A Modest Proposal

Rhonda McDonnell rhonda_mcdonnell at hotmail.com
Sat May 4 16:00:51 EDT 2002

>From: "James Piat" <piat1 at bellsouth.net>
>Reply-To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" <percy-

>Newton's laws of motion    --things in motion tend to stay in motion  --for 
>every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Those refer to 
>dyadic relations.  Actions and re-actions.   On the other hand learning  
>--such as S-R operant conditions described by Skinner or classical 
>conditioning describe by Pavlov  --those are triadic relations involving 
>three indispensable and conjoined elements  --a stimulus, a response and a 

Hmmm, Jim, I don't know that I agree. My understanding of S-R tells me that 
it's dyadic.  It isn't much different from your description of Newton's laws 
of motion in that sense.  Nikki himself gave us the first piece of the 
triadic relationship: "Let me suggest that each of us try to come up with a 
very concrete example from the real world that illustrates for our friend 
just what the usefulness of all this discussion truly is."  When we think 
about what a triadic relationship IS and how it might be represented through 
language, and then we actually attempt to render it into language that might 
be understood by the rest of the list, so that we all nod and say, "yes, 
that's what it is" then we are doing our part in the relationship.  In 
MESSAGE IN THE BOTTLE "The Symbolic Structure of Interpersonal Process" 
Percy writes, "The very act of symbolic formulation, whether it be language, 
logic, art, or even thinking, is of its very nature a formulation for a 
someone else."

While your response seems like it may be in accord with Peirce's thinking, 
I'm not sure we can answer Nikki's question concerning what the point of it 
all is without applying Percy. What we're engaged in on this list is the 
point of it--making meaning out of this world. We can't do that without 
triadic interaction, and I still don't get the point unless, as Percy says, 
we're doing it with and for others.  Which brings me back to the S-R 
business--in what way is that triadic communication?



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