Re: [xmca] Peirce as Hegel, but "in costume"

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at>
Date: Sat Nov 03 2007 - 07:49:59 PDT

Here's some more Peirce on Hege; (and to bed)

The truth is that pragmaticism is closely allied to the Hegelian absolute
idealism, from which, however, it is sundered by its vigorous denial that
the third category (which Hegel degrades to a mere stage of thinking)
suffices to make the world, or is even so much as self-sufficient. Had
Hegel, instead of regarding the first two stages with his smile of
contempt, held on to them as independent or distinct elements of the triune
Reality, pragmaticists might have looked up to him as the great vindicator
of their truth. (Of course, the external trappings of his doctrine are only
here and there of much significance.) For pragmaticism belongs essentially
to the triadic class of philosophical doctrines, and is much more
essentially so than Hegelianism is. (Indeed, in one passage, at least,
Hegel alludes to the triadic form of his exposition as to a mere fashion of

* * *

Had I more space, I now ought to show how important for philosophy is the
mathematical conception of continuity. Most of what is true in Hegel is a
darkling glimmer of a conception which the mathematicians had long before
made pretty clear, and which recent researches have still further illustrated.

Among the many principles of Logic which find their application in
Philosophy, I can here only mention one. Three conceptions are perpetually
turning up at every point in every theory of logic, and in the most rounded
systems they occur in connection with one another. They are conceptions so
very broad and consequently indefinite that they are hard to seize and may
be easily overlooked. I call them the conceptions of First, Second, Third.
First is the conception of being or existing independent of anything else.
Second is the conception of being relative to, the conception of reaction
with, something else. Third is the conception of mediation, whereby a first
and second are brought into relation. To illustrate these ideas, I will
show how they enter into those we have been considering. The origin of
things, considered not as leading to anything, but in itself, contains the
idea of First, the end of things that of Second, the process mediating
between them that of Third. A philosophy which emphasizes the idea of the
One is generally a dualistic philosophy in which the conception of Second
receives exaggerated attention; for this One (though of course involving
the idea of First) is always the other of a manifold which is not one. The
idea of the Many, because variety is arbitrariness and arbitrariness is
repudiation of any Secondness, has for its principal component the
conception of First. In psychology Feeling is First, Sense of reaction
Second, General conception Third, or mediation. In biology, the idea of
arbitrary sporting is First, heredity is Second, the process whereby the
accidental characters become fixed is Third. Chance is First, Law is
Second, the tendency to take habits is Third. Mind is First, Matter is
Second, Evolution is Third.

* * *

The Hegelian philosophy is such an anancasticism [evolution by necessity].
With its revelatory religion, with its synechism (however imperfectly set
forth), with its reflection,the whole idea of the theory is superb, almost
sublime. Yet, after all, living freedom is practically omitted from its
method. The whole movement is that of a vast engine, impelled by a vis a
tergo, with a blind and mysterious fate of arriving at a lofty goal. I mean
that such an engine it would be, if it really worked; but in point of fact,
it is a Keely motor. Grant that it really acts as it professes to act, and
there is nothing to do but accept the philosophy. But never was there seen
such an example of a long chain of reasoning, - shall I say with a flaw in
every link? - no, with every link a handful of sand, squeezed into shape in
a dream. Or say, it is a pasteboard model of a philosophy that in reality
does not exist. If we use the one precious thing it contains, the idea of
it, introducing the tychism [evolution by chance, Darwin] which the
arbitrariness of its every step suggests, and make that the support of a
vital freedom which is the breadth of the spirit of love, we may be able to
produce that genuine agapasticism [evolution by creativity, Lamarck], at
which Hegel was aiming.

At 10:23 AM 3/11/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>Thanks, Michael G., for calling attention to Bergman's article in
>Semiotica 144-1/4 (2003) 1-17.
>After reviewing both Bergman and Parmentier, I'm afraid I can't find the
>basis for either Engstrom's comments or your observations (Nov 1, below).
>but I see you didn't have Bergman's paper at hand then.
>I was surprised by the comment that Peirce & James "hated Hegel" (below).
>I don't know about James, but I don't remember Peirce ever expressing such
>an attitude toward any philosopher worth reading at all.
>It's a bit late for Halloween (when kids and, increasingly, adults, dress
>up in costumes in the US), but I think these paragraphs better represent
>Peirce's view of Hegel:
>Peirce: CP 1.40-42 (40 and 41-2 are from separate unidentified fragments,
>c. 1892.)
>40. The critical logicians have been much affiliated to the theological
>seminaries. About the thinking that goes on in laboratories they have
>known nothing. Now the seminarists and religionists generally have at all
>times and places set their faces against the idea of continuous growth.
>That disposition of intellect is the most catholic element of religion.
>Religious truth having been once defined is never to be altered in the
>most minute particular; and theology being held as queen of the sciences,
>the religionists have bitterly fought by fire and tortures all great
>advances in the true sciences; and if there be no true continuous growth
>in men's ideas where else in the world should it be looked for? Thence, we
>find this folk setting up hard lines of demarcation, or great gulfs,
>contrary to all observation, between good men and bad, between the wise
>and foolish, between the spirit and the flesh, between all the different
>kinds of objects, between one quantity and the next. So shut up are they
>in this conception of the world that when the seminarist Hegel discovered
>that the universe is everywhere permeated with continuous growth (for
>that, and nothing else, is the "Secret of Hegel") it was supposed to be an
>entirely new idea, a century and a half after the differential calculus
>had been in working order.
>41. Hegel, while regarding scientific men with disdain, has for his chief
>topic the importance of continuity, which was the very idea the
>mathematicians and physicists had been chiefly engaged in following out
>for three centuries. This made Hegel's work less correct and excellent in
>itself than it might have been; and at the same time hid its true mode of
>affinity with the scientific thought into which the life of the race had
>been chiefly laid up. It was a misfortune for Hegelism, a misfortune for
>"philosophy," and a misfortune (in lesser degree) for science.
>42. My philosophy resuscitates Hegel, though in a strange costume.
>On Thu, 1 Nov 2007, Michael Glassman wrote:
>>I'm going to try and find the reference, but there is this great article
>>that I think eloquently argues that Peirce made a turn from concentrating
>>on language per se, where he was more interested in semiotics, to being
>>more interested in relations. I can't remember if he said this is when
>>Peirce started referring to semiosis. Once he started talking about
>>relations the issue of mediation became far less important in his work -
>>again not in terms of existing, but in terms of study.
>>So Engestrom is right, but depending on which Peirce you are reading at
>>the moment. Of course Peirce is terribly opaque, and any discussion I
>>have ever had about him eventually winds up going down the rabbit
>>hole. But I think you can make the argument that as James and Peirce
>>were becoming invested in the Peircian named Pragmatism his thinking did
>>change - and actually become more challenging - if that was possible.
>>From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 6:30 PM
>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>Thank you Michael, and Eric and Mira and others too. My questions have all
>>been wonderfully answered (unless, Michael, you tell me that you are really
>>Mikhail Glashchmanovich writing under an assumed name, in which case I'll
>>have to go back to the drawing board).
>>Another question for you all. Recently I criticised Sasha because I thought
>>he had misunderstood Peirce. Reading Engstrom's book, I find what I take to
>>be the same misunderstanding.
>>He says: "For the sake of clarity, Peirce's excessive and often opaque work
>>is here discussed only through the concise but balanced interpretation of
>>Parmentier" - something we can all sympathise with I am sure, but then goes
>>on to claim "The mediating sign is here [with Peirce], in the context of
>>human action, treated as something purely mental and intentional. It thus
>>loses its potentially anti-Cartesian, cultural quality and reverts to
>>individualism and rationalism."
>>This was never my view of Peirce. Do you Americans have a view on this?
>>At 02:44 PM 1/11/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>>>I know Dewey studied Hegel with George Morris, but James and Peirce
>>>hated Hegel - and criticized Dewey for holding on to him. I don't think
>>>it had much to do with Feuerbach's critique though. I think it was more
>>>a reaction against idealism, which Eric talks about. Pragmatic
>>>philosophy is not as abstract as other philosophical traditions, and it
>>>emerges out of a number of issues that would in many ways be alien to
>>>continental philosophy (for instance I would argue that the exploration
>>>of the frontier, the settling of the mid-western and western states, and
>>>the need for communal problem solving that accompanied it had an
>>>important impact (even though Pragmatism started in Boston, it really
>>>reached fruition in Chicago just as it was emerging as the type of
>>>metropolis that grows from a frontier town). I also think Lincoln had a
>>>tremendous influence on the development of at least instrumental
>>>Pragmatism. All this and more combined with the emergence of Darwin's
>>>ideas of adaptation probably had far more to do with the development of
>>>Pragmatic thought than continental philosophy in general. It was a
>>>different idea and by trying to bring the two together I'm not sure if
>>>we are trying to fit a square peg in to a round hole.
>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: []
>>>On Behalf Of Branimira Slavova
>>>Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 9:03 AM
>>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>>I was trying to understand the differences among these philosophies some
>>>time ago. So I'll pitch in my 2 cents. I was led to believe that the
>>>main difference between the American pragmatist philosophers and the
>>>Russians is based on their different stances on the Feuerbach's critique
>>>of Hegel. My sense was that the pragmatists had more of a reductionist
>>>view, while the Russians were anti-reductionist which allowed them to
>>>consider more sophisticated basic units of analysis. Is that a fair
>>>thing to say?
>>>Dr Mira Slavova
>>>Research Fellow in Information Management
>>>Maurice Keyworth Building
>>>The University of Leeds
>>>Leeds LS2 9JT
>>>Tel: 0113 343 7818
>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: on behalf of Michael Glassman
>>>Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 13:24
>>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>>I think the response is a kind of complicated and it relates back I
>>>think to an earlier comment you made about unity or whether you consider
>>>communication as products of labor. There was a difference between
>>>Peirce/James and Dewey/Mead when it comes to Pragmatism - which involves
>>>whether activity builds upon itself, making life better and adaptation
>>>easier, or whether all activity is situation specific and doesn't really
>>>have a larger social meaning beyond solving a problem. James (and I
>>>assume Peirce) believed that Dewey (and by extension Mead) saw social
>>>progress in activity because of a Hegelian deposit that remained in
>>>Dewey's thinking even after he left Johns Hopkins. It has been a
>>>continuous argument about whether Dewey has a Hegelian deposit for about
>>>a century now. But James was much more interested in the individual
>>>while Dewey/Mead because of their interest in progress were necessarily
>>>more socially or societally oriented - Is that what you mean by the
>>>difference between narrow and broad Pragmatism? Pepper separated them
>>>by calling one contextualism and one organicism (though the
>>>differentiation seem to be to be a short at Dewey).
>>>But the idea that there are materials that can somehow be thought of
>>>separate from practical activity and problem solving - now I think they
>>>all pretty much would have argued against that by the mid 1890s. The
>>>big issue I think is their thinking was a fear of dualism. Once you
>>>assume that there are materials that are separate from actions in any
>>>way, including any types of universals, then you are somehow separating
>>>the human condition from nature itself. What you run in to is control
>>>of these things, or attempts to control these things, outside of the
>>>problem based interaction/transaction itself. For instance if you posit
>>>that discourse is somehow a product, are you making the assumption or
>>>claim that you can somehow control discourse and they way it is
>>>manipulated outside of the process itself? I think this is the reason
>>>that, at least to my reading, even though Dewey believed there was
>>>mediation he questioned the worth of studying and understanding it,
>>>because that assumed that you could transfer this meaning to the next
>>>situation - because you can't separate language or anything else from
>>>the actual activity.
>>>I'm not sure I understand your point about one group of theorists in
>>>Russia and one group of theorists in the United States. What is true is
>>>that there were a number of forces in the United States that were
>>>pushing thinking about human condition towards more practical aspects of
>>>human problem solving.
>>> _____
>>>From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>>Sent: Thu 11/1/2007 8:49 AM
>>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>>Mmm, that's an answer, Micharl.
>>>Engstrom seems to be saying, amongst other things, that Mead was much
>>>better than his interpreters of the 1980s/90s. The question arose for me
>>>connection with a paper I am writing about Axel Honneth, including his
>>>appropriation of Mead in the 90s. I had the same view, i.e., that what
>>>said was OK, but Honneth just missed it, and transformed his theory into
>>>typical postmodern "intersubjectivity" (social rather than societal some
>>>would say). When I was challenged and asked to say why I thought
>>>and Leontiev should be used as a foundation in social psychology,
>>>of Mead, it was confusing to answer. I actually think that the main
>>>differences between Vygotsky/Leontyev/Luria and Mead/Peirce/Dewey is
>>>the first group were Russians living in the USSR and the second lot were
>>>Americans living in the USA. - not so much in the actually theoretical
>>>differences between these early figures.
>>>One of the ideas I use in my paper is the contrast between pragmatism in
>>>the "narrow" sense an pragmatism in the "broad" sense. People said, you
>>>mean Mead was pragmatic in the narrow sense and Vygotsky in the broad.
>>>Mead is pragmatic in the broad sense, but the "spirit" of American
>>>pragmatism is narrow, and the ideas of great thinkers cannot survive the
>>>spirit of their times and the spirit of their people. (By narrow
>>>I mean pragmatism that reduces everything to interactions between
>>>individuals deemed to be the bearers of needs, knowledge etc., and
>>>the real existence of universals. By pragmatism in the broad sense, I
>>>pragmatism which understands that interactions between individuals
>>>by means of universals, which are material artefacts, culture - public
>>>property, so to speak, and this material culture constitutes the
>>>objectivity of universals. The ordinary American pragmatist of the kind
>>>think you are talking about Michael, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't
>>>in theories and ideas, it all comes down just to whether its useful or
>>>But Mead and Dewey and Perice were better than that.
>>>(PS Engstrom answer my question about communicative and instrumental
>>>a few paragraphs later. Sorry for the stupid question in that other
>>>I started, and apologies for forgetting to set "Send text only")
>>>At 08:02 AM 1/11/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>>>>It's difficult to describe, but even though the theorists don't get so
>>>>much play, much of the theory of Mead and the others is integrated in
>>>>everyday activity in United States society (why the
>>>>disconnect? Hmmmm.) Every time somebody does Case Management they are
>>>>testing this theory. Many drug programs and housing programs are
>>>>this theory. Most street level social work is working within and
>>>>this theory. Many teachers, inside the classroom, are continuously
>>>>testing this theory (Standardized Curriculums can be seen as a frontal
>>>>political attack on these ideas). The results need to be empirical but
>>>>they are not positivist, and they are not generalizable - which in
>>>>is part of Pragmatic thought. It is not so much these ideas aren't
>>>>constantly used and tested, but perhaps more the way we view testing
>>>>From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>>>Sent: Wed 10/31/2007 9:14 AM
>>>>To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>>Subject: RE: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>>>Please understand Michael that my knowledge of Mead is very thin; I
>>>>know what have read in terms of a couple of hundred pages of his
>>>>a couple of biographical articles and of course I am familiar with the
>>>>Progressive Movement, Dewey, Peirce and everyone, of which he was a
>>>>But I get the impression that he worked out these ideas, as you say, in
>>>>dialogue especially with Dewey and in the midst of that milieu, but I
>>>>imagine that there was a lot of laboratory work involved, controlled
>>>>experiments and observation, and so on, by Mead, during his own
>>>>The Vygotsky school on the other and incorporates today many decades of
>>>>empirical and practical experimental work and observation by scores of
>>>>psychologists. Yes? How many research groups or psychological
>>>>use Symbolic Interactionism specifically today, as their comprehensive
>>>>theoretical paradigm?
>>>>At 08:58 AM 31/10/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>>>>>Mead's work was not just one man - he was surrounded by an entire
>>>group at
>>>>>the University of Chicago that had come together under the umbrella
>>>>>this type of Pragmatic thought. John Dewey recruited him to the
>>>>>University of Chicago from the Univfersity of Michigan, and they were
>>>>>friends - both intellectually and socially. There was also a large,
>>>>>application oriented group centered around Jane Addams and Hull
>>>House, and
>>>>>the nascent labor movement. When Dewey went to Columbia, there was a
>>>>>great deal of cross-pollination between the group he started at
>>>>>and Mead who stayed at the University of Chicago and the remains of
>>>>>group. Mead's ideas are not the ideas of one man but a brilliant
>>>>>philosophical movement that helped to create what we now call
>>>>>and sociology, and qualitative methodology, and even to a certain
>>>>>much of modern anthropology (Boas was also a marginal member of this
>>>>>I'm interested, why would you think the ideas are so much more
>>>>>than say CHAT?
>>>>>From: on behalf of Andy Blunden
>>>>>Sent: Wed 10/31/2007 8:21 AM
>>>>>Subject: [xmca] George Herbert Mead. help please
>>>>>I'm currently reading a collection of George Herbert Mead, which
>>>>>my view that his ideas on social psychology were very close to our
>>>>>though inevitably, as the work of just one man, relatively
>>>>>Can anyone recommend to me a critique of Mead by a CHAT person,
>>>perhaps a
>>>>>message in the XCMA archive or a paper available in HTML or PDF? I
>>>>>that you guys cover him in your courses at UCSD.
>>>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380
>>>>>mobile 0409 358 651
>>>>>xmca mailing list
>>>>>xmca mailing list
>>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>>>mobile 0409 358 651
>>>>xmca mailing list
>>>>xmca mailing list
>>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>>mobile 0409 358 651
>>>xmca mailing list
>>>xmca mailing list
>> Andy Blunden : tel (H) +61 3 9380 9435,
>>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,
mobile 0409 358 651

xmca mailing list
Received on Sat Nov 3 07:54 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Dec 11 2007 - 10:18:41 PST