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The Pragmatic Cosmos

  • File: IDS -- IOS -- Pragmatic Cosmos.txt
  • Date: 10 Jun 2005
  • Copy: Pragmatic Cosmos -- 10 Jun 2005 -- Inquiry List

Note 1


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.

Note 2


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.

Note 3


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.

Note 4


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.

Note 5


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.

Note 6


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.

Note 7


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.

Note 8


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 <jawbrey@oakland.edu>
  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 <jawbrey@oakland.edu>
| 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).

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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 <jawbrey@oakland.edu>
| 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.

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Pragmatic Maxim -- Inquiry Into Inquiry

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