In the Way of Inquiry • Material Exigency

Note.  Copy from my last draft that I’ll need to rewrite over the next few days.

On the other hand, I have cast this project as an empirical inquiry, proposing to represent experimental hypotheses in the form of computer programs.  At the heart of this empirical attitude is a feeling that all formal theories should arise from and bear on experience.

Every season of growth in empirical knowledge begins with a rush to the sources of experience.  Every fresh-thinking reed of intellect is raised to pipe up and chime in with the still-viable canons of inquiry in one glorious paen to the personal encounter with natural experience.  But real progress in the community of inquiry depends on observers being able to orient themselves to objects of common experience, and so the uncontrolled exaltation of individual phenomenologies leads as a rule to the disappointment and the disillusionment that befalls the lot of unshared enthusiasms and fragmented impressions.  Look again at the end of the season and see it faltering to a close, with every young scribe being rapped on the knuckles for departing from that uninspired identification with impersonal authority that expresses itself in third-person passive accounts of one’s own experience.

It is easy to decry this turn of events, but anything that happens so often must have a cause, a force of reason to explain the dynamics of its recurring moment in the history of ideas.  It appears that the heart of the development that transpires is not born on the sleeve of its first and last stages, where the initial explosion and final collapse march along their inevitable course in a lockstep fashion, but is embodied more naturally in the middle of the above narrative.

Experience exposes and explodes expectations.  How can experiences impinge on expectations unless these two types of entities are both reflected in the same medium, for instance, and perhaps without loss of generality, in the form of representation that constitutes the domain of signs?  However complex its world may be, internal or external to itself, or on the boundaries of its being, a finite creature can only describe it in a finite number of finite terms, or in a finite sketch of finite lines.  Finite terms and lines are signs.  What they indicate need not be finite, but what they are, must be.


The common sensorium.

The common sense and the senses of common.

This is the point where the empirical and the rational meet.

I describe as empirical any method that exposes theoretical descriptions of an object to further experiences with that object.

This entry was posted in C.S. Peirce, Inquiry, Inquiry Driven Systems, Inquiry Into Inquiry, Intelligent Systems, Peirce, Semiotics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.