Definition and Determination • 20

Re: Peirce ListRobert Marty

RM:
Thank you for this information.  I happen to have a work in progress (not yet written) on the question of determination.  I discovered that Peirce gave a quite remarkable definition in CP 8.361.

“We thus learn that the Object determines (i.e. renders definitely to be such as it will be,) the Sign in a particular manner.”  (CP 8.361, in CP 8.342–379, from M-20b, 1908).

It fits very well with what he writes in Excerpt 21.

“Hence universal and necessary elements of experience are not determined from without.  But are they, therefore, determined from within?  Are they determined at all?  Does not this very conception of determination imply causality and thus beg the whole question of causality at the very outset?  Not at all.  The determination here meant is not real determination but logical determination.  A cognition à priori is one which any experience contains reason for and therefore which no experience determines but which contains elements such as the mind introduces in working up the materials of sense, or rather as they are not new materials, they are the working up.”  (C.S. Peirce, Chronological Edition, CE 1, 246–247).

I have hosted this working paper on my personal website:  The Semiotics.Online, entitled DetermineWhat “Determine” Means.

I appreciate any suggestion or criticism, as usual.

Dear Robert,

Excerpt 21 comes from Peirce’s Harvard Lectures On the Logic of Science (1865).  It begins with a question about the possibility of knowledge à priori and draws conclusions about the grounds of validity for necessary and universal judgements.  For ease of discussion I copy the full excerpt below.

Is there any knowledge à priori?  All our thought begins with experience, the mind furnishes no material for thought whatever.  This is acknowledged by all the philosophers with whom we need concern ourselves at all.  The mind only works over the materials furnished by sense;  no dream is so strange but that all its elementary parts are reminiscences of appearance, the collocation of these alone are we capable of originating.

In one sense, therefore, everything may be said to be inferred from experience;  everything that we know, or think or guess or make up may be said to be inferred by some process valid or fallacious from the impressions of sense.  But though everything in this loose sense is inferred from experience, yet everything does not require experience to be as it is in order to afford data for the inference.  Give me the relations of any geometrical intuition you please and you give me the data for proving all the propositions of geometry.  In other words, everything is not determined by experience.

And this admits of proof.  For suppose there may be universal and necessary judgements;  as for example the moon must be made of green cheese.  But there is no element of necessity in an impression of sense for necessity implies that things would be the same as they are were certain accidental circumstances different from what they are.  I may here note that it is very common to misstate this point, as though the necessity here intended were a necessity of thinking.  But it is not meant to say that what we feel compelled to think we are absolutely compelled to think, as this would imply;  but that if we think a fact must be we cannot have observed that it must be.  The principle is thus reduced to an analytical one.  In the same way universality implies that the event would be the same were the things within certain limits different from what they are.

Hence universal and necessary elements of experience are not determined from without.  But are they, therefore, determined from within?  Are they determined at all?  Does not this very conception of determination imply causality and thus beg the whole question of causality at the very outset?  Not at all.  The determination here meant is not real determination but logical determination.  A cognition à priori is one which any experience contains reason for and therefore which no experience determines but which contains elements such as the mind introduces in working up the materials of sense, or rather as they are not new materials, they are the working up.  (C.S. Peirce, Chronological Edition, CE 1, 246–247).

Reference

  • Charles Sanders Peirce, “Harvard Lectures On the Logic of Science” (1865), Writings of Charles S. Peirce : A Chronological Edition, Volume 1, 1857–1866, Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1982.

Resources

cc: Inquiry List • Peirce List (1) (2) (3) (4)
cc: Cybernetics (1) (2)Ontolog Forum • Structural Modeling (1) (2)Systems Science
cc: FB | Inquiry Driven SystemsLaws of Form

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2 Responses to Definition and Determination • 20

  1. Pingback: Definition and Determination • 21 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

  2. Pingback: Definition and Determination • 22 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

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