[percy-l] In and About the world

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Sun Aug 17 23:52:38 EDT 2003

Dear Ken,

Thanks for the kind remark.

> Jim makes good points about what the ability
> to symbolize does in giving us distance from and therefore some measure of
> power over what it is that we symbolize. But what is mysterious about it
> what keeps it mysterious is that we get "distance from" while even more
> "participating in" the event symbolized.  In this respect, it is we, too,
> who are symbolized in the actualization of a triadic event.

Yes, I agree.  I think that symbolization somehow creates or depends upon
the ability to "step back" and with it the realization that both oneself,
the symbolizer, and the object symbolized exist in a world.  With this
awareness of existence comes also a sense of our participation in the world
along with the objects we symbolize. -- A kind of reverence and closest for
all of God's creation, so to speak.

 It is one of
> those things that might be seen as contradictory or as paradoxical: by
> gaining distance from and knowledge of something, we participate in it
> deeply. Or maybe deeply is not the right word. Problem come when one
> or the other is emphasized to the diminishment or exclusion of the other
> (the old culture vs. science contretemps).

Yes yes.

> I think Peirce's problem with transubstantiation
> might (I emphasize "might") have been his concentrating on the leverage
> gained over physical events and the expectations raised to the exclusion
> the event of communion.

Oh I think Peirce was just being cranky --  he seemed to have a thing about
the infallability of the Pope.  I think he was plenty capable of
appreciating the communion aspect of symbolization (including
transubstantiation) but chose instead on this occassion to become literal to
make a point.

> Steve said "This is also, I believe, why humans are so unique among the
> beasts -- our ability to use language in this particular way."
>   Hmm. I seem to be stuck in Steve's blue font. Oh well. Steve, I'm not
> sure I'm quite following your statement quoted above as it follows
> your  quick outline of conception. It seems to me as though in your
> it is not we who are using language, but God.

I think that Peirce sometimes spoke of man "partaking" in the process of
symbolization rather than conceiving symbols from scratch.  Just as we don't
ourselves create life but we participate in it's conception.  Maybe we
partake of God when we use language.  In a way it is God speaking.  We swim
in a semiotic sea of which we are also part  -- but we have not ourselves
created the sea.  Just a thought.

Thanks again for the encouragement, Ken  -- you sure you want to do that!


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