RE: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc

From: Tony Whitson (
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 16:18:59 PST

Peirce absolutely would not agree that thirdness is any less real than
firstness. The locution "independent existence of real things" begs the
question, "independent OF WHAT?" Peirce rejects the dualism that is
responded to in opposite ways by realism and by idealism. Peirce believed in
reality, and in real things, but not reality or real things independent of
the relations in which real things are constituted. The thirdness that, to
our knowledge, is especially realized in human intellectual activity is no
less primordial than firstness and secondness in the constitution of the
world that was emerging prior to the advent of humankind.

Talk or thought about Firsts requires logical precision from Seconds and
Thirds. The idea is not that Firsts somehow existed temporally or
ontologically before--or independently of--Seconds and Thirds.

An instance of this way of understanding can be seen in Dewey's Reflex Arc
paper: The "reflex arc" is not a matter of stimuli and responses that become
s-i dyads and then a series of dyadic reactions that are prior to the arc.

As I noted in a different thread:
In response to dualism, and the issue of Realism vs. Idealism:
John Deely articulates a "Semiotist" position as against both the Realist
and the Idealist. Deely sees even Jameson as trapped in an ideology (my
word) of "Representation" (Locke, Kant, etc.) rather than awareness of
signification (Poinsot, Peirce, etc.) through essentially triadic
sign-relations, in which the triadically related terms participate together
in semiosis without regard for boundaries between "mind" and "world," etc.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Kellogg
Sent: Thursday, November 23, 2006 6:40 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] New Valsiner SEmiots paper on MCA website at lchc

Dear Michael and eric:

I guess I really don't understand the distinction Michael is making between
experimentalism and realism. I don't think I'm conflating them; I think I
really don't know the difference.

What I meant to say was that Peirce distinguishes between "firstness",
"secondness" and "thirdness", where the first is characteristic of iconic,
direct, "thing in itself" meaning, the second is characteristic of
indexical, indicative, "thing for others" meaning, and the third is
characteristic of symbolic, socialized, "thing for itself" meaning.

What is "first" about firstness? Well, to me it is first because it lies
closest to materiality, viz. material reality. I don't think this is an
outrageous intepretation; Peirce knew his German philosophy and must have
been as familiar with Feuerbach as with Hegel. So if Michael thinks that
Peirce does not believe in the independent existence of real things, I'd
really like to know why.

I see why Valsiner doesn't! I'm still scratching my head over that passage
in "The Social Mind" where he says that the zone of proximal development can
NEVER be operationalized or experimentally verified, because there is no way
to know whether the child's solution of the problem actually incorporates of
external assistance or constitutes an independent discovery (p. 379). To me
this ineluctably suggests dualism--UNLESS you take the step of denying the
primacy of external reality, in which case the distinction between
interpersonal knowledge building and intrapersonal construction really is
uninteresting. But in that case, whence (and whither) development?

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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