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Re: [ontolog-forum] Triadic Sign Relations

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2010 02:23:10 -0400
Message-id: <4C6F70CE.6060501@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

I'll start with the ending, since that is the most important point:    (02)

JFS>>  What I just said is "obvious" -- but most people don't think
>>  about it.  Peirce not only thought about it, he analyzed it in
>>  great detail and showed how those ideas are central to all thought,
>>  language, reasoning -- and their study in every branch of science.    (03)

AA> Yes. That's a really great deed.    (04)

I'm glad that we agree.  The rest is detail, but I'll make a few
comments about some of the points:    (05)

JFS>> Peirce's observation:  All knowledge comes from signs.    (06)

AA> Agree, if he meant empirical knowledge.    (07)

Peirce emphasized abduction, which is reasoning by hypothesis
or a kind of educated guess.  Those guesses could come from
thin air, but most likely they were inspired by analogies with
something that had been learned through experience.    (08)

Peirce introduced abduction as a replacement for Kant's synthetic
a priori, which Kant hypothesized (of course, by abduction) as a
means of explaining certain kinds of knowledge (space and time,
for example) which Kant claimed could not be derived by induction.    (09)

Peirce also disagreed with other psychologists of his day, who
assumed that instinct only applied to lower animals, not to
humans who were presumably much more intelligent.  But CSP
thought that was a dubious argument.  He was quite willing to
believe that certain tendencies were inherited (or as we might
say today, encoded in genes rather than neurons).    (010)

AA> Here is another example, a new quintessence, "dark energy" and
 > "dark matter", supposedly constiting 74 % and 22 % of the physical
 > universe.   Currently, both of them are just things, and not any
 > sign at all.    (011)

Those are hypotheses derived by abduction.  It's true that nobody
has observed them, but the kinds of reasoning that led to those
hypotheses were developed over centuries of scientific practice,
which ultimately began with observation.    (012)

AA> Considering that "a sign as a thing which not only causes
 > something else to come into mind, but it also acts on the senses"
 > to create the senses and meanings in the perceiving mind.    (013)

Every sign token is indeed perceptible and hence physical.
But the sign type is an abstraction derived by experience in
grouping together many similar signs to which the response
(interpretant) was the same or similar in some respect.    (014)

JFS>> And how is the sign related to the person who perceives it?    (015)

AA> We have to see natural signs as a system, related as cause
 > and effect or part and whole, according to our experience and
 > knowledge...    (016)

Cause and effect are never experienced directly.  They are always
abductions formed as hypotheses about how successive experiences
are related.  After a hypothesis is confirmed by a considerable
number of observations, it is accepted as a law (cause).    (017)

JFS>> In short, everything we know and believe is the result of signs
 >> of signs of signs.    (018)

AA> That's just right. But we need to systematize their relationships,
 > to know the syntax.    (019)

The syntax is the form by which things are recognized.  But the
meaning (semantics and pragmatics) is the result of abductions
(hypotheses) that have been verified by repeated experiments
and observations.    (020)

John    (021)

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