[percy-l] Peirce/Percy

Karey L. Perkins karey at charter.net
Sat Aug 16 12:16:49 EDT 2003


Thanks for the references, that was just what I was looking for.  The Peirce
literature is so comprehensive it's overwhelming, and unlike my studies of
Percy, I have no idea where to start.  I almost didn't do this topic because
I am not trained in semiotics (semeiotics?) and most of this is now self
taught.  But I have been reading "American Signatures" which says that most
semioticians are self taught (as was Percy).  So I'm not alone, but I still
don't have a clear path of reading mapped out.

Percy says in several places that Susanne Langer dropped the ball and he
intended to pick it up -- he says it in the essays, the conversations, etc.
But only one place do I recall that he actually says WHAT she dropped --
what she missed.  I believe it was early in my reading, in "Message," but I
don't remember what it was and I'm going to have to go back and look.  I
thought someone else might have been familiar with it.

Peirce, unlike Percy, was eagerly ready to reject that which did not conform
to "the method of science" as a manner of fixing belief.  So he rejected the
"method of tradition" "method of authority" and "method of fashion."   The
infallibility of the Catholic church would fall under those.  And if anyone
has read Peirce's "Fixation of Belief," which was the first essay I read,
Peirce clearly asserts that the idea of transubstantiation just can't be.  I
don't know if he continued with this opinion or not for the rest of his
life, as it seems he changed as he grew older.  However, this is clearly
contradictory to Percy's beliefs, and explains why Percy called himself only
a "Thief of Peirce" rather than embracing Peirce's whole philosophy.  Still,
Percy gives no reason (that I have found) for rejecting the triad in favor
of the triangle.  Your solution of viewing the AREA of the triangle as the
triadic content is one resolution to the problem, but was Percy viewing it
that way?  I think he wanted to put it all on the interpretant (one point of
the triangle) to differentiate it from dyadic behavior and to say something
special was happening there, within the interpretant. That's where the
triadic event was taking place.  But then why do we need the idea of the
triangle at all?  It gets back to Cartesian dualism (something non-material
is within man) and this is why I think Percy was expressing in his letters
to Ken Ketner some doubt as to whether Peirce's triads (notwithstanding
Peirce's other writings) could refute Descartes.  However, I don't quite get
how Peirce's triads solve the problem either.

Just some things I'm wondering about.  I am interested in the work that has
been done on this after Percy.  Any way to find out what that is?


----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Frentz
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2003 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: [percy-l] gays, biblical authority and Percy's language
theory --


re your first question -- this paper was "discovered" yesterday and floated
on the peirce-l list (though the paper is four years old, I wasn't aware of
it either and I'm a big fan of Deacon).  Interesting coupling of the
"reproductive properties" of memes in terms of semiosis (interpretant
spawning yet another sign).

Terrence W. Deacon, Memes as Signs

Unfortunately the two other books he comments on as upcoming in "Note 10"
still aren't to be found.  Floyd Merrel's 1997 book on Peirce, Signs, and
Meaning is also quite an interesting read in this area.

re the second question -- I personally think this whole notion is
irrelevant, as long as the triangle is interpreted by the area rather than
the edges, all vertices are connected to the other two, a dyadic
relationships aren't necessarily implied to me by this.  I find it
interesting that Peirce doesn't really seem to have used either notation in
his various descriptions of the same concepts (at least not in the Collected
Papers), yet he his existential graphs are nothing less than a graphical
computer.  BTW, a *great* reference for anyone attempting to surf the CP on
their own is Charles S. Peirce's Philosophy of Signs: Essays in Comparative
Semiotics (Advances in Semiotics)
by Gerard Deledalle, 2001 (Deledalle, a French philosopher who did much to
bring CSP to Europe's attention, just died a few months back).  Like having
a Fodor's to the CSP wilderness (I think WP would have loved to have had
this book)

I find it striking how different research is today because of the web vs.
when Percy was working this a little over a decade ago (per Ketner's Thief
of Peirce dialogues).  Also, a lot of work has been done in this area since
his death.

re the third question:  I dunno?  I'd be interested if you do find the
reference.  I have on occasion started to look up Langer's work but came
away with the impression that she had drifted so far off in less Pe*rc*an
directions that aren't of particular interest to me that I've never followed
through on what it was that Percy was fond of in Langer's work wrt CSP's


At 03:24 PM 8/15/2003 -0400, you wrote:

  No -- I'm certainly no moderator!  But I am fascinated by the fact that
gays and Biblical authority have garnered so much response, but Percy's
language theory doesn't get much interest?  There's so much he left
unfinished and so much to investigate.  If he had lived longer, I think
something tremendous might have come out of it -- like, the answer to, what
is the interpretant?  He died before he could solve it.

  So, here's what I would discuss if I had the choice...

  What is the interpretant?

  Why did he use triangles instead of triads, even when a good argument was
given against it?

  What did Susanne Langer drop that he picked up?  (I believe he says what
it is in one place, but I lost it somewhere)


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Parlin, Steven
  To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion'
  Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 10:52 PM
  Subject: RE: [percy-l] West Wing


  Because some of my replies that contradict Karey are not showing up in my
  inbox, I assumed (wrongly it seems) that I had angered her (isn't she the
  moderator?), and that she was preventing my postings from going to the

  I owe you an all an apology...but especially Karey.

  Please forgive my presumption.

  I'm an ass.


  -----Original Message-----
  From: David Alan Beck [mailto:dabeck at iupui.edu]
  Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:45 PM
  To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
  Subject: Re: [percy-l] West Wing

  Why are we getting triplicates of your posting??

  On Thu, 14 Aug 2003, Parlin, Steven wrote:

    [NON-Text Body part not included]

  David Beck


  An archive of all list discussion is available at

  Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

  An archive of all list discussion is available at

  Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

  An archive of all list discussion is available at

  Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy



An archive of all list discussion is available at

Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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