LAFS. Note 9 (02)
The definitions just presented of logic, signs, and their relations
come from two drafts of a grant application that Peirce submitted
to the Carnegie Institution in 1902, but which was never funded,
and so we do not have the promised definition of "formal" that
he might have handed down to us in the prospective memoirs. (04)
But there are several other passages in Peirce's writings where
he tells what meaning he understands the word "formal" to have.
In the passage below, where I have broken up a long paragraph
into smaller pieces for ease of assimilation, he glosses the
term "formal" as equivalent to "quasi-necessary", and gives
illustrations of its meaning that makes its close kinship
to "normative" clear. (05)
| Logic, in its general sense, is, as I believe I have shown,
| only another name for ''semiotic'' [Greek ''semeiotike''],
| the quasi-necessary, or formal, doctrine of signs.
| By describing the doctrine as "quasi-necessary", or formal,
| I mean that we observe the characters of such signs as we
| know, and from such an observation, by a process which
| I will not object to naming Abstraction, we are led to
| statements, eminently fallible, and therefore in one
| sense by no means necessary, as to what ''must be''
| the characters of all signs used by a "scientific"
| intelligence, that is to say, by an intelligence
| capable of learning by experience.
| As to that process of abstraction, it is itself a sort of
| observation. The faculty which I call abstractive observation
| is one which ordinary people perfectly recognize, but for which
| the theories of philosophers sometimes hardly leave room. It is
| a familiar experience to every human being to wish for something
| quite beyond his present means, and to follow that wish by the
| question, "Should I wish for that thing just the same, if I
| had ample means to gratify it?"
| To answer that question, he searches his heart, and in doing so
| makes what I term an abstractive observation. He makes in his
| imagination a sort of skeleton diagram, or outline sketch, of
| himself, considers what modifications the hypothetical state
| of things would require to be made in that picture, and then
| examines it, that is, ''observes'' what he has imagined,
| to see whether the same ardent desire is there to be
| discerned. By such a process, which is at bottom
| very much like mathematical reasoning, we can
| reach conclusions as to what ''would be''
| true of signs in all cases, so long
| as the intelligence using them
| was scientific. (CP 2.227).
| Charles Sanders Peirce, ''Collected Papers'', CP 2.227,
| Editor's Note. "From An Unidentified Fragment, c. 1897". (06)
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