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Re: [ontac-forum] Theories, Models, Reasoning, Language, and Truth

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 02:51:54 -0500
Message-id: <43A3C39A.4070802@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dale,    (01)

 > "Is your definition of "sign" stipulative, lexical,
 > theoretical, precising, or what?"    (02)

I just sent a reply to Barry Smith, in which I said that
Stove's argument is actually the most reasonable assumption
to make if you are only allowed a single look.  When you
see a magician make coins disappear and rabbits pop out
of a hat, your eyes clearly deceive you.  There is no reason
to assume that they are veridical sources of facts.    (03)

 > Should we not, in this forum, stick to the "immediate" facts
 > and arguments, rather than appealing to historical positions
 > or other papers?    (04)

What immediate facts?  Our only immediate facts are that our
senses can very easily be deceived when we only have one look.
But if we have a chance to check and test our first impressions
by repeated study -- using multiple senses, coming back repeatedly,
etc. -- then we have a much better chance of getting an accurate
picture.  That indicates that we need multiple *signs* preferably
from different modalities in order to form a sound judgment.    (05)

Psychological studies have provided abundant evidence of how
children and young animals require multiple sensory modalities
in order to form an accurate model of reality.  Sensory deprivation
studies on children are unethical, but such studies have been
performed on cats and other animals to demonstrate that sight
alone without confirmation by touching is insufficient to enable
the animal to form an accurate model of 3-D relationships.    (06)

 > I've read Peirce. Haack's gratuitous remark is far too
 > general and vague to have any merit.    (07)

I'm not basing my conclusions on Haack's books (which I highly
recommend by the way) since I had come to very much the same
conclusion myself.    (08)

 > ... rather than appealing to historical positions or other papers?    (09)

Haack's point (and mine as well) is that Peirce's 19th century
work on logic is historical.  But his later writings (from the
1890s to about 1910) are *not* historical because they were almost
completely *ignored* by the 20th century philosophers.  In a sense,
they are the latest up-to-the-minute research in semiotics.  There
have been other people working on semiotics, such as Umberto Eco,
Sebeok, etc., but none of them had Peirce's depth in philosophy,
mathematics, logic, and experimental physics.    (010)

I had been reading philosophy for many years -- starting with
Plato when I was in high school.  In college, the only thing I
had heard about Peirce is that he was a friend of William James.
In those years, my favorite philosopher was Whitehead, but I
had read a lot of Quine, Carnap, Wittgenstein, and other 20th
century analytic philosophers.  When I wrote my first book in
1984, I hadn't read much of Peirce's work other than his logic.
But over the past 20 years, I had been going back to Peirce's
writings again and again.  His work is not easy to grasp on
a first reading, but he had tremendous depth and breadth.    (011)

And by the way, Haack did not start out as a Peircean scholar,
but over the years she became dissatisfied with 20th-century
analytic philosophy and found Peirce to be a breath of fresh air
by comparison -- very much what I found as well.    (012)

Hilary Putnam once said "Whenever I get clearer about any
subject, I find that Aristotle has become clearer about it too."
That's exactly my experience in reading Peirce.    (013)

John    (014)

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