[percy-l] Re:Seminal events of consciousness

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Mon Dec 16 19:00:43 EST 2002

Dear   Karey, Folks--

I think we are all to some degree misunderstanding one another as well as
the subject at hand.  I would say that part of the reason for
misunderstanding one another as well as symbolization is because we have not
yet discovered (or agreed upon) the nature of this nexus of concepts
(knowing, relating, being, existing, meaning consciousness and symbolization
or representation).  Because the occurrance of these phenomena often overlap
(perhaps always overlap) we suspect that there may be some common element or
cause tieing them all together.  I think Peirce's and Percy's triadic
theories of the symbol are attempts to explain some of these relations.   I
think Percy held the process to be exclusively human but that Peirce (I
believe, but I'm not at all sure) held that triadic relations could be found
among crystals (hence the expression rocks in our heads;)

> This is the big issue.  Of course, all of us Percyians agree, language is
> not dyadic, it is not stimulus-response, and language is not two events

Kerey,  I don't even think stimulus-response psychology is dyadic   --- I
think that is a straw man.  I think Percy misunderstood S-R psychology.

>  At one
> point, I had thought that symbol was a UNION of these two -- the object
> the word.  Somehow, they become one.  Then I thought not quite that -- but
> almost (kind of like consubstantiation instead of transsubstantiation.)
> Percy says that:
>     The use of symbol is a "pairing [as opposed to a succession], a laying
> of symbol alongside thing" (Signposts 134) which imples two things, side
> side.
> But then he goes on to say:
>     It is "intentional relation of identity" (Signposts 134).  Which
> they are one?  Or almost one?  inside the human.
> Any thoughts or insights on:  What Percy thought was happening in the
> What anyone else things is happening in the human?

I think Percy believed that process uniquely shared by God and humanity is
the only possible explantion for what is going on to explain the phenomenon
of symbolization.  I don't think Percy wanted to find non human instances of
Peircean triadic relations.  I think Percy was wanting to find evidence of
God's special relation to man and was trying his best to explain and
convince himself and others that symbolization was the key.

But I think he was mistaken in supposing this to be the case.  I think
symbolization is the process whereby three things are related such that one
thing is taken by another to stand for a third.  And that this sort of
process permeates all of God's creation and it may well be that not only man
but other animals and someday computers are or will be capable of partaking
of symbolization.  The key I think will be in recognizing that a single
human, animal or computer can not symbolize unless it is part of a community
that coordinates and has a shared purpose against which to measure the
consequence or meaning of events.

Kery -- personally I don't think the process of symbolization can be
properly described as going on inside any human.  It is a process that
occurs among humans as in comunity, communication and communion.  (BTW, I
would take talking to oneself as merely pretending to think in the same
fashion that a public theatre play is pretending.)

Just some more grist for the mill. Many thanks for all the relevant Percy
quotes.  I'm embarrassed to think what I might be rambling on about if you
(and others) were not keeping the discussion on track.

Jim Piat

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