ONT Re: Just In Time Logic
JITL. Note 3
| [On Time and Thought, MS 216, 08 Mar 1873]
| Any mind which has the power of investigation, and which therefore passes from
| doubt to belief, must have its ideas follow after one another in time. And if
| there is to be any distinction of a right and a wrong method of investigation,
| it must have some control over the process. So that there must be such a thing
| as the production of one idea from another which was previously in the mind.
| This is what takes place in reasoning, where the conclusion is brought into the
| mind by the premisses. We may imagine a mind which should reason and never know
| that it reasoned; never being aware that its conclusion was a conclusion, or was
| derived from anything which went before. For such a mind there might be a right
| and a wrong method of thinking; but it could not be aware that there was such
| a distinction, nor criticize in any degree its own operations. To be capable of
| logical criticism, the mind must be aware that one idea is determined by another.
| Now when this happens after the first idea comes the second. There is a process
| which can only take place in a space of time; but an idea is not present to the
| mind during a space of time -- at least not during a space of time in which this
| idea is replaced by another; for when the moment of its being present is passed,
| it is no longer in the mind at all. Therefore, the fact that one idea succeeds
| another is not a thing which in itself can be present to the mind, any more than
| the experiences of a whole day or of a year can be said to be present to the mind.
| It is something which can be lived through; but not be present in any one instant;
| and therefore, which can not be present to the mind at all; for nothing is present
| but the passing moment, and what it contains. The only way therefore in which we can
| be aware of a process of inference, or of any other process, is by its producing some
| idea in us. Not only therefore is it necessary that one idea should produce another;
| but it is also requisite that a mental process should produce an idea. These three
| things must be found in every logical mind: First, ideas; second, determinations
| of ideas by previous ideas; third, determinations of ideas by previous processes.
| And nothing will be found which does not come under one of these three heads.
| The determination of one thing by another, implies that the former not only
| follows after the latter, but follows after it according to a general rule,
| in consequence of which, every such idea would be followed by such a second one.
| There can therefore be no determination of one idea by another except so far as
| ideas can be distributed into classes, or have some resemblances. But how can
| one idea resemble another? An idea can contain nothing but what is present to
| the mind in that idea. Two ideas exist at different times; consequently what is
| present to the mind in one is present only at that time, and is absent at the time
| when the other idea is present. Literally, therefore, one idea contains nothing
| of another idea; and in themselves they can have no resemblance. They certainly
| do not resemble one another except so far as the mind can detect a resemblance;
| for they exist only in the mind, and are nothing but what they are thought to
| be. Now when each is present to the mind the other is not in the mind at all.
| No reference to it is in the mind, and no idea of it is in the mind. Neither
| idea therefore when it is in the mind, is thought to resemble the other which
| is not present in the mind. And an idea can not be thought, except when it is
| present in the mind. And, therefore, one idea can not be thought to resemble
| another, strictly speaking. In order to escape from this paradox, let us see
| how we have been led into it. Causation supposes a general rule, and therefore
| similarity. Now so long as we suppose that what is present to the mind at one
| time is absolutely distinct from what is present to the mind at another time,
| our ideas are absolutely individual, and without any similarity. It is necessary,
| therefore, that we should conceive a process as present to the mind. And this
| process consists of parts existing at different times and absolutely distinct.
| And during the time that one part is in the mind, the other is not in the mind.
| To unite them, we have to suppose that there is a consciousness running through
| the time. So that of the succession of ideas which occur in a second of time,
| there is but one consciousness, and of the succession of ideas which occurs in
| a minute of time there is another consciousness, and so on, perhaps indefinitely.
| So that there may be a consciousness of the events that happened in a whole day or
| a whole life time. According to this, two parts of a process separated in time --
| though they are absolutely separate, in so far as there is a consciousness of the
| one, from which the other is entirely excluded -- are yet so far not separate,
| that there is a more general consciousness of the two together. This conception
| of consciousness is something which takes up time. It seems forced upon us to
| escape the contradictions which we have just encountered. And if consciousness
| has a duration, then there is no such thing as an instantaneous consciousness;
| but all consciousness relates to a process. And no thought, however simple, is
| at any instant present to the mind in its entirety, but it is something which we
| live through or experience as we do the events of a day. And as the experiences
| of a day are made up of the experiences of shorter spaces of time so any thought
| whatever is made up of more special thoughts which in their turn are themselves
| made up by others and so on indefinitely. It may indeed very likely be that there
| is some minimum space of time within which in some sense only an indivisible thought
| can exist and as we know nothing of such a fact at present we may content ourselves
| with the simpler conception of an indefinite continuity in consciousness. ...
| C.S. Peirce, CE 3, pp. 72-74.
| Charles Sanders Peirce, MS 216, 1873, ["On Time and Thought"], pages 72-75 in:
|'Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, Volume 3, 1872-1878',
| Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1986.