Re: nominalism Re: [xmca] Response to DK about Volition

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Sun Sep 09 2007 - 20:17:34 PDT

I love Peirce. I never thought for a moment that Peirce is a nominalist.
At 09:34 PM 9/09/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>As for the charge of nominalism, David can answer for himself; but Peirce
>was the opposite of a nominalists. Relations in the world are real, for
>Peirce. In David's (Volosinov's) example, the "Lateness of the spring" can
>be a reality, with real consequences. Peirce drew directly from
>anti-nominalists such as Duns Scotus. (I should note that my
>interpretation of CSP here is heavily influenced by Deely, but I'm not
>aware of Peirce scholars who would disagree on this.)
>On Mon, 10 Sep 2007, Andy Blunden wrote:
>>Peirce's insight was profound, wasn't it? That natural processes can be
>>understood as semiosis, that natural things and processes can be
>>understood as signs and communications, an entirely original insight, so
>>far as I know. But this was an intellectual achievement. "Sign,"
>>"Interpretant" and so on, are concepts, tools-for-thought, used by people
>>who, as communicators, understand well the nature of signs, messages,
>>interpretants, etc..
>>Peirce showed that semiosis has a basis in nature, but so does phlogiston
>>and the ether. If you reject the idea that these concepts are essentially
>>"tools-for-thought," and insist instead that we have been able to acquire
>>them only because they really exist, in Nature, prior to and outside of
>>human activity, until someone "discovered" them, then we are into an
>>entirely different realm of ontology and epistemology: concepts (e.g.,
>>interpretant, republicanism, polka dot) exist in Nature and people
>>discover and name them, etc., etc. - but this is an epistemology and an
>>ontology which is surely unworthy of the creators of dialectics and semiosis.
>>I know what you mean if you say that iron existed in nature before people
>>discovered it. It would be pedantry in the extreme if I were to insist
>>that "iron" is a concept meaningful only within a culture in which iron
>>is used, for example, for weapons, etc. But if the "thing" being
>>discovered is an outright "tool-for-thought" I think I would be justified
>>in opposing your nominalism. The concept of "semiosis" arose in a society
>>that had already developed a division of labour in which the use of signs
>>was a specialised and self-conscious system of activity. It could not
>>have arisen otherwise.
>>At 05:23 PM 9/09/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>>> If we reject the claim that nature is dialectical (in a non-trivial
>>> sense, in the same sense that human semiosis is dialogical), I have
>>> trouble making sense of Volosinov's description of how signs come into
>>> being. It seems to me that signs come into being precisely by human
>>> selection and voluntary reproduction of something pre-existing in nature.
>>> Volosinov describes two people in a room. Outside the it begins to
>>> snow. One of them says, "Well!"
>>> When we apply Peirce's (profoundly dialectical) notion of signs to
>>> the colloquy, we get:
>>> Sign: Snow
>>> Object: Lateness of spring
>>> Interpretant: Disappointment
>>> The first two things are clearly natural: snow means that spring will
>>> probably be late whether anyone notices it or not (any grizzly bear
>>> will tell you that). So I still think that human dialectics is a
>>> deliberate, volitional, selective reflection of a "natural dialectic"
>>> in the thinking, speaking, human subject.
>>> It seems to me that if we reject this continuity of natural semiosis
>>> into human semiosis, we end up rejecting either materialism (as Hegel
>>> did) or monism. No?
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Seoul Ntional University of Education
>>>Need a vacation? Get great deals to amazing places on Yahoo! Travel.
>>>xmca mailing list
>>Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
>>identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651
>>xmca mailing list
>Tony Whitson
>UD School of Education
>NEWARK DE 19716
>"those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
>xmca mailing list

  Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435, AIM
identity: AndyMarxists mobile 0409 358 651

xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Sep 9 20:18 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Oct 08 2007 - 06:02:26 PDT