§1. Perceptual Judgments and Generality


151. I was remarking at the end of my last lecture that perceptual judgments involve generality. What is the general? The Aristotelian definition is good enough. It is quod aptum natum est praedicari de pluribus;1) {legö de katholou men ho epi pleionön pephyke katégoreisthai}. De Interp. 7. When logic was studied in a scientific spirit of exactitude it was recognized on all hands that all ordinary judgments contain a predicate and that this predicate is general. There seemed to be some exceptions, of which the only noticeable ones were expository judgments, such as »Tully is Cicero.« But the Logic of Relations has now reduced logic to order, and it is seen that a proposition may have any number of subjects but can have but one predicate which is invariably general. Such a proposition as »Tully is Cicero« predicates the general relation of identity of Tully and Cicero.2) Consequently, it is now clear that if there be any perceptual judgment, or proposition directly expressive of and resulting from the quality of a present percept, or sense-image, that judgment must involve generality in its predicate.

152. That which is not general is singular; and the singular is that which reacts. The being of a singular may consist in the being of other singulars which are its parts. Thus heaven and earth is a singular; and its being consists in the being of heaven and the being of earth, each of which reacts and is therefore a singular, forming a part of heaven and earth. If I had denied that every perceptual judgment refers, as to its subject, to a singular, and that singular actually reacting upon the mind in forming the judgment, actually reacting too upon the mind in interpreting the judgment, I should have uttered an absurdity. For every proposition whatsoever refers as to its subject to a singular actually reacting upon the utterer of it and actually reacting upon the interpreter of it. All propositions relate to the same ever-reacting singular; namely, to the totality of all real objects. It is true that when the Arabian romancer tells us that there was a lady named Scherherazade, he does not mean to be understood as speaking of the world of outward realities, and there is a great deal of fiction in what he is talking about. For the fictive is that whose characters depend upon what characters somebody attributes to it; and the story is, of course, the mere creation of the poet's thought. Nevertheless, once he has imagined Scherherazade and made her young, beautiful, and endowed with a gift of spinning stories, it becomes a real fact that so he has imagined her, which fact he cannot destroy by pretending or thinking that he imagined her to be otherwise. What he wishes us to understand is what he might have expressed in plain prose by saying, »I have imagined a lady, Scherherazade by name, young, beautiful and a tireless teller of tales, and I am going on to imagine what tales she told.« This would have been a plain expression of professed fact relating to the sum total of realities.

153. As I said before, propositions usually have more subjects than one; and almost every proposition, if not quite every one, has one or more other singular subjects, to which some propositions do not relate. These are the special parts of the Universe of all Truth 1) to which the given proposition especially refers. It is a characteristic of perceptual judgments that each of them relates to some singular to which no other proposition relates directly, but, if it relates to it at all, does so by relating to that perceptual judgment. When we express a proposition in words, we leave most of its singular subjects unexpressed; for the circumstances of the enunciation sufficiently show what subject is intended and words, owing to their usual generality, are not well adapted to designating singulars. The pronoun, which may be defined as a part of speech intended to fulfill the function of an index, is never intelligible taken by itself apart from the circumstances of its utterance; and the noun, which may be defined as a part of speech put in place of a pronoun, is always liable to be equivocal.1)

154. A subject need not be singular. If it is not so, then when the proposition is expressed in the canonical form used by logicians, this subject will present one or other of two imperfections:2)

On the one hand, it may be indesignative, so that the proposition means that a singular of the universe might replace this subject while the truth was preserved, while failing to designate what singular that is: as when we say, » Some calf has five legs.«

Or on the other hand, the subject may be hypothetical, that is may allow any singular to be substituted for it that fulfills certain conditions, without guaranteeing that there is any singular which fulfills these conditions; as when we say, »Any salamander could live in fire,« or »Any man who should be stronger than Samson could do all that Samson did.«

A subject which has neither of these two imperfections is a singular subject referring to an existing singular collection in its entirety.

155. If a proposition has two or more subjects of which one is indesignative and the other hypothetical, then it makes a difference in what order the replacement by singulars is asserted to be possible. It is, for example, one thing to assert that »Any Catholic there may be adores some woman or other« and quite another thing to assert that »There is some woman whom any Catholic adores.« If the first general subject is indesignate, the proposition is called particular. If the first general subject is hypothetical, the proposition is called universal.3)

A particular proposition asserts the existence of something of a given description. A universal proposition merely asserts the non-existence of anything of a given description.

156. Had I, therefore, asserted that a perceptual judgment could be a universal proposition, I should have fallen into rank absurdity. For reaction is existence and the perceptual judgment is the cognitive product of a reaction.

But as from the particular proposition that »there is some women whom any Catholic you can find will adore« we can with certainty infer the universal proposition that« any Catholic you can find will adore some woman or other,"1) so if a perceptual judgment involves any general elements, as it certainly does, the presumption is that a universal proposition can be necessarily deduced from it.

157. In saying that perceptual judgments involve general elements I certainly never intended to be understood as enunciating any proposition in psychology. For my principles absolutely debar me from making the least use of psychology in logic. I am confined entirely to the unquestionable facts of everyday experience, together with what can be deduced from them. All that I can mean by a perceptual judgment is a judgment absolutely forced upon my acceptance, and that by a process which I am utterly unable to control and consequently am unable to criticize. Nor can I pretend to absolute certainty about any matter of fact. If with the closest scrutiny I am able to give, a judgment appears to have the characters I have described, I must reckon it among perceptual judgments until I am better advised. Now consider the judgment that one event C appears to be subsequent to another event A. Certainly, I may have inferred this; because I may have remarked that C was subsequent to a third event B which was itself subsequent to A. But then these premisses are judgments of the same description. It does not seem possible that I can have performed an infinite series of acts of criticism each of which must require a distinct effort. The case is quite different from that of Achilles and the tortoise because Achilles does not require to make an infinite series of distinct efforts. It therefore appears that I must have made some judgment that one event appeared to be subsequent to another without that judgment having been inferred from any premiss [i.e.] without any controlled and criticized action of reasoning. If this be so, it is a perceptual judgment in the only sense that the logician can recognize. But from that proposition that one event, Z, is subsequent to another event, J, I can at once deduce by necessary reasoning a universal proposition. Namely, the definition of the relation of apparent subsequence is well known, or sufficiently so for our purpose. Z will appear to be subsequent to Y if and only if Z appears to stand in a peculiar relation, R, to Y such that nothing can stand in the relation R to itself, and if, furthermore, whatever event, X, there may be to which Y stands in the relation R, to that same X, Z also stands in the relation R.1) This being implied in the meaning of subsequence, concerning which there is no room for doubt, it easily follows that whatever is subsequent to C is subsequent to anything, A, to which C is subsequent — which is a universal proposition.

Thus my assertion at the end of the last lecture appears to be most amply justified. Thirdness pours in upon us through every avenue of sense.


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