Measuring pragmatism by its classical tenets
An analysis of the terms of pragmatic semiotics applying Peirce semiotics to classical theories of habit change and reconstructive inference. The study of the facts of the emergence among philosophers conducting pragmatic research, "subcommunitie".
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University of Virginia
Measuring pragmatism by its classical tenets
Peter Ochs - Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies
John E. Smith argued that there were almost as many pragmatisms as pragmatists. Almost all pragmatists criticized abstractive and reductive reasoning in the modern academy, but most entertained different visions of how and to what end academic reasoning should be repaired. Smith's vision was shaped by his strong preference for the classical pragmatisms of Peirce, Dewey, James and also Royce, whose differences contributed to the inner dynamism of Smith's pragmatism. Smith was far less impressed with the virtues of neopragmatists who rejected key tenets of the classical vision. My goal in this brief essay is to outline a partial list of these tenets, drawing on Smith's writings and those of a sample of recent pragmatists who share his commitment to the classical vision, such as Richard Bernstein, John Deely, and Doug Anderson. I restate the tenets in the terms of a pragmatic semeiotic, which applies Peirce's semeiotic to classical doctrines of habit-change and reparative. I conclude by adopting the tenets as signs of pragmatism's elemental beliefs. Consistent with Peirce's account of “original” beliefs, these are not discrete claims about the world or well-defined rational principles but a loose and dynamic network of habits. The habits grow, change, inter-mix or self-segregate through the run of intellectual and social history. They can be distinguished but only imprecisely, described but only vaguely, encountered per se only through their effects. Among these effects are sub-communities of pragmatic inquiry, sub-networks of habits, and existentially marked series of social actions and streams of written and spoken words: including context-specific, determinate claims about the world, about other claims, and about habits of inquiry like pragmatism. Among these claims are my way of stating of the tenets and my arguments about the history of pragmatism. Such claims are determinate, but the habits and tenets of pragmatism are not.
Keywords: American pragmatism, Charles Peirce, John Dewey, Augustine, binary reasoning, semiotics, Cartesianism, habit-change
Классические основоположения как мера прагматизма
Бронфмановский профессор современной иудаистики. Вирджинский университет. University of Virginia. Charlottesville
Джон Э. Смит утверждает, что прагматизмов можно насчитать едва ли не столько же, сколько самих философов-прагматистов. Почти все прагматисты единодушны в критике абстракционистского и редукционистского типа мышления, царящего в современных университетах, однако большинство из них придерживались совершенно несхожих воззрений на то, как и исходя из каких целей надлежит вносить исправления в сложившуюся в научной среде процедуру умозаключений. Собственные взгляды Смита испытали определяющее влияние классических версий прагматизма, созданных Пирсом, Дьюи, Джеймсом, а также Ройсом, при этом различия, присущие этим источникам, лишь способствовали внутреннему динамизму прагматизма Смита. Куда меньше Смит был впечатлен достижениями неопрагматистов, отвергнувших ключевые положения классической теории. Моя задача в этом небольшом очерке - составить примерный перечень этих положений, опираясь на труды Смита и некоторых из числа разделяющих его приверженность классическому взгляду на вещи современных прагматистов, как Ричард Бернстайн, Джон Дили и Даг Андерсон. Данные положения я переформулирую в терминах прагматической семиотики, прилагающей семиотику Пирса к классическим теориям изменения привычек и восстанавливающего умозаключения, что позволяет рассматривать таковые положения как знаки основополагающих представлений прагматизма. В полном согласии с тем, что говорит о подобных «исходных» представлениях Пирс, они не должны мыслиться как изолированные утверждения о мире или как четко определяемые рациональные принципы, но скорее как свободно организованная динамичная совокупность привычек. Привычки развиваются, меняются, перемешиваются между собой и отделяются одни от других на протяжении всего хода интеллектуальной и социальной истории. Мы способны только смутно угадывать их; любое описание их остается приблизительным; они проявляют себя лишь опосредованно, через последствия своего воздействия. К числу таких последствий относятся факты возникновения среди философов, ведущих прагматические исследования, «субсообществ»; наличия «субсетей» по привычкам; появления экзистенциально окрашенных циклов социального действия и потоков устного и письменного слова, включая контекстно обусловленные, конкретно определенные утверждения о мире, о других утверждениях и о привычках исследования, например, в прагматизме. Среди таких утверждений находит себе место и мой способ формулировки основоположений, равно как и мои доводы, касающиеся истории прагматизма. Этим утверждениям свойственна определенность, которой нет ни у привычек прагматизма, ни у его основоположений.
Ключевые слова: американский прагматизм, Чарльз Пирс, Джон Дьюи, Августин, бинарное мышление, семиотика, картезианство, изменение привычек.
Tenets of classical pragmatism: a sample
Overall, pragmatism - classical and contemporary - is most efficiently characterized as a critique of the modern academy's habit of segregating the humanistic, social, and natural sciences from two types of societal responsibility: (a) contributing, as needed, to the repair of service institutions (hospitals, schools, governments, etc.) that have failed to meet their own goals and responsibilities; (b) recognizing and responding to the societal concerns (and real doubts) that may underlie their own inquiries (as well as societal support for their research). The classical pragmatists addressed this critique, in particular, to departments and disciplines of philosophy, which (for example, in Peirce's view) bear overall responsibility for monitoring and repairing such academic errors, so that the persistence of these errors is a sign of philosophy's failings. The goal of pragmatism is to influence changes in philosophic inquiry, but with broader implications for the academy's engagement with the societal world. There are at least three ways in which philosophy may fail to fulfill its service: (1) If it seeks to explicate the assumptions of science without evidence of dysfunction in a given science. (In this case, philosophy's efforts become foundationalist); (2) If it denies its responsibility to serve the sciences in this manner; (3) And if, in the effort to repair dysfunctions in science, it lacks resources to explicate scientific assumptions. Peirce offered his pragmatism to repair each of these failings: to criticize the binary logics that encourage failure #1, to introduce an imperative to counter failure #2, and to explicate the normative logic that should repair failure #3. Dewey spoke in different ways but offered an analogous critique.
The classical tenets of pragmatism appear most often as methods for evaluating and repairing errant practices of philosophic or related academic inquiry:
- It is the responsibility ofphilosophers (or ofmembers of any cognate discipline, such as psychology, logic of science, sociology, linguistics) to recommend testable ways of repairing any academic discipline of the academy that habitually fails to fulfill the societal responsibilities noted above. It is the responsibility of pragmatic philosophers to recommend testable ways of repairing philosophic practices that habitually fail to serve the academy in this way.
- There are diagnostic indicators that a given philosophic practice will be unable to fulfill its reparative responsibilities. The most general indicators are signs of binary reasoning.
- There are diagnostic indicators that a given philosophic practice might serve as an agent of reparative reasoning. The most general indicators are signs of non-binary reasoning, prototypically, triadic and existentially marked reasoning.
- There are formal procedures for identifying signs of binary or non-binary reasoning. These are procedures for constructing formal diagrams of a theorist's immanent logic (in Peirce's terms, logica utens: patterns of reasoning immanent in a thinker's writing and argumentation). Among Peirce's procedures were his semeiotic, logic of relatives, logics of vagueness vs. generality, and existential graphs. Charles Morris and, later, Paul Grice, extended the semeiotic to a pragmatics (non-semantic semeiotic of performative discourse or speech acts)1. William James tended to avoid formal analysis; among the more formal were his principles of psychology. Dewey's formal procedures were somewhat less exacting or quasi-mathematical than Peirce's: for example, his logic of inquiry. I consider Heisenberg's quantum mechanics (and accompanying matrix mathematics) a significant resource for diagramming non-binary processes. Other resources include Jan Lukasiewicz's multivalued logics; fuzzy set theory; Kurt Gцdel's incompleteness theorems; and related logical studies, for example, of Ramsey, Quine and Sellars2. More ancient resources include Stoic logic (in particular, procedures for See for example, Morris, Ch. Signs, Language and Behavior. New York, 1946; Grice, H. P. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Mass., 1989.
2 See Lukasiewicz, J. Selected Works. Amsterdam, 1970, p. 86; Lukasiewicz, D. “On Jan Lukasiewicz's many-valued logic and his criticism of determinism”, Philosophia Scientiae, 2011, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 7-20; Quine, W. From a Logical Point of View: Logico-Philosophic Essays, 2nd ed. New York, 1980; Sellars, W. Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind [http://ditext. com/sellars/epm.html, accessed on 20.06. 2018]. modeling lekta), Augustine's transformation of Stoic logic into a prototype for triadic semiotics (see De Trinitate), and the elaborate and refined semiotic system of John of Poinsot (see English translation and analysis by John Deely).
There are also non-formal procedures for identifying and reading signs of binary or non-binary reasoning. For example, Peirce argues that judgments which omit or veil their interpretant are probable signs of binary reasoning. For Dewey, probable signs include an individual or group's efforts to attain certainty and seek the immutable3. For Augustine, self-reference and self-referential behavior are among the signs. For Heisenberg, such signs include efforts to explain away or rationalize conditions of uncertainty or probability or complementarity. For Rorty and Brandom, such signs include projects of representationalism.
Of great importance, there are also what we may call methodological or metasigns of binary or non-binary reasoning. These are a thinker's (or community of inquiry's) interpretive framework or language of inquiry: typically undisclosed but brought to light and diagrammed through any of the pragmatist's formal studies. In one stage of his work, Peirce applied the term methodology or methodeutic to the discipline of logic that examines “the proper way of arranging and conducting an inquiry” See Dewey, J. The Quest for Certainty: Gifford Lectures 1929. New York, 1929. Peirce, Ch. S. “Minute Logic”, in: Ch. S. Peirce, Collected Papers, Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass., 1934, par. 93: “Logic is the science of the necessary general laws of signs, especially of Symbols”. (Future references to Collected Papers will be to Vol. and Par., e.g. CSP 2.93.) Peirce, Ch. S. The New Elements of Mathematics, Vol. 4. The Hague, 1976, p. 62. Note that in 1867-1868 Peirce criticized Cartesian claims, in this fashion, as false and unwarranted. In 1877-1878 he introduced his pragmatism as an alternative mode of repair rather than simple critique.. He explained that methodeutic looks to the purposed ultimate interpretant and inquires what conditions a sign must conform to, in order to be pertinent to the purpose. Methodeutic has a special interest in Abduction, or the inference which starts a scientific hypothesis. For it is not sufficient that a hypothesis should be a justifiable one.
Any hypothesis which explains the facts is justified critically. But among justifiable hypotheses we have to select that one which is suitable for being tested by experiment5.
Peirce's pragmatism may be characterized, from one perspective, as a sub-discipline of methodeutic, whose goal is to disclose (per hypothesis) the interpretive frameworks of philosophers who are in the habit of making binary claims. With respect to such a framework, pragmatists may propose ways of re-introducing and testing these claims in non-binary fashion, rather than simply criticizing the claims as false or unwarranted6. If the claim were, for example, “a is b,” the pragmatist could re-introduce and test it as “a is b with respect to X/y,” where X refers to a mode of inquiry and y refers to empirical or laboratory conditions, in the context of which a theorist introduces the claim “a is b.” In this way, the pragmatist removes the epistemological autonomy of both claim and claimant: “a is b” is T/F only with respect to a single mode of inquiry applied to a single context of inquiry or single set of contexts. The pragmatist now has no reason to object to the claim, whether it is judged to be T or F.
Pragmatic semiotics: Peirce's doctrine of habit-change7
Peirce's pragmatic critique of academic inquiry emerged as a corrective both to Cartesianism and to his own, flawed alternative. It turned on his discovering the irreducibly triadic and reparative character of non-conventional truth claims. Peirce articulated this discovery most clearly through a theory of signs: producing what one may label a “pragmatic semeiotic,” or also a “reparative semeiotic.” The reparative dimension of Peirce's pragmatism may be introduced in the following way:
1) Truth claims divide into two classes with at least one sub-division (expressed in my terms): (a) “constative” claims (including “common sense or everyday” claims and “specialized or scientific” claims); and b) “reparative or contested” claims.
2) Constative claims are conventional: stating a matter of fact with respect to an implicit set of non-contested conventions (what Peirce called “interpretants”). Thus, if I say at a dinner table “The salt shaker is on the small cabinet,” I assume that my listeners hear my words as unambiguous, since they share a set of semantic conventions. Common-sense or everyday claims are made with respect to subcommunities of natural language use. Specialized or scientific claims are offered to sub-communities of inquirers who share a specialized argot. Constative claims are truth functional with respect to the coherence of the claim with semantic conventions and its correspondence with its presupposed referent.
3) Reparative or contested claims are offered to repair specific linguistic conventions. Such claims are partly unambiguous and partly ambiguous, since they both affirm and contest certain linguistic assumptions. They must be sufficiently unambiguous to draw attention to the conventional claims that are contested as well as to those that are not contested. They must be sufficiently ambiguous or vague to enable speakers to adapt them to each speaker's manner of changing linguistic habits. Peirce's pragmatism performed two kinds of work: introducing the category of “reparative claims” as distinct from constative claims and urging a specific set of reparative claims about the modern logic of inquiry.
4) Peirce s critique of Cartesianism is not a critique of any constative claim but a critique of the (Cartesian or modern) tendency to treat reparative claims as if they were constative claims. In his early work (1867-8), Peirce identified Cartesian “intuitionism” as an errant, constative claim about the nature of our perception. Peirce's pragmatism emerged a decade later (1877-8) as a way of repairing Cartesian-like tendencies in his own alternative to Descartes: he previously mis- introduced his doctrine of signs as a constative claim about the way we perceive the world rather than as a method for repairing errant conventions of meaning. As pragmatist, he re-categorized Descartes' epistemological claims as reparative rather than constative and his own theory of signs as a useful tool for diagramming reparative claims and constative claims and the crucial differences between them. These crucial differences are clarified by way of the triadic character of Peirce's reparative semeiotic.
5) Peirce s theory of signs offers a set of conventions for diagramming any patterns of reasoning. Assuming that readers are familiar with Peirce's definitions of sign, object, Interpretant, index, and icon, I will reiterate only his definition of symbol as a sign that refers to its object by some implicit law that causes the symbol to be interpreted as referring to that object. A symbol therefore displays Parts of pp. 4-13 are drawn, with paraphrase and revision, from Ochs, P. “Reparative Reasoning: From Peirce's Pragmatism to Augustine's Scriptural Semiotic”,Modern Theology, 2009, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 187-215. its meaning only to a particular interprйtant, but it is not fully subject to the interpreter's attributions. Instead, a symbol influences the way its interpretant attributes meaning to it. The symbol therefore engages its interpretant in some practice, or tradition of meaning. Transferring agency to the interpreter, the symbol also grants the interpreter some freedom to transform the way in which that meaning will be retransmitted. In this way, the symbol is the fundamental agent ofpragmatic inquiry: serving as sign, at once, of some tradition 's deep-seated rules ofpractice and of the interpreter 's freedom and responsibility to repair those rules when needed.
6) In these terms, constative claims are verbal symbols that typically leave their interpretants unstated: as if these conditions for making meaning were self- evident. What, however, if speakers discover that some constative claims no longer hold true? This discovery may stimulate reparative claims: efforts to identify and repair the interpretants of these claims. A reparative claim is a series of symbols offered not to represent any object of meaning but to uncover the three-part, sign- object-interpretant relation that generated some constative claim. For the pragmatist, this three-part relation diagrams a habit of action according to which some language community identifies certain stimuli in the world as performative signs that conditions are available for undertaking a certain range ofpossible actions in the world. In these terms, reparative claims are stimulated by signs of disruption in that three-part relation: where, for example, a language community repeatedly misidentified some set of conditions for acting in the world. The goal of reparative inquiry is to identify the habit/interpretant that guided the communities' errant judgements; and, then, to recommend and test reasonable ways of correcting the habit/interpretant.
7) Habit-change is the intended interpretant of a reparative claim. To teach a habit is, more generally, to teach a habit-change; to learn a habit is thus an activity of non-identically repeating an observed habit. A habit of action (as a triadic symbol) serves as interpretant of a habit of action. Habits are thus communicated by example, which means by repetition. Such a repetition is, however, also a distinct act of interpretation, since it refers to the way that a symbol or series of symbols are received with respect to a particular habit or set of habits of action. A habit is learned, in other words, through habit-change.
8) Peirce's critique of Cartesianism is thus a reparative claim: an effort to recommend a habit-change in modern philosophy's tendency to veil the reparative dimension of some of its constative claims. In Descartes' work, the result is to present reparative claims as if they were constative, including constative statements of doubt (of which a prototype is “Never to accept anything as true that I did not know evidently to be so”)8 and constative statements of certainty (of which prototypes are cogito ergo sum, and “it is impossible for God ever to deceive me”)9. Peirce's pragmatic argument is that such constative claims veil their reparative interpretants. Peirce's repair is not to dismiss these claims, but to reattach them to their likely interpretants. The best illustration I have found is not in Peirce's writings, but in Richard Bernstein's Beyond Objectivism and Relativism. For Bernstein, the most effective way to repair Descartes' claims is to identify their interpretants with a psycho-social setting he labeled “Cartesian Anxiety”:
Reading the Meditations as a journey of the soul helps us to appreciate that Descartes' search for a foundation... is more than a device to solve metaphysical and epistemological problems. It is the quest for some fixed point, some stable Descartes, R. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy. Indianapolis; Cambridge, 1993, pp. 7, 63. Ibid, pp. 19, 66, 74, 76, 82. rock upon which we can secure our lives against the vicissitudes that constantly threaten us. The specter that hovers in the background is... the dread of madness and chaos where nothing is fixed. with a chilling clarity, Descartes leads us. to a grand and seductive Either/Or. Either there is some support for our being., or we cannot escape the forces of darkness that envelop us with madness10.
For Bernstein, Descartes' anxieties about an unsettled Scholastic heritage stimulated his drive for self-certainty. This anxiety led him first, in Susan Haack's helpful terms, to “excessive doubt” which led him, second, to a drive for “excessive certainty.” Having proposed an epistemological setting for Descartes' objectivist claims, the pragmatist thereby removes their overstatement11. Descartes, or any comparable modern thinker, had doubts about something (not absolute doubts); and these doubts stimulated an effort to repair this condition of doubt (rather than repairing the condition of all possible doubt). In sum, the pragmatist repairs over-generalized claims by reattaching them to worldly conditions of doubt or disfunction that could have stimulated such claims. The final step of repair is to recommend ways of responding to those specific conditions of doubt/disfunction. The pragmatist does not seek a deterministic account of the environing conditions that may encourage this anxiety. In sum, all these pragmatic accounts isolate foundationalism/intuitionism as a problematic tendency without seeking to account for how that tendency might accompany beneficial tendencies, such as the tendency to reparative reasoning.
9) Peirce S effort is to repair Cartesianism, not replace it. Replacement philosophy proposes, against empirical evidence, that philosophers' powers of criticism have sources outside the habits of action they have inherited from the past and that these powers have universal form and function and may be appropriated independently of a particular context of action. Replacement philosophy therefore entails foundationalism, or the belief that one may access these powers by way of self-legitimating cognitions. Peirce learned that one cannot repair replacement philosophy through replacement! Replacement philosophies offer reparative claims as if they were constative; reparative claims re-read these constative claims as undisclosed efforts of repair.
10) To reread Cartesian claims as reparative claims is to engage in genealogical inquiry. Peirce's critique of Descartes was the concluding stage of his genealogical critique ofthe dogmatic empiricism of such contemporaries as J.S. Mill. Why did they offer dogmatic generalizations about the outside world? To answer his question, Peirce undertook a genealogical inquiry that included the following steps: (a) He reasoned regressively (from effect to possible cause or transcendental condition) by proposing, per hypothesis, what habits of inquiry would most likely generate the empiricists' dogmatic claims; (b) He searched for evidence of comparable habits of inquiry among the philosophic practices that the empiricists inherited; (c) He selected one early prototype that most clearly displayed these habits and that also added otherwise unavailable evidence about their possible provenance. Peirce identified Descartes' Discourse on Method as such a prototype.
11) From where did Descartes inherit his capacity to criticize his philosophic heritage and propose alternatives? Peirce answered this question through a genealogical inquiry: reasoning regressively from Descartes' prototype to antecedent communities of inquiry that appear to anticipate the conditions of Cartesian inquiry. In other words, Peirce sought to uncover a potential chain of transmission Bernstein, R. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. Philadelphia, 1983, p. 18. Haack, S. “Descartes, Peirce, and the Cognitive Community”, The Relevance of Charles Peirce. La Salle, 111., 1983, p. 250. that situated Descartes not merely in the scholastic setting that stimulated his concerns, but also in some antecedent community of inquiry that conditioned his way of responding to these concerns.
In these terms, genealogical inquiry may be characterized as an effort to situate a reparative inquiry within a communal chain of transmission. “Community” refers here to an overlapping set of habits or a set of habits shared (non-identically) by several entities (activities or persons)12. The term “Cartesianism” refers to a community of habits of inquiry, and Peirce's genealogical study of Cartesianism is an effort to see if the Cartesians may represent a sub-grouping within a larger community that reaches back in time. Adding Peirce as pragmatist to the community of Cartesians means adding both to a larger community that inherits the larger set of habits that collectively ground, warrant, and repair Cartesian criticisms.
Genealogical examination of the roots of Cartesian inquiry imitates the stages of Peirce's genealogical examination of the roots of empiricism. Reasoning regressively from the practices of Cartesian criticism to their possible conditions, the first stage generates a typology of the elemental habits of Cartesian inquiry. The second stage culls evidence of comparable habits of inquiry among antecedent communities of inquiry. In the third stage, one early prototype is selected that most clearly displays these habits and that adds otherwise unavailable evidence about their possible provenance.
Peirce focused on scholasticism, within which he tended to draw contrasts between the “nominalist” chain of transmission that passed through Peter of Abelard and Ockham to Descartes, Locke, Kant and Mill; and the “realist” chain that passed from Plato through Scotus and eventually to Peirce. Like other pragmatic genealogists, he did not peer behind each chain to suggest how both may arise for different reasons out of some single chain. Several of his observations help uncover earlier prototypes of the Cartesian habitus. First in importance is his claim that pragmatism is nothing but a logical corollary of Jesus' injunction “Ye may know them by their fruit” (5.402n). This claim is verified by a study of Augustine. Second is his observation of medieval prototypes for Descartes' intuitionism: “The word intuitus first occurs as a technical term in St. Anselm's Monologium [LXVI]. He wished to distinguish between our knowledge of God and our knowledge of finite things... andthinking of the saying of St. Paul, Videmus nunc per speculum in oenigmate: tunc autem facie ad faciem [LXX], he called the former speculation and the latter intuition. .In the middle ages, the term `intuitive cognition' had two principle senses; 1st as opposed to abstractive cognition, it meant the knowledge of the present as present, and this is its meaning in Anselm; but 2nd, as no intuitive cognition was allowed to be determined by a previous cognition, it came to be used as the opposite of discursive cognition” (see Scotus, In sentient, lib. 2, dist. 3, qu. 9), and this is nearly the sense in which I employ it”13 Third in importance is Peirce's early effort to draw stark contrasts between Cartesianism and scholastic realism. He claimed that Cartesianism made four major claims in direction opposition to scholastic practice. “(1) It teaches that philosophy must begin with universal doubt; whereas scholasticism had never questioned fundamentals. (2) It teaches that the ultimate test of certainty is to be found in the individual consciousness; whereas It does not necessarily refer to a society of individual human beings and its attendant histories and rules of relationship and encounter. Peirce's genealogical study of Cartesianism is not, therefore, an effort to situate Descartes or other Cartesians within an explicit society and then to ask how that social whole may inherit and transmit certain habits of action. A genealogical inquiry could, on a given occasion, be conducted by way of a social history, but it need not, and the present argument brackets societal perspectives. CSP 5.213n1. scholasticism had rested on the testimony of sages and of the Catholic Church. (3) The multiform argumentation of the middle ages is replaced by a single thread of inferences depending often upon inconspicuous premisses. (4) Scholasticism had its mysteries of faith, but undertook to explain all created things. But there are many facts which Cartesianism not only does not explain but renders absolutely inexplicable....”14 Of Descartes' method of universal doubt, Peirce wrote that it was offered as a direct challenge to “the most striking characteristic of medieval reasoning, in general, [which] is the perpetual resort to authority” (CSP 5.215n1).
12) Augustine: the single most suggestive prototype. Augustine's scriptural and Trinitarian semiotic displays the single most suggestive prototype for the entire set of Cartesian habits of inquiry, including the dialectic of reparative and foundationalist/intuitionist modes of inquiry. This is not a triumphalist claim on behalf of Augustine, since such a prototype would engender some discord as well as repair. It is, nonetheless, an affirmative claim, for it suggests that the dialectic that accompanies this prototype is civilization-wide, that Augustine is one of those figures in whom the diverse rays of an entire civilization are captured15 and that, whatever Augustine's imperfections, his scriptural and Trinitarian semiotic may introduce resources for repairing periodic dysfunctions within the broader community of Cartesian inquirers.
Within the limits of this essay, there is space only to illustrate how the various elements of the broader Cartesian habitus appear in Augustine's semiotic and how his enactment of them displays otherwise imperceptible sources of the pragmatists' reparative reasoning16. As dramatized in Conf., Augustine searches - from Manichees to Platonists to Stoic logic - not only for a logical discourse that can articulate the Bible's ratio, but also for a Greco-Roman discourse that can successfully account for the reality of discourse as well as of what we know by way of it. While it therefore serves his tendency to logical rather than Biblical objectivism, Augustine's study of Greco-Roman logic introduces an unexpectedly logical reason for his returning to the Bible. The reason is uncovered in his study of Stoic logic. Setting out the elements of a formal semiotic, De doctr. makes only a few improvements on Aristotle's theory of signs. Augustine offers two definitions of sign (signum): “signs... are things used to signify something” (I.II); and “a sign is a thing (res) which causes us to think of something beyond the impression the thing itself makes upon the senses”. Following the second definition, a sign thus entails some thing (res), some sensation caused (made) by the thing, and some thinking caused in us by the thing. Augustine distinguishes two types of sign: signa naturalia are natural signs which “without any intention or desire of signifying, make us aware of something beyond themselves, as smoke signifies fire” (II.II); signa data are given signs, or “those which living creatures show to one another for the purpose of conveying, in so far as they are able, the motions of their spirits or something which they have sensed or understood. Nor is there any other reason for signifying, that is, for giving signs (significandi, id est signi dandi), except for bringing forth and transferring to another mind (animum) what is conceived in the mind of the person who gives the sign” (II.II). Only the latter are of interest to Augustine. CSP 5.264. Paraphrasing Ernst Cassirer's reading of Cusanus; Cassirer was applying a notion of Hegel's. See Cassirer, E. Individual and Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy. Chicago, 2010, p. 7. This genealogy draws on a paper I presented to the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, in 1990: “Hellenistic (Patristic/Rabbinic) Prototypes of Peirce's Pragmatic Semeiotic.” Among the primary resources for that essay are Markus, R. A. “St. Augustine on Signs”, Augustine. Garden City, 1972, pp. 61-91 and Jackson, B. D. “The Theory of Signs in St. Augustine's De doctrina christiana”, Ibid., pp. 92-148.
So far, Augustine is close to Aristotle17. Then, however, Augustine adds something. As the historian Robert Markus and the philosopher John Deely read him, Augustine attempts to say what Peirce will later say more clearly: that a sign is a thing that “stands for something to somebody.” Of signs, natural signs are what Markus calls “symptoms,” or “anything which `goes together with' that of which it is taken to be the sign”. This would seem to imply that “natural signa data” are to be classed with natural signs (that have their meaning physei), and the class of signa data would be reserved for merely intentional and conventional signs, that have their meaning thesei, or what Markus calls “symbols.” Markus makes a judgment here about Augustine's interpretive tendency toward interiorizing the activity of genuine semiosis. The tendency comes out more fully in De trin. XIII, where Augustine claims that a word is a word only if it means something. Words do not, therefore, stand for things, but only for their intended meanings (De trin. XV), while signs in general will have meaning to the interpreter for whom there is a meaning convention. Of symbols, then, we may distinguish the signifier (signatum); the intended meaning or object (significatum); and “the subject to whom the sign stands for the object signified” (74).
Augustine's notion of significatum is the key addition, since it indicates his distinguishing between a sign's intentional, or what Peirce called its “immediate” object, and its “dynamical object,” the res. Augustine could not consistently draw such a distinction without providing for the sign's interpretant: what he calls “the subject for whom the sign stands....” This is a triadic, pragmatic distinction. And Augustine appears to have picked it up from the Stoics. According to Sextus, the Stoics, after Aristotle, defined a sign as “an antecedent judgment in a valid hypothetical syllogism, which serves to reveal the consequent”18. They linked three things together:
“the signification” (semainomenon), “the signifier” (semeinon) and “the name- bearer” (tugkainon). The signifier is an utterance (phonen), for instance, “Dion”; the signification is the actual state of affairs (pragma) revealed by an utterance, and which we apprehend as it subsists in accordance with our thought, whereas it is not understood by those whose language is different...; the “name-beared' is the external object, for instance Dion himself. Of these, two are bodies - the utterance and the name-bearer; but one is incorporeal - the state of affairs signified (semainomenon pragma) and sayable (lekton), which is true or false19... They say that a “sayable” is what subsists in accordance with a rational impression, and a rational impression is one in which the content of the impression can be exhibited in language20.
It appears, then, that the Stoa, against Aristotle, interposed lekta between thoughts and the things they signify. The lekton would then appear to be the stimulus for Augustine's significatum. For Aristotle, a sign (semeion) is “a demonstrative proposition necessary or generally approved: for anything such that when it is another thing [is], or when it has come into being the other has come into being before or after, is a sign of the other thing's being or having come into being” (Prior Analytics II.27). Written words (grammata) are signs of spoken words (phonai ), which are signs of experiences of the soul (en te thyke), which are signs of the objects (pragmata) of those experiences. “As all men have not the same writing, so all men have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experience are the images” (I.1; 16; cited in Jackson). Linguistic terms signify by convention, but they also have performative force (they grab attention) and truth (if ordered and performed correctly, they may refer accurately to real objects). Propositions are signs that may be true or false. Among them, some may be indefinite, that is, like the sea-fight that is tomorrow, they may refer independently of the principle of contradiction (a and -a). Outlines of Pyrrhonism II, xi. Against the Prof 8, 11-12. Against the Prof. 8, 70.
In these terms, De Trinitate ought to be privileged as the primary demonstration of Augustine's semiotic. Although it lacks a formal theory of signs, its triadic account of the relation of sign to object of reference to interpretant-sign performance is Augustine's most compelling logic of the triadic process of semiosis. In Markus' words, Peirce provides the formal sign theory that diagrams this triadic account as an account of triadic semiosis.
Even if abbreviated, these illustrations should strengthen the genealogical claim that Augustine's scriptural and Trinitarian semiotic displays the effects of a three-part habitus and that this habitus serves as prototype for the tradition of Cartesian inquiry (in the broad sense). Cartesianism (in the narrow sense) may, indeed, inherit a dialectic of objectivism and internalism as exhibited in Augustine's work, and this dialectic may, indeed, exhibit intra-civilizational competition between Hellenic and Scriptural modes of inquiry. Pragmatism may, indeed, inherit a reparative habitus comparable to Augustine's and this habitus may, indeed, be guided by habits of scriptural and Trinitarian reasoning. If so, there is reason to take seriously Peirce's own claim about pragmatism: that it is very intimately allied with the ideas of the Gospel and that an effective, post-Newtonian logic of science may therefore, indeed, name Scripture as its interpretant. pragmatic semiotic philosopher
In these terms, Peirce's logic of relative predicates Peirce's logic of relatives introduces a formal model of knowing through participation: aRb (where a and b participate in a relation R), to be distinguished from a=b/a^b (where a is/is not equivalent to b), and from a=pb (where the equivalence is mediated by some constant p). Here R is a three-part relation that stands independently of any set of members. If, therefore, I offer a model of my knowing x iKx, I do not appear as the subject of knowing (I know x) but as a participant with x of the knowing relation K. Comparably, if I love y, I appear as participant with y of the love relation L, iLy. In these terms, participating in the relation of Knowing (or Loving or Having) is knowing (/loving/having) enough: a, b, c.. .i are finite, but there is no knowing the limit of K or L or H.. would include a logic of lekta. Unlike the Stoa, however, Peirce would assert that such predicates refer to realia: and not only lekta, but incomplete lekta as well! For Peirce, “Someone writes” is a prototypically vague symbol, and such symbols are prototypical signs of realia. The Stoic trichotomy of sign, object and sayable does not exactly correspond to Peirce's sign, object and interpretant, but it is close. The “sayable” displays elements of what Peirce calls the “immediate object,” or the object as it is intended, as well as of the “immediate interpretant.” According to the available fragments of Stoic writings, the Stoa did not develop the pragmatic character of this sayable, that is, its rule (or tendency)-bound relation to possible action as well as to the specific contexts of action. It appears that they tended to reduce pragmatic to semantic meaning. Nonetheless, their semantics remains richly suggestive for a pragmatic semeiotic.
1. Bernstein, R. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983. xix, 284 pp.
2. Cassirer, E. Individual and Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy, trans. by M. Domandi. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. xii, 199 pp.
3. Descartes, R. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. by D. Cress. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett, 1993. xiv, 105 pp.
4. Dewey, J. The Quest for Certainty: Gifford Lectures 1929. New York: Putnam's, 1929. 318 pp.
5. Grice, H. P. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989. viii, 394 pp.
6. Haack, S. “Descartes, Peirce, and the Cognitive Community”, The Relevance of Charles Peirce, ed. by E. Freeman. La Salle, Ill.: The Hegeler Institute, 1983, pp. 238-263.
7. Jackson, B. D. “The Theory of Signs in St. Augustine's De doctrina christiana”, Augustine, ed. by R.A. Markus. Garden City; New York: Anchor Books, 1972, pp. 92-148. James, W. Pragmatism. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1981. xviii, 134 pp.
8. Lukasiewicz, D. “On Jan Lukasiewicz's many-valued logic and his criticism of determinism”, Philosophia Scientiae, 2011, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 7-20.
9. Lukasiewicz, J. Selected Works, trans. from the Polish by O. Wojtasiewicz, ed. by L. Borkowski. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1970. xii, 405 pp.
10. Markus, R. A. “St. Augustine on Signs”, Augustine, ed. by R. A. Markus. Garden City; New York: Anchor Books, 1972, pp. 61-91.
11. Morris, Ch. Signs, Language and Behavior. New York: George Braziller, 1946. xii, 365 pp. Ochs, P. “Reparative Reasoning: From Peirce's Pragmatism to Augustine's Scriptural Semiotic”, Modern Theology, 2009, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 187-215.
12. Peirce, Ch. S. Collected Papers, 8 Vols, ed. by Ch. Harteshorne and P. Weiss. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931-1958.
13. Peirce, Ch. S. The New Elements of Mathematics, Vol 4, ed. by C. Eisele. The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1976. 394 pp.
14. Poinsot, J. Tractatus de Signis, 2nd ed. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustines Press, 2013. xl, 623 pp.
15. Quine, W. From a Logical Point of View: Logico-Philosophic Essays, 2nd ed. New York: Harper, 1980. xii, 184 pp.
16. Sellars, W. Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind [http://ditext.com/sellars/epm. html, accessed on 20.06. 2018].
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