discussions about forms of life

“[I]t can be pointed out that discussions about forms of life and world pictures do in fact take place. […] Perhaps even more important is the following: it is necessary to distinguish between the observation that neither the process of justification nor that of criticism can proceed without presuppositions or assumptions and the thesis that what is presupposed or assumed is in the last analysis not open to discussion (that is, is open neither to justification nor to criticism). The latter does not follow from the former. The view that all presuppositions or assumptions may be questioned is of course open to the objection that in discussing one lot of assumptions further assumptions have to be made, so that it is impossible to conceive of a situation which is well-founded in all its aspects. However, the thesis that every assumption is open to discussion does not maintain that everything can be justified simultaneously. It says only that there is no assertion such that the possibility of some argument being advanced for or against it is excluded a priori.” (Robert Alexy. A Theory of Legal Argumentation. pp. 52-53)

two couplets

“Thus, the distinction between what is relative secundum esse and what is so only secumdum dici is the first and the most fundamental analytical couplet of Poinsot’s Treatise. Since, moreover, the relative secundum esse unites under one (ontological) rationale the distinct orders of mind-independent and mind-dependent being, and so includes implicitly (analytically) the second fundamental couplet of the Treatise (ens reale/ens rationis), it does not seem too much to say that the systematic contrast of these two terms determines the conceptual architecture of the Treatise on Signs as a whole: eleven hundred years of Latin philosophizing are summarized and rendered aufgehoben in this application.” (John Deely. Editorial Afterword. Treatise on Signs. By John Poinsot. Trans. John Deely. St. Augustines Press; 2nd edition, 2013. p.477)

virtual similitude

“[I]t is true that a form of impressed specification is a representative similitude of an object, but in the mode of a principle of cognition, not in the mode of a formal awareness or of supposing an awareness to which it would represent, and for this reason it is called a virtual similitude, because it is a principle whence arises a formal similitude and formal awareness. But as a result of this the rationale of a sign is wanting in an impressed specifier, because even though it is a similitude of an object and a representation uniting and making an object present to a cognitive power, it does not posit the object present to cognition m, but is a principle of cognition.” (John Poinsot, Treatise on Signs, pp. 258-259)

mind-independent perfection borrowed and appropriated from mind-independent entity

“[…] Whence a mind-dependent being, 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. 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, pp. 190 – 191, note 35)

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)