This section is for fragments (quotations, portions) of texts that I find interesting. Below the fragment, I will have appropriate citation.  (The date notes the date I composed the fragment).


Fall, 2014


Peirce prequel (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) added on December 10th, 2014.

[First published Fri Jun 22, 2001; substantive revision Wed Nov 12, 2014 – The latest version of the entry “Charles Sanders Peirce” (substantive content change) is not yet archived and may change before it is archived in the Winter 2014 edition. You should, if possible, wait for the Winter 2014 archived edition of the Encyclopedia to cite this version. Fixed editions of the Encyclopedia are created and archived every three months, on the 21st of September (Fall), December (Winter), March (Spring), and June (Summer).]

An especially intriguing and curious twist in Peirce’s evolutionism is that in Peirce’s view evolution involves what he calls its “agapeism.” Peirce speaks of evolutionary love. According to Peirce, the most fundamental engine of the evolutionary process is not struggle, strife, greed, or competition. Rather it is nurturing love, in which an entity is prepared to sacrifice its own perfection for the sake of the wellbeing of its neighbor. This doctrine had a social significance for Peirce, who apparently had the intention of arguing against the morally repugnant but extremely popular socio-economic Darwinism of the late nineteenth century. The doctrine also had for Peirce a cosmic significance, which Peirce associated with the doctrine of the Gospel of John and with the mystical ideas of Swedenborg and Henry James. In Part IV of the third of Peirce’s six papers in Popular Science Monthly, entitled “The Doctrine of Chances,” Peirce even argued that simply being logical presupposes the ethics of self-sacrifice: “He who would not sacrifice his own soul to save the whole world, is, as it seems to me, illogical in all his inferences, collectively.” To social Darwinism, and to the related sort of thinking that constituted for Herbert Spencer and others a supposed justification for the more rapacious practices of unbridled capitalism, Peirce referred in disgust as “The Gospel of Greed.”]

“Concerning the Author” / C.S. Peirce

when: pure ratiocination is not everything, it is prudent to take every element into consideration

“I am saturated, through and through, with the spirit of the physical sciences”

The doctrine of the association of ideas, is to my thinking, the finest piece of philosophical work of the prescientific ages / J.S. Mill – Sensationalism: “Sensationalism,” the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sensations, takes several closely related forms / sensationalism lacks a solid bottom

. . .

Duns Scotus / “The works of Duns Scotus have strongly influenced me” / Duns Scotus (c. 1266 – 8 November 1308) was given the medieval accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor) for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought / beatified by Pope John Paul II /

. . .

conjecture as to the constitution of the universe / The demonstrations of the metaphysicians is all moonshine /when the probably errors are too vast to estimate

– “I am a man who critics have never found anything good to say” – “I decline to serve as bellwether” –

fallibilism – indeed the first step to finding out is to acknowledge that you do not know already / Indeed, out of a contrite fallisbilism, combined with a high faith in the reality of knowledge, and an intense desire to find things out, all my philosophy has always seemed to me to grow. . .

[Introduction to the Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce]

Peirce’s literary activity began in 1867 and continued almost unceasingly until a few years before his death in 1914 / Upon a synthesis of whatever healthful strains he detected in sensationalism with the older British tradition, Kantism, and the logic of science, he constructed his own empiricism, in which fallibilism replaces scepticism and pragmatism replaces positivism.

. . .

Among thinkers of the first rank, few have in their lifetime addressed so small a public as Peirce / The pages of Peirce vibrate with the effort to place philosophy on a scientific basis / To Peirce the phrase [scientific philosophy] had a perfectly literal implication, at once faithful to the method of science and the scope of philosophic tradition, namely, that the broadest speculative theories should be experimentally verifiable / Philosophy as a branch of progressive inquiry rather than a species of art {what if progressive inquiry was practiced as a species of art?}  / What distinguishes it from all other methods of inquiry is its cooperative factor inviting universal examination and compelling ultimate unanimity; it conceives of its results as essentially provisional or corrigible; and for these reasons it ensures measurable progress

. . .

power of the scientific method (not a royal road): in the capacity, through constant modification of its own conclusions, to approximate indefinitely to the truth

. . .

Pragmatisim: whereas popular pragmatisim is an anti-intellectualist revolt, an embrace of the “will to believe” pathetic in its methodological feebleness, Peircean pragmatism (pragmaticism), demonstrating the fatuity of an emphasis on mere volition or sensation, is precisely intellectualistic / pragmatism is a step forward in the history of empiricism – It differs from Kant’s anti-metaphysical scepticism and from positivism in that it introduces the concept of meaning into empiricist methodology / a theory of meaning

. . .

Peirce maintains that in so far as thought is cognitive it must be linguistic or symbolical in character, that is, it must presuppose communication / Communication takes place by means of signs, and Peirce’s theory, in its investigation of the nature and conditions of the sign-relation, endows with a new and vital significance the old truth that man is a social animal.

Thought is inferential, expectative or predicative, and therefore always in some degree general. It is not a granular succession, but a web of continuously related signs. This is the heart of fallibilism.


logic as the philosophy of communication or theory of signs


Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness

. . .


. . .

drawing inferences, not so much a gift but a long and difficult art

Schoolboy logic – all knowledge either rests on authority or reason, but that whatever is deduced by reason depends ultimately on a premiss derived from authority (Aristotle’s term logic/the syllogistic procedure: two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true – the combination of a general statement (the major premise) and a specific statement (the minor premise), a conclusion is deduced. For example, knowing that all men are mortal (major premise) and that Socrates is a man (minor premise), we may validly conclude that Socrates is mortal.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

The word “therefore” can be represented by the symbol “∴”

. . .

Roger Bacon (Doctor Mirabilis – “wonderful teacher”) / “He saw that experience alone teaches anything – a proposition which to us seems easy to understand, because a distinct conception of experience has been handed down to us from former generation…Of all kinds of experience, the best, he thought, was interior illumination, which teaches many things about Nature which the external senses could never discover, such as the transubstantiation of bread.”

Novum Organum and the Baconian Method – reduction and the use of inductive reasoning. If one wants to find the cause of heat, list all the situations in which heat is found. Then list all situations similar to those of the first except for the lack of heat. The third lists situations where heat can vary. The ‘form nature’, or cause, of heat must be that which is common to all instances in the first table, is lacking from all instances of the second table and varies by degree in instances of the third table.


Multi pertransibunt & augebitur scientia {Daniel 12:4. It means: “Many will travel and knowledge will be increased”.}

Bacon’s inadequate scientific procedure / the early scientists, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, and Gilbert, have methods more like those of their modern brethren.

Kepler’s curve through the places of mars (22 hypothesis) – inductive reasoning.

“Lege, lege lege, labora, ora, et relege” / Read, read, read, find, pray, reread

. . .

The object of reasoning is to find out, from the consideration of what we already know, something else which we do not know. Consequently, reasoning is good if it be such as to give a true conclusion from true premises, and not otherwise / I is true that we do generally reason correctly by nature. But that is an accident; the true conclusion would remain true if we had no impulse to accept it; and the false one would remain false, though we could not resist the tendency to believe it.

Most of us, for example, are naturally more sanguine and hopeful than logic would justify.

That which determines us, from given premisses, to draw once inference rather than another, is some habit of mind, whether it be constitutional or acquired.

guiding principle of inference: Suppose, for example, that we observe that a rotating disk of copper quickly comes to rest when placed between the poles of a magnet, and we infer that this will happen with every disk of copper. The guiding principle is, that what is true of one piece of copper is true of another / A person in an unfamiliar field may behave like a ship in the open sea, with no one on board who understands the rules of navigation.

Almost any fact may serve as a guiding principle – so the subject must be limited / there are many facts that are assumed / In point of fact, the importance of what may be deduced from the assumptions involved in the logical question turns out to be greater than might be supposed – conceptions which are really products of logical reflection, without being readily seen to be so, mingle with our ordinary thoughts, and are frequently the the causes of great confusion

|    |     |

Ex. the conception of quality = A quality, as such, is never an object of observation. We can see that a thing is blue or green, but the quality of being blue and the quality of being green are not things which we see; they are products of logical reflection.

common-senese or thought is often imbued with that bad epithet metaphysical [metaphysics, a placement of texts – the books that come after the books on physics, a misreading/a misunderstanding, the science beyond the physical/the science of the immaterial (Andronicus of Rhodes/the eleventh scholar of the Peripatetic School- did Aristotle always walk as he taught?)]

. . .

belief and doubt

a dissimilarity between the sensation of doubting and the sensation of believing / what distinguishes doubt from belief? /Out beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions [the Old Man of the Mountain – Isma’ilism] / The feeling of believing is a more or less sure indication of there being established in our nature some habit which will determine our actions. Doubt never has such an effect.

doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state / belief is a calm and satisfactory state – we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe – both belief and doubt have positive effects

The irritation of doubt causes a struggle to attain a state of belief. I shall term this struggle Inquiry.

We may believe that we want more than an opinion, but a true opinion, but as soon as a firm belief is reached we are entirely satisfied, whether the belief be true or false. We seek for a belief that we think to be true.

That the settlement of opinion is the sole end of inquiry is a very important proposition. It sweeps away at once various vague and erroneous conceptions of proof.

The mere putting of a proposition into the interrogative form does not stimulate the mind to any struggle after belief. There must be a real and living doubt, and without this all discussion is idle.

the method of tenacity – a person may go through life, systematically keeping out of view all that might cause a change in his opinions – but this method will be unable to hold its ground in practice

Unless we make ourselves hermits, we shall necessarily influence each others opinions; so that the problem becomes how to fix belief, not in the individual, but in the community.

the consequences of allowing the will of the state or an institution to act instead of that of the individual (a historical method of upholding correct theological or political doctrines) / cruelties always accompany this system; and when it is consistently carried out, they become atrocities of the most horrible kind in the eyes of any rational man / the method of authority

. . .

a different new method / the action of natural preferences / propositions which are “agreeable to reason” – This is an apt expression; it does not mean that which agrees with experience, but that which we find ourselves inclined to believe / “Plato, for example, finds it agreeable to reason that the distances of the celestial spheres from one another should be proportional to the different lengths of strings which produce harmonious chords.” / agreeability is not a developed form of logic


[descartes: he is aiming at a kid of truth which saying so can make to be so. he makes God easier to know than anything else; for whatever we think He is, He is. he fails to remark that this is precisely the definition of a figment.]

[kant: geometrical propositions are held to be universally true. hence, they are not given by experience. consequently, it must be owing to an inward necessity of man’s nature that he sees everything in space. Ergo, the sum of the angles of a triangle will be equal to two right angles for all the objects of our vision – this is merely accepting without question a belief as soon as it is shown to please a great many people very much]

[hegel: He simply launches his boat into the current of thoughts and allows himself to be carried wherever the current leads. dialectic – a frank discussion of the difficulties to which any opinion spontaneously gives rise will lead to modification after modification until a tenable position is attained – a distinct profession of faith in the method of inclinations]

inquiry is not to be confused with the development of taste (the a priori method) – this method does not differ in a very essential way from that of authority.
. . .

To satisfy our doubts it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency – by something upon which our thinking has no effect. / Cannot just be individual – this is where science comes in.

the fundamental hypothesis of science: there are real things, whose character are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those Reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as are our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really and truly are; and any man, if he have sufficient experience and he reason enough about it, will be led to the one True conclusion. (reality – how do we know that there are any Reals?)

To describe the method of scientific investigation is the object of this series of papers. The contrast between it an other methods of fixing belief / a right and wrong way – I may start with known and observed facts to proceed to the unknown. . .the test of whether I am truly following the method is not an immediate appeal to my feelings and purposes, but, on the contrary, itself involves the application of the method. Hence it is that bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible; and this fact is the foundation of the practical side of logic.

[If liberty of speech is to be untrammelled from the grosser forms of constraint, then uniformity of opinion will be secured by a moral terrorism to which the respectability of society will give its thorough approval – Certain non-conformities are permitted; certain others (considered unsafe) are forbidden. These are different in different countries and in different ages; but, wherever you are, let it be known that you seriously hold a tabooed belief, and you may be perfectly sure of being treated with a cruelty less brutal but more refined than hunting you like a wolf] [It is impossible not to envy the man who can dismiss reason, although we know how it must turn out at last]

. . .

The genius of man’s logical method should be loved and reverenced as his bride, whom he has chosen from all the world.

. . .


. . .

clear and obscure conceptions / distinct and confused conceptions

(unimproved and unmodified for two centuries)


A CLEAR IDEA: one which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it / familiarity with an idea.

A DISTINCT IDEA: defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear / an idea is distinctly apprehended when we can give a precise definition of it, in abstract terms.

[It is easy to show that the doctrine that familiar use and abstract distinctness make the perfection of apprehension has its only true place in philosophies which have long been extinct; and it is now time to formulate the method of attaining to a more perfect clearness of thought, such as we see and admire in thinkers of out own time]

. . .

Descartes: permit skepticism, discard authority as the ultimate source of truth / passed from the method of authority to apriority (the human mind) / self-consciousness was to furnish us with our fundamental truths / ideas must seem clear at the outset and that a discussion must never make them more obscure

Leibniz: never understood that the machinery of the mind can only transform knowledge, but never originate it, unless it be fed with the facts of observation

(The most essential point of Cartesian philosophy: to accept propositions which seem perfectly evident to us is such a thing which, whether it be logical or illogical, we cannot help doing).

It was quite natural that on observing that the method of Descartes labored under the difficulty that we may seem to ourselves to have clear apprehensions of ideas which in truth are very hazy, no better remedy occurred to him than to require an abstract definition of every important term.

[It may be acknowledges, that the books are right in making familiarity with a notion the first step toward clearness of apprehension, and the defining of it the second. But in omitting all mention of any higher perspicuity of thought, they simply mirror a philosophy which was exploded a hundred years ago]

. . .

For an individual, there can be no question that a few clear ideas are worth more than many confused ones / It is terrible to see how a single unclear idea, a single formula without meaning, lurking in a young man’s head, will sometimes act like an obstruction of inert matter in an artery, hindering the nutrition of the brain, and condemning its victim to pine away in the fulness of his intellectual vigour and in the midst of intellectual plenty / an idea vanished –  like Melusina [a figure of European folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers / spinning yarns /


Remember: the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought. Doubt and belief are the start of any question, no matter how small or how great, and the resolution of it.

Feigned hesitancy, whether feigned for mere amusement or with a lofty purpose, plays a great part in the production of scientific inquiry.

Two sorts of objects, what we are immediately conscious of and what we are mediately conscious of, are found in all consciousness. Some elements (the sensations) are completely present at every instant so long as they last, while others (like thought) are actions having beginning, middle, and end, and consist in a congruence of the succession of sensations which flow though the mind / Thought is a thread of melody running through the succession of our sensations.

Thought in action has for its only possible motive the attainment of thought at rest; and whatever does not refer to belief is no part of the thought itself.

BELIEF: has three properties 1. it is something we are aware of; 2. it appeases the irritation of doubt; 3. it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or a habit / belief as thought at rest

Imaginary distinctions are often drawn between beliefs which differ only in their mode of expression.


ex. to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are thinking / instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially mysterious

ex. to mistake a mere difference in the grammatical construction of two words for a distinction between the ideas they express

. . .

the whole function of thought, again, is to produce habits of action / the identity of habit depends on how it might lead us to act – what the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act (when – every stimulus to action is derived from perception / how – every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result)

transubstantiation of wine: I desire to point out how impossible it is that we should have an idea in our minds which relates to anything but conceived sensible effects of things / Our idea of anything is our idea of its sensible effects; and if we fancy that we have any other we deceive ourselves, and mistake a mere sensation accompanying the thought for a part of the thought itself.

ANOTHER RULE: Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.

ex. what do we mean when we call a thing hard? – that it will not be scratched by many other substances / the whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects

Weight and Force

THE IDEA OF FORCE IN GENERAL: This is the greatest conception which, developed in the early part of the seventeenth century from the rude idea of a cause, and constantly improved upon since, has shown us how to explain all the changes of motion which bodies experience, and how to think about all physical phenomena; which has given birth to modern science, and changed the face of the globe; and which, aside from its more special uses, has played a principle part in directing the course of modern thought, and in furthering modern social development. It is therefore worth some pains to comprehend it.

the path: equal or added

the parallelogram of forces: a method for solving (or visualizing) the results of applying two forces to an object – a rule for compounding accelerations – represent the accelerations by paths and then to geometrically add the paths


. . .

Reality and Fiction

THE REAL: that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.

The only effect which real things have is to cause belief – how is true belief (belief in the real) distinguished from false belief (or belief in fiction)?

So deeply has the idea of loyalty replaced that of truthseeking / sometimes philosophers have been less intent on finding out what the facts are, than on inquiring what belief is most in harmony with their system / in contenting themselves with fixing their own opinions by a method which would lead another man to a different result, they betray their feeble hold of the conception of what truth is.

The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is real.


“Truth crashed to earth shall rise again”

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness in the desert air.

[Elegy written in a country churchyard – Thomas Gray]

Do these things not really exist because they are hopelessly beyond the reach of our knowledge? And then, after the universe is dead (according to the prediction of some scientists), and all life has ceased forever, will not the shock of atoms continue though there be no mind to know it? To this I reply that, though in no possible state of knowledge can any number be great enough to express the relation between the amount of what rests unknown to the amount of the known, yet it is unphilosophical to suppose that, with regard to any given question (which has any clear meaning), investigation would not bring forth a solution of it, if it were carried far enough. Who would have said a few years ago, that we could ever know of what substances stars are made whose light may have been longer in reaching us than the human race has existed? Who can be sure of what we shall not know in a few hundred years? Who can guess what would be the result of continuing the pursuit of science for ten thousand years, with the activity of the last hundred? And if it were to go on for a million, a billion, or any number of years you please, how is it possible to say that there is any question which might not ultimately be solved?



How to give birth vital and procreative ideas which multiply into a thousand forms and diffuse themselves everywhere, advancing civilization and making the dignity of man, is an art not reduced to rules, but of the secret of which the history of science affords some hints

. . .


. . .

Three types of people – those for whom the chief thing is: art, power, reason / “For men of the first class, nature is a picture; for men of the second class, it is an opportunity; for men of the third class, it is a cosmos, so admirable, that to penetrate to its ways seems to them the only thing that makes life worth living.”

the pursuit of science – it does not consist so much in knowing, nor even in “organized knowledge,” as it does in diligent inquiry into truth for truth’s sake, without any sort of axe to grind, nor for the sake of the delight of contemplating it, but from an impulse to penetrate into the reason of things. This is sense in which this book is entitled a History of Science. Science and philosophy seem to have been changed in their cradles. For it is not knowing, but the love of learning, that characterizes the scientific man; while the “philosopher” is a man with a system which he thinks embodies all that is best worth knowing.

. . .

When a man desires ardently to know the truth, his first effort will be to imagine what that truth can be  / it remains true that there is, after all, nothing but imagination that can ever supply an inkling of truth / the science of the imagination

the exaggerated regard for morality

Wherever there is a large class of academic professors who are provided with good incomes and looked up to as gentleman, scientific inquiry must languish. Wherever the bureaucrats are the more learned class, the case will be still worse.

. . .

The first questions which men ask about the universe are naturally the most general and abstract ones. Nor is it true, as has so often been asserted, that these are the most difficult questions to answer (a problem caused by Francis Bacon)

Mathematics – the most abstract of the sciences / no care for the truth of the postulate / mathematics created a confidence altogether unfounded in man’s power of eliciting truth by inward meditation without any aid from experience

confusion of a prior reason with conscience (ideas of right and wrong) – looking to science for a practical end – no reasoning required – no room for doubt which paralyzes action / “But the scientific spirit requires a man to be at all times ready to dump his whole cartload of beliefs, the moment experience is against them.” / Positive science can only rest on experience; and experience can never result in absolute certainty, exactitude, necessity, or universality. But it is precisely with the universal and necessary, that is, with Law, that [con]science concerns itself / Science is destroyed when made an adjunct of conduct

. . .

As morality supposes self-control, men learn that they must not surrender themselves unreservedly to any method, without considering to what conclusions it will lead them / But this is utterly contrary to the single-mindedness that is requisite in science.

The effect of this shamming is that men come to look upon reasoning as mainly decorative, or at most, as a secondary aid in minor matters – a view not together unjust, if questions of conduct are alone to interest us. They, therefore, demand that it shall be plain and facile. If in special cases, complicated reasoning is indispensable, they hire a professional to perform it. The result of this state of things is, of course, a rapid deterioration of intellectual vigour, very perceptible from one generation to the next. This is just what is taking place among us before our eyes; and to judge from the history of Constantinople, it is likely to go on until the race comes to a despicable end.

. . .

Kepler making Newton possible, differential calculus making Kepler possible and so on / True science is distinctively the study of useless things. For the useful things will get studied without the aid of scientific men. To employ these rare minds on such work is like running a steam engine by burning diamonds.

. . .

evolutionary theory : Darwin (changes in reproduction), Lamarck (changes not in reproduction – not fortuitous, but based on strivings of the individual), cataclysmal evolution (sudden changes in the environment occurring from time to time) / it is probably that all of these modes of evolution have acted  and they have parallels in other departments.

Examples of the Darwinian and Lamarckan methods / But this is not the way in which science mainly progresses / It advances by leaps; and the impulse for each leap is either some new observational resource, or some novel way of reasoning about the observations / ex. Pasteur – at the time of Pasteur, the medical world was dominated by Claude Bernard’s dictum that a disease is not an entity but merely a sum of symptoms / Scientific evolution does not occur from insensible steps

. . .


. . .

Our science is altogether middle-sized and mediocre. Its insignificance compared with the universe cannot be exaggerated.

. . .

Upon this first, and in one sense sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall in the city of philosophy:

Do not block the way of inquiry

Four familiar shapes in which this act occurs (often in metaphysics):

 1. The shape of absolute assertion [that we can be sure of nothing in science is an ancient truth] / Science has been infested with overconfident assertion, especially on the part of the third-rate and fourth-rate men, who have been more concerned with teaching than with learning

2. Maintaining that this, that, and the other thing can never be known / And when it comes to positive assertion that the truth never will be found out, that, in the light of the history of our time, seems to me more hazardous than the venture of Andree [remember: Dinner with Carl Andre]


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3. Maintaining that this, that, or the other element of science is basic, ultimate, independent of aught else, and utterly inexplicable – not so much from any defect in our knowing as because there is nothing beneath it to know.

4. The holding that this or that law or truth has found its last and perfect formulation – and especially that the ordinary and usual course of nature never can be broken through. “Stones do not gall from heaven” – Laplace

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. . .

All positive reasoning is the nature of judging the proportion of something in a whole collection by the proportion found in a sample / Accordingly, there are three things to which we can never hope to attain by reasoning, namely, absolute certainty, absolute exactitude, absolute universality.

. . .

the cases in which it is argued that there are other means to certainty outside of reasoning: of revelations, of the laws which are known to us a priori and the case of direct experience

On the whole, then, we cannot in any way reach perfect certitude nor exactitude. We never can be absolutely sure of anything, not can we with any probability ascertain the exact value of any measure or general ratio / THE DOCTRINE OF FALLIBILISM

a radicalism that tries experiments

It is a matter of real fact to say that in a certain room there are two persons. It is a matter of fact to say that each person has two eyes. It is a matter of fact to day that there are four eyes in the room. But to say that if there are two persons and each person has two eyes there will be four eyes is not a statement of fact, but a statement about the system of numbers which is our own creation.

. . .


. . .

Comte’s classification: once science depends upon another for fundamental principles, but does not furnish such principles to the other.

All science is either:

[two branches of science: Theoretical (whose purpose is simply and solely knowledge of God’s truth) and Practical (for the uses of life). Theoretical has two sub-branches, of which the science of discovery is one of them (which has three classes – Mathematics, Philosophy and Metaphysics – all resting on observation, but being observational in very different senses)

A. Science of Discovery:

1. Mathematics / studies what is and what is not logically possible / does not seeks to ascertain any matter of fact whatever, but merely posits hypothesis and traces out their consequences / it is observational in that it makes constructions in the imagination according to abstract precepts and then observes these imaginary objects, finding in them relations of parts not specified in the precept of construction / meddles with every other science without exception / There is no science whatever to which is not attached an application of mathematics / This is not true of any other science, since pure mathematics has no interest in whether a proposition is existentially true or not

a. the Mathematics of Logic

b. the Mathematics of a Discrete Series

c. the Mathematics of Continua and Psuedo-continua

2. Philosophy: is a positive science, in the sense of discovering what is really true (which can be inferred from common experience) / Bentham calls this class cenoscopic / observations from the range of every many’s normal experience / has its application in every other science / theoretic science

a. Phenomenology: ascertains and studies the kinds of elements universally present in phenomena, the phenomenon being whatever is present at any time to the mind in any way / the Doctrine of Categories / whose business it is to unravel the tangled skein of all that in any sense appears and wind it into distinct forms – to make the ultimate analysis of all experiences the first task which philosophy has to apply itself/ the ability to seize clouds, vast and intangible, to set them in orderly array, to put them through their exercises /

b. Normative Science: distinguished what ought to be from what ought not to be – a dualistic distinction / closely related to the fine art, the conduct of life, and the art of reasoning / what does normative mean in this instance – although these sciences study what out to be, i.e. ideals, they are theoretical / “La vraie morale se moque de la morale” (Pascal – True morality mocks morality) /

i. Esthetics: the science of ideals or of that which is objectively admirable without any ulterior reason

ii. Ethics: the science of right and wrong, determining the summum bonum (“the highest good”, which was introduced by Cicero) / self-controlled, deliberate conduct

iii. Logic: the theory of self-controlled, deliberate thought / all thought being performed by means of signs, logic may be regarded as the science of the general laws of signs.

aa. Speculative Grammar: the general theory of the nature and meaning of signs, whether they be icons, indices, or symbols.

bb. Critic: classifies arguments and determines the validity and degree force of each kind

cc. Methodeutic: which studies the methods that ought to be pursued in the investigation, in the exposition, and in the application of truth.

c. Metaphysics: seeks to give an account of the universe of the mind and matter / this attitude toward the universe is nearly that of the special sciences (anciently, physical was its designation) / confines itself to parts pf physics and psychics as can be established without special means of observation

i. General metaphysics or ontology

ii. Psychical or Religious metaphysics: concerned chiefly with the questions of God, Freedom, and Immortality

iii. Physical Metaphysics: discusses the real nature of time, space, laws of nature, matter, etc.

3. Idioscopy / the special sciences, about special classes of positive phenomena, and settling theoretical issues by special experiences or experiments / the accumulation of new facts / another term of Bentham’s / depend of special observation ex. travel or other exploration or some assistance to the senses either instrumental or given by training power / Every department of idioscopy is based upon special observation, and only resorts to philosophy in order that certain obstacles to its proper special observational inquiries may be cleared out of the way

a. the Physical Sciences (physiognosy) : physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geognosy / efficient causation /

b. the Psychical or Human Sciences (psychognosy) : psychology, linguistics, ethnology, sociology, history, etc. / final causation

i. Nomological Psychics or Psychology: discovers the general elements and laws of mental phenomenon

ii. Classificatory Psychics or Ethnology: classifies products of mind and endeavors to explain them on psychological principles

iii. Descriptive Psychics or History: describes individual manifestations of mind, whether they be permanent works or actions

B. Science of Review: the business of those who occupy themselves with arranging the results of discovery – forming a philosophy of science, perhaps

C. Practical Science

. . .

How do we classify the sciences of the remote future?

. . .

[Aristotle and Causation: In several places Aristotle distinguishes four types of cause, or explanation. First, he says, there is that of which and out of which a thing is made, such as the bronze of a statue. This is called the material cause. Second, there is the form or pattern of a thing, which may be expressed in its definition; Aristotle’s example is the proportion of the length of two strings in a lyre, which is the formal cause of one note’s being the octave of another. The third type of cause is the origin of a change or state of rest in something; this is often called the “efficient cause.” Aristotle gives as examples a person reaching a decision, a father begetting a child, a sculptor carving a statue, and a doctor healing a patient. The fourth and last type of cause is the end or goal of a thing—that for the sake of which a thing is done. This is known as the “final cause.”]

For Aristotle all causation divides into two grand branches, the efficient or forceful and the idea or final

. . .

CONFUSION: classes, natural classes,  etc [pp 63-64]

. . .

The sciences are, in part, produced each from others, but this is not the whole genesis of the science, it has its own peculiar problem springing from an idea / ex. That geometry derived its birth from land surveying is the tradition, which is borne out by the tradition that it took its origin in Egypt where the yearly floods must have rendered accurate surveying of special importance

All natural classification is then essentially, we may almost say, an attempt to find out the true genesis of the objects classified / Genesis is production from ideas / A science is defined by its problem; and its problem is clearly formulated on the basis of abstractor science

. . .

observation and observational

. . .

“Is physical space hyperbolic, that is, infinite and limited, or is is elliptic, that is finite and unlimited? Only the exact measurements of the start can decide. Yet even with them the question cannot be answered without recourse to philosophy.”

. . .

Kant’s parallel between philosophy and architecture

Wherever the arbitrary and the individualistic is particularly prejudicial, there logical deliberation, or discourse of reason, must be allowed as much play as possible

. . .


How many people have thought about what’s next? / There is no future, there’s no past, and maybe there’s no present either / Just as dignity is a quality made by individuals, so is presentness / No one agrees, except on the status quo, and they are not going to think enough even to intelligently disagree, much less agree on something new and constructive (Judd, “In addition”)

Other fragments:

They’re a rowboat under the superstructure of an aircraft carrier / a substitute society / the animal should thank the butcher for the axe



By the term architectonic I mean the art of constructing a system. Without systematic unity, our knowledge cannot become science; it will be an aggregate, and not a system. Thus architectonic is the doctrine of the scientific in cognition, and therefore necessarily forms part of our methodology.

Reason cannot permit our knowledge to remain in an unconnected and rhapsodistic state, but requires that the sum of our cognitions should constitute a system (various cognitions under one idea).

THE RELATIONSHIP OF PARTS TO A WHOLE: The unity of the end, to which all the parts of the system relate, and through which all have a relation to each other, communicates unity to the whole system, so that the absence of any part can be immediately detected from our knowledge of the rest / It is, thus, like an animal body, the growth of which does not add any limb, but, without changing their proportions, makes each in its sphere stronger and more active.

. . .


. . .

I. The domain of Phenomenology

Phaneroscopy [or Phenomenology] is the description of the phaneron; and by the phaneron I mean the collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the mind, quite regardless of whether it corresponds to any real thing or not / English philosophers have quite commonly used the word idea in a sense approaching to that which I give to the phaneron. But in various ways they have restricted the meaning of it too much to cover my conception

phaneros “visible, showable”

Phaneroscopy signalizes very broad classes of phanerons, describes the features of each, shows that although they are so inextricably mixed together that no on can be isolated, yet it is manifest that their characters are quite disparate, proves that a short list comprises the broadest categories of phanerons that there are, and then enumerates the principle subdivisions of these categories

[The student’s great effort is not to be influenced by any such tradition, any authority, any reasons for supposing that such and such ought to be the facts, or any fancies of any kind, and to confine himself to honest, single-minded observation of the appearances. The reader, upon his side, must repeat the author’s observations for himself, and decide from his own observations whether the author’s account of the appearances is correct or not.]

2. The Categories: Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness

My view is that there are three modes of being.

What is actuality? / then and there? / the actuality of an event seems to lie in its relations to the universe of other existents / actuality if brute – there is no reason in it / On the whole, I think that we have a mode of being of one thing which consists in how a second object is.

sui generis : unique

Firstness: 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 [firstness is only 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 in relation with others. Comprises the quality of phenomena:

[red, bitter, tedious, hard, heartrending, noble]

things or sensations?

Wherever there is a phenomenon there is a quality / single but partial determinations

Secondness: the actual facts / the qualities (their firstness), in so far as they are general, are somewhat vague and potential. But an occurrence is perfectly individual [a perfectly individual occurrence – not just red, but the red of your sweater] /  facts resist our will, that is why we describe them as brutal – mere qualities, unmaterialized, cannot actually react or cause a sensation / we only know the potential through the actual an only infer qualities by generalization from what we perceive in matter : quality is one element of phenomena, and fact action, actuality is another

Thirdness: the predictive nature of life / a rule to which future events tend to conform / the mode of being which consists in the fact that future facts of Secondness will take on a determinate general  character, I call a Thirdness : a law or a thought, or neither : this third category of phenomena consists of what we call laws when we contemplate them from the outside only, but which when we see both sides of the shield we call thoughts / thoughts are neither qualities nor facts (not qualities because they can be produced and grow, while a quality is eternal, independent of time and of any realization – thoughts have reason)

3. The Manifestations of the Categories

. . .




Gardens and the Picturesque / John Dixon Hunt


[Introduction: Reading and Writing the Site]

1. How do we process the so-called natural or physical world for our consumption; 2. gardens as an art of milieu; 3. cultural translation; 4. the readability of gardens and landscapes

The Roman writer Cicero termed what we would call the cultural landscape a second nature (alteram naturam) / bridges, roads, harbors, fields / the garden – una terza natura / annexes to the sublime / pictorialized topographies

[Emblem and Expression in the Eighteenth-Century Landscape Garden ]

apsidal shapes

Three Sisters or Three New Graces / joint enterprise / deities and heroes in the woods and lawns / “natural cascades have been disfigured with river gods and columns erected only to receive quotations / the melancholy cypress / emblematical vs. expressive / “wherein are expressed various images of virtues, vices, passions, arts, humours, elements, and celestial bodies” / Elysian Fields at Stowe


Subjects and Sequences: A Margaret Tait Reader


. . .

Film Poems


Also – See Peter Todd

. . .

“The Margaret Tate years” by Ali Smith


Margaret Tait knew that things, lives, art, are lost to us all the time.

What characterizes her poetry and her films is empathy, an openness to the moment of being alive and to the life of things beyond and synchronic with the self, and an honesty at one level brusque and at another near brutal, keen to shake things apart to see how things are put together.

It’s the looking that matters,

The being prepared to see what there is to see…

Botanically detaching petals that maybe should

            be left alone

And roughly shattering things, too, to see

            what’s there

– Margaret Tait, “Seeing’s Believing and Believing’s Seeing”

. . .

  1. Finally, in her seventies, Tait was able to make her first feature film, from a script she’d been working on since the 1940s (Blue Black Permanent).

. . .

Green space, birdsong, leaves on grass, the movement of light, as if to suggest that that’s what work really is…The place of work, as happens so often in Tait’s films, gives way to the garden. (Place of Work).

[it’s] images are reverberative (Where I am is Here).


meaning lies in free association / the fall of a feather, the making of a structure out of random stones (Three Portrait Sketches)

Lorca – Don Luis de Gongora – stalking the image

“our customary visible order is not the only one: it co-exists with others” – John Berger, The Shape of a Pocket

. . .

“Where I am is here: a patchwork for Margaret Tait / A celebration, an argument, some voices” by Gareth Evans

maintenant – hand holding

film as landscape and topography

“Every individual does penance for separation from the boundless.” – Anaximander, On Nature

anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long

. . .

“In her own words”

everything treated equally



The Appian Way


. . .

This Latin city (Aricia) played a role of considerable political and religious importance for the whole territory. In fact it was a provincial center for the local populations, as administrator of the goddess Diana Nemorensis, to whom the temple by Lake Nemi was devoted.

In archaic times the gods were worshipped in natural settings. The wood (nemus), once consecrated took on the connotation of lucus (sacred wood), where the faithful would come to perform rites and bring offerings to the deity. The sacredness of the place was defined by its seclusion and the protective covering of dense vegetation. Such was the case of the sacred woof of Diana Nemorensis (from nemus),  as well as the wood of Feronia near the crag of Leono and the wood of the nymph Marica near Minturno. Usually, some time after the consecration of the site, a temple in simple forms, devoted to the deity, was built inside the sacred area. At times the sanctuaries were also situated on heights , as was the case with the Temple of Jupiter Latiaris on the Albanus Mons (Monte Cavo), where the people of Latium used to congregate.

The sacredness of the Sanctuary of Diana is perpetuated in the Park of Palazzo Chigi, which constitutes the last shred of the nemus aricium devoted to Diana. Ovid described the wood as shady and possessed of a lake, “lacus antiqua religione sacer” while Strabo pointed out that the lucus included all the woods on the left-hand side of the Appian Way and surrounded Lake Nemi. The suggestiveness of the place fascinated poets like Martial, who called it “wood of the Muses,” and Goethe, who passed through it on his “Italian Journey.”

The right to succession for the office of priest of the goddess (rex Nemorensis) was earned only by victory in a duel, by actually killing the reigning priest. A very ancient tradition explains this odd custom. Near the sanctuary, there was a tree whose branches one was forbidden to remove. If, however, someone managed  to tear one off, he could fight the priest of the goddess; if he should kill the priest, the victor would take his place as rex Nemorensis. The rite is explained in the Greek fashion by a myth: Orestes supposedly brought it to Nemi, having fled there after killing the king of Chersonesos (Thrace) and spiriting away an effigy of Diana.

Thus was born the famous Sanctuary of the Goddess Diana at Lake Nemi, initially frequented by Latin populations in league together against Rome’s expansionist aims, and later, by Romans themselves and Latins, up until the Imperial era. Although its current vestiges date from the last building phase in the second century B.C., there is evidence of the cult in that area as early as the mid-sixth century B.C.,  when Etruscan dominion first went into decline. The three chambers of the temple must have held three effigies of the deity, each of which was supposed to represent Diana Nemorensis in her triple role of protectress of the hunt and the woods, goddess of the underworld, and goddess of fertility.

When Lake Nemi was drained in 1929, two boats that had been anchored there by the emperor Caligula (37-41 A.D.) were found on the bottom, almost two thousand years after they were launched. They were in fact two elegant houseboats, designed for feasts, receptions, banquets, and holidays on the water.

Suetonius recounts that Caligula “had [several] Liburnian boats built, with ten rows of oars and gem-covered sterns, polychrome sails, with hot baths, arcades, vast tricliniums, and even a great variety of grapevines and fruit trees. He used to sail the shores of Campania on these vessels, lying down all day long, amidst dancing and music.”

The boats’ dimensions were out of the ordinary: One of them measured 73 meters long and 24 meters wide; the other, 71.30 by 20. The flatbottomed hulls were so well preserved that as soon as they were brought to the surface, they were put to use for the study of shipbuilding techniques among the ancients.

Unfortunately, the boats burned during World War II, and the local museum now has only faithful reproductions and a very few surviving remnants.



James Benning: Decoding Fear


juxtaposes objects, images, and associations – “the fascination of the individual trying to oppose the mighty and defining”


. . .

“James Benning: Romanticism and Enlightenment” by Diedrich Diederichsen

Each of Benning’s film – often meticulous as they are subtle, with strictly enforced observed, self-imposed laws and tasks – show a certain consistency regardless of content. This has to do with composition principles, which are also immediately recognizable and come across as typical and related even if the length of the shot is relatively short.

. . .

[the idea the cinema is more objective than visual arts is bogus – “cinema requires work with certain tools of the trade, as manufactured by industries and specialized establishments” – this distinction between cinema and visual art is only partially verifiable and only in particulars not as a generalization.]

[why is cinema a more social act then writing a diary or publishing a book for educative purposes? why do we consider Thoreau and Kaczinski anti-social? how do we really know the true anti-social person?  does this person exist?]


William James: Some Problems of Philosophy


[Chapter 1: Philosophy and it’s Critics]

The principles of explanation that underlie all things without exception, the elements common to gods and men and animals and stones, the first whence
and the last whither of the whole cosmic procession, the conditions of all knowing, and the most general rules of human action these furnish the problems commonly deemed philosophic par excellence; and the philosopher is the man who finds the most to say about them.

. . .

explanation not description

. . .

Philosophy, beginning in wonder, as Plato and Aristotle said, is able to fancy everything different from what it is…It can take things up and lay then down again.

. . .

the doctrine of signatures [+ signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. ] [ep 3, Ulysses]

. . .

the lodestone and the peacock


the proportionality of v to t and to t.

[Precious or beautiful things had exceptional properties. Peacock’s flesh resisted putrefaction. The lodestone would drop the iron which it held if the superiorly powerful diamond was brought near, etc. — and then Galileo]

. . .

There was no question of agencies, nothing animistic or sympathetic in this new way of taking nature. It was description only, of concomitant variations, after the particular quantities that varied had been successfully abstracted out. The result soon showed itself in a differentiation of human knowledge into two spheres, one called Science, within which the more definite laws apply, the other General Philosophy/ in which they do not. The state of mind called positivistic is the result.

. . .

To assume…that the only possible philosophy must be mechanical and mathematical, and to disparage all enquiry into the other sorts of question, is to forget the extreme diversity of aspects under which reality undoubtedly exists.

. . .

hypothesis and verification

. . .

[Chapter 2: The Problems of Metaphysics]

It means the discussion of various obscure, abstract, and universal questions which the sciences and life in general suggest but do not solve; questions left over, as it were; questions, all of them very broad and deep, and relating to the whole of things, or to the ultimate elements thereof.


left                                                 over

what can I know? what should I do? what may I hope?   [kant’s three essential metaphysical questions – what metaphysics answers]

. . .

a very tender section: This book proposes to handle only a few separate problems, leaving others untouched. These problems are for the most part real;
that is, but few of them result from a misuse of terms in stating them. Things for example, are or are not composed of one stuff ; they either have or have
not a single origin; they either are or are not completely predetermined, etc. Such alternatives may indeed be impossible of decision; but until this is conclusively proved of them, they confront us legitimately, and some one must take charge of them and keep account of the solutions that are proposed, even if he does not himself add new ones. The opinions of the learned regarding them must, in short, be classified and responsibly discussed.

. . .


. . .

[Chapter 3: The Problem of Being]


. . .

“The philosophic wonder thus becomes a sad astonishment, and like the overture to Don Giovanni, philosophy begins with a minor chord.” – Schopenhauer

. . .

from nothing to being there is no logical bridge…the absolute first…the question of being is the darkest in all philosophy (pp 46)

. . .

[Chapter 4: Percept and Concept – The Import of Concepts]

the difference between thought and things (things are known to us by our senses {presentations/percept}, thoughts or ideas are {representations/concept}

“I myself have grown accustomed to the words percept and concept in treating of the contrast, but concepts flow out of percepts and into them again, they are so interlaced, and our life rests on them so interchangeably and undiscriminatingly, that it is often difficult to impart quickly to beginners a clear notion of the difference meant. Sensation and thought in man are mingled, but they vary independently.” pp 47

percepts are CONTINUOUS [many parts with an unbroken unity], concepts are DISCRETE  [the cuts we make are purely ideal]- “Not discrete in their being, for conception as an act is part of the flux of feeling, but discrete from each other in their several meanings…The perceptual flux as such, on the contrary, means nothing, and is but what it immediately is.”

“The intellectual life of man consists almost wholly in his substitution of a conceptual order for the perceptual order in which his experience originally comes.”

our legs to walk with


the platonic view: “every delightful thing is like a rift in the clouds, through which we catch a glimpse of our native heaven” —- ” Such concepts as God, perfection, eternity, infinity, immutability, identity, absolute beauty, truth, justice, necessity, freedom, duty, worth, etc., and the part they play in our mind, are, it was supposed, impossible to explain as results of practical experience [RATIONALISM]

. . .

self-sufficing revelations, universals


the significance of concepts consists always in their relation to perceptual particulars – the concept coalescing with the percept


“It is possible therefore, to join the rationalists in allowing conceptual knowledge to be self-sufficing, while at the same time one joins the empiricists in maintaining that the full value of such knowledge is got only by combining it with perceptual reality again.” (pp 58)

. . .

concepts: function vs content

THE PRAGMATIC RULE: “The pragmatic rule is that the meaning of a concept may always be found, if not in some sensible particular which it directly designates, then in some particular difference in the course of human experience which its being true will make. Test every concept by the question
What sensible difference to anybody will its truth make? and you are in the best possible position for understanding what it means and for discussing its importance…So many disputes in philosophy hinge upon ill-defined words and ideas, each side claiming its own word or idea to be true, that any accepted method of making meanings clear must be of great utility. No method can be handier of application than our pragmatic rule.”

“If you claim that any idea is true, assign at the same time some difference that its being true will make in some possible person’s history, and we shall know not only just what you are really claiming but also how important an issue it is, and how to go to work to verify the claim.” [FUNCTION]

“particular consequences are the only criterion of a concept s meaning, and the only test of its truth.”

{infinite : as many units in the part as in the whole / God: you can dismiss certain kinds of fear}

. . .

“With concepts we go in quest of the absent, meet the remote, actively turn this way or that, bend our experience, and make it tell us whither it is bound. We change its order, run it backwards, bring far bits together and separate near bits, jump about over its surface instead of plowing through its continuity, string its items on as many ideal diagrams as our mind can frame. All these are ways of handling the perceptual flux and meeting distant parts of it.” (pp 64)

harnessing perceptual reality in our concepts in order to drive it better to our ends

. . .

the necessary cat (look at the causes) / a topographic system, a system of the distribution of things

. . .

a theoretic conquest over the order in which nature originally comes – the exaltation of conception

“poor scraps, mere crumbling successes” /  the ideal vs the particular (the sordid particulars)

What do concepts do?:

1. They steer us practically every day, and provide an immense map of relations among the elements of things, which, though not now,
yet on some possible future occasion, may help to steer us practically;

2. They bring new values into our perceptual life, they reanimate our wills, and make our action turn upon new points of emphasis ;

3. The map which the mind frames out of them is an object which possesses, when once it has been framed, an independent existence. It suffices all by itself for purposes of study. The eternal truths it contains would have to be acknowledged even were the world of sense annihilated.

[what is better to live or to understand life][We must do both alternately, and a man can no more limit him self to either than a pair of scissors can cut with
a single one of its blades.]

. . .

[Chapter 5: Percept and Concept – The Abuse of Concepts]

the senses (organs of wavering illusion) / the insuperability of sensation

. . .

All conceptual content is borrowed: to know what the concept color means you must have seen red or blue, or green.

Rationalism assumes a static reality.

. . .

Many physicists now think that the concepts of matter, mass, atom, ether, inertia, force, etc. are not so much duplicates of hidden realities in nature as mental instruments to handle nature by after-substitution of their scheme. They are considered, like the kilogram or the imperial yard, ‘artefacts,’ not revelations.

Use concepts when they help, and drop them when they hinder understanding; and take reality bodily and integrally up into philosophy in exactly the perceptual shape in which it comes. pp 95

The deeper features of reality are found only in perceptual experience. Here alone do we acquaint ourselves with continuity, or the immersion of one thing in another, here alone with self, with substance, with qualities, with activity in its various modes, with time, with cause, with change, with novelty, with tendency, and with freedom.

. . .

[Chapter 6: Percept and Concept – Some Corollaries]

Empiricism proceeds from parts to wholes – each part fundamental to the order of being and the order of knowledge – parts are percepts built into wholes by conceptual additions. Percepts are constantly changing – always in flux – concrete novelty. This novelty cannot be described conceptually because concepts deal with what has already been seen or given – actual novelty therefore escapes conceptual treatment  (post-mortem preparation) altogether.

. . .

Empiricist philosophy renounces the pretension to an all-inclusive vision – it stays inside the flux of life expectantly, recording facts, not formulating laws, and never pretending that man’s relation to the totality of things as a philosopher is essentially different from his relation to the parts of things as a daily patient or agent in the practical current of events. Philosophy, like life, must keep the doors and windows open.

Reality is created temporally day by day / What is it to be “real”? / anything is real of which we find ourselves obliged to take account in any way / Concepts are thus as real as percepts, for we cannot live a moment without taking account of them. But the eternal kind of being which they enjoy is inferior to the temporal kind, because it is so static and schematic and lacks so many characters which temporal reality possesses.

Many realms of mutually interpenetrating realities.

The world we practically live in is one in which it is impossible, except by theoretic retrospection, to disentangle the contributions of intellect from those of sense.

. . .

[Chapter 7: The One and the Many]

This doctrine rationalism opposes, contending that the whole is fundamental, that the parts derive from it and all belong with one another, that the separations we uncritically accept are illusory, and that the entire universe, instead of being a sum, is the only genuine unit in existence, constituting (in the words often quoted from d Alembert) un seul fait et une grande verite.

pluralism (distributive) vs. monism (collective): Monism must mean that all such apparent disconnections
are bridged over by some deeper absolute union in which it believes, and this union must in some way be more real than the practical separations that appear upon the surface.

mysticism vs. substance

Suppose there is a oneness in things, what may it be known-as? What differences to you and me will it make? -We must seek something better in the way of oneness than this susceptibility of being mentally considered together, and named by a collective noun. What connections may be perceived concretely or in point of fact, among the parts of the collection abstractly designated as our world ?

. . .

Kinds of oneness

Total unity – the sum of many partial unities – the world is “one” in some respects and “many” in others

. . .

[Chapter 8: The One and the Many – Values and Defects]

Problems with absolute idealism: it does not account for our finite consciousness; it creates a problem of evil (if perfection is the source, how is there imperfection?); contradicts reality as perceptually experienced; it is fatalistic.

free will means nothing more than real novelty

But pluralism, accepting a universe unfinished, with doors and windows open to possibilities uncontrollable in advance, gives us less religious certainty than monism, with its absolutely closed-in world. pp 141

. . .

Pluralism, on the other hand, is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but melioristic, rather.

. . .

The advantages of pluralism: it is more scientific; it agrees with the moral and dramatic expressiveness of life; it is very hard to prove monism.

[Chapter 9: The Problem of Novelty]

considering the parts rather than the whole

an originality exist? / “The same returns not, save to bring the different” – Time keeps budding into new moments, every one of which presents a content which in its individuality never was before and never will be again.

. . .

Can our earth ever cover itself again with those gigantic ferns, those immense equisetaceans, in the midst of which the same antediluvian monsters will crawl and wallow as they did of yore? (J. Delbceuf: Revue Philosophique, vol. ix, p. 138 (1880).

. . .

New men and women, books, accidents, events, inventions, enterprises, burst unceasingly upon the world.

. . .

the possibility of novelty the question of the infinite

. . .

[Chapter 10: Novelty and the Infinite – The Conceptual View]

discontinuity theory: the law of the “threshold” /experience – no content, no change or content and change / experience in buds and drops of perception

the problem of the infinite: how can the finite know the infinite? Zeno’s Paradox – If a flying arrow occupies at each point of time a determinate point of space its motion becomes nothing but a sum of rests, for it exists not, out of any point; and in the point it doesn’t move. Motion cannot truly occur as thus discretely constituted. Achilles Paradox – Suppose Achilles to racewith a tortoise, and to move twice as fast as his rival, to whom he gives an inch of headstart. By the time he has completed that inch,or in other words advanced to the tortoise’s starting point, the tortoise is half an inch ahead of him. While Achilles is traversing that half inch, the tortoise is traversing a quarter of an inch, etc. So that the successive points occupied by the runners simultaneously form a convergent series of distances
from the starting point of Achilles. Each time that Achilles gets to the tortoise s last point it is but to find that the tortoise has already moved to a further point; and although the interval between the points quickly grows infinitesimal, it is mathematically impossible that the two racers should reach any one point at the same moment.

Kant – Any existent reality is countable, a definite number is applicable / infinity is that which defies complete enumeration / if an effect be given (ex. a certain date), then the whole series of causes must have been given (ex. the previous dates before the given date).

Renouvier – absolute novelties, unmediated beginnings, gifts, chance, freedom and acts of faith.

. . .

[Chapter 12: Novelty and Causation – The Conceptual View]


the principle of causality : the effect always exists in the cause, therefore the effect cannot be absolutely novel

the first definite inquiry into causes was made by Aristotle – the why of anything is furnished by four principles: 1. the material cause of it (when bronze makes a statue); 2. the formal cause (when the ratio of two to one makes an octave); 3. the efficient cause (as when a father makes a child); 4. the final cause (as when one exercises for health).

the efficient cause : that which produces something else by a real activity proceeding from itself – the view of common sense : 1. no effect can come into being without a cause; 2.the effect is always proportionate to the cause, and the cause to the effect; 3. whatever is in the effect must in some way, whether formally (cause resembles the effect), virtually (the cause involves the effect but does not resemble it – “as when an artist causes a statue but possesses not himself its beauty), or eminently (the cause, though unlike the effect is superior to it in perfection “as when a man overcomes a lion’s strength by cunning), have been also in the cause

Nemo dat quod non habet, literally meaning “no one gives what he doesn’t have”

Each moment in its totality causes the next moment – if successive moments of the universe be causally connected, no genuine novelty leaks in

. . .

occasionalism / descartes (mental and physical substance, the one consisting purely of thought, the other purely of extension, were absolutely dissimilar. Any such causal intercourse between mind and body is irrational.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 3.50.10 PM

“For thinkers of that age, ‘God’ was the great solvent of absurdities.” / Leibnitz freed God from the duty of lending all this hourly assistance.

. . .

[Chapter 13: Novelty and Causation – The Perceptual View]

In nature’s numerous successions so many links are hidden, that we seldom know exactly which antecedent is unconditional or which is close. Often the cause which we name only fits some other cause for producing the phenomenon.



Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure  : Edward Carpenter


“The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilisation, or is he past it, and mastering it?” – Whitman

: We find ourselves to-day in the midst of a somewhat peculiar state of society, which we call Civilisation, but which even to the most optimistic among us does not seem altogether desirable. :

no recovery – arrested

Disease : For as in the body disease arises from the loss of the physical unity which constitutes Health, and so takes the form of warfare or discord between the various parts, or of the abnormal development of individual organs, or the consumption of the system by predatory germs and growths; so in our modem life we find the unity gone which constitutes true society, and in its place warfare of classes and individuals, abnormal development of some to the detriment of others, and consumption of the organism by masses of social parasites.

. . .

Civilisation – a historical stage, commencing from the division of society into classes founded on property and the adoption of class-government

nations policies (policemanised nations) as a substitute for civilised nations / “for perhaps there
is no better or more universal mark of the period we are considering, and of its social degradation, than the appearance of the crawling phenomenon in question”

Our unrest is the penalty we pay for our wider life.

That each human soul however bears within itself some kind of reminiscence of a more harmonious and perfect state of being, which it has at times experienced, seems to me a conclusion difficult to avoid; and this by itself might give rise to manifold traditions and myths.

. . .

Disease as loss of unity / Health as unity (health, whole, holy) / heal, hallow, hale, holy, whole, wholesome / hal to breath – inhale, exhale [thy faith hath made thee whole]

The idea seems to be a positive one—a condition of the body in which it is an entirety, a unity—a central force maintaining  that condition; and disease being the break-up—or break-down—of that entirety into multiplicity. The peculiarity about our modem conception of Health is that it seems to be a purely negative one.

Health has become the absence of disease.

Disease as the establishment of an insubordinate centre – a boil, a tumor, the introduction and spread of a germ with innumerable progeny throughout the system, the enlargement out of all reason of an existing organ. Mental disease – when any passion asserts itself as an independent centre of thought and action.

The person within the person. The person must rule or disappear (a walking stomach for example). A person is no organ, resides in no organ, but is the central life ruling and radiating among all organs, and assigning them their parts to play.

Disease is the break-up of unity, its entirety into multiplicity.

Health is a positive thing, and not a mere negation of disease.

Wait upon the shining forth of this inward sun, give free access and welcome to its rays of love, and free passage for them into the common world around you, and it may be you will get to know more about health than all the books of medicine contain, or can tell you.

It is (as a rule) only seen where disease is ; it writes enormous tomes on disease ; it induces disease in animals (and even men) for the purpose of studying it ; it knows, to a marvelous extent, the symptoms of disease, its nature, its causes, its goings out and its comings in ; its eyes are perpetually fixed on disease, till disease (for it) becomes the main fact of the world and the main object of its worship.

And as to the treatment of a disease so introduced there are obviously two methods : one
is to reinforce the central power till it is sufficiently strong of itself to eject the insubordinate elements and restore order ; the other is to attack the malady from outside and if possible destroy it—(as by doses and decoctions)—independently of theinner vitality, and leaving that as it was before. The first method would seem the best, most durable and effective ; but it is difficult and slow. It consists in the adoption of a healthy life, bodily and mental, and will be spoken of later on. The second may be characterised as the medical method, and is valuable, or rather I should be inclined to say, will be valuable, when it has found its place, which is to be subsidiary to the first.

. . .

In order to realise what Health is, how splendid and glorious a possession, he must go throuh all the long negative experience disease ; in order to know the perfect social life, to understand what power and happiness to mankind are involved in their true relation to each other, he must learn the misery and suffering which come from mere individualism and greed ; and in order to find his true Manhood, to discover what a wonderful power it Is, he must first lose it—he must become a prey and a slave to his own passions and desires—whirled away like Phaethon by the horses which he cannot control.

parenthesis in human progress

the influence of property draws people away from 1. nature; 2. from their true self; 3. from their fellows.

Government – the preservation of the body politic by artificial means / The true Democracy has yet to come / inward rule, the rule of the Mass-man in each unit-man

There is another point worth noting as characteristic of the civilisation-period. This is the abnormal development of the abstract intellect in comparison with the physical senses on the one hand, and the moral sense on the other / ghosts of things  (Thomas Carlyle)/ a veil of insubstantial thought

. . .

a return to nature and the community of human life / giving up the dense and impenetrable hedge / an unclothing

The life of the open air, familiarity with the winds and waves, clean and pure food, the companionship of the animals—the very wrestling with the great Mother for his food—all these things will tend to restore that relationship which man has so long disowned ; and the consequent instreaming of energy into his system will carry him to perfections of health and radiance of being at present unsuspected

cleanness through eating



Rudolf II and His World: A Study in Intellectual History 1576-1612 by R.J.W. Evans



Rudolf (1552-1612) remains a strange fugitive figure (the dramatist Grillparzer’s portrait of Rudolf)

Three Rudolfs: 1. the feeble, unstable, and impoverished monarch who began his reign by succeeding to a glamorous political inheritance but ended it a prisoner in his own castle, powerless in the Empire, evicted from Austria and Hungary, deposed even in Bohemia, where he was forced to endure the coronation tumult of his detested brother; 2. The second Rudolf is a great Maecenas, the protector of the arts and sciences, of Arcimboldo and Spranger, Kepler and Tycho Brahe (Maecenas – cultural minister at the time of Octavian); 3. The third Rudolf is different again, and seemingly much less edifying. He is a notorious patron of occult learning, who trod the paths of secret knowledge with an obsession bordering on madness.

Universalist striving of the age – preservation of the mental and political unity of Christendom, to avoid religious schism, uphold peace at home, and deliver Europe form the Ottoman menace / The decades around 1600 saw a broader cultural change: the decline of Latin Humanism and the rise of Baroque, the sinking of an old world-view and the beginning of the seventeenth-century intellectual revolution / They believed that the world of men and the world of nature were linked by hidden sources of knowledge, and that the problems of alchemy, astrology, or the Hermetic texts were proper subjects for learned investigations / The stability of Central Europe and of Bohemia in particular, was thus being undermined on two levels: by the breakdown of an inherited political harmony which issued in the first total European war, set in motion through that defenestration from the royal palace in Prague; and by the decline of a scheme of mental harmony under attack from narrower empirical scientific ideas.

The conflict which played itself out in the Habsburg lands during those years was a political reflection of the whole intellectual confrontation between acceptance of nature and domination over it.

. . .

[Chapter 1: The Habsburgs, Bohemia, and the Empire]

The history of the Holy Roman Empire from the Peace of Augsburg to the Defenestration of Prague has traditionally been seen as the uneasy prelude to a holocaust of hitherto unparalleled violence and destruction.

cuius regio eius religio – Whose realm, His religion / for the first time ‘parties’ began to emerge on confessional lines – a weight of particularism / The background to this complicated picture of superficial calm but inexorable rising tensions was a growing lethargy and retreat from practical affairs – and age  of occult pursuits, exotic private collections, princely stifling of free endeavour, impractical dreams, and wild social intolerance.

the confession, confessions, confessing, I confess, to confess

. . .

To a large extent the political history of Central Europe in the second half of the sixteenth century has always been written in terms of the war which followed / The turning-point was more nearly the years around 1600 than a single hectic act of rebellion in 1618 which was merely the climax of  more than decade of desperate uncertainty – The underlying change was ultimately a decisive factor in the failure of Rudolf’s own life (pp. 9)

centripetal and not yet centrifugal

All the major ruling families of Europe developed during the Renaissance period their characteristic symbolism, which came to represent a kind of apotheosis of their own claims to power, and the later sixteenth century with its cult of the emblematic and allusive made full use of such iconography.

the war of the pamphleteers

The notorious debate of the sixteenth century was, of course, over Machiavelli.

Rudolf II moving his government from Vienna to Prague in Bohemia during the first years of his reign.

. . .

[Chapter 2: The Politics of Rudolf]

. . .

melancholy / “Rudolf has, however, ruined everything by taking up the study of art and nature, with such increasing lack of moderation that he has deserted the affairs of state for alchemists’ laboratories, painters’ studios, and the workshops of clockmakers. Indeed he has given over his whole palace to such things and is using all his revenues to further them. This has estranged him completely from common humanity: ‘Disturbed in his mind by some ailment of melancholy, he has begin to love solitude and shut himself off in his Palace as if behind the bars of a prison.” (pp 45)

It is doubtful whether Rudolf was in fact ever mad in any serious technical sense; certainly not for longer than brief intervals, as for a time during 1600 or 1606, while much hinges on the meaning which contemporaries attached to words like “melancholy” and “possession

. . .

Amid the complexity of Rudolf’s own environment there were three abiding influences, and these must be briefly isolated, since he was always very conscious of them: the hereditary background, the ‘Spanish humour’, and the court circle of his father Mazimilian II.

(schizoid psychopaths in his family, his don, Don Guilio, syphilis)

Time spent in the Spanish court: upon his return a stiffness of attitude, pride, religious dogmatism / auto-da-fé, the act of public penance (burning at the stake) / he dressed in Spanish fashion, spoke Spanish formally for preference, placed great trust in advisers with Spanish connections / but also a revulsion against Spanish pretensions

some knowledge of Czech / the failure of successive Habsburgs to learn the main language of their Bohemian subjects

a universality mission

illness / marriage / lack of a successor

Symbolic pageantry in the funeral of Maximillian II – the Castrum Doloris – the Knighthood of the Golden Fleece (the fleece of -Who, to carry off the fleece of Colchis, was willing to commit perjury – or the Fleece of Gideon – proof of God’s will in the fleece) / “I will have no other”

Further evidence that Rudolf lavished much attention o the prestige of the dynasty is provided by his reconsecration of the tombs of all of the Emperors buried in St. Vitus. In 1590 he had their graves opened and the coffins placed in an elaborate white marble mausoleum at the center of the Cathedral.

The Bohemian coronation of Rudolf in the Cathedral of St. Vitus within Prague Castle on 22 September 1575 was a great spectacle, deliberately contrived, as the records show, to dazzle and impress the assembled people. For it the historic Wenceslas crown was used, which occupied an important place in the ceremonial of the later sixteenth century.

. . .

[Chapter 3: The Religion of Rudolf]

. . .

Maximilian II refused the last sacrament, because to receive sub una specie was sinful and to receive sub utraque would offend his family / of Rudolf – “Not only did his Majesty not confess, he did not even display any sign of contrition”

Rudolf was persistently trying to maintain a position which was free of both sides, but in doing so he necessarily offended both.

. . .

[Chapter 4: The Habsburgs, Bohemia, and Humanist Culture]

. . .

The revival of botanical studies in the sixteenth century formed one aspect of a changing attitude to the natural world: the urge to classify it, a striving not yet divorced from the sense that it was a world which men belonged, as members of a consistent chain of influences.

There also developed, especially in Prague, a growing fashion for contrived gardens…the Stag’s Ditch, the Paradise Garden, and the rest with their rare and peculiar plants, menageries, and flowers set to represent the personal symbol of the Emperor.

Joannes Sambucus (Janos Zsamboky) b. 1531 – best known as an emblematist (was the court physician under Maximilian II). His emblem book was one of the most prized and widely circulated volumes to come from Plantin’s presses (Antwerp, one of the focal centers of the fine printed book of the 16th century – the Plantin-Moretus Museum) and it exercised large influence, both on the compilers of the same genre, and on the literary world in general, even Shakespeare / the symbol could possess deeper meaning as an embodiment of the reality of nature / Rudolf maintained Sambucus’s famous library after his death (

historiography and the cult of the antiquarian

The Latin poem in Rudolfine Prague – the elegy, satire, epithalamium (poem written for a bride on her way to the marital chamber), and carmen gratulatorium (a wedding song), the encomium (praises something or someone highly) and oration for funeral, victory or distinguished guest

. . .

[Chapter 5: Rudolf and the Fine Arts]

. . .

a passion for glyptics – the cutting and engraving of gems (1. a love of rare and exotic artistic material, 2. the opportunity for a conscious display of skill, 3. the reflection of a belief in talismans and the astral power of stones)

“the art of Rudofine Prague was essentially a revelation of mystery, whether through the medium of the canvas, or the manipulation of stones, or the alchemical and Cabalist ‘arts'”.

Mannerism – uniform style of courtly elegance and a highly artificial mode of expression – contrived anti-Classicism / an international and far-reaching style / a culmination of the whole post-Renaissance process of developing maniera: panache and self-conscious artistry / Rudolfine Mannerism based itself more or less consciously on both the art-theory of the North Italian school and the academic mentality of the later sixteenth century – contacts between Florence, Milan, Venice, and Prague were close (ex. Arcumboldo – court artist / the Prague Mannerists enjoyed as direct patron the sovereign himself, and their choice of subject-matter reflects Rudolf’s own inclinations – The Emperor employed and encouraged them personally, approved and criticized their work, on occasions even participating in their activities.

new observations of nature, large play with allusion, tendency toward eroticism, employment of symbol as means of communication

Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93)

Batholomaeus Spranger

preoccupation with suggestive, even indecent subjects is typical of Rdolf and the last two decades of the sixteenth century – a feature of late Mannerist art (stop at 169)


Rudolf II’s Kunstkammer was one of the most diverse of its times. Plundered in 1648 by Swedish forces when Prague was captured, only parts of it are today extant in the Vienna collections.

The plunder from the castle at Prague included 470 paintings, 69 bronze figures, several thousand coins and medals, 179 objects of ivory, 50 objects of amber and coral, 600 vessels of agate and crystal, 174 works of faience, 403 Indian curiosa, 185 works of precious stone, uncut diamonds, more than 300 mathematical instruments and many other objects.

this collection was not a gallery in the modern sense but rather united works of art with exotic animals, minerals, lapidary work and much more besides. It too was intended to represent an image of the universe. Rudolf’s huge collection needed a corresponding amount of space, and rooms in the castle at Prague were adapted to house it. The emperor collected on an unparalleled scale: when his agents, continually scouring Europe for new objects, were unable to acquire certain objects, he had them copied. Workshops at his court produced art objects. He had an especial predilection for lapidary work. This interest was of a piece with Rudolf’s pansophical view of the world that regarded everything, including the physical world of phenomena, as part of a universal system.A showpiece of the collection and of the goldsmith’s art that was patronized by the court was the imperial dynastic crown.

Rudolf was also fascinated by natural phenomena, and commissioned his own court artists to produce paintings of natural objects and animals.

In the inventory covering the years 1607 to 1611 Daniel Fröschl (1563–1613), court painter and administrator of the imperial collections, listed natural objects including chameleons, crocodiles, fish, a bird of paradise and many other creatures. If a stuffed specimen was not to be had, Rudolf had the animal in question painted. There were even images of unicorns, dragons and mandrakes in his collections.



The Magic Circle of Rudolf II


The Feast of the Rosary (1505) – Durer / brought from Venice and over the Alps


cujus regio ejus religio / who owns the region owns the religion

Maximilian state entertainment spectacle of 1570: “Here was Mount Etna, from which sparks and smoke emanated, ravens and other birds flew, fiery tubes shot out. As well as Perseus. holding the head of a Gorgon and sitting astride the winged horse Pegasus, it was possible to behold a lion in a wooden cage. Apart from that and other spectacles a live elephant, a huge creature the like of which has never before been seen in these lands, was led into the square, and Porus, King of India, was seated thereupon…”

When Rudolf came into the world he was small and sickly and not expected to live. Rather than finding comfort in his mother’s breast, he was plunged into the carcass of a freshly killed lamb – then when it cooled, into the carcass of another, and yet another, rushed from an adjoining butcher’s slab.

autos-da-fé, the act of public penance (burning at the stake)

Don Carlos – fell down a flight of stairs – trepanation (drilling to let out the evil spirits)

Trust no one, listen to everyone, decide alone

El Escorial contained more than 6,000 holy relics, including an alleged nail from the True Cross, a hair from Christ’s beard, a thorn from his crown and part of a handkerchief used by the Virgin Mary and still stained with her tears.

Rodolpho di poche parole / Rudolf of few words

An ominous celestial event confirmed for many the growing disharmony in Europe. Comets had long been considered omens of war, plague and famine. But then a new tailless start – a supernova – appeared in the Cassiopeia constellation in 1572, the very year that Rudolf had been crowned king of Hungary. It suddenly shone brightly and then gradually changed colour and eventually disappeared from the sky during 1574. It was observed by the court astronomer Tadeas Hajek in Prague and by the aristocratic Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in his observatory on his island called Uraniburg (City of Heavens) / Since the appearance of the star implied that the heavens were not perfect at all, as the traditional Aristotelians claimed, Brahe interpreted the celestial drama as a sign that the world would perish by fire.


Despite being born under the sign of Cancer, he even adopted Augustus’s zodialogical sign of Capricorn, depicted by a creature with the tail of a fish. This symbol was placed on many works depicting Rudolf as the new Augustus as were the world Astrum fulget caesareum / the imperial star shines

As for the Habsburg treasures and works of art, Rudolf was determined to try to reacquire them from the members of his family to whom they had been bequeathed. He particularly coveted two talismans which had been given to his uncle Ferdinand of Tyrol: an Ainkhuern, allegedly the horn of a unicorn which had magical powers, and an ornate agate cup which had been pillaged from Byzantium during the 1204 crusade and which was said to be nothing less than the Holy Grail.

“Man makes his destiny by his own courage…You also have received some gifts from God, and that is why you must fight like your ancestors. You fear losing your States and your peoples?”

The principal decision of the parliament at Augsburg was to adopt the new Gregorian calendar which replaced the old Julian calendar, which was twelve days out of kilter with the cycle of the sun. Pope Gregory XIII accepted the new calendar and chose the first day of January rather than Easter as the beginning of the New Year. At the parliament, the Catholics accepted the proposal; the Protestants, suspicious of a papal plot, rejected it. One Lutheran prince saw it as a sign of the impending Apocalypse / “The essential is that the calendar is good. Its origin does not matter.”

. . .

1583 established Prague castle as the imperial seat /situated in the Bohemian basin created millions of years previously by a meteorite /”I see a great city whose fame will touch the stars” / prah in Czech is threshold – Praha

Jan Huss : (trial -1415) Hus declared himself willing to submit if he could be convinced of errors. This declaration was considered an unconditional surrender, and he was asked to confess:

  1. that he had erred in the theses which he had hitherto maintained;
  2. that he renounced them for the future;
  3. that he recanted them; and
  4. that he declared the opposite of these sentences

An Italian prelate pronounced the sentence of condemnation upon Hus and his writings. Hus protested, saying that even at this hour he did not wish anything, but to be convinced from Holy Scripture. He fell upon his knees and asked God with a low voice to forgive all his enemies. Then followed his degradation — he was enrobed in priestly vestments and again asked to recant; again he refused. With curses his ornaments were taken from him, his priestly tonsure was destroyed, and the sentence was pronounced that the Church had deprived him of all rights and delivered him to the secular powers. Then a high paper hat was put upon his head, with the inscription “Haeresiarcha” (meaning the leader of a heretical movement). Hus was led away to the stake under a strong guard of armed men. At the place of execution he knelt down, spread out his hands, and prayed aloud. It is said that when he was about to expire, he cried out, “Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on us!”

The executioner undressed Hus and tied his hands behind his back with ropes, and bound his neck with a chain to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. At the last moment, the imperial marshal, Von Pappenheim, in the presence of the Count Palatine, asked him to recant and thus save his own life, but Hus declined with the words “God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached. In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.” He was then burned at the stake, and his ashes thrown into the Rhine River.

Anecdotally, it has been claimed that the executioners had some problems scaling up the fire. An old woman came closer to the bonfire and threw a relatively small amount of brushwood on it. Hus, seeing it, then said, “Sancta Simplicitas!” (Holy Simplicity!) This sentence’s Czech equivalent (“svatá prostota!”, or, in vocative form “svatá prostoto!”) is still used to comment upon a stupid action.

. . .

The “Golden City”, larger at this time than London or Paris

The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj: (Large astronomical clock in the main square, made in 1410, which indicated the time of day in Babylonian time and Old Bohemian time. The clock, which still exists, also depicted Ptolemy’s model of the universe with the Earth at its center and charted the movements of the sun and moon through the signs of the zodiac. Moving figures were added in 1490. On the hour, the twelve Apostles appeared in windows before figures representing what was considered to be the chief threats to Bohemia at the time: the lender with the money bags; Death, depicted as a skeleton carrying an hourglass and tolling a bell; a Turk shaking his turbaned head; and Vanity admiring his reflection in the mirror. Four other immovable figures symbolized Philosophy, Religion, Astronomy and History (pp 47) / it is the oldest astronomical clock still working

Astronomical clock - preview

. . .

The order of the Golden Fleece / Rudolf’s investiture in 1585 / a chivalric order of knights dedicated to the defense of the Church / as steady and intrepid in their defense of Christianity as Jason’s Argonauts

Towards the end of his life, when he hardly left his rooms, he would have his favorite horses paraded in front of his windows

Painting placed not on walls, but on ledges, tables, and special stands (could fall off the edge of the earth perhaps)

The north wing of the castle with its stables, hall and gallery was joined in the 1590s by the “Long Corridor” (Langer Bau) stretching 100 meters to connect with Rudolf’s private chambers in the new Summer Palace on the south side, facing the city / The corridor housed Rudolf’s famous collections of precious objects on three levels: on the ground floor, his collection of rare saddles and harnesses; on the first floor, divided into four separate rooms, his celebrated Kunstkammer or “Chamber of Art”; on the second floor, more paintings and sculptures / Midway between the north wing and his apartments rose The Bishop’s Tower (also known as The Mathematical or Astronomical Tower) from the flat roof of which the night sky could be surveyed.

In the Powder Tower set in the northern ramparts of the castle, Rudolf established an alchemy workshop and filled it with the latest instruments – vases, tubes and stills – produced by his glass blowers and by the most competent alchemists

Gardens / a heated walled aviary, which housed rare birds – parrots, birds of paradise a dodo / a wooden menagerie (Lion’s Court) – tigers, wild cats, bears and wolves / Tycho Brahe, Rudolf’s court astronomer, declared that since they shared similar horoscopes they would suffer a similar fate. The prophecy proved to be accurate: when the lion eventually died, Rudolf locked himself in his chambers, refusing all medicine and help, and died three days later.

The Royal Gardens – planned in the Italian style / apples, palms, olives, cedars, as well as shrubs and flowers / some were formed into individual letters, while others took the shapes of whole sentences / In a raised parterre brightly colored flowers against green grass formed the letters of Rudolf’s talismanic device  ADSIT, which probably stood for a Domino salus in tribulatione – In trouble deliverance comes from the Lord –  paraphrase of Pslam 36:39 / ADSIT is also the Latin for “May He be Present” / also a maze – pilgrim searching for the celestial city (but also in mythology – as a defense mechanism?) / the garden as living encyclopedia – also area for alchemical experiments / the sacred tulip (pp 54) / also a Belvedere (the Summer Palace)


also: see the Star Villa in Tyrol

While living at the Castle, Rudolf disliked being observed and valued his privacy so highly that he had made roofed wooden staircases which extended across the whole complex as well as connecting the castle with the gardens. He did not go out to see the world, he let the world come to him (Prospero)



. . .

Summer, 2013

Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era

This is how the past exists, phantasmagoric weskits, stray words, random things recorded. [For weskit, see Henry James’s red waistcoat]



Too Long…



That a language functions in time, ideally in a vast leisure, disclosing sequentially its measured vistas, this was the convention Pound in turn most clearly imposed as he attended to the enlightenment of his callers in the 1950’s [think on the measured vista]


The first says, ‘Get the meaning across,’ and the second says ‘Stop.’


The pause in time resembles a disjunction in space: a line having been arrested before its direction grows obvious, the intent eye is confronted by a sudden node, unforeseeable, a new structure, new directions.






Fall, 2012


Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas

Guy de CointetGuy de Cointet’s TSNX/C24Va7ME: A Play by Dr. Hun

July 30, 2012

To obtain new operative bases it was necessary to systematize the media so they they could form logical sequences and would permit a multiplicity of operations. The result: variability and extensibility.

We have quitted well-tried configurations and have ventured into the realm of the indeterminate.

The picture field is  a structural field.

The prerequisites for the development of flexible ordering systems are the identity of the pictorial media, of surface and surface boundaries, the anonymization and objectification of the structure, the congruence of the beginning and the end of the action.

The creation of variable systems makes complex orders and relations necessary. A paradox: the integration of boundaries leads to the unlimited.

The individual expression lies in the choice of methods, in the control of preliminary conditions.

Simplicity is not produced by spontaneity but by the multiple superimposition, interpenetration and modification of the processes of development.

Richard Paul Lohse (Marfa: Chinati Foundation, 1988)

March 25, 2012 (Alfred Jarry)


In the premises detailed above, entry having been effected by M. Lourdeau, locksmith at Paris, no. 205, rue Nicolas Flamel, with the exception of a bed of polished copper mesh, twelve meters long and without bedding, of an ivory chair and of an onyx and gold table; sequestration made of twenty-seven assorted volumes, some paper-backed and others bound, with the following titles:

  1. BAUDELAIRE, a volume of E.A. POE translations.
  2. BERGERAC, Works, volume II, containing the History of the States and Empires of the Sun, and the History of Birds.
  3. The Gospel According to SAINT LUKE, in Greek.
  4. BLOY,The Ungrateful Beggar.
  5. COLERIDGEThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  6. DARIEN, The Thief.
  7. DESBORDES-VALMORE, The Oath of the Little Men.
  8. ELSKAMP, Illuminated Designs.
  9. An odd volume of the Plays of FLORIAN.
  10. An odd volume of the Thousand and One Nights, in the GALLAND translation.
  11. GRABBE, Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tierfere Bedeutung comedy in three acts.
  12. KAHN, The Tale of Gold and of Silence.
  13. LAUTREAMONT, The Lays of Madoror.
  14. MAETERLINCK, Aglavine and Selysette.
  15. MALLARME, Verse and Prose.
  16. MENDESGog.
  17. The Odyssey, Teubner’s edition.
  18. PELADAN, Babylon.
  20. JEAN DE CHILRA, The Sexual Hour.
  21. HENRI DE REGNIER, The Jasper Cane.
  22. RIMBAUD, Illuminations.
  23. SCHWOB,The Children’s Crusade.
  24. Ubu Roi.
  25. VERLAINE, Wisdom.
  26. VERHAEREN, The Hallucinated Landscapes.
  27. VERNE, Voyage to the Center of the Earth.

February 9, 2012 (Maya Deren)

STAIRWAYS /1942-1943/

[ritual transformations]

A poet who knew Maya Deren from the mid-forties until she died referred to her films as “a series of rites reflecting the ritual transformations of her own self in life.”

Because Deren lived with a rich sense of the mythic, and because that sense becomes increasingly apparent in her work as a film-maker, it seems appropriate to follow the poets’ instincts and regard her life as she no doubt did herself-in terms of ritual transformations.

“L.A. Reportage” – “Fruit-pickers”

//—Meshes of the Afternoon — // PT: an unmistakably everyday world: a private home, a love affair, the woman’s fantasy life. Here the immediate world of the lovers becomes subject to the laws of dream; objects transmuted into symbols; physical laws are transcended and implemented by filmic devices: slow motion, weird angles, magical mutations and transitions.

|          |          |         |            |         |           |

As a dream on film, it also corresponds to the age-old practice of inducing dreams and visions during the rites of initiation. Such dreams picture the initiate’s emotional state at these critical junctures in life.


THE BLUE FOUR (Klee, Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Feininger : The “BLUE FOUR” was founded at the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1924. . . .The desired purpose was to arrange exhibitions and lectures of the works of these artists in America, trusting to interest the United States in the spiritual significance of their work withe the hopes that through it might come an exchange of spirits between the artists of the two continents.)


 She would invite us over every so often, and we would sleep in the room where all these Klees hung. It was a great experience, to sleep among the Feiningers and Klees and Kandinskys and Picassos. There was a terrace with a view over Hollywood. She had a little bathroom with moss on the floor, wild moss, with two glass walls to the outside, where we would take showers.

She lived like a hermit. She had this huge room where there was nothing but a straw carpet and these paintings on the wall. She herself would live in a little cubbyhole, and she had a little kitchen about that size too. It was like a temple, more than a house. All the living spaces were small, and this grand space was devoted to art. HELLA HAMMID.

It was due to Galka that I gave up painting. At the time I knew her I was both painting and writing music, and the people whose opinions I respected, as I did hers, said nicer things to me about my music than about my painting. . . .

People at the point of suicide would come wandering up into the hills to throw themselves somewhere, and they would be drawn to her like a magnet, and she would reinspire them about the value of living. JOHN CAGE.



The “Sarabande” is the language of a soul of two souls of the universal soul, very abstract, and the fifth record of the Beethoven quartet is the incredibly capacity of the emotion of the human heart. Maybe one day you’ll have a chance to hear them. Love, Galka

(André Breton/Gotham Book Mart Window/Duchamp- See View March and May, 1945)


I am having a wonderful time with music and pictures and live rather a life within myself. I wish I could see the film you have made. . . . I wish you were living here and we could share and exchange our love of art. . . . Love as ever, Galka

This is the true deep meaning of creative, Galka. You above all, are creative, for you create more than a work of art. You create the will to art, from which all art will forever flow. If, one day, I can say these things about myself, I shall be very happy. Maya + Sasha

[from poetry to film]

(paul valéry)

(julian levy’s surrealism – black sun press, 1936)

(the Tibetan Book of the Dead)


Her essays would be explicitly concerned with the poles of objectivity and subjectivity, and the notion that perceptions and values are not fixed but relative, according to one’s point of view. The Tibetan Book of the Dead acknowledges the multiplicity of perspectives and emphasizes the necessity of reconciling “the many” to a “oneness of vision,” just as Einstein’s theory, in the science of observation, was, as Deren noted, “designed to overcome and compensate for the inalienability of subjective position.”


In the Tibetan rites, the yogin uses a mirror to meditate on the relationship between objects in the world and the deceptive reality of their of their reflected images. The mirrors offers a visually rich metaphor for the juxtaposition of reality and illusion, and it is just such mirror trickery that is the subject of Maya and Sasha’s photographs of the late 1942. This series of stills reveals how Deren and Hammid, like the Surrealists, used mirrors and mannequins to play on photography’s inability-being two-dimensional-to discriminate between living reality and plastic illusion. Woman, mannequin, and mirror image are flattened into a still life composition in which all elements are created equal. Looking at their photographs, the viewer, like the Tibetan yogin, is challenged to transcend the paradox.

(death and rebirth)

It is ironic, then, that Dr. Deren’s last “gift” to his daughter would be her movie camera. She bought the Bolex she used for all her films with the money she inherited at his death.


//—Meshes of the Afternoon — //

conception – idea : home movie (subjective camera, pair of eyes ^^)

(first person perspective >> multiple points of view)

(program note) (Film Culture, No. 39, 1965)

This film is not concerned with the interior experiences of an individual. It does not record an event which could be witnessed by other persons. Rather, it reproduces the way in which the subconscious of an individual will develop, interpret and elaborate an apparently simple and casual incident into a critical emotional experience.

The incident might occur to anyone. A girl, on her way to the house of another person, find a flower on the road and carries it with her. She arrives at the house, (glimpsing, for a brief second, a figure disappearing around the curve of the road nearby), tries the door and finds it locked. She takes out her own key, which slips from her hand and falls down the outdoor stairs so that she is forced to run after it and climb the stairs again before finally entering the house. She makes a tour of the rooms in search of the person who is supposed to be there, but although the still-turning phonograph, the receiver off the hook of the telephone, and other objects indicate that someone has just been there, the house is empty and she settles herself by the window to wait. Waiting, she falls asleep and in her dream the experience she has just had begins to repeat itself, but always in a strange and different manner. Now it is a tall woman in black with a mirror face, who disappears around the curve of the road. She carries the flower which the girl had found, and although she walks slowly, the girl, running after her, can never catch her. The objects which the girl had noticed in the room are now in changed places. She watches herself come to the house three times, so that finally there are three of her, and herself sleeping in the chair as well. And from then on the event which was originally so simple becomes increasingly emotional and complex. It is culminated by a double-ending in which it would seem that the imagined achieved, for her, such force that it became reality.

The makers of this film have been primarily concerned with the use of cinematic technique in such a way as to create a world: to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to accurately record the incident.

(narrative line in the program note)

(cinematic technique and malevolent objects)



June 13, 2010

Above is Eugen Gomringer’s wikipedia page.  Below is a screen shot his poem “Silencio.”

June 11, 2010

Ian Hamilton Finlay to Pierre Garnier, 1963

One of the Cubists-I forget who-said that it was after all difficult for THEM to make cubism because they did not have, as we have, the example of cubism to help them. I wonder if we are not all a little in the dark, still as to the real significance of “concrete.” . . . For myself I cannot derive from the poems I have written any “method” which can be applied to the writing of the next poem; it comes back, after each poem, to a level of “being,” to an almost physical intuition of the time, or of a form . . . to which I try, with huge uncertainty, to be “true.” Just so, “concrete” began for me with the extraordinary (since wholly unexpected) sense that the syntax I had been using, the movement of language in me, at a physical level, was no longer there-so it had to be replaced with something else, with a syntax and movement that would be true of the new feeling (which existed in only the vaguest way, since I had, then, no form for it . . .). So that I see the theory as a very essential (because we are people, and people think, or should think, or should TRY to think) part of our life and art; and yet I also feel that it is a construction, very haphazard, uncertain, and by no means as yet to be taken as definitive. And indeed, when people come together, for whatever purpose, the good is often a by-product . . . it comes as the unexpected thing. For myself, on the question of “naming,” I call my poems “fauve” or “suprematist,” this to indicate their relation to “reality” . . . (and you see, one of the difficulties of theory for me is that I find myself using a word like “reality” while knowing that if I was asked, “What do you mean by reality?,” I would simply answer, “I don’t know . . .”). I approve of Malevich’s statement, “Man distinguished himself as a thinking being and removed himself from the perfection of God’s creation. Having left the non-thinking state, he strives by means of his perfected objects, to be again embodied in the perfection of absolute, nonthinking life….” That is, this seems to me, to describe, approximately, my own need to make poems . . . though I don’t know what is meant by “God.” And it also raises the question that, though the objects might “make it,” possibly, into a state of perfection, the poet and painter will not. I think any pilot-plan should distinguish, in its optimism, between what man can construct and what he actually is. I mean, new thought does not make a new man; in any photograph of an aircrash one can see how terribly far man stretches- from angel to animal; and one does not want a glittering perfection which forgets that the world is, after all, also to be made by man into his home. I should say -however hard I would find it to justify this in theory-that “concrete” by its very limitations offers a tangible image of goodness and sanity; it is very far from the now-fashionable poetry of anguish and self. . . . It is a model, of order, even if set in a space which is full of doubt. (Whereas non-concrete might be said to be set in society, rather than space, and its “satire,” its “revolt,” are only disguised symptoms of social dishonesty. This, I realisej goes too far; I do not mean to say that society is “bad.”) . . . I would like, if I could, to bring into this, somewhere the unfashionable notion of “Beauty,” which I find compelling and immediate, however theoretically inadequate. I mean this in the simplest way-that if I was asked, “Why do you like concrete poetry?” I could truthfully answer “Because it is beautiful.”

June 8, 2010

Brion Gysin audio from Mektoub: Recordings 1960-1981 and hosted on ubuweb.

Thoughts on Modern Art

Image: Brion Gysin, Dreamachine, 1960


June 4, 2010


George Brecht: The Book of the Tumbler on Fire

is a continuing work in the Spring of 1964.  It now consists of eight chapters completed or in process, of some 215 pages.

The book might be called a research into the continuity of un-like things; of objects with each other, of objects and events, of scores and objects, of events in time, of objects and styles, etc.

Chapter I consists largely of objects arranged in boxes, usually one box to a page, but sometimes two or three boxes to a page.  The chapter also contains some of my event scores, or realizations of these scores.  Page 27 is a collage and theater performance given at Judson Hall, New York; Page 26 is a dream.

The twenty-nine pages of Chapter II are again mainly boxed objects, but include also the eight cans of snuff contributed to Arman’s Key Event (New York, March, 1965); as assemblage made for Daniel Spoerri and left for him in the oven of his room at the Hotel Chelsea, New York; the MAT/MOT edition of my Universal Machine; an as yet unrealized Progetto per una transformazione (reducing the Colosseum to dust with Waring Blendors, transporting the dust by elephant to the Alps and bringing back snow, re-building the Colosseum with snow) etc.

Chapter III comprises a series of chairs (Chair with a History, Hopscotch, etc.) scores for chair events, and realizations of some of these scores I have made at one time or another (for the traveling “Assemblage” shoe at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; for the Martha Jackson Gallery; Cordier & Ekstrom, Fischbach, etc.).  Event scores realized as objects (Drip Music, Fox Trot, Three Aqueous Events), signs (SILENCE, NO SMOKING), and wall hangings investigating the relationship between words and objects, make up Chapter IV.

A short Chapter V is made up of a double cedilla given to Emmett Williams, an altered greeting card carrying a reproduction of my Repository (in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York), two collages, a multi-lingual rebus,  and a play/collage.

Chapter VI is a 35 mm. film found on Via Fratelli Bandiera in Rome, where I was living at the time.  I consider each frame a page, and have so far distributed some eighty-two.  When all the pages have been distributed, the film may be re-constituted and projected.

Chapter VII consists of objects in deep glass-covered boxes, often having movable parts.  Some fifteen have been completed.

Chapter VIII explores the relationship between object assemblages and “styles”, the assemblages being combined at random with the styles of Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style.

January 1967

Published in the 1967 Galleria Schwarz catalog for The Book of the Tumbler on Fire

April 17, 2010



(excerpts from Brecht organized as I understand them)

Words about art are infinetly inferior to the art itself.  Art unites us with the whole; words only permit us to handle a unified reality by maneuvering arbitraily excised chunks.


The cause or system of causes, responsible for a given effect is unknown or unlooked-for or, at least, that we are unable to completely specify


One: Where the origin of images is unknown because it lies in deeper than conscious levels of the mind

Two: Where images derive from mechanical processes not under the artists control

*Both of these processes have in common a lack of conscious design



“During the course of Surrealist development, outside all forms of idealism, outside the opiates of religion, the marvelous comes to light within reality.  It comes to light in dreams, obsessions, preoccupations, in sleep, fear, love, chance; in hallucinations, pretended disorders, follies, ghostly apparitions, escape mechanisms and evasions; in fancies, idle wanderings, poetry, the supernatural and the unusual; in empiricism, in supereality.”  – Andre Breton, “First Surrealist Manifesto”


1913 “3 stoppages etalon”  : wind, gravity, aim


His paintings seems much less manifestations of one group of techniques for releasing the unconscious (as the Dada experiments seemed), then they do of a single, integrated use of chance as a means of unlocking the deepest possible grasp of nature in its broadest sense.

Variables: paint viscosity, density, rate of flow at any instant; direction, speed, and configuration of the application; uniformity of paint


…place the painter’s, musician’s, poet’s, dancer’s chance images in the same conceptual category as natural chance-images (the configuration of meadow grasses, the arrangement of stones on a brook bottom), and to get away from that idea that the artist makes something “special” and beyond the world of ordinary things. An Alpine peak or an iris petal can move us at times with all the subtle power of “Night Watch” or one of the profound themes of Opus 131.  There is no a priori reason why moving images should originate only with artists.  This leaves “art” to mean something constructed, from a starting point of pre-conceived notions, with the corollary that as art approaches chance-imagery, the artist enters a oneness with all of nature.


Werner Heisenberg’s publication of his principle of indeterminacy in 1927

…Heisenberg showed mathematically that it was not possible to determine both the position and the momentum of an electron a the same time, that is, that as the precision with which the momentum of an electron was measured was increased, the precision with which the position of the electron was measure necessarily decreased, and conversely….The causal descriptions of classical physics (and philosophy) then, (that is, such statements as, “When A happens, then B will always happen”) are idealizations, or simplified models of the actual state of affairs.  The best we can do is make statements with a high degree of probability (e.g., “When A happens B will happen in a certain proportion of cases”), for we cannot exhaustively describe the causal structure of any real system.  Thus chance becomes the underlying principle of our world-view.


Used for the removal of bias.

John Cage’s “Music for Four Pianos”:  four pianists play independently of each other, the resulting rhythmic and melodic pattern being this freed of personal bias.


The technique chosen for making random or chance selections in the arts is largely determined by the number and nature of the elements from which the selection is to be made.  In addition, the degree of randomness of the finished image can be made as great as the artist’s desires and capabilities allow.  For example, a coin can simply be tossed to determine whether a pre-selected image shall be painted in black-on-white or white-on-black, or, at the other extreme, random number tables can be used to determine the field material (canvas, paper, etc.) size and shape of the field, medium, colors, method of application of the medium (brush, drip, etc), components of the method (brush width, applicator dimensions, etc.), and any other characteristics of interest.

Various techniques:  coins, dice, numbered wheels, cards, bowl drawing, automatism, random numbers, irrelevant process


Chance in the arts provides a means for escaping the biases engrained in our personality by our culture and personal past history, that is, it is a means of attaining greater generality….it seems to me that we fall short of the infinite expansion of the human spirit for which we are searching, when we recognize only images with are artifacts.  We are capable of more than that.


In 1957, when this article was written, I had only recently met John Cage and had not yet seen clearly that the most important implications of chance lay in his work rather than in Pollock’s.  Nor could I have forseen the resolution of the distinction between choice and chance which was to occur in my own work….November, 1965

Originally published in 1966 as a Great Bear Pamphlet by Something Else Press.  Accessed on

January 13, 2010


My current work, which consists of categories from the thesaurus, deals with the multiple aspects of a idea of something. I changed the form of presentation from the mounted photostat, to the purchasing of spaces in newspapers and periodicals (with one “work” sometimes taking up as many as five or six spaces in that many publications- depending on how many divisions exist in the category). This way the immateriality of the work is stressed and any possible connections to paintings are severed. The new work is not connected with a precious object- it is accessible to as many people as are interested, it is non-decorative- having nothing to do with architecture; it can be brought into the home or museum, but was not made with either in mind; it can be dealt with by being torn out of its publication and inserted into a notebook or stapled to the wall- or not torn out at all- but any such decision is unrelated to the art. My role as an artist ends with the work’s publication.

Joseph Kosuth, untitled statement (1968), in Germano Celant, Art Povera (New York: Praeger, 1969), 1968.

*see also “Art After Philosophy” (1969)  by Joseph Kosuth


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