21 EVE — Adaptations
Eve lit upon a way to go at her project. She would consciously seek to adapt otherwise inaccessible elements if they added to what she was aiming for.
Example: Signs, for Peirce, had grades of clarity. Signs could be vague. This seemed transparently clear. Why not, then, say that, from the vague and ever moving sea of signs, the individual should fasten on a word. A word can represent and embody something close to what he or she wants to consider.
Pearl from a plethora, as ‘twere?
Under the hood of Peirce’s semiotics were many classifications and categories. But, for purposes of the revolution Eve aimed for, the pearl was always sought.
No one could not access, with a word or phrase, what was in mind.
The triadic or pragmatic maxim required that a sign refer to something which — in Eve’s book — was always ethics. The third stop was to become a symbol or badge of expression and behavior.
Reality, Ethics, Aesthetics.
Icon, Index, Symbol was Peirce’s original semiotic triad.
The symbol embodies the aesthetic aim — truth and beauty unified.
Yes, adaptation was what this was about, Eve thought.
Peirce was not yet the Aristotle of the third millennium. But his triadic insight was too important, too revolutionary, to be allowed to molder inside the walls of the academy. If ethics and aesthetics were not the essential elements of a universal thought process, the world was condemned to wrestle with Reality and lose time after time.
So simple, Eve thought. Why was she poring over the abstruse when she could be convincing rock stars down the road in Nashville to hoke up an ethics blockbuster video?
She went back to the text. But she skipped, for she had already determined that logic always tends toward good. Logic is most certainly not subordinate to math.
Eve had already seen that conscious thought was as she conceived it. If it did not proceed from reality through ethics and aesthetics, it did not segue with the flow of time. We are conscious beings. The mingling of everything is reality. It can only be parsed by thought.
But what of doubt?
Eve bent down to the page on her desk and read with attention. Doubt can and should be more than random feeling. Doubt can be intended. It can even become common sense.
One doubts. One is not sure of an outcome. This thought is no less real than supposing the matter is resolved. All is conditional. There is never no condition. All is continuation, much still mystery.
Clarity is saying, “That may be”.
After glossing over long paragraphs, Eve arrived at a favorite, one she had read over and over — Peirce’s evocation of ‘memorial maxims’.
Eve Googled the phrase. There were a mere 135 results. Beyond paltry. They referred to things Eve had written over the years. She read Peirce’s paragraph again. Nothing could be clearer.
‘Pragmaticism consists in holding that the purport of any concept is its conceived bearing upon our conduct. How, then, does the Past bear upon conduct? The answer is self-evident: whenever we set out to do anything, we “go upon,” we base our conduct on facts already known, and for these we can only draw upon our memory. It is true that we may institute a new investigation for the purpose; but its discoveries will only become applicable to conduct after they have been made and reduced to a memorial maxim. In short, the Past is the storehouse of all our knowledge.’ Peirce: CP 5.460
Triadic Philosophy was about creating memorial maxims. These had heft, direction, consequence. They were the universal, conscious elements of human thinking. Pragmaticism! For certain.
Thought can only bode the future, Eve continued. She thought: Reality then Ethics then Aesthetics. Freedom, Love, Justice. Blessings. Forward Moving. Non-idolatry. Tolerance and Helpfulness. Democracy. She ran these words through her mind. Why not? Why not? She almost cried, more angry than crestfallen.
She went back to the text. She resonated to Peirce’s description of the present as the ‘Nascent State of the Actual’. Experimental method is the application of a rule drawn from the Gospel: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Eve loved Peirce. Pragmaticism had from the start joined ethics and logic. Scholars could puff on that. Conduct needs an ‘ethical principle”, in accord with an “esthetical ideal’.
There is no ideal too high, he said, it can transcend a “duly transfigured esthetics.”
Eve quoted again:
‘A disembodied spirit, or pure mind, has its being out of time, since all that it is destined to think is fully in its being at any and every previous time. But in endless time it is destined to think all that it is capable of thinking.’
‘The Pragmaticist … insists that the rose really is red; for red is, by the meaning of the word, an appearance; and to say that a Jacqueminot rose really is red means, and can mean, nothing but that if such a rose is put before a normal eye, in the daylight, it will look red. Just so, the feeling qualities attaching to memories are entirely true and real, though obviously relative, as pastness itself obviously is relative.’
Eve stretched and yawned, got up. looked out and stretched again. “Pastness”, she said, with a trace of disparagement