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Habit as a connection between nature, mind and culture in C.S. Peirce’s semiotic pragmaticism
1  Department of International Business Commmunication, Copenhagen Business School


Peirce’s view of science and religion differs from the received view and therefore has interesting consequences for how we see the connections between the two. Peirce was like Karl Popper a fallibilist opposing the logical positivist epistemology of possibility of verification of scientific theories and models. The end of research in a certified truth is an ideal far away in the future. Furthermore he was not a physicalistic material mechanists but a process philosopher and an evolutionary synechist. This means that he thought that mind and matter was connected in a continuum and that matter has some internal living qualities, because he did not believe that the world is ruled by absolute precisely determinable laws that somehow existed before the manifest universe in time and space came to be. A further problem with the mechanicism of classical physics was that the time concept in Newton’s theory of motion was reversible. Time had no arrow. But in Peirce’s cosmogony change is at the basis as Firstness is imbued with the tendency to take habits and time therefore has an arrow and is irreversible and therefore what the laws manifested as the universe develop. This was unthinkable from a mechanical point of view. But Prigogine and Stengers (1984) – in there development of non-equilibrium thermodynamics based on Boltzmann’s probability interpretation of thermodynamics – got irreversibility accepted as the basic process in physical ontology and in 2013 the recognized physicist Lee Smolin published the book Time Reborn, where he accepts Peirce’s as well as Prigogine’s views on the nature of time, change and law, which was a big change in foundational conception og physics. In contrast to Smolin and Prigogine Peirce also grounds his philosophical framework in phenomenology. He is inspired by German idealism and Naturphilosophie especially Hegel and Schelling though he is also a kind of empiricist. This makes him a kind of process objective idealist; but a very special one. In the tradition of Aristoteles, Hegel and Kant he worked out system of basic categories that had deep influence on his Cosmogony (CP: 6.32-33[1]).


Keywords: C.S. Peirce, Habit taking, semiotic agapism, synechism, cosmogony