Peirce on Mind and Matter

Peirce’s quote that I have found in Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake:

Matter is merely mind deadened by the development of habit to the point where the breaking up of this habits is very difficult.

Below is another quote given by Søren Brier on the biosemiotics list:

But what is to be said of the property of feeling? If consciousness belongs to all protoplasm, by what mechanical constitution is this to be accounted for? The slime is nothing but a chemical compound. There is no inherent impossibility in its being formed synthetically in the laboratory, out of its chemical elements; and if it were so made, it would present all the characters of natural protoplasm. No doubt, then, it would feel. To hesitate to admit this would be puerile and ultra-puerile. By what element of the molecular arrangement, then, would that feeling be caused? This question cannot be evaded or pooh poohed. Protoplasm certainly does feel; and unless we are to accept a weak dualism, the property must be shown to arise from some peculiarity of the mechanical system. Yet the attempt to deduce it from the three laws of mechanics, applied to never so ingenious a mechanical contrivance, would obviously be futile. It can never be explained, unless we admit that physical events are but degraded or undeveloped forms of psychical events.” (CP 6. 264)

Peirce on Laws of Nature

A Peirce quote, sent to the biosemiotics list by Søren Brier.

“To find that out is our task. I will begin the work with this guess. Uniformities in the modes of action of things have come about by their taking habits. At present, the course of events is approximately determined by law. In the past that approximation was less perfect; in the future it will be more perfect. The tendency to obey laws has always been and always will be growing. We look back toward a point in the infinitely distant past when there was no law but mere indeterminacy; we look forward to a point in the infinitely distant future when there will be no indeterminacy or chance but a complete reign of law. But at any assignable date in the past, however early, there was already some tendency toward uniformity; and at any assignable date in the future there will be some slight aberrancy from law. Moreover, all things have a tendency to take habits. For atoms and their parts, molecules and groups of molecules, and in short every conceivable real object, there is a greater probability of acting as on a former like occasion than otherwise. This tendency itself constitutes a regularity, and is continually on the increase. In looking back into the past we are looking toward periods when it was a less and less decided tendency. But its own essential nature is to grow. It is a generalizing tendency; it causes actions in the future to follow some generalization of past actions; and this tendency is itself something capable of similar generalizations; and thus, it is self-generative. We have therefore only to suppose the smallest spoor of it in the past, and that germ would have been bound to develop into a mighty and over-ruling principle, until it supersedes itself by strengthening habits into absolute laws regulating the action of all things in every respect in the indefinite future.” (CP 3.409 )

Søren Brier: Science and Religion by Peirce

Two messages from Søren Brier to peirce-l (De Waal seminar)

God is real but does not exist: so the best way to worship him is through the religion of science

Why a concept of the divine supplements the idea and functioning of science

Peirce on Heat Death

From Helge Kragh, Entropic Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology, 2008

p. 187-188 “In 1891 he [Peirce] described his hypothesis as follows:

‘The state of things in the infinite past is chaos … the nothingness of which consists in the total absence of regularity. The state of things in the infinite future is death, the nothingness of which consists in the complete triumph of law and absence of all spontaneity. Between these, we have on our side a state of things in which there is some absolute spontaneity counter to all law, and some degree of conformity to law, …’

This picture, starting from chaos and ending in an ordered and symmetrical system, turns the ordinary interpretation of the second law on its head. Some years earlier, in a 1884 lecture on ‘Design and Chance’, he declared that the heat death – in which ‘there shall be no force but heat and the temperature everywhere the same’ – was unavoidable. Confusingly, the next year he rejected the global heat death scenario, retracting to a position similar to that of many other evolutionary progressivists of the Victorian era: ‘But, on the other hand, we may take it as certain that other intellectual races exist on other planets, – if not of our solar system, then of others; and also that innumerable new intellectual races have yet to be developed; so that on the whole, it may be regarded as most certain that intellectual life in the universe will never finally cease.’ Perhaps he thought, such as he said in his ‘Design and Chance’, that the living universe would be saved by what he called ‘chance’, an influence he considered to be opposite to dissipative forces, of what some later authors referred to as ‘entropy’.”

08.09.2018. See also: Andrew Reynolds, Peirce’s Cosmology and the Laws of Thermodynamics, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Summer, 1996), pp. 403-423