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[1] CP 6.318 [2] CP 6.338 [3] CP 8.178 [4] CP 8.179 [5] CP 8.183 [6] CP 8.314 [7] MS318 pp. 37-40 [8] MS318 pp. 39-50 [9] MS 849.9-10 [10] LtrLadyWelbyDec23-1908

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Peirce Matters
2005-02-22
Collateral observation (quotes)

Update: Thomas L. Short points to “a long and important section of MS318, first published by Helmut Pape in Nous 1990 and now found in EP2:404-9, that adds much to our understanding of what collateral observation is and how it works and what purpose it serves,” in a post from Tom forwarded to the peirce-l electronic forum by its manager-moderator Joseph Ransdell on Friday, February 25, 2005. Six pages is a bit much to excerpt here, but The Essential Peirce, Volume 2, is in print. End of update.

Back in April 2003, Joseph Ransdell most helpfully compiled the following quotations from C.S. Peirce on the subject of collateral observation, collateral experience, etc., and sent them out to his peirce-l electronic forum. I find myself posting them to peirce-l every six months or so. It’s easier to blog them once and for all to the Internet, and such is the occasion for my setting this blog up. Included are some comments by Joe from the peirce-l post in which he sent the quotes. I have regularized the quotes’ labeling for convenience of use of this blog and, in particular, so that every quote’s permalink can target its quote’s label. (The permalink for the entire “Collateral Observations (Quotes)” post is http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005/02/collateral-observation-quotes.html ). Within the quotes, even though italic formatting itself appears, I have retained the underlines girding italicized words in case somebody copies a quote into a plaintext environment where the italic formatting would be lost.

[Joseph Ransdell wrote:] The result of a string search through the CP and some notes. These passages are not arranged by me in any special order other than that order in which they came to my attention in collating them. At this time I would not know how to order them effectively, so I leave them unordered other than by an arbitrary numbering for reference purposes.

“CP” abbreviates “Collected Papers of Charles S. Peirce, 8 volumes.”

[1] Peirce: CP 6.318 (c. 1909) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_6.318
318. . . . An existential relation or relationship is distinguished from others by two marks. In the first place, its different subjects all belong to one universe; which distinguishes it very strikingly from such relations as that which subsists between a thing and its qualities, and that which subsists between portions of matter and the form into which they are built; as for example between the cells of a living body and the whole body, and often times between the different singulars of a plural and the plural itself. In the second place, an existential relation or relationship differs from some other relations and relationships in a respect which may be described in two ways, according as we employ collective or distributive forms of expression and thought. Speaking collectively, the one logical universe, to which all the correlates of an existential relationship belong, is ultimately composed of units, or subjects, none of which is in any sense separable into parts that are members of the same universe. For example, no relation between different lapses of time -- say, between the age of Agamemnon and that of Homer -- can be an existential relation, if we conceive every lapse of time to be made up of lapses of time, so that there are no indivisible units of time. To state the same thing distributively, every correlate of an existential relation is a single object which may be indefinite, or may be distributed; that is, may be chosen from a class by the interpreter of the assertion of which the relation or relationship is the predicate, or may be designated by a proper name, but in itself, though in some guise or under some mask, it can always be perceived, yet never can it be unmistakably identified by any sign whatever, without collateral observation. Far less can it be defined. It is existent, in that its being does not consist in any qualities, but in its effects -- in its actually acting and being acted on, so long as this action and suffering endures. Those who experience its effects perceive and know it in that action; and just that constitutes its very being. It is not in perceiving its qualities that they know it, but in hefting its insistency then and there, which Duns called its haecceitas -- or, if he didn’t, it was this that he was groping after. However, let me not lapse further into metaphysics just now.

[2] Peirce: CP 6.338 (c. 1909) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_6.338
338. All thinking is dialogic in form. Your self of one instant appeals to your deeper self for his assent. Consequently, all thinking is conducted in signs that are mainly of the same general structure as words; those which are not so, being of the nature of those signs of which we have need now and then in our converse with one another to eke out the defects of words, or symbols. These non-symbolic thought-signs are of two classes: first, pictures or diagrams or other images (I call them Icons) such as have to be used to explain the significations of words; and secondly, signs more or less analogous to symptoms (I call them Indices) of which the collateral observations, by which we know what a man is talking about, are examples. The Icons chiefly illustrate the significations of predicate-thoughts, the Indices the denotations of subject-thoughts. The substance of thoughts consists of these three species of ingredients.

[3 & 4] Peirce: CP 8.178-179 (undated ms) (Also appears in EP 2, 493-4, which states year as 1909 --BU) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_8.178&179
[3] 178. This involves regarding the matter in an unfamiliar way. It may be asked, for example, how a lying or erroneous Sign is determined by its Object, or how if, as not infrequently happens, the Object is brought into existence by the Sign. To be puzzled by this is an indication of the word _determine_ being taken in too narrow a sense. A person who says Napoleon was a lethargic creature has evidently his mind determined by Napoleon. For otherwise he could not attend to him at all. But here is a paradoxical circumstance. The person who interprets that sentence (or any other Sign whatsoever) must be determined by the Object of it through collateral observation quite independently of the action of the Sign. Otherwise he will not be determined to thought of that object. If he never heard of Napoleon before, the sentence will mean no more to him than that some person or thing to which the name “Napoleon” has been attached was a lethargic creature. For Napoleon cannot determine his mind unless the word in the sentence calls his attention to the right man and that can only be if, independently, [a] habit has been established in him by which that word calls up a variety of attributes of Napoleon the man. Much the same thing is true in regard to any sign. In the sentence instanced Napoleon is not the only Object. Another Partial Object is Lethargy; and the sentence cannot convey its meaning unless collateral experience has taught its Interpreter what Lethargy is, or what that is that ‘lethargy’ means in this sentence. The Object of a Sign may be something to be created by the sign. For the Object of “Napoleon” is the Universe of Existence so far as it is determined by the fact of Napoleon being a Member of it. The Object of the sentence “Hamlet was insane” is the Universe of Shakespeare’s Creation so far as it is determined by Hamlet being a part of it. The Object of the Command “Ground arms!” is the immediately subsequent action of the soldiers so far as it is affected by the molition expressed in the command. It cannot be understood unless collateral observation shows the speaker's relation to the rank of soldiers. You may say, if you like, that the Object is in the Universe of things desired by the Commanding Captain at that moment. Or since the obedience is fully expected, it is in the Universe of his expectation. At any rate, it determines the Sign although it is to be created by the Sign by the circumstance that its Universe is relative to the momentary state of mind of the officer.

[3 & 4] Peirce: CP 8.178-179 (undated MS) (Also appears in EP 2, 293-4, which states year as 1909, as in EP2:493-4 --BU) (continued) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_8.178&179contd
[4] 179.
Now let us pass to the Interpretant. I am far from having fully explained what the Object of a Sign is; but I have reached the point where further explanation must suppose some understanding of what the Interpretant is. The Sign creates something in the Mind of the Interpreter, which something, in that it has been so created by the sign, has been, in a mediate and relative way, also created by the Object of the Sign, although the Object is essentially other than the Sign. And this creature of the sign is called the Interpretant. It is created by the Sign; but not by the Sign qua member of whichever of the Universes it belongs to; but it has been created by the Sign in its capacity of bearing the determination by the Object. It is created in a Mind (how far this mind must be real we shall see). All that part of the understanding of the Sign which the Interpreting Mind has needed collateral observation for is outside the Interpretant. I do not mean by “collateral observation” acquaintance with the system of signs. What is so gathered is not COLLATERAL. It is on the contrary the prerequisite for getting any idea signified by the sign. But by collateral observation, I mean previous acquaintance with what the sign denotes. Thus if the Sign be the sentence “Hamlet was mad,” to understand what this means one must know that men are sometimes in that strange state; one must have seen madmen or read about them; and it will be all the better if one specifically knows (and need not be driven to presume) what Shakespeare’s notion of insanity was. All that is collateral observation and is no part of the Interpretant. But to put together the different subjects as the sign represents them as related -- that is the main [i.e., force] of the Interpretant-forming. Take as an example of a Sign a genre painting. There is usually a lot in such a picture which can only be understood by virtue of acquaintance with customs. The style of the dresses for example, is no part of the significance, i.e. the deliverance, of the painting. It only tells what the subject of it is. Subject and Object are the same thing except for trifling distinctions . . . . But that which the writer aimed to point out to you, presuming you to have all the requisite collateral information, that is to say just the quality of the sympathetic element of the situation, generally a very familiar one -- a something you probably never did so clearly realize before -- that is the Interpretant of the Sign, -- its “significance.”

[5] Peirce: CP 8.183 (undated, same as above) (Also appears in EP 2, 485-6, which states year as 1909 --BU) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_8.183
183. As to the Object, that may mean the Object as cognized in the Sign and therefore an Idea, or it may be the Object as it is regardless of any particular aspect of it, the Object in such relations as unlimited and final study would show it to be. The former I call the Immediate Object, the latter the Dynamical Object. For the latter is the Object that Dynamical Science (or what at this day would be called “Objective” science,) can investigate. Take for example, the sentence “the Sun is blue.” Its Objects are “the Sun” and “blueness.” If by “blueness” be meant the Immediate Object, which is the quality of the sensation, it can only be known by Feeling. But if it means that “Real,” existential condition, which causes the emitted light to have short mean wave-length, Langley has already proved that the proposition is true. So the “Sun” may mean the occasion of sundry sensations, and so is Immediate Object, or it may mean our usual interpretation of such sensations in terms of place, of mass, etc., when it is the Dynamical Object. It is true of both Immediate and Dynamical Object that acquaintance cannot be given by a Picture or a Description, nor by any other sign which has the Sun for its Object. If a person points to it and says, See there! That is what we call the “Sun,” the Sun is not the Object of that sign. It is the Sign of the sun, the word “sun” that his declaration is about; and that word we must become acquainted with by collateral experience. Suppose a teacher of French says to an English-speaking pupil, who asks “comment appelle-t-on ça?” pointing to the Sun, . . . “C’est le soleil,” he begins to furnish that collateral experience by speaking in French of the Sun itself. Suppose, on the other hand, he says “Notre mot est ‘soleil’ ” then instead of expressing himself in language and describing the word he offers a pure Icon of it. Now the Object of an Icon is entirely indefinite, equivalent to “something.” He virtually says “our word is like this:” and makes the sound. He informs the pupil that the word, (meaning, of course, a certain habit) has an effect which he pictures acoustically. But a pure picture without a legend only says “something is like this:”. True he attaches what amounts to a legend. But that only makes his sentence analogous to a portrait we will say of Leopardi with Leopardi written below it. It conveys its information to a person who knows who Leopardi was, and to anybody else it only says “something called Leopardi looked like this.” The pupil is in the state of a person who was pretty sure there was a man Leopardi; for he is pretty sure there must be a word in French for the sun and thus is already acquainted with it, only he does not know how it sounds when spoken nor how it looks when written. I think by this time you must understand what I mean when I say that no sign can be understood -- or at least that no proposition can be understood -- unless the interpreter has “collateral acquaintance” with every Object of it. As for a mere substantive, it must be borne in mind that it is not an indispensable part of speech. The Semitic languages seem to be descendants of a language that had no “common nouns.” Such a word is really nothing but a blank form of proposition and the Subject is the blank, and a blank can only mean “something” or something even more indefinite. So now I believe I can leave you to consider carefully whether my doctrine is correct or not.

[6] Peirce: CP 8.314 (March 14, 1909) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#CP_8.314
314. We must distinguish between the Immediate Object, -- i.e. the Object as represented in the sign, -- and the Real (no, because perhaps the Object is altogether fictive, I must choose a different term, therefore), say rather the Dynamical Object, which, from the nature of things, the Sign cannot express, which it can only indicate and leave the interpreter to find out by collateral experience. For instance, I point my finger to what I mean, but I can't make my companion know what I mean, if he can't see it, or if seeing it, it does not, to his mind, separate itself from the surrounding objects in the field of vision. It is useless to attempt to discuss the genuineness and possession of a personality beneath the histrionic presentation of Theodore Roosevelt with a person who recently has come from Mars and never heard of Theodore before. A similar distinction must be made as to the Interpretant. But in respect to that Interpretant, the dichotomy is not enough by any means. For instance, suppose I awake in the morning before my wife, and that afterwards she wakes up and inquires, “What sort of a day is it?” This is a sign, whose Object, as expressed, is the weather at that time, but whose Dynamical Object is the impression which I have presumably derived from peeping between the window-curtains. Whose Interpretant, as expressed, is the quality of the weather, but whose Dynamical Interpretant, is my answering her question. But beyond that, there is a third Interpretant. The Immediate Interpretant is what the Question expresses, all that it immediately expresses, which I have imperfectly restated above. The Dynamical Interpretant is the actual effect that it has upon me, its interpreter. But the Significance of it, the Ultimate, or Final, Interpretant is her purpose in asking it, what effect its answer will have as to her plans for the ensuing day. I reply, let us suppose: “It is a stormy day.” Here is another sign. Its Immediate Object is the notion of the present weather so far as this is common to her mind and mine -- not the character of it, but the identity of it. The Dynamical Object is the identity of the actual or Real meteorological conditions at the moment. The Immediate Interpretant is the schema in her imagination, i.e. the vague Image or what there is in common to the different Images of a stormy day. The Dynamical Interpretant is the disappointment or whatever actual effect it at once has upon her. The Final Interpretant is the sum of the Lessons of the reply, Moral, Scientific, etc. Now it is easy to see that my attempt to draw this three-way, “trivialis” distinction, relates to a real and important three-way distinction, and yet that it is quite hazy and needs a vast deal of study before it is rendered perfect. Lady Welby has got hold of the same real distinction in her “Sense, Meaning, Significance,” but conceives it as imperfectly as I do, but imperfectly in other ways. Her Sense is the Impression made or normally to be made. Her meaning is what is intended, its purpose. Her Significance is the real upshot.

[7] Transcribed from MS318 pp. 37-40 permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#MS_318pp37to40
. . . the Immediate Object is not the Object Proper to which the collateral operation is directed, but is the consequent apprehension of the Real Object, or intelligential cause of the sign, which that collateral observation brings about. For example, suppose the sign to consist in some remark about “the Shakespearean diction.” What is meant by this can only be known through collateral observation, which like all observation, must be exercised upon single experiences. But a generalization from such observations results in a sort of schema in the imagination which in the guise of a singular, really presents a general, -- a sort of imaginary presentment of Shakespearean diction that preserves in its entirety and undefaced the feelings that are excited in the naive reader by the diction of Shakespeare. This is an example of an Immediate Object; and it is evident that it may present a type, as in this very example, or a circumstance or thing thought as actual, or a possible array of qualities of feeling.

[8] Transcribed from MS318 pp. 39-50 permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#MS_318pp39to50
But merely producing a mental effect is not sufficient to constitute an object a sign; for a thunder-clap or avalanche may do that without conveying any meaning at all. In order that a thing may be a true sign its proper significate mental effect must be _conveyed_ from another object which the sign is concerned in indicating and which is by this conveyance the ultimate cause of the mental effect. In order to be the cause of an effect, -- or _efficient cause_, as the old phrase was, -- it must either be an existent thing or an actual event. Now such things are only known by observation. It cannot be itself any part of the mental effect, and therefore can only be known by collateral observation of the context or circumstances of utterance, or putting forth, of the sign. But the sign may describe the kind of observation that is appropriate and even indicate how the right object is to be recognized. The meaning of the sign is not conveyed until not merely the interpretant but also this object is recognized. But although the full realization of the meaning requires the actual observation, direct or indirect, of the object, yet a close approach to this may be made by imagining the observation. If the sign is not a _true_, but only a _fictitious_ sign, it is the mere semblance of a sign. If, however, it be so far true as to profess to be in certain respects fictitious, the conditions of a true sign hold in slackened force. This is vague, but I will not go into details.

[9] Transcribed from MS 849.9-10 (1911) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#MS_849.9-10
Every sign denotes something, and anything it denotes is termed an _Object_ of it. By what means does the word “man” draw thought to a single man? It does so by being associated, by a habit in the mind of the interpreter, with characters that are true of men alone, these characters constituting what is called in Logic the “_essence_” of the word ‘man’, while by its grammatical form, -- called the “singular number,” -- it informs the interpreter that but a single one is to be thought of. I term the idea or mental action that a Sign excites and which it causes the interpreter to attribute to the Object or Objects of it, its _interpretant_. If the word, instead of “man”, were the name of some quadruped not found in America, it would probably fail to create in my mind any very definite idea. For a Sign cannot denote an Object not otherwise known to its interpreter, for the obvious reason that if he does not already know the Object at all, he cannot possess those ideas by means of which alone his attention can be narrowed to the very Object denoted. Every object of experience excites an idea of some sort; but if that idea is not associated, sufficiently and in the right way with some previous experience, so as to narrow the attention, it will not be a Sign. A Sign necessarily has for its Object some fragment of history, that is, of the history of ideas. It must excite some idea. That idea may go wholly to narrowing the attention, and in such signs as “man,” “virtue,” “manner,” {it either breaks off here or else there is more to this MS than I have a copy of}

[10] Transcribed from Letter to Lady Welby Dec 23, 1908 (in Semiotics and Significs: Correspondence Between Charles S. Peirce and Victoria Lady Welby, ed. Charles Hardwick, Indiana U. Press, 1977, p.83) permalink: http://peircematters.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_peircematters_archive.html#LtrLadyWelbyDec23-1908
It is usual and proper to distinguish two Objects of a Sign, the Mediate without, and Immediate within the Sign. Its Interpretant is all that the Sign conveys: acquaintance with its Object must be gained by collateral experience. The Mediate Object is the Object outside of the Sign; I call it the Dynamoid Object. The Sign must indicate it by a hint; and this hint, or its substance, is the Immediate Object.

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