Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peirce's Firstness

This has come up in the IPS integral semiotics thread. Winton's referenced paper equates Peirce's firstness with the UL quadrant. I said:

It seems Winton takes his first wrong turn in associating Peice's Firstness with the UL quadrant (27). On 26 he quotes Corrington on this Firstness as "the undifferentiated quality and potentiality prior to any stain of the actual." And it was just as I was thinking as I read that Wilber lacked the kind of withdrawn virtual we've discussed at length in other threads. But Winton equates this with UL phenomenology, a strained correlation. Recall Bryant's 3 rings with the object a in the center, the rings being the symbolic, the imaginary and the real. The withdrawn is not 'in' any of those three but rather the latter.

He does address the nondual origin on 29, with that as the center of his figure 7, while noting we cannot access it directly, only inferring it transcendentally. But that to me sounds like the First Axiom of Firstness, not the inside perspective of the suobject. The latter is much more like Bryant's imaginary translational perspectives, with Bryant's symbolic domain akin to Winton's sign. Both have the unimaginable as the chewy center.

Balder thinks there is justification for the relation and I can understand the confusion. In looking over this Peirce dictionary on Firstness it seems he also had a variety of ways to describe it, not all consistent. Sometimes Firstness seems to be one of his 3 categories akin to Bryant's 3. At other times its like what we've described elsewhere as a basic awareness. At other times Firstness appears to be more like Bryant's withdrawn object a. Some Peirce quoted excerpts supporting the latter interpretation, with commentary:

"Firstness is the mode of being of that which is such as it is, positively and without reference to anything else."

Even a basic human awareness is not itself free from distinction, reference or categories per L&J's (and others') work. We many not be conscious of those distinctions but they are there.

"Firstness is the mode of being which consists in its subject's being positively such as it is regardless of aught else. That can only be a possibility. For as long as things do not act upon one another there is no sense or meaning in saying that they have any being, unless it be that they are such in themselves that they may perhaps come into relation with others. The mode of being a redness, before anything in the universe was yet red, was nevertheless a positive qualitative possibility. And redness in itself, even if it be embodied, is something positive and sui generis. That I call Firstness. We naturally attribute Firstness to outward objects, that is we suppose they have capacities in themselves which may or may not be already actualized, which may or may not ever be actualized, although we can know nothing of such possibilities [except] so far as they are actualized."

Very much akin to Bryant's notion of the withdrawn, as it distinguishes the possibility of qualities which is not itself actual qualities.

"The immediate present, could we seize it, would have no character but its Firstness. Not that I mean to say that immediate consciousness (a pure fiction, by the way), would be Firstness, but that the quality of what we are immediately conscious of, which is no fiction, is Firstness."

Here he admits that there is no immediate consciounsess, a fiction. I'd argue though that this quality of which we aware is much more a transcendental deduction that any sort of immediate awareness thereof.

"Here would be an utter absence of binarity. I cannot call it unity; for even unity supposes plurality. I may call its form Firstness, Orience, or Originality. It would be something which is what it is without reference to anything else within it or without it, regardless of all force and of all reason."

Khora anyone? Again, we are never directly conscious of this withdrawn state of affairs.

"Freedom can only manifest itself in unlimited and uncontrolled variety and multiplicity; and thus the first becomes predominant in the ideas of measureless variety and multiplicity. [...] The first is predominant in feeling, as distinct from objective perception, will, and thought."

Here it is like Deleuze's multiplicity, with Peirce's 'feeling' apperception more like Plato's 'bastard reason?

"It precedes all synthesis and all differentiation; it has no unity and no parts. It cannot be articulately thought."

Again, it is not an assholon unity or part and cannot be thought.

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