Thus, if a sunflower, in turning towards the sun, becomes by that very act fully capable, without further condition, of reproducing a sunflower which turns in precisely corresponding ways toward the sun, and of doing so with the same reproductive power, the sunflower would become a Representamen of the sun.
— C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers, CP 2.274
Re: Cybernetic Communications • Klaus Krippendorff
Re: Ecology of Systems Thinking • Richard Saunders
I’m working at reviewing and revising some pieces I’ve rewritten two score times over the last … lost count of years … and that bit from Peirce is one of my favorite epigraphs for the work ahead. But I take it as an allegorical figure whose purpose is to illustrate a certain form of relation, and not to be taken too literally. So I’m sympathetic to the reactions of several readers who find it clangs a bit if taken at face value. I think there are clues in the passage, the hypothetical subjunctive construction, the unnatural qualification, “without further condition”, etc., telling us Peirce did not intend it as a truth of botany. But taken rightly it does point to the shape of a proper definition to come. So I’ll be getting to that …
cc: Cybernetics • Ontolog • Peirce List (1) (2) • Structural Modeling • Systems Science
I like it, familiar with it in other forms. Peirce’s terms don’t tip of the tongue, only thing that clangs. But it’s an older poetic form of language. “Lyke unto a dumb solsequium” Old Scots song.
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