Re: Peirce List Discussion • CG • JA • CG • JA • CG • JA • CG
One of the points I’ve been trying to make all along is that a person doesn’t normally need to make a working assumption explicit when it’s understood by all practitioners in a given practical setting as being implicit in that practice. It becomes necessary and pertinent to do so only when a working assumption stops working or when one needs to lay out the rationales of that practice to others who may not be familiar with it.
As long as Peirce was writing for readers with relevant backgrounds in the practice of math and science it wasn’t really necessary and would’ve even been considered impertinent for him to waste words on points that everyone in that audience would regard as routine.
Does that have any bearing on questions about the reality of generals? It’s hard to say. I guess it’s bound up with the reasons I think the only real realists I know and the only practicing pragmatists I know are all mathematicians, or at least scientists who use mathematics, for the moments they are immersed in doing so.
Referring again to the figure I drew for Peirce’s classification of sciences, many if not most of our theories on the mathematical side will have both individual terms and general terms, categorized not absolutely but in relation to each other in a given context. So the distinction between individual and general does not align with the distinction between phenomena and theory. The whole theory is judged (by us arbiters) according to how well it guides our transactions with the whole phenomenal domain in question.
We do not know whether anything like predicates and subjects, generals and particulars, waves and particles, or whatever, exists in the reality that generates the phenomenal world. It is entirely conceivable that none of those terms will appear in the final account of things. All we have to decide, as Gandalf says, is what to do with the time that is given to us.