[FRIAM] Peirce's "What Pragmatism is."

Nick Thompson nickthompson at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 28 11:12:37 EDT 2018


I am very ambivalent about the notion of "self-control".   I think for Peirce it was limited to where we direct our attention.  But that seems to concede too much of a dualism.  

But I am still in transit. 


Nicholas S. Thompson
Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology
Clark University

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From: Friam [mailto:friam-bounces at redfish.com] On Behalf Of ? u???
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Subject: Re: [FRIAM] Peirce's "What Pragmatism is."

Yes! I've been talking (mostly) about the selection of habits/beliefs by the environment, as opposed to the selection of theories about reality.  In the former, the "agent" is reality, whereas in the latter, the agency belongs with the holder of the theories.  If we take what Peirce is saying seriously, we have no choice but to limit the agency of the habituated and assign some control of the habits to the context in which the habituated learned her habits.

Part of what Peirce (and you and Nick, in your Peircian modes) seem(s) to claim is that we don't have (complete) control over our habits.  So, the only serious flaw in a control theoretic framework for thinking about it is the extent to which we assign the agency.  I, personally, prefer the idea that it's a dynamic *play* between the controller and controlled, where some processes show a clear locus of control and others have a more diaphanous, distributed control.  But regardless of where the agency lies, we can talk about the tightness or looseness of the coupling.

Did reality select for our eyeballs' tendency to saccade?  Or did we choose that control method because it helped us identify real things?  Who cares?  The point is that (e.g.) saccade is a very fast, tight process, thereby (inferring from Peirce) indicating that we only use it under uncertainty, when we haven't yet fixated ... aka when we doubt what we see.

If you Peircians *disagree* with my inference, then that means either 1) I have no idea what Peirce meant or 2) his metaphysics is cartoonish and childish.  I prefer to think my inference is reasonable. 8^)


On 03/27/2018 04:46 PM, Eric Charles wrote:
> Glen, Ah! It seems to me you are talking about the thing believed, while I am talking about the thing itself... could that be what is happening?
> You say that aether theory had a loose control loop when believed, but 
> now has a strong control loop when it is doubted. That would make 
> sense to me if you mean that the tentative belief in aether used to 
> loosly control how people acted regarding aether, but the absolute 
> doubt now tightly controls how they act towards it. (More technically, 
> "is part of a loose/tight control loop".)
> In contrast, I am talking about the thing itself, or as close as Peirce will let you get to that Kantian notion. People thought that aether was a component of tightly controlled systems, whereas it turns out to be part of no system at all, because it does not exist.
> Cutting the difference between our use of those terms: The scientific method is, in Peirce's presentation, a community search for long-term-stable beliefs, i.e., beliefs that can serve as part of a /sustainable /tight control system, in which sustaining is the result of actions predicated upon the belief continuing to work out in the very long term.
> Did that reconcile anything?
> (Peirce had a very sophisticated understanding of probability and 
> statistics, so "in the long term" does not mean "/exactly /as 
> predicted every time.")

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