Definition and Determination

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Jon Awbrey

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Sep 7, 2020, 7:12:10 PM9/7/20
to Cybernetic Communications, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Survey of Definition and Determination • 1
http://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2020/09/06/survey-of-definition-and-determination-1/

In the early 1990s, "in the middle of life's journey" as the saying goes,
I returned to grad school in a systems engineering program with the idea
of taking a more systems-theoretic approach to my development of Peircean
themes, from signs and scientific inquiry to logic and information theory.

Two of the first questions calling for fresh examination were the closely
related concepts of definition and determination, not only as Peirce used
them in his logic and semiotics but as researchers in areas as diverse as
computer science, cybernetics, physics, and systems would find themselves
forced to reconsider the concepts in later years. That led me to collect
a sample of texts where Peirce and a few other writers discuss the issues
of definition and determination. There's a copy of that at this location:

Collection Of Source Materials
https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS

What follows is an updated Survey of previous blog and wiki posts
on Definition and Determination, with special reference to the part
they play in Peirce's interarticulated theories of signs, information,
and inquiry. In classical logical traditions the concepts of definition
and determination are closely related and their bond acquires all the more
force when we view the overarching concept of constraint from an information-
theoretic point of view, as Peirce did beginning in the 1860s.

Blog Dialogs
============

Definition and Determination
============================
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/05/30/definition-and-determination-1/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/05/30/definition-and-determination-2/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/05/30/definition-and-determination-3/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/05/31/definition-and-determination-4/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/06/02/definition-and-determination-5/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/06/06/definition-and-determination-6/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/06/11/definition-and-determination-7/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2012/06/13/definition-and-determination-8/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2013/09/12/definition-and-determination-9/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2013/10/07/definition-and-determination-10/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/04/definition-and-determination-11/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/14/definition-and-determination-12/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/15/definition-and-determination-13/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/05/05/definition-and-determination-14/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2018/04/21/definition-and-determination-15/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2018/04/22/definition-and-determination-16/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2018/04/23/definition-and-determination-17/

Readings On Determination
=========================
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/11/readings-on-determination/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/22/readings-on-determination-1/

Readings On Determination • Discussion
======================================
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/21/readings-on-determination-discussion-1/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/21/readings-on-determination-discussion-2/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/04/23/readings-on-determination-discussion-3/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2020/04/29/readings-on-determination-discussion-4/

Regards,

Jon

Alex Shkotin

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Sep 8, 2020, 4:55:36 AM9/8/20
to ontolog-forum
Jon,

Great topic crucial for science, technology and law. Is there any connection to formal ontology in your texts?
Like this for formal axiomatic theory:
-axiom definition is a closed formula accepted as true.
-concept definition is a formula with one free variable.
-binary predicate, relation definition is a formula with two free variables.
etc.

By the way is Plato's definition of a man as "featherless bipeds with broad flat nails" (after Diagenos counterexample) a determination?
I definitely should read these texts but I can't determine when.

Alex


вт, 8 сент. 2020 г. в 02:12, Jon Awbrey <jaw...@att.net>:
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Jon Awbrey

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May 2, 2021, 3:40:53 PM (11 days ago) May 2
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Definition and Determination • 18
http://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/02/definition-and-determination-18/

All,

Various discussions in sundry places led me by
a commodius vicus of recirculation back to the
environs of old notes I gathered on the topics
of Definition and Determination, that being on
the occasion of a return to graduate school in
a system engineering program where I needed to
start thinking of semiotics and sign relations
in the light of cybernetics and systems theory.

That required me to convert from understanding
a sign relation as a relation among three sets,
the Object, Sign, and Interpretant domains, to
thinking of a sign relation as involving three
active systems, Object, Sign, and Interpretant
systems, respectively.

It will take a few posts to recover my notes from
the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), after which
I’ll present the excerpts in a more digestible fashion
and discuss more fully their implications. Just for
starters, a link-repaired version of the anchor post
for this series is copied below.

Definition and Determination • 1
================================

It looks like we might be due for one of our recurring reviews
on the closely related subjects of definition and determination,
with special reference to what Peirce himself wrote on the topics.

Arisbe List Archive
===================

Here is a collection of excerpts on the subject of
determination, mostly from Peirce but with a sampling
of thoughts from other thinkers before and after him,
on account of the larger questions of determinacy I was
pursuing at the time

Excerpts on Determination

• May 2001
https://web.archive.org/web/20150131204200/https://stderr.org/pipermail/arisbe/2001-May/thread.html#489

• Aug 2001
https://web.archive.org/web/20141219190201/https://stderr.org/pipermail/arisbe/2001-August/thread.html#942

Collection Of Source Materials
==============================

One naturally looks to the Baldwin and Century dictionaries
for Peirce-connected definitions of definition but I’d like
to start with a series of texts I think are closer to Peirce’s
own thoughts on definition, where he is not duty-bound to give
a compendious account of every major thinker’s point of view.
It may be a while before I get the excerpts all copied out.

• Excerpts on Definition
https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS#Definition


• Excerpts on Determination
https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS#Determination

Regards,

Jon

Jon Awbrey

unread,
May 3, 2021, 5:04:14 PM (10 days ago) May 3
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Definition and Determination • 19
http://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/03/definition-and-determination-19/

Re: Peirce List
https://list.iupui.edu/sympa/arc/peirce-l/2021-05/thrd1.html#00009
::: Edwina Taborsky
https://pilot.list.iupui.edu/sympa/arc/peirce-l/2021-05/msg00010.html

JA:
I needed to start thinking of semiotics and sign relations in the
light of cybernetics and systems theory. That required me to convert
from understanding a sign relation as a relation among three sets, the
Object, Sign, and Interpretant domains, to thinking of a sign relation
as involving three active systems, Object, Sign, and Interpretant systems,
respectively.

ET:
Sounds very interesting — that concept of
semiosis as involving three active systems.

Dear Edwina,

Thanks for that. As it happens, the transition from sets to systems
is smoother than it may seem at first, since the first thing we need
to know about a system evolving through time is its state space, which
is a set among other things, and the next thing we need to know is the
law governing its transition from one state to the next. A mite steeper
is the passage from dyadic, cause-effect, stimulus-response species of
determination to more general orders of constraint, law, or rule-governed
trajectory through state space. And that is where Peirce’s anticipation
of information theory comes into play.

Regards,

Jon

Jon Awbrey

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May 5, 2021, 7:45:18 AM (9 days ago) May 5
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Definition and Determination • 20
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/05/definition-and-determination-20/
::: Robert Marty
https://list.iupui.edu/sympa/arc/peirce-l/2021-05/msg00012.html

<QUOTE RM:>
Thank you for this information. I happen to have a work in progress (not yet written) on the question of determination.
I discovered that Peirce gave a quite remarkable definition in CP 8.361.

“We thus learn that the Object determines (i.e. renders definitely to be such as it will be,) the Sign in a particular
manner.” (CP 8.361, in CP 8.342–379, from M-20b, 1908).

It fits very well with what he writes in Excerpt 21
( https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS#Excerpt_21._Peirce_.28CE_1.2C_246.E2.80.93247.29 ) .

<QUOTE CSP:>
“Hence universal and necessary elements of experience are not determined from without. But are they, therefore,
determined from within? Are they determined at all? Does not this very conception of determination imply causality and
thus beg the whole question of causality at the very outset? Not at all. The determination here meant is not real
determination but logical determination. A cognition à priori is one which any experience contains reason for and
therefore which no experience determines but which contains elements such as the mind introduces in working up the
materials of sense, or rather as they are not new materials, they are the working up.” (C.S. Peirce, Chronological
Edition, CE 1, 246–247).
</QUOTE>

I have hosted this working paper on my personal website:
The Semiotics.Online ( http://www.the-semiotics.online/ ) ,
entitled Determine • What “Determine” Means
( http://the-semiotics.online/Articles/Determine-def-Peirce.pdf ) .

I appreciate any suggestion or criticism, as usual.
</QUOTE>

Dear Robert,

Excerpt 21 comes from Peirce's Harvard Lectures On the Logic of Science (1865). It begins with a question about the
possibility of knowledge à priori and draws conclusions about the grounds of validity for necessary and universal
judgements. For ease of discussion I copy the full excerpt below.

<QUOTE CSP:>
Is there any knowledge à priori? All our thought begins with experience, the mind furnishes no material for thought
whatever. This is acknowledged by all the philosophers with whom we need concern ourselves at all. The mind only works
over the materials furnished by sense; no dream is so strange but that all its elementary parts are reminiscences of
appearance, the collocation of these alone are we capable of originating.

In one sense, therefore, everything may be said to be inferred from experience; everything that we know, or think or
guess or make up may be said to be inferred by some process valid or fallacious from the impressions of sense. But
though everything in this loose sense is inferred from experience, yet everything does not require experience to be as
it is in order to afford data for the inference. Give me the relations of any geometrical intuition you please and you
give me the data for proving all the propositions of geometry. In other words, everything is not determined by experience.

And this admits of proof. For suppose there may be universal and necessary judgements; as for example the moon must be
made of green cheese. But there is no element of necessity in an impression of sense for necessity implies that things
would be the same as they are were certain accidental circumstances different from what they are. I may here note that
it is very common to misstate this point, as though the necessity here intended were a necessity of thinking. But it is
not meant to say that what we feel compelled to think we are absolutely compelled to think, as this would imply; but
that if we think a fact must be we cannot have observed that it must be. The principle is thus reduced to an analytical
one. In the same way universality implies that the event would be the same were the things within certain limits
different from what they are.

Hence universal and necessary elements of experience are not determined from without. But are they, therefore,
determined from within? Are they determined at all? Does not this very conception of determination imply causality and
thus beg the whole question of causality at the very outset? Not at all. The determination here meant is not real
determination but logical determination. A cognition à priori is one which any experience contains reason for and
therefore which no experience determines but which contains elements such as the mind introduces in working up the
materials of sense, or rather as they are not new materials, they are the working up. (C.S. Peirce, Chronological
Edition, CE 1, 246–247).
</QUOTE>

Reference
=========

• Charles Sanders Peirce, “Harvard Lectures On the Logic of Science” (1865), Writings of Charles S. Peirce : A
Chronological Edition, Volume 1, 1857–1866, Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1982.

Resources
=========

• Collection Of Source Materials ( https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS )

•• Excerpts on Definition ( https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS#Definition )

•• Excerpts on Determination ( https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS#Determination )

• Survey of Definition and Determination (
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2020/09/06/survey-of-definition-and-determination-1/ )

Regards,

Jon

Jon Awbrey

unread,
May 6, 2021, 4:48:53 PM (7 days ago) May 6
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Definition and Determination • 21
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/06/definition-and-determination-21/
Re: Definition and Determination • 20
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/05/definition-and-determination-20/
Re: FB | The Ecology of Systems Thinking
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecologyofsystemsthinking/permalink/3958210367591411/
::: Richard Saunders
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecologyofsystemsthinking/permalink/3958210367591411?comment_id=3959381234140991

<QUOTE RS:>

Don't you think some little bit of unconscious knowledge and
logic comes preloaded, à priori, courtesy of our parents DNA?
Is that simply experience one or more generations removed?

</QUOTE>

Dear Richard,

Excerpt 21 comes from a lecture on Kant in a series of lectures
On the Logic of Science. Peirce's survey of conditions for the
possibility of science reaches back through his time's run of the
mill dualism of deductive and inductive logic to encompass Aristotle's
notice of abductive reasoning. This deeper perspective helps Peirce
walk the line between empirical and rational sides of science without
tumbling into either ism and it aids him in his quest for the questying
beast of Kant's synthetic à priori. In this setting and under this sum
of influences Peirce is led to his prescient theory of information,
enabling him to integrate form and matter, intension and extension,
into a unified whole.

With all that in mind, when Peirce says, “all our thought begins with
experience, the mind furnishes no material for thought whatever”, we
have to understand he is using “material” in the Aristotelian sense
of matter versus form. Saying the mind furnishes no material for
thought still leaves room for the mind to furnish form for thought.
Much the same point is made in our contemporary literatures of
cognitive psychology and linguistics under rubrics like “poverty
of the stimulus” and “under-determination of theories by data”.

Resources
=========

• Collection Of Source Materials
https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS

• Survey of Definition and Determination
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2020/09/06/survey-of-definition-and-determination-1/

• Inquiry Driven Systems • The Formative Tension
https://oeis.org/wiki/Inquiry_Driven_Systems_%E2%80%A2_Part_2#The_Formative_Tension

Regards,

Jon

Jon Awbrey

unread,
May 8, 2021, 5:15:25 PM (5 days ago) May 8
to Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Ontolog Forum, Peirce List, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Cf: Definition and Determination • 22
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2021/05/08/definition-and-determination-22/

Re: Laws of Form
https://groups.io/g/lawsofform/topic/definition_and_determination/82535599
::: Lyle Anderson
https://groups.io/g/lawsofform/message/245

Dear Lyle,

The labyrinth of Socratic switchbacks and dialogical detours in
Excerpt 21 gave several readers fits of befuddlement. I think
I threaded the maze well enough in what I wrote last time to
resolve the more difficult issues, but I guess time will tell.

The remainder of your reply invites us to consider a number
of substantive topics, all of which arise quite naturally in
this context and all of which will occupy us in the sequel,
but for now I have only enough time to record the following
outline of topics to take up.

• Boundary, Content, Cybernetics, Difference, Differential Logic,
Distinction, Essential Variable, Gradient, Interior, Motive,
Tropism, Topology, Value.

• Automata, Chomsky–Schützenberger Hierarchy, Computational Complexity,
Formal Languages, Finite-State Machines, ..., Turing Machines.

• Perfect Information Observer, God's Eye View, Hologrammautomaton
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2013/04/01/the-present-is-big-with-the-future/

• Finite Information Observer, Human Eye View, Homunculomorphisms
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/02/11/homunculomorphisms-1/
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2016/02/12/homunculomorphisms-2/

Resources
=========

• Collection Of Source Materials
https://oeis.org/wiki/User:Jon_Awbrey/EXCERPTS

• Survey of Definition and Determination
https://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2020/09/06/survey-of-definition-and-determination-1/

Regards,

Jon
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