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

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Sat Nov 03 2007 - 20:30:06 PDT

1) re the Lenin note: I myself started out very hostile to Peirce and the
other pragmatists, based on what I read in Chinese during the Cultural
Revolution while I was standing in the snow under a streetlight at 4:00 am
in a rent-a-cop costume guarding blueberry muffins that were being loaded
into a truck for delivery around Boston. I later discovered CSP was
grossly misrepresented in those Chinese texts, but only after reading what
seemed like confirmation in almost equally hostile representations by

As for the socio-historical context, it's easy for us, in our theoretical
circles, to forget that perhaps the most prominent thinker in CSP's time,
in the Boston orbit anyway, may have been ... Emerson ! ( and I guess that
should help me with James, a bit )

On Sun, 4 Nov 2007, Andy Blunden wrote:

> At 10:42 PM 3/11/2007 -0400, Tony Whitson wrote:
>> Andy, ... Peirce's theory is really different. I haven't read that much of
>> the Russians, but in what I have read (mostly secondary sources) the idea
>> of "sign" for the Russian theorists is very much about intentional
>> communication among humans. Peirce's basic conception of sign, rooted in a
>> tradition that runs from the Greeks through pre-modern Latin philosophers
>> like Poinsot, is radically different from that.
> Exactly. Part of the context of the Russian interpretation of Peirce may be
> Lenin's attacks on semiology in "Materialism and Empirio-criticism" in 1908,
> a book that Ilyenkov defended until the end, so far as I know. It seems to me
> that Engstrom reflects the general Russian view (says me who nothing of what
> our Russians think). And let's face it, Peirce is almost impenetrable and
> leaves plenty of room for being misunderstood. I rely heavily on Colapietro
> for "my" Peirce, but I think the view of Peirce that Engstrom refers to is a
> very widespread interpretation, and not only in Finland.
> It was Michael that talked about the frontier etc. - sounding like a Marxist
> for a moment, but it was the interpretation and further development of the
> original ideas, not the origin of Peirce/Dewey/James/Mead's ideas that I was
> referring to. If you look at the Russians, you see a long line of maybe a
> dozen or a score of major figures, each tweaking and developing, critiquing
> and querying the writing of their predecessors and co-workers, in a
> continuous line of development, in which the foundation stones are
> continuously adjusted and perfected. Michael also eloquently described the
> process whereby Mead & Co.'s ideas entered into American social psychology.
> It was more of a general dispersal, rather than a self-conscious,
> self-developing coherent current. And I think something was lost in the
> process, not amongst scholars like yourselves, but in the general dispersal.
> Of course, the Russians have had their own problems to deal with, too!
> Andy
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> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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Received on Sat Nov 3 20:40 PDT 2007

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