PEIRCE-L Digest 1294 -- February 12-13, 1998

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   From PEIRCE-L Forum, Jan 5, 1998, [name of author of message],
   "re: Peirce on Teleology"   

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Topics covered in this issue include:

  1) Re: pharmaco-geschichte
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  2) Re: more on positivism and the eclipse of Peirce 
	by joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
  3) Re: pharmaco-geschichte                                                                                               
	by Ken Ketner 
  4) Re: Peirce's 1-2-3 nesses, the Semiotic Square and Number
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  5) a question about LISP and recursion
	by joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
  6) Re: a question about LISP and recursion
	by joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
  7) Re: Another centennial 
	by joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
  8) Re: a question about LISP and recursion
	by BugDaddy[…] (BugDaddy)


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 12:04:19 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: pharmaco-geschichte

There are indeed curious connections in 'pharmaco-geschichte', if Ken 
Ketner may allow me to take up his term:

Perhaps it is not so well-known that a man named Benjamin Paul Blood, 
a gentleman-farmer in Utica, New York, wrote a book with the title 
"The Anaesthetic Revelation and the Ghist of Philosophy" (Privately 
printed in Amsterdam, New York, 1874).

Blood would, in his experiments, equip himself with a handkerchief 
soaked in ether, hold it to his face, sink into unconsciousness, and 
then, as his hand fell away, would wake back up.

Blood wrote:

"I think most persons who shall have tested it will accept this as the 
central point of the illumination: [i] that sanity is not the basic 
quality of intelligence, but is a mere condition which is variable, 
and like the humming of a wheel, goes up or down the musical gamut 
according to a physical activity; [ii] and that only in sanity is a 
formal or contrasting thought, while the naked life is realized only 
outside of sanity altogether; [iii] and it is the instant contrast of 
this 'tasteless water of souls' with formal thought as we "come to", 
that leaves in the patient an astonishment that the awful mystery of 
Life is at last but a homely and a common thing, and that aside from 
mere formality the majestic and the absurd are of equal dignity." 

Blood attracted William James' attention, they corresponded and James 
made his own experiments with ether.

Blood's lifework seems to be a book titled "Pluriverse" 
(Boston:Marshall Jones, 1920)

I have my references from Rudy Rucker's book "Infinity and the Mind" 
(Boston: Birkhaeuser, 1982), which is, by the way, a book on the 
philosophy of mathematics. I have not verified this, but William James 
seems to mention Blood in his book "A Pluralistic Universe" (New York, 
Longman's, Green & Co., 1909). Rucker says that a good description of 
the Blood -- James relationship can be found in Hal Bridges', 
"American Mysticism: From William James to Zen" (Lakemont, Georgia: 
CSA Press, 1977) and that a quote similar to Blood's  but made by 
Xenas Clark can be found in William James', "The Varieties of 
Religious Experience" (New York, Macmillan, 1961, pp.306-307).

This all sounds very funny, but one shouldn't forget what an 
unbelievable revolution in medicine resulted from the controlled use 
of anaesthetica, which then altered social life profoundly in many 

Some time ago I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine. 
She is an anaesthetist in an university hospital in Nuernberg with 
many years experience in the job. She was still very much impressed by 
the fact that next to nothing is really known about how these drugs 
finally work, since this would mean that we would have to have a deep 
understanding of what consciousness consists in and what the 
'interface' between physiological and mental phenomena really is. And 
this is not the case. It doesn't even seem to be quite clear whether, 
under anaesthetic drugs, we indeed do not feel pain or whether we are 
simply unable to remember them later consciously. (if this 
distinction makes sense, since we do not know too much about the 
phenomenon of pain either).

I think these deep riddles in this field are often eclipsed by the 
undeniably huge social problems concerning drug addiction. 
Nevertheless it might be helpful, perhaps even for the solution of 
these problems, to be aware of the larger context. I think there is 
an important task for the philosopher too. Drugs obviously seem to 
have played an important role in all human cultures.

The knowledge we have concerning drugs is 'empirical' in the same 
sense in which today's knowledge in genetic engineering is empirical. 
Not less and not more. Perhaps some day people will wonder what we 
have been doing... or they will perhaps have totally forgotten what a 
mystery Life really is. Who knows?

Anyway, I believe it makes good sense for a logician to be interested 
in these questions. If we want to find out what rationality and 
intelligence is we should know something about their boundaries too. 
Perhaps then we can even expand them to a 'Logic of Things' or even a 
'Logic of Life'.

Thomas Riese.

P.S. Today, on 12 Feb, 82 years ago, in 1916, Richard Dedekind in 
fact died. And then the newspapers were right;-)


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 09:42:58 -0600
From: joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
Subject: Re: more on positivism and the eclipse of Peirce 
Message-ID: <000801bd37cc$e68d06e0$1aa432ce[…]>

To Douglas Moore:

Doug, I have some layperson-type questions.  (I only have a poorly
informed and untrained amateur's understanding of computer programming.)

--- What reason do you have to think there are only three basic
paradigms?  I am wondering if there is any sort of demonstration of
that, as there supposedly is of the reducibility of all n-adic relations
to triadic and/or dyadic and/or monadic?

--- A related question:  could the three paradigms be based somehow on
the following consideration:  that when a datum is sent to a computer
address, the address may be (1) ultimate in the sense that the effect of
sending it there is an output such as, say, the lighting of a pixel but
this affects no further address, or (2) the effect of sending it there
is that some second address is affected, which may itself be an ultimate
effect in the above sense, or (3) the second address affects a third
instead, in which case the same alternative is available?  There would
appear to be no interestingly different fourth case.

--- Just how this consideration would show itself in the general
principles of the language in question I do not know, but your
description of pure LISP sounded a lot like the case of infinite further
reference without any exit from the referential process (pure symbolism
with no indices = refusal to apply pragmatic maxim).  But if LISP is the
third case, i.e. the address is only the name of a further address which
is itself only the name of a further address, then I guess FORTH would
exemplify the second, but just how PROLOG could be construed as the
first case I don't know.    This is just an uneducated hunch, and if it
makes no sense don't waste time trying to make the best of it or
anything, Doug: I just wanted to check it quickly to see if there is
anything in it!

--- Leaving the above aside, would it be correct to see in the demand
that the FACT/RULE dichotomy be completely resolved in PROLOG an
analogue to Peirce's point about how a premise can always be expressed
as a material leading principle instead (thus functioning as a rule
relative to a premiss and a conclusion), and conversely?

-- I never did any actual programming in either LISP or PROLOG but just
read about them, but I had the sense that the goal-orientation of PROLOG
is really just a mechanistic simulation of goal orientation, i.e. would
naturally be turned to by somebody who wanted to show that seeming
teleology is always just an appearance given by a complex mechanism
involving a negative feedback loop, which is how the philosophers of
science in this century have usually wanted to treat teleology.  It
amounts to a denial of real tendency.  LISP, on the other hand, seemed
to want to recognize a real teleology in the sense of treating the
future as real but not mechanistically determined in advance, and not in
itself involving any closure (though I gather that in use the problem is
always that in atempting to modify LISP to accommodate the introduction
of something that besmirches the purity of the ongoing reference some
incalculable factor is always inadvertently introduced that screws
things up somehow!)

Again, just ignore this Doug if it is not germane: my feelings won't be
hurt in the least!

I'm not sure whether Jim PIat is out there this week or not, by the way,
as I got the impression he might be off on a brief vacation.

Joe Ransdell

 Joseph Ransdell            or  <>
 Department of Philosophy, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
 Area Code  806:  742-3158 office    797-2592 home    742-0730 fax
 ARISBE: Peirce Telecommunity website -


Date:         Thu, 12 Feb 98 09:58:43 CST                                                                                           
From: Ken Ketner 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: pharmaco-geschichte                                                                                               
Message-ID: <199802121600.KAA20102[…]>

I thought PHARMACO-GESCHICTE was too ugly for kidnapping, but I was probably                                                        
wrong, so I release it to the world. (Actually, I never owned it. ;)  )                                                             


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 18:25:39 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: Peirce's 1-2-3 nesses, the Semiotic Square and Number

Dear Douglas Moore, 

you wrote:

> For European semiotics, of course, it is not a trichotomy that counts
> but a fourfold division in the form of a "semiotic square." For the good
> coverage of the semiotic square, one can refer to the works of the late
> Professor Greimas of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris. Perhaps his
> "Dictionnaire de la Semiologie" might be a good place to start.
> If Peirce saw a trichotomy in anything he thought about, Greimas saw a
> semiotic square. Thus I was faced with a choice. Was I to remain a
> trichomaniac like Peirce or become a Cartesian quadramaniac? I ended up
> being both, as I will explain later.
>The Cartesian semiologist would add a fourth entity into the 
>equation which we could call the People.

I am a bit sceptical what concerns a fourth category (category in the 
sense of Aristotle, Kant, Peirce).
If there should be any 'enhancement' I would guess that there should 
be an odd number of categories. Categories, being fundamental, should 
be as few and as primitive as possible (but not more so).
Peirce knew that categories should be based on order (homomorphism) 
and not on equivalence (isomorphism) -- and he was right if we 
consider the line of historical development from Dedekind to Goedel.

And that's why Peirce, even in his mathematical papers, doesn't use 
'groups' and 'equivalence classes' -- though he was e.g. certainly 
interested in the work and ideas of Felix Klein in geometry, who does 
everything with it.

"Emblematically" speaking Peirce's Categories are '-<' and not '='.

But I don't know Greimas' and your work. What I have studied is 
Pythagoras' tetraktys and Gotthard Guenther's work on 
'non-Aristotelean logic'. 

I think in your approach you would have to any n categories a
(n+1)st category and thus an arithmetic system (and I indeed think 
that e.g. G.Guenther's "polykontexturale Logik" is just an 
'arithmetic', i.e. a number system, like the dual numbers, 
polynomials etc.).  And then order is a derived concept based on the 
automorphism of the integers.

I think that partly explains the difficulty in talking about numbers 
in terms of categories. The natural numbers are a very fundamental 
structure indeed -- but Peirce's Categories are still more primitive.

By the way: in the "New Elements of Mathematics" there is a reference 
where Peirce says that according to him the natural number represent 
nothing but order -- linear order. Whether this is  thus simply 
expressed really understandable can certainly be disputed; but I 
think it indicates the direction in which Peirce is thinking.

I think 'complications' arise whenever we introduce a category 
as a "system's invariant" (your "People"). The categories then 
form, in the general case, a formal system akin to those Goedel 
considered in his seminal papers. 

Indeed G.Guenther expressedly considered himself a neo-Hegelian as 
one should expect from the sound connection Joshua Royce established 
between Dedekind's natural numbers and Hegel's/Bradley's views on 

The above of course in no way is an argument against the 
interest and possible utility of your typological system!
And finally, I don't believe that anybody as yet has completely 
understood what the categories are -- if this is at all possible. 
Perhaps there will always remain an 'artistic' element. Perhaps.

Thomas Riese.


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 14:30:25 -0600
From: joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
Subject: a question about LISP and recursion
Message-ID: <002d01bd37f5$0e441520$1aa432ce[…]>


I had a further question I forgot to include in the earlier batch.  I
wondered if you could say more exactly what is meant in speaking of LISP
as involving "naturally recursive control flow"?  Mathematicians,
logicians, and computer scientists sometimes seem to have somewhat
different ideas of what recursion is, and I have never been clear on
exactly what everyone agrees on as fundamental in it.


 Joseph Ransdell            or  <>
 Department of Philosophy, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
 Area Code  806:  742-3158 office    797-2592 home    742-0730 fax
 ARISBE: Peirce Telecommunity website -


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 19:01:31 -0600
From: joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
Subject: Re: a question about LISP and recursion
Message-ID: <003601bd381a$ed91c360$1aa432ce[…]>

Doug Moore is in Israel, I think, and only intermittently in position to
respond to messages on peirce-l -- and I don't want to keep the guy
stuck in his hotel room while he is there! -- and I would be interested,
in any case, in what others besides Doug who have expertise on the topic
of recursion could say that might make that conception as clear as
possible.   The question I have been working toward on this -- going
back to some earlier dialogue with Thomas Riese a few days ago -- has to
do with Peirce's definitions of the representation relation, which I
take to be in some important sense recursive, and specifically so in the
sense of what mathematicians call a "recursive definition".   Am I right
on this?  And if so what exactly is happening in the case of a recursive
definition, in the mathematician's sense?

In the prior conversation with Thomas I think the dialogue broke off
before I could satisfy myself that I had posed the question I really
wanted to pose.  Anyway, I can't shake the sense that there is something
question begging or circular in a definition of that form, yet I know
that this is only owing to some confusion in my own thinking which keeps
derailing me at a certain crucial point.  When I have asked
mathematicians about this, as I have several times across the years,
they always answer so very tersely, though, that I don't really get the
hang of it, and they, of course, don't see why I would find it
bothersome.   Actually, I don't find it bothersome, but I have this
feeling that I can't shake off that I SHOULD find it that way!   I don't
know if anyone else has this sort of senseless hangup on this or not,

Joe Ransdell

 Joseph Ransdell            or  <>
 Department of Philosophy, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
 Area Code  806:  742-3158 office    797-2592 home    742-0730 fax
 ARISBE: Peirce Telecommunity website -


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 21:55:44 -0600
From: joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.)
Subject: Re: Another centennial 
Message-ID: <004801bd3833$443a4940$1aa432ce[…]>

Kelly Parker said:

>Andrew's reminder (below) got me wondering about other
>significant centennials that might be approaching.  Sure enough,
>there's a big one on the horizon.
>William James delivered "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical
>Results" at the University of California, Berkeley, on August 26,
>1898.  This is the lecture in which James popularized the term
>"pragmatism," and to some extent popularized Peirce:
. . .

>Is there any event scheduled to commemorate the "hundredth birthday of
>pragmatism"?  If not, perhaps we should all just meet in Berkeley on
>the 26th of August to toast Peirce and James, and argue with one
>another about the nature of the real.

I think that may be an idea whose time has come, Kelly!  I just now
mentally packed my bags and am already there!  And I don't normally go
to conferences gladly.  San Francisco is my spiritual home town, and I
think it would be great not only to get together at Berkeley in that way
but also to think about what a gathering appropriate to the Peirce
telecommunity and Peirce himself and the spirit of a "virtual" community
might actually be.   Surely nothing like the usual dreadful programs of
batteries of 20-minute reads and 10 minutes more of pseudo-Socratism and
the rest of the assault on the human spirit to which we have become
accustomed and even come to regard as normal!   Just a few days of
no-pressure conversation with friends old and new in a supportive
environment, maybe with a couple of hours of commemorative ritual at a
certain appropriate time to mark the occasion and peg it securely to the
historical order, no agenda other than celebration, something like that
. . .   But others might have a very different idea of what would be

Joe Ransdell


Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 04:23:17 GMT
From: BugDaddy[…] (BugDaddy)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: a question about LISP and recursion
Message-ID: <34ecbbed.7485043[…]>

joseph.ransdell[…] (ransdell, joseph m.) wrote:

>I would be interested,
>in any case, in what others besides Doug who have expertise on the topic
>of recursion could say that might make that conception as clear as

It seems to me that recursion is a generalization of the idea of
induction.  You have an initial state S1 and a procedure P(S1) =
S2; P(S2) = S3; P(S3) = S4.. such that  (1) each step takes you
closer to what you are looking for and (2) you know that after a
certain point you can stop with a satisfactory result.

My favorite example is a simple procedure that allows one to
calculate the square root of a positive number X. Take an initial
estimate S1 for the square root of X.  [S1 might as well be X,
itself.]  Then either S1 is (1) less than the square root of X,
(2) equal to the square root of X or greater than the square root
of X.  If (1) holds then X/S1 is greater than the square root.
If (2) holds then X/S1 = S1.  If (3) holds X/S1 is greater than
the square root.

So we have two numbers S1 and X/S1.  If S1= X/S1 we are done.
Otherwise one of these numbers is greater than the square root
and one is less than the square root.  One might try taking the
average S2 = (S1 + X/S1)/2, since we know that both the square
root and the average S2 will fall between S1 and X/S1.

And we repeat the procedure, S3 = (S2 + X/S2)/2; S4 = (S3 +
X/S3)/2; S5 = (S4 + X/S4)/2...

It turns out that the sequence S1, S2, S3... converges very
nicely to the square root of X.  I'm not going to prove it here,
but if you take a calculator and work it out for a few numbers
you will see what I mean. 

For example, to get the square root of 2, start out with:
S1 = 2.  
S2 = (2 + 2/2) /2 = 1.5;  
S3 = (1.5 + 2/(1.5))/2 =  1.416666666667...  
S4 = ( 1.416666666667 + 2/ 1.416666666667)/2 =  1.414215686275...
S5 = ( 1.414215686275 + 2/ 1.414215686275)/2 =  1.414213562375...
S6 = ( 1.414213562375 + 2/ 1.414213562375)/2 =  1.414213562373...
S7 = ( 1.414213562373 + 2/ 1.414213562373)/2 =  1.414213562373...

And that is as close as the Windows 95 calculator can get.  It's
a simple procedure that converges quickly to a pretty good
result.  Even a brain-dead computer programmer can handle it.

And one of the most interesting things about this formula is that
if you make a mistake, just keep going and the formula will fix
it up.  [Just don't keep making mistakes.]

"In essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, 
         in all things charity"

 Life is a miracle waiting to happen.
         William  Overcamp



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Last modified February 12-13, 1998 — J.R.

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