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Re: [ontolog-forum] Laws: physical and social

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 08 Jun 2013 10:35:22 -0400
Message-id: <51B3412A.8040902@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Tara,    (01)

The major distinction is between physical laws and social laws, but
I was also emphasizing the similarity noted by Peirce and Holmes:
both kinds of laws make predictions, and those predictions are
fundamental to the meaning of the laws.    (02)

> One of the arguments supporting this position is that there is a continuum
> of laws between the physical and the social. This argument would be more
> convincing if the missing link were produced: can we give an example of
> a law whose consequences are produced by both physical and social means?    (03)

I don't know of any law that could be classified as both physical
and social -- unless you consider all social behavior as ultimately
reducible to physical processes.    (04)

The continuity I was emphasizing in the previous notes was the range
of social phenomena from preferences to habits to laws.  I received
an offline question about that point, and I include a slightly edited
version of my response at the end of this note.    (05)

However, Peirce also believed in a continuity in the habit forming
behavior of all life forms.  See the paragraph quoted below.    (06)

Peirce recognized a break between the inorganic and organic forms, but
he suspected that some intermediate stages may have existed in the past.    (07)

John    (08)

-------- Original Message --------    (09)

> I was wondering, might you be able to provide a specific citation
> for where Peirce made the point re a continuum from preferences
> to enforced laws?    (010)

If you type the following four words to Google    (011)

    Peirce continuum habit law    (012)

you'll get 11,200,000 hits.  Those are four terms that he discussed
separately and together in many related variations.    (013)

If you want just one quotation,    (014)

> If the laws of nature are results of evolution, this evolution must proceed 
>according to
> some principle; and this principle will itself be of the nature of a law. But 
>it must be such
> a law that it can evolve or develop itself. (...) Evidently it must be a 
>tendency toward
> generalization, -- a generalizing tendency. But any fundamental universal 
>tendency ought
> to manifest itself in nature. Where shall we look for it? We could not expect 
>to find it in
> such phenomena as gravitation where the evolution has so nearly approached 
>its ultimate
> limit, that nothing even simulating irregularity can be found in it. But we 
>must search for
> this generalizing tendency rather in such departments of nature where we find 
> and evolution still at work. The most plastic of all things is the human 
>mind, and next
> after that comes the organic world, the world of protoplasm. Now the 
> tendency is the great law of mind, the law of association, the law of habit 
>taking. We also
> find in all active protoplasm a tendency to take habits. Hence I was led to 
>the hypothesis
> that the laws of the universe have been formed under a universal tendency of 
>all things
> toward generalization and habit-taking.  (CP 4.642)    (015)

This paragraph can be found in the chapter on Habit in the following
book, which is probably the best one to read for a general overview
of Peirce's philosophy:    (016)

Peirce, Charles Sanders (1898) _Reasoning and the Logic of Things_,
The Cambridge Conferences Lectures of 1898, ed. by K. L. Ketner,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1992.    (017)

This book also has a good 52-page commentary by Hilary Putnam,
which relates Peirce's ideas to modern logic and philosophy.    (018)

And by the way, Peirce's hypothesis that even the laws of physics have
evolved is now seriously considered.  At the instant of the Big Bang,
the four fundamental forces -- gravity, electromagnetism, the strong
nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force -- may have been very
different from what they have become.    (019)

For an organized collection of quotations by Peirce on the theme
of continuity with commentary by Fernando Zalamea, see    (020)

http://acervopeirceano.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Zalamea-Peirces-Continuum.pdf    (021)

Zalamea has a PhD in mathematics, and he knows what he's talking about
when he discusses the issues of continuity.  He has also published
many papers on Peirce's philosophy.  Much of the material in this
94-page book has recently been published in a longer book:    (022)

    Peirce's Logic of Continuity: A Conceptual and Mathematical Approach    (023)

Available from Amazon for $16.19 or from Barnes & Noble for $16.40    (024)

John    (025)

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