible, at least, not at once, and especially that not all ends are achievable by a fallible creature within a finite creation. Accordingly, the agent of a monitory faculty needs to help the agency that is involved in the endeavor or the effort it monitors to observe three things: The due limits of its proper arena, the higher considerations of its action, and the inherent constraints that force a fallible and a finite agent to choose among the variety of available truths, and acts, and aims.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) Before advancing to more detailed considerations, let us recapitulate in short order the schematism of the "pragmatically ordered normative sciences". Logic, ethics, and aesthetics, in that order, cannot succeed in any of their aims, whether they turn to contemplating the natures of the true, the just, and the beautiful, respectively, for their own sakes, whether they turn to speculating on the certificates, the semblances, or the more species tokens of these goods, as they might be utilized toward a divergent conception of their values, or whether they turn, converting all from the one forum to the next market, and back again, in an endless series of exchanges, not unless their prospective agents possess the initial capital that can be supplied solely by competencies in the corresponding intellectual virtues, and until they are willing to risk the stakes of adequately generous overhead investments on the tender of orders that are demanded of the bearer to fund the performance of the associated practical disciplines, namely, those that are appropriate to the good of signs, the good of acts, and the good of aims in themselves. In summary, then, the domains and the disciplines of logic, ethics, and aesthetics, in that order, are placed so aptly in regard to one another that each one waits on the order of its own assigned watch and each one maintains its own due monitory function with respect to all of the ones that follow on after it.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) Why do things have to be this way? Why should it be necessary to suppose an ordering, much less a pragmatic ordering, on the commonly understood array of goods and quests? If everyone who reflects on the question for a sufficient spell of time tends to agree that the Beautiful, the Just, and the True are one and the same in the End, then why is it necessary to postulate a meantime cosmos, and why should the pragmatic cosmos have a special appeal? The practical necessity of some order or other and the potential of a pragmatic order are apparently relative to a certain contingency that affects the typical agent that we have in mind, namely, the contingency of being a fallible and a finite creature. Perhaps from a "God's Eye View" (GEV), Beauty, Justice, and Truth all amount to a single Good, the only Good that there is. Still, the imperfect creature is not given this outlook on the good as its realized actuality and it cannot contain its vision within the point of view that is proper to it. And even if it sees the possibility of this unity, it has no way to actualize what it sees at once, at best being driven to work toward its realization measure by measure, and that is only if our limited agent is capable of reason and reflection at all. The imperfect agent lives in a world of seeming beauty, seeming justice, and seeming truth. Fortunately, the symmetry of this seeming insipidity can break up in relation to itself, and with the loss of the objective world's equipoise and indifference goes all of the equanimity and most of the insouciance of the agent in question. It happens like this: Among the number of apparent goods and amid the manifold of good appearances, one soon discovers that not all seeming goods are alike. Seeming beauty is the most seemly and the least deceptive, since it does not vitiate its own intention in merely seeming to achieve it, and does not destroy what it reaches for in merely seeming to grasp it.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) Monitory functions, as a rule, tend to shade off in extreme directions, on the one hand becoming a bit too prescriptive before the act, whether the hopeful effects are hortatory or prohibitory, and on the other hand becoming much too reactionary after the fact, whether the tardy effects are exculpatory or recriminatory. In the midst of these extremes, that is, within the scheme of monitory functions at large, it is possible to distinguish subtler variations in the nuances of their action that work toward the accomplishment the same general purpose, but that achieve it with a form of such gentle urging all throughout the continuing process of gaining a good, that affect a promise of such laudatory rewards, and that afford an array of incidental senses of such ongoing satisfaction, even before, while, and after the aimed for good is effected, that this class of moderate measures is aptly known as "advisory functions" (AF's). In the process of noticing what is necessary and what is impossible, and in distinguishing itself from the general run of monitory functions, an AF is able to adapt itself to get a better grip on what is possible, to the point that it is eventually able to make constructive suggestions to the agent that it monitors, and thus to give advice that is both apt and applicable, positive and practical, or usable and useful. If this is beginning to sound familiar, then it is not entirely an accident. As I see it, it is from these very grounds that the facility for "abductive simile" or the faculty of "abductive synthesis" (AS) first arises, to wit, just on the horizon of monitory observation and just on the advent of advisory contemplation that an agent of inquiry, learning, and reasoning first acquires the "quasi" ability to regard one thing just as if it were construed to be another and to consider each thing just inasmuch as it haps to be like another. In the abode of the monitor I thus discover the first clues I can grasp as to how the "abductive bearing" (AB) of hypothetical reasoning can be bound together from the primitive elements of the most uncertain states that the mind can ever know. To my way of thinking, this derivation of AB's from the general conduct of monitory duties and the specific ethos of advisory roles, all as pursuant to the PONS, seems to strike a chord with the heart of wonder beating at the core of every agent of inquiry, and accordingly to fashion an answer to the central query, in the words of Wm. Shakespeare: "Where is fancy bred?" Beyond the responsibility to continue driving the cycle of inquiry and to keep on circulating the fresh communication of provisional answers, this form of speculation on the origin of the AB points out at least one way whence these faculties of guessing widely but guessing well can lead me from the conditions of amazement, bewilderment, and consternation that the start of an inquiry all but constantly finds me in. The anchoring or the inauguration of an "abductive bearing" (AB) within the operations of an "advisory function" (AF), and the enscouncement or the installation of this positively constructive advisory, in its turn, within the office of an irreducibly negative monitory function, one that watches over the active, aesthetic, and affective aspects of experience with an eye to the circumstance that not all goods can be actualized at once -- this array of inferences from the apical structure of the PONS ought to suffice to remind each agent of inquiry of how it all hinges on the affective values that one feels and the effective acts that one does.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (cont.) In principle, therefore, logic assumes a purely ancillary role in regard to the ethics of active conduct and the aesthetics of affective values. On balance, however, logic can achieve heights of abstraction, points of perspective, and summits of reflection that are otherwise unavailable to a mind embroiled in the tangle of its continuing actions and immersed in the flow of its current passions. By rising above this plain immersion in the dementias swept out by action and passion, logic can acquire the status of a handle, something an agent can use in its situation to avoid being swept along with the tide of affairs, something that keeps it from being swept up with all that the times press on it to sweep out of mind. By means of this instrument, logic affords the mind an ability to survey the passing scene in ways that it cannot hope to imagine while engaged in the engrossing business of keeping its gnosis to the grindstone, and so it becomes apt to adopt the attitude that it needs in order to become capable of reflecting on its very own actions, affects, and axioms.
3.2.10. The Pragmatic Cosmos (concl.) o-------------------------------------------------o | | | o | | / \ | | / \ | | / \ | | o-------o | | /| Logic |\ | | / | | \ | | / | | \ | | o---------------o | | /| | Ethic | |\ | | / | | | | \ | | / | | | | \ | | o-----------------------o | | /| | Aesthetic | |\ | | / | | | | | | \ | | / | | | | | | \ | | o---o---o---o-------o---o---o---o | | | o-------------------------------------------------o Figure 1. The Pragmatic Cosmos Here is the Figure that goes with this description of the Pragmatic Cosmos, or the pragmatically ordered normative sciences: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Logic. The arrangement is best viewed as a planar projection of a solid geometric configuration, as three cylinders on concentric circular bases, all subtending an overarching cone. This way of viewing the situation brings into focus the two independent or orthogonal order relations that exist among the normative sciences. In regard to their bases, logic is a special case of ethics and aesthetics, and ethics is a special case of aesthetics, understanding these concepts in their broadest senses. In respect of their altitudes, logic exercises a critical perspective on ethics and aesthetics, and ethics takes up a critical perspective on aesthetics.
Reflection on Reflection
o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Pragmatic Maxim -- Inquiry Into Inquiry o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Note 1 o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Here is a forward of some material that I recently posted to the list for Mary Keeler's "Peirce Online Resource Testbed": Subj: Pragmatic Maxim -- Inquiry Into Inquiry Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 10:16:22 -0400 From: Jon Awbrey <email@example.com> To: Peirce Online Resource Testbed <PORT-L@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU> There was a call for different versions of the Pragmatic Maxim a few weeks ago. As it happens, I had collected a number of variations on this theme for discussion in my dissertation, so I sent them in, along with my own commentary, but it appears that the message did not get through, so here is another try -- I have broken it into a couple of pieces this time for the benefit of listservers and listreaders alike. | Document History | | Subject: Inquiry Driven Systems: An Inquiry Into Inquiry | Contact: Jon Awbrey <firstname.lastname@example.org> | Version: Draft 8.73 | Created: 23 Jun 1996 | Revised: 24 Apr 2002 | Advisor: M.A. Zohdy | Setting: Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA | Excerpt: Subdivision 3.3 (Reflection on Reflection) | | http://members.door.net/arisbe/menu/library/aboutcsp/awbrey/inquiry.htm 3.3 Reflection on Reflection Before this discussion can proceed any further I need to introduce a technical vocabulary that is specifically designed to articulate the relation of thought to action and the relation of conduct to purpose. This terminology makes use of a classical distinction between "action", as simply taken, and "conduct", as fully considered in the light of its means, its ways, and its ends. To the extent that affects, motivations, and purposes are bound up with one another, the objects that lie within the reach of this language that are able to be grasped by means of its concepts provide a form of cognitive handle on the complex arrays of affective impulsions and the unruly masses of emotional obstructions that serve both to drive and to block the effective performance of inquiry. Once the differentiation between sheer activity and deliberate conduct is understood on informal grounds and motivated by intuitive illustrations, the formal capabilities of their logical distinction can be sharpened up and turned to instrumental advantage in achieving two further tasks: 1. To elucidate the precise nature of the relation between action and conduct. 2. To facilitate a study of the whole variety of contingent relations that are possible and maintained between action and conduct. When the relations among these categories are described and analyzed in greater detail, it becomes possible forge their separate links together, and thus to integrate their several lines of information into a fuller comprehension of the relations among thought, the purposes of thought, and the purposes of action in general. It is possible to introduce the needed vocabulary, while at the same time advancing a number of concurrent goals of this project, by resorting to the following strategy. I inject into this discussion a selected set of passages from the work of C.S. Peirce, chosen with a certain multiplicity of aims in mind. 1. These excerpts are taken from Peirce's most thoughtful definitions and discussions of pragmatism. Thus, the general tenor of their advice is pertinent to the long-term guidance of this project. 2. With regard to the target vocabulary, these texts are especially acute in their ability to make all the right distinctions in all the right places, and so they serve to illustrate the requisite concepts in the context of their most appropriate uses. 3. Aside from their content being crucial to the scope of the present inquiry, their form, manner, sequence, and interrelations supply the kind of material needed to illustrate an important array of issues involved in the topic of reflection. 4. Finally, my reflections on these passages are designed to illustrate the variety of relations that occur between the POV of a writer, especially as it develops through time, and the POV of a reader, in the light of the ways that it deflects its own echoes through a text in order to detect the POV of the writer that led to its being formed in that manner. The first excerpt appears in the form of a dictionary entry, intended as a definition of "pragmatism". | Pragmatism. The opinion that metaphysics is to be largely cleared up | by the application of the following maxim for attaining clearness of | apprehension: "Consider what effects, that might conceivably have | practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. | Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception | of the object." | |(Peirce, CP 5.2, 1878/1902). The second excerpt presents another version of the "pragmatic maxim", a recommendation about a way of clarifying meaning that can be taken to stake out the general POV of pragmatism. | Pragmaticism was originally enounced in the form of a maxim, as follows: | Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you | conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception | of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object. | |(Peirce, CP 5.438, 1878/1905). Over time, Peirce attempted to express the basic idea contained in the "pragmatic maxim" (PM) in numerous different ways. In the remainder of this work, the gist of the pragmatic maxim, the logical content that appropriates its general intention over a variety of particular contexts, or the common denominator of all its versionary approximations, can be referred to with maximal simplicity as "PM". Otherwise, subscripts can be used in contexts where it is necessary to mention a particular form, for instance, referring to the versions just given as "PM_1" and "PM_2", respectively. Considered side by side like this, the differences between PM_1 and PM_2 appear to be trivial and insignificant, lacking in every conceivable practical consequence, as indeed would be the case if both statements were properly understood. One would like to say that both variants belong to the same "pragmatic equivalence class" (PEC), where all of the peculiarities of their individual expressions are absorbed into the effective synonymy of a single operational principle. Unfortunately, no matter how well this represents the ideal, it does not describe the present state of understanding with respect to the pragmatic maxim, and this is the situation that my work is given to address. I am taking the trouble to recite both of these very close variants of the pragmatic maxim because I want to examine how their subsequent interpretations tend to diverge and to analyze why the traditions of interpretation that stem from them are likely to develop in such a way that they eventually come to be at cross-purposes with each other. There is a version of the pragmatic maxim, more commonly cited, that uses "we" and "our" instead of "you" and "your". At first sight, this appears to confer a number of clear advantages on the expression of the maxim. The second person is ambiguous with regard to number, and it can be read as both singular and plural, since the ... Unfortunately, people have a tendency to translate "our concept of the object" into "the meaning of a concept". This displacement of the genuine article from "the object" to "the meaning" obliterates the contingently indefinite commonality of "our" manner of thinking and replaces it with the absolutely definite pretension to "the" unique truth of the matter // changing the emphasis from common conception to unique intention. This apparently causes them to read "the whole of our conception" as "the whole meaning of a conception" ... // from 'thee' and 'thy' to 'the' and 'our'// The pragmatic maxim, taking the form of an injunctive prescription, a piece of advice, or a practical recommendation, provides an operational description of a certain philosophical outlook or "frame of reference". This is the general POV that is called "pragmatism", or "pragmaticism", as Peirce later renamed it when he wanted more pointedly to emphasize the principles that distingush his own particular POV from the general run of its appropriations, interpretations, and common misconstruals. Thus the pragmatic maxim, in a way that is deliberately consistent with the principles of the POV to which it leads, enunciates a practical idea and provides a truly pragmatic definition of that very same POV. I am quoting a version of the pragmatic maxim whose form of address to the reader exemplifies a "second person" POV on the part of the writer. In spite of the fact that this particular variation does not appear in print until a later date, my own sense of the matter leads me to think that it actually reacaptures the original form of the pragmatic insight. My reasons for believing this are connected with Peirce's early notion of "tuity", the second person character of the mind's dialogue with nature and with other minds, and a topic to be addressed in detail at a later point in this discussion. By way of a piece of evidence for this impression, one that is internal to the texts, both versions begin with the second person POV that is implied by their imperative mood. Just as the sign in a sign relation addresses the interpretant intended in the mind of its interpreter, PM_2 is addressed to an interpretant or effect intended in the mind of its reader. The third excerpt puts a gloss on the meaning of a "practical bearing" and provides an alternative statement of the pragmatic maxim (PM_3). | Such reasonings and all reasonings turn upon the idea that if one exerts | certain kinds of volition, one will undergo in return certain compulsory | perceptions. Now this sort of consideration, namely, that certain lines | of conduct will entail certain kinds of inevitable experiences is what | is called a "practical consideration". Hence is justified the maxim, | belief in which constitutes pragmatism; namely, | | In order to ascertain the meaning of an intellectual conception one should | consider what practical consequences might conceivably result by necessity | from the truth of that conception; and the sum of these consequences will | constitute the entire meaning of the conception. | |(Peirce, CP 5.9, 1905). The fourth excerpt illustrates one of Peirce's many attempts to get the sense of the pragmatic POV across by rephrasing the pragmatic maxim in an alternative way (PM_4). In introducing this version, he addresses an order of prospective critics who do not deem a simple heuristic maxim, much less one that concerns itself with a routine matter of logical procedure, as forming a sufficient basis for a whole philosophy. | On their side, one of the faults that I think they might find with me is that | I make pragmatism to be a mere maxim of logic instead of a sublime principle | of speculative philosophy. In order to be admitted to better philosophical | standing I have endeavored to put pragmatism as I understand it into the | same form of a philosophical theorem. I have not succeeded any better | than this: | | Pragmatism is the principle that every theoretical judgment expressible | in a sentence in the indicative mood is a confused form of thought whose | only meaning, if it has any, lies in its tendency to enforce a corresponding | practical maxim expressible as a conditional sentence having its apodosis in | the imperative mood. | |(Peirce, CP 5.18, 1903). I am including Peirce's preamble to his restatement of the principle because I think that the note of irony and the foreshadowing of comedy intimated by it are important to understanding the gist of what follows. In this rendition the statement of the principle of pragmatism is recast in a partially self-referent fashion, and since it is itself delivered as a "theoretical judgment expressible in a sentence in the indicative mood" the full content of its own deeper meaning is something that remains to be unwrapped, precisely through a self-application to its own expression of the very principle it expresses. To wit, this statement, the form of whose phrasing is forced by conventional biases to take on the style of a declarative judgment, describes itself as a "confused form of thought", in need of being amended, converted, and translated into its operational interpretant, that is to say, its viable pragmatic equivalent. The fifth excerpt, PM_5, is useful by way of additional clarification, and was aimed to correct a variety of historical misunderstandings that arose over time with regard to the intended meaning of the pragmatic POV. | The doctrine appears to assume that the end of man is action -- | a stoical axiom which, to the present writer at the age of | sixty, does not recommend itself so forcibly as it did at | thirty. If it be admitted, on the contrary, that action | wants an end, and that that end must be something of a | general description, then the spirit of the maxim itself, | which is that we must look to the upshot of our concepts | in order rightly to apprehend them, would direct us towards | something different from practical facts, namely, to general | ideas, as the true interpreters of our thought. | |(Peirce, CP 5.3, 1902). If anyone thinks that an explanation on this order, whatever degree of directness and explicitness one perceives it to have, ought to be enough to correct any amount of residual confusion, then one is failing to take into consideration the persistence of a "particulate" interpretation, that is, a favored, isolated, and partial interpretation, once it has taken or mistaken its moment. A sixth excerpt, PM_6, is useful in stating the bearing of the pragmatic maxim on the topic of reflection, namely, that it makes all of pragmatism boil down to nothing more or less than a method of reflection. | The study of philosophy consists, therefore, in reflexion, and pragmatism | is that method of reflexion which is guided by constantly holding in view | its purpose and the purpose of the ideas it analyzes, whether these ends | be of the nature and uses of action or of thought. ... | | It will be seen that pragmatism is not a Weltanschauung but is a | method of reflexion having for its purpose to render ideas clear. | |(Peirce, CP 5.13 note 1, 1902). The seventh excerpt is a late reflection on the reception of pragmatism. With a sense of exasperation that is almost palpable, this comment tries to justify the maxim of pragmatism and to reconstruct its misreadings by pinpointing a number of false impressions that the intervening years have piled on it, and it attempts once more to correct the deleterious effects of these mistakes. Recalling the very conception and birth of pragmatism, it reviews its initial promise and its intended lot in the light of its subsequent vicissitudes and its apparent fate. Adopting the style of a "post mortem" analysis, it presents a veritable autopsy of the ways that the main truth of pragmatism, for all its practicality, can be murdered by a host of misdissecting disciplinarians, by its most devoted followers. This doleful but dutiful undertaking is presented next. | This employment five times over of derivates of 'concipere' must then have | had a purpose. In point of fact it had two. One was to show that I was | speaking of meaning in no other sense than that of intellectual purport. | The other was to avoid all danger of being understood as attempting to | explain a concept by percepts, images, schemata, or by anything but | concepts. I did not, therefore, mean to say that acts, which are | more strictly singular than anything, could constitute the purport, | or adequate proper interpretation, of any symbol. I compared action | to the finale of the symphony of thought, belief being a demicadence. | Nobody conceives that the few bars at the end of a musical movement | are the purpose of the movement. They may be called its upshot. | |(Peirce, CP 5.402 note 3, 1906). There are notes of emotion ranging from apology to pique to be detected in this eulogy of pragmatism, and all the manner of a pensive elegy that affects the tone of its contemplation. It recounts the various ways that the good of the best among our maxims is "oft interrèd with their bones", how the aim of the pragmatic maxim to clarify thought gets clouded over with the dust of recalcitrant prepossessions, drowned in the drift of antediluvian predilections, lost in the clamor of prevailing trends and the shuffle of assorted novelties, and even buried with the fractious contentions that it can tend on occasion to inspire. It details the evils that are apt to be done in the name of this précis of pragmatism if ever it is construed beyond its ambition, and sought to be elevated from a working POV to the imperial status of a Weltanshauung. The next three elaborations of this POV are bound to sound mysterious at this point, but they are necessary to the integrity of the whole work. In any case, it is a good thing to assemble all these pieces in one place, for future reference if nothing else. | When we come to study the great principle of continuity | and see how all is fluid and every point directly partakes | the being of every other, it will appear that individualism | and falsity are one and the same. Meantime, we know that man | is not whole as long as he is single, that he is essentially a | possible member of society. Especially, one man's experience is | nothing, if it stands alone. If he sees what others cannot, we | call it hallucination. It is not "my" experience, but "our" | experience that has to be thought of; and this "us" has | indefinite possibilities. | |(Peirce, CP 5.402 note 2, 1893). | Nevertheless, the maxim has approved itself to the writer, after | many years of trial, as of great utility in leading to a relatively | high grade of clearness of thought. He would venture to suggest that | it should always be put into practice with conscientious thoroughness, | but that, when that has been done, and not before, a still higher grade | of clearness of thought can be attained by remembering that the only | ultimate good which the practical facts to which it directs attention | can subserve is to further the development of concrete reasonableness; | so that the meaning of the concept does not lie in any individual | reactions at all, but in the manner in which those reactions | contribute to that development. ... | | Almost everybody will now agree that the ultimate good | lies in the evolutionary process in some way. If so, it | is not in individual reactions in their segregation, but | in something general or continuous. Synechism is founded | on the notion that the coalescence, the becoming continuous, | the becoming governed by laws, the becoming instinct with | general ideas, are but phases of one and the same process | of the growth of reasonableness. | |(Peirce, CP 5.3, 1902). | No doubt, Pragmaticism makes thought ultimately apply to action exclusively -- | to conceived action. But between admitting that and either saying that it | makes thought, in the sense of the purport of symbols, to consist in acts, or | saying that the true ultimate purpose of thinking is action, there is much the | same difference as there is between saying that the artist-painter's living art | is applied to dabbing paint upon canvas, and saying that that art-life consists | in dabbing paint, or that its ultimate aim is dabbing paint. Pragmaticism makes | thinking to consist in the living inferential metaboly of symbols whose purport | lies in conditional general resolutions to act. | |(Peirce, CP 5.402 note 3, 1906). o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Note 2 o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Here is the other half of that material I promised. | Document History | | Subject: Inquiry Driven Systems: An Inquiry Into Inquiry | Contact: Jon Awbrey <email@example.com> | Version: Draft 8.74 | Created: 23 Jun 1996 | Revised: 30 Apr 2002 | Advisor: M.A. Zohdy | Setting: Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA | Excerpt: Subdivision 3.3 (Reflection on Reflection) | | http://members.door.net/arisbe/menu/library/aboutcsp/awbrey/inquiry.htm 3.3. Reflection on Reflection (cont.) The final excerpt touches on a what can appear as a quibbling triviality or a significant problem, depending on one's POV. It mostly arises when sophisticated mentalities make a point of trying to apply the pragmatic maxim in the most absurd possible ways they can think of. I apologize for quoting such a long passage, but the full impact of Peirce's point only develops over an extended argument. | There can, of course, be no question that a man will act | in accordance with his belief so far as his belief has any | practical consequences. The only doubt is whether this is | all that belief is, whether belief is a mere nullity so far | as it does not influence conduct. What possible effect upon | conduct can it have, for example, to believe that the diagonal | of a square is incommensurable with the side? ... | | The proposition that the diagonal is incommensurable has stood in the textbooks | from time immemorial without ever being assailed and I am sure that the most | modern type of mathematician holds to it most decidedly. Yet it seems | quite absurd to say that there is any objective practical difference | between commensurable and incommensurable. | | Of course you can say if you like that the act of expressing a quantity as a | rational fraction is a piece of conduct and that it is in itself a practical | difference that one kind of quantity can be so expressed and the other not. | But a thinker must be shallow indeed if he does not see that to admit a | species of practicality that consists in one's conduct about words and | modes of expression is at once to break down all the bars against the | nonsense that pragmatism is designed to exclude. | | What the pragmatist has his pragmatism for is to be able to say: here is | a definition and it does not differ at all from your confusedly apprehended | conception because there is no practical difference. But what is to prevent | his opponent from replying that there is a practical difference which consists | in his recognizing one as his conception and not the other? That is, one is | expressible in a way in which the other is not expressible. | | Pragmatism is completely volatilized if you admit that sort of practicality. | |(Peirce, CP 5.32-33, 1903). Let me just state what I think are the three main issues at stake in this passage, leaving a fuller consideration of their implications to a later stage of this work. 1. Reflective agents, as a price for their extra powers of reflection, fall prey to a new class of errors and liabilities, any one of which might be diagnosed as a "reflective illusion" or a "delusion of reflection" (DOR). There is one type of DOR that is especially easy for reflective agents to fall into, and they must constantly monitor its swings in order to guard the integrity of their reflective processes against the variety of false images that it admits and the diversity of misleading pathways that it leads onto. This DOR turns on thinking that objects of a nature to be reflected on by an agent must have a nature that is identical to the nature of the agent that reflects on them. An agent acts under many different kinds of constraints, whether by choice of method, compulsion of nature, or the mere chance of looking outward in a given direction and henceforth taking up a fixed outlook. The fact that one is constrained to reason in a particular manner, whether one is predisposed to cognitive, computational, conceptual, or creative terms, and whether one is restrained to finitary, imaginary, rational, or transcendental expressions, does not mean that one is bound to consider only the sorts of objects that fall into the corresonding lot. It only forces the issue of just how literally or figuratively one is able to grasp the matter in view. To imagine that the nature of the object is bound to be the same as the nature of the sign, or to think that the law that determines the object's matter has to be the same as the rule that codifies the agent's manner, are tanatamount to special cases of those reflective illusions whose form of diagnosis I just outlined. For example, it is the delusion of a purely cognitive and rational psychology, on seeing the necessity of proceeding in a cognitive and rational manner, to imagine that its subject is also purely cognitive and rational, and to think that this abstraction of the matter has any kind of coherence when considered against the integrity of its object. 2. The general rule of pragmatism to seek the difference that makes a difference has its corollories in numerous principles of indifference. Not every difference in the meantime makes a difference in the end. That is, not every difference of circumstance that momentarily impacts on the trajectory of a system nor every difference of eventuality that transiently develops within its course makes a difference in its ultimate result, and this is true no matter whether one considers the history of intertwined conduct and experience that belongs to a single agent or whether it pertains to a whole community of agents. Furthermore, not every difference makes a difference of consequence with respect to every conception or purpose that seeks to include it under its "sum". Finally, not every difference makes the same sort of difference with regard to each of the intellectual concepts or purported outcomes that it has a bearing on. To express the issue in a modern idiom, this is the question of whether a concept has a definition that is "path-dependent" or "path-invariant", that is, when the essence of that abstract conception is reduced to a construct that employs only operational terms. It is because of this issue that most notions of much import, like mass, meaning, momentum, and number, are defined in terms of the appropriate equivalence classes and operationalized relative to their proper frames of reference. 3. The persistent application of the pragmatic maxim, especially in mathematics, eventually brings it to bear on one rather ancient question. The issue is over the reality of conceptual objects, including mathematical "objects" and Platonic "forms" or "ideas". In this context, the adjective "real" means nothing other than "having properties", but the import of this "having" has to be grasped in the same moment of understanding that this old schematic of thought loads the verb "to have" with one of its strongest connotations, namely, that nothing has a property in the proper sense of the word unless it has that property in its own right, without regard to what anybody thinks about it. In other words, to say that an object has a property is to say that it has that property independently, if not of necessity exclusively, of what anybody may think about the matter. But what can it mean for one to say that a mathematical object is "real", that it has the properties that it has independently of what anybody thinks of it, when all that one has of this object are but signs of it, and when the only access that one has to this object is by means of thinking, a process of shuffling, sifting, and sorting through nothing more real or more ideal than signs in the mind? The acuteness of this question can be made clear if one pursues the accountability of the pragmatic maxim into higher orders of infinity. Consider the number of "effects" that form the "whole" of a conception in PM1, or else the number of "consequences" that fall under the "sum" in PM2. What happens when it is possible to conceive of an infinity of practical consequences as falling among the consequential effects or the effective consequences of an intellectual conception? The point of this question is not to require that all of the items of practical bearing be surveyed in a single glance, that all of these effects and consequences be enumerated at once, but only that the cardinal number of conceivable practical bearings, or effects and consequences, be infinite. Recognizing the fact that "conception" is an "-ionized" term, and so can denote an ongoing process as well as a finished result, it is possible to ask the cardinal question of conceptual accountability in another way: What is one's conception of the practical consequences that result by necessity from a case where the "conception" of practical consequences that result by necessity from the truth of a conception constitutes an infinite process, that is, from a case where the conceptual process of generating these consequences is capable of exceeding any finite bound that one can conceive? It is may be helpful to append at this point a few additional comments that Peirce made with respect to the concept of reality in general. | And what do we mean by the real? It is a conception | which we must first have had when we discovered that | there was an unreal, an illusion; that is, when we | first corrected ourselves. Now the distinction for | which alone this fact logically called, was between | an 'ens' relative to private inward determinations, | to the negations belonging to idiosyncrasy, and | an 'ens' such as would stand in the long run. | The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, | information and reasoning would finally result | in, and which is therefore independent of the | vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin | of the conception of reality shows that this | conception essentially involves the notion | of a COMMUNITY, without definite limits, and | capable of a definite increase of knowledge. | | (Peirce, CP 5.311, 1868). | The real is that which is not whatever we | happen to think it, but is unaffected by | what we may think of it. | |(Peirce, CE 2:467, 1871). | Thus we may define the real as that whose characters | are independent of what anybody may think them to be. | |(Peirce, CP 5.405, 1878). Having read these exhibits into evidence, if not yet to the point of self-evidence, and considered them to some degree for the individual lights they throw on the subject, let me now examine the relationships that can be found among them. These excerpts are significant not only for what they say, but for how they say it. What they say, their matter, is crucial to the whole course the present inquiry. How they say it, their manner, is itself the matter of numerous further discussions, a few of which, carried out by Peirce himself, are already included in the sample presented. Depending on the reader's POV, this sequence of excerpts can appear to reflect anything from a radical change and a serious correction of the underlying POV to a mere clarification and a natural development of it, all maintaining the very same spirit as the original expression of it. Whatever the case, let these three groups of excerpts be recognized as forming three successive "levels of reflection" (LOR's) on the series of POV's in question, regardless of whether one sees them as disconnected, as ostensibly related, or else as inherently the very same POV in spirit. From my own POV, that strives to share this spirit in some measure, it appears that the whole variety of statements, no matter what their dates of original composition, initial publication, or subsequent revision, only serve to illustrate different LOR's on what is essentially and practically a single and coherent POV, one that can be drawn on as a unified frame of reference and henceforward referred to as the "pragmatic" POV or as just plain "pragmatism". There is a case to be made for the ultimate inseparability of all of the issues that are brought up in the foregoing sample of excerpts, but an interval of time and a tide of text are likely to come and go before there can be any sense of an end to the period of questioning, before all of the issues that these texts betide can begin to be settled, before there can be a due measure of conviction on what they charge inquiry with, and before the repercussions of the whole sequence of reflections they lead into can be brought to a point of closure. If one accepts the idea that all of these excerpts are expressions of one and the same POV, but considered at different points of development, as enunciated, as reviewed, and as revised over an interval of many years, then they can be taken to illustrate the diverse kinds of changes that occur in the formulation, the development, and the clarification of a continuing POV. o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o Pragmatic Maxim -- Inquiry Into Inquiry Ontology List 00. http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/thrd25.html#04226 01. http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/msg04226.html 02. http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/msg04227.html Internet Archive Links 00. http://web.archive.org/web/20070705085032/http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/thrd25.html#04226 01. http://web.archive.org/web/20070705085032/http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/msg04226.html 02. http://web.archive.org/web/20070705085032/http://suo.ieee.org/ontology/msg04227.html o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o~~~~~~~~~o
Inquiry Oriented Systems 2003
The Pragmatic Cosmos 2003 • Inquiry List • History
The Pragmatic Cosmos 2003 • Expository Notes • History
The Pragmatic Cosmos 2003 • Precursory Notes • History
Inquiry Oriented Systems 2003 • Inquiry List • History
Inquiry Oriented Systems 2004
Inquiry Oriented Systems 2004 • Inquiry List • History
Inquiry Oriented Systems 2004 • Ontology List • History