Re: Roles, again (John F. Sowa)
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 1995 11:21:35 +0500
From: (John F. Sowa)
Message-id: <9509161521.AA16552@west>
Subject: Re: Roles, again
Content-Length: 2305
Precedence: bulk
Pat Hayes wrote

>I do not blame Peirce for anything. I agree, he was a great man, etc. But
>as I said, we have 100 years lead on him now: we have Goedel, Turing,
>Carnap, Quine, Kripke, etc. etc.. not to mention work in other areas of
>philosophy and psychology.

In many respects, logic has gone far beyond what Peirce, Frege, Russell,
etc., were aware of.  But in other respects, they are still digging
in areas that Peirce (and Whitehead, by the way) saw were dead ends.

>Saussure!??  You keep telling us to wander in the dim outer reaches of
>historical scholarship in order to discover something about C.S.Peirce.
>What is it that we are likely to find there?

I honestly believe that Sheriff's book is a good presentation of some
points that I have failed to make clear.  Some other people who
have read that book about Peirce and Saussure have found it to be
a very useful presentation.  All I can say is that it is only 150 pages
long and I believe that it is worthwhile.

As far as the "dim reaches of historical scholarship" are concerned,
I have found those dim reaches to contain a lot of garbage, but also
little nuggets of gold and diamonds that have not been fully understood
and assimilated into the received wisdom.

In particular, I believe that the first author of the Principia Mathematica,
Alfred N. W., had a much broader and more substantial understanding of
the semantic issues than his younger colleague.  I believe that logic has
been greatly impoverished by following Russell's prejudices rather than
the insights of Peirce and Whitehead.

With great trepidation, I am going to mention Whitehead's _Process and
Reality_, in which Whitehead presented his ontological categories.
The reason why I hesitate to mention it is that I fear that you have
seen the book and have long ago consigned it to the garbage dump of
"mysticism" to which you have already sent Peirce's insights.  But I
have found Peirce's triads to be a valuable key to understanding
Whitehead's admittedly "difficult" terminology.  I believe that CSP
and ANW have important, and essentially compatible insights into issues
related to topics that are currently hot -- in particular, contexts,
intentionality, and propositional attitudes.

I'll try to explain these issues more clearly in a future note.