to be manifestable and objectifiable

“To be manifestable and objectifiable is something independent of mind, and that upon which a cognitive power depends and by which it is specified. Nay rather, it is because an object is thus mind-independent that it does not depend upon a cognitive power by a mind-independent relation. Wherefore, since a sign under the formality of sign does not respect a cognitive power directly (for this is the formality of an object), but respects a thing signifiable or manifestable to a cognitive power, a cognitive power as indirectly included in that manifestable object is attained by a mind-independent sign-relation, because the cognitive power is not respected separately, but as included in that which is mind-independent in the object as something manifestable to a cognitive power; where the whole which is attained in act and formally is mind-independent, and the power whose object it is enters there merely as something connoted and indirectly.” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, pp. 160-161)


division of categorial relation according to its specific and essential differences

“In the second line of division, relation is divided into essential types according to the fundaments of relation, to which fundaments must also correspond diverse formal termini. […] The first fundament is that of subjects relative according to unity and number. On unity and number are founded relations of similarity and dissimilarity, agreement and disagreement, etc. The second fundament is that of subjects relative according to action and reception. For example, it is in this way that all effects and causes are relative. The third fundament is in subjects relative by being one a measure and the other measurable, as cognitive powers are measured by the objects which properly specify them.” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, p. 101)

the first and second intention

“A term of the first intention is one that signifies something according to that which the signified has in reality (independently of its being known) or in its own proper condition, that is to say, apart from the condition or status it has in the understanding and according as it is conceived, such as a white thing, or a man, as existing independently of cognition. A term of the second intention is one that signifies something according to that which the signified has owing to a concept of the mind and in the condition or state of the understanding, such as species, genus, and things of like kind that logicians treat. And these are said to be of first and second intention, because that which belongs to anything according to its own being is, as it were, primary in that thing and its own condition or state; but that which belongs to anything according as it is understood is as it were secondary and a second condition or state supervening upon the first, and for this reason it is called ‘of second intention,’ as of the second status.” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, p. 59, footnote 2)

ad instar realitatis

“Whence a mind-dependent being [ens rationis], although in itself it has subjectively no reality, can still be the object of an act of understanding and specify that act by reason of an objective proportion which it takes on in an order to the understanding when it has a real fundament and is conceived on the pattern of mind-independent being [ad instar realitatis]. For then it can perfect and specify the understanding by a mind-independent perfection, not one innate to itself or existing in itself, but one borrowed and appropriated from mind-independent entity, on whose pattern it is objectively conceived” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, p.191, note 35.)

the knowability of the sign

“The relation of knowability to a cognitive power precedes and is presupposed for the rationale of a sign: for it pertains to the rationale common to any object or cognizable thing. But for the rationale of a sign it is further required that the knowability of the sign be connected and coordinated with another, that is, a thing signified, so that the sign substitutes for and is subordinated and servile to that thing in bringing it to mind. And thus the relation of this knowability of the sign to that of the significate will also be an essentially mind-independent relation, because it is founded on the proportion and greater connection which this knowability has relative to that knowability rather than to some other, so that the sign can substitute for that knowability and be vicegerent, and this is given on the side of physical nature, as is also the exercise of representing to the cognitive power, even though the order and relation to the cognitive power is not mind-independent” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, p.140)

Quotes from New Beginnings

“Just as the Greeks and Latins reduced philosophy’s concern to what they supposed to be what it is, independent of human thought, so the moderns reduced philosophy’s concern to what was supposed to be distinctively rational or natural in the content of the mind’s workings. Postmodernism rejects all such reduction, and for the first time insists on bringing to the foreground the whole of experience, not just a distortion of it made in view of a selected part.” (John Deely, New Beginnings : Early Modern Philosophy and Postmodern Thought, p.17)

“Being is not only “that which can only be said in many ways” (Aristotle), but that out of which the division between what is and what is not independent of the mind arises (Aquinas), and not in any finally fixed way, but differently according to the time and circumstances of the one experiencing such a contrast among objects. / Hence the central importance for the nascent postmodernism of ideas of illusion, irrationality, and deconstruction, even though these fashionable preoccupations are far from the whole story and, in the nature of the case, incapable of adequately defining the contours of what postmodern philosophy must inevitably move toward realizing, namely, an adequate appreciation of the richness of human experience as the ground of all art and science, and the only means we have for testing what is true.” (p.19)

“[H]istory provides for the philosopher what the laboratory provides for the scientist, namely, the arena in which the consequences of ideas are played out. Miller (1993: 41) describes this idea that the work of philosophy must proceed through a study of history in order to achieve its best results as among “the most lasting lessons Foucault learned from his teacher”, Jean Hyppolite. In any event, it is one of the defining ideas of postmodernism.” (John Deely, New Beginnings, p.38)

“Modern philosophers distinguished within the list between primary and secondary qualities of objects, meaning by the latter color, odor, taste, sound, and warmth or coolness in particular; Greek and Latin philosophers distinguished rather between proper (or ‘special’) and common sensibles, meaning by the former color, odor, taste, sound, and texture or relative warmth.” (p.77)

“The question answered in their distinction between proper and common sensibles concerns the relations of environmental things to the channels of sense through which and on the basis of which these things become aspectually and in part objectified: some aspects of the physical environment, namely, the proper sensibles, are objectified, cognized, or known through a single channel of sense only, while other aspects are assimilated to experience through more channels than one, namely, the common sensibles.” (p.81)

“[T]he status of sign as ontologically relative is not that of a genus respecting natural and conventional signs as its determinate species. The status is, rather, an existential condition which can be physically realized in the natural and cultural orders indifferently according to the role of the fundament (the foundation of the sign-relation, the sign-vehicle) together with the circumstances which surround it but do not constitute it within cognition as a sign. For only a triadic relation can constitute a sign as such. Whether this relation will be objective only or will include a physical intersubjectivity as well is determined not only by the role of the fundament engendering the sign relation, but also by the circumstances under which that fundament operates in generating the relation.” (p.104)

“What Poinsot has presented in his thematization of the sign is a thoroughgoing demonstration that the action of signs is what gives structure to our sensations, perceptions, and understanding, both practical and theoretical—in a word, to our experience as a whole.” (p.106)

“But the immediate point to be made here is that the contemporary term “species” in English is not in any way helpful for understanding the Latin epistemological discussions of species. In fact, the main sense of the epistemological Latin term species, namely, the sense of giving specification or specifying form, is one that has never been really brought out in modern English discussions or translations of relevant Latin texts prior to the 1985 edition of Poinsot’s Treatise on Signs.” (John Deely, New Beginnings, p.127)

“Indeed, at the level of impressions, the species itself does not appear at all. … The species does not appear, it merely conveys the specific energy which determines that the power able to know becomes aware of the influence at work in the environment here and now.” (p.133)

“The species impressa, as a theoretical entity and technical term of philosophical vocabulary, is, at least in Poinsot’s tradition, as far removed from Hume’s impressions or Locke’s “simple ideas of sense” as could be, for the species impressae as such are neither sensations nor ideas, but simply that specification according to which the power of sense forms a sensation under some environmental stimulus. There are no simple ideas of sense as distinct from the complex ideas of perception. At the level of sense, prescised and distinguished as such within perception, there are no ideas at all, but only aspectual manifestations of the environment as influencing some particular type of organism here and now.” (John Deely, New Beginnings, p.135)

“By Poinsot’s day … Augustine’s question-begging definition of the sign as something per se sensible had been rejected in favor of the more neutral definition, “anything that represents something other than itself to a cognitive power”. This definition, it was argued, would then apply both to sense-perceptible objects which function as signs (such as words and cultural artifacts generally, along with natural occurrences such as clouds and smoke), and to ideas and images in our minds.” (pp.136-137)

“Formal causality in the specificative sense best explains the action of signs from every point of view. This causality can be exercised through the intrinsic constitution of the sign-vehicle (in the case of a natural sign) or not (in the case of an arbitrary sign), as the situation calls for. It is more general than the final causality typical of vital powers, inasmuch as it specifies equally both vital activity and the chance interactions of brute secondness at the level of inorganic nature. This is the causality that enables the sign to achieve its distinctive function of making present what the sign-vehicle itself is not, regardless of whether the object signified enjoys a physical existence apart from the signification.” (John Deely, New Beginnings, p.170)

“The prime interpretant in the case of cognitive organisms, of course, is the biological nature of the organism itself, which determines indeed not what sensations will be actual, but what will be possible in the first place for perception to elaborate and, in our case, intellection to assimilate as best it can.” “The first interpretant is the nature of organism, its biological heritage; the first object is the environment aspectually influencing the organism through its cognitive channels; but the first sign is the idea objectifying the environmental influences as desirable or undesirable, i. e., constituting experience in the first place.” (John Deely, New Beginnings, pp.226-227)

Quotes from The Primacy of Semiosis

“In fact, as Deely emphasizes, Poinsot’s ontological analysis of signs as relations only develops its full power when there is included within it a post-Peircian analysis of how signs become, or grow, and how they can do this without the need for physically existent terms.” (Paul Bains, The Primacy of Semiosis: An Ontology of Relations, p.9)

“For Deely (…), the main problem of so-called linguistic philosophy is that it fails to give an account of how we can talk about non-existent things, this being one of the most notable features of human language. Linguistic philosophy attempts to treat language as primarily involved in mirroring or developing a point-by-point correspondence with an external, non-linguistic reality. In the analytical approach, meaning and truth only occur when there is a direct referential correspondence between words and things.” (p.29)

“Deely (…) argues that Locke is using the term ‘idea’ as a representation whose cognitive function is to make ‘present within awareness objects regardless of their proximity within the environment. This is the main function of the idea that Locke had in mind, as also Descartes, and it is perhaps not too much to say that this is the principal notion of idea throughout the period of modern philosophy.’ However, unless we have an understanding of the distinction between representation and species (or representation and signification), we cannot understand the difference between a metaphysics of representation (‘the way of ideas’) and a semiotic (‘the way of signs’).” (Paul Bains, The Primacy of Semiosis: An Ontology of Relations, p.47)

“Maturana contends that the traditional view of language as a denotative symbolic system for transmitting information concerning independent entities has obscured the fact that such a conception assumes the pre-existence of the function of denotation, whereas denotation is the very function that requires explanation in an evolutionary theory of natural languages.” (p.128)