§1. Degenerate Thirdness


66. Category the First is the Idea of that which is such as it is regardless of anything else. That is to say, it is a Quality of Feeling.

Category the Second is the Idea of that which is such as it is as being Second to some First, regardless of anything else, and in particular regardless of any Law, although it may conform to a law. That is to say, it is Reaction as an element of the Phenomenon.

Category the Third is the Idea of that which is such as it is as being a Third, or Medium, between a Second and its First. That is to say, it is Representation as an element of the Phenomenon.

67. A mere complication of Category the Third, involving no idea essentially different, will give the idea of something which is such as it is by virtue of its relations to any multitude, enumerable, denumeral, or abnumerable or even to any supermultitude of correlates; so that this Category suffices of itself to give the conception of True Continuity, than which no conception yet discovered is higher.3)

68. Category the First owing to its Extremely Rudimentary character is not susceptible of any degenerate or weakened modification.

69. Category the Second has a Degenerate Form, in which there is Secondness indeed, but a weak or Secondary Secondness that is not in the pair in its own quality, but belongs to it only in a certain respect. Moreover, this degeneracy need not be absolute but may be only approximative. Thus a genus characterized by Reaction will by the determination of its essential character split into two species, one a species where the secondness is strong, the other a species where the secondness is weak, and the strong species will subdivide into two that will be similarly related, without any corresponding subdivision of the weak species. For example, Psychological Reaction splits into Willing, where the Secondness is strong, and Sensation, where it is weak; and Willing again subdivides into Active Willing and Inhibitive Willing, to which last dichotomy nothing in Sensation corresponds. But it must be confessed that subdivision, as such, involves something more than the second category.

70. Category the Third exhibits two different ways of Degeneracy, where the irreducible idea of Plurality, as distinguished from Duality, is present indeed but in maimed conditions. The First degree of Degeneracy is found in an Irrational Plurality which, as it exists, in contradistinction [to] the form of its representation, is a mere complication of duality. We have just had an example of this in the idea of Subdivision. In pure Secondness, the reacting correlates are Singulars, and as such are Individuals, not capable of further division. Consequently, the conception of Subdivision, say by repeated dichotomy, certainly involves a sort of Thirdness, but it is a thirdness that is conceived to consist in a second secondness.

71. The most degenerate Thirdness is where we conceive a mere Quality of Feeling, or Firstness, to represent itself to itself as Representation. Such, for example, would be Pure Self-Consciousness, which might be roughly described as a mere feeling that has a dark instinct of being a germ of thought. This sounds nonsensical, I grant. Yet something can be done toward rendering it comprehensible.

I remember a lady's averring that her father had heard a minister, of what complexion she did not say, open a prayer as follows: »O Thou, All-Sufficient, Self-Sufficient, Insufficient God.« Now pure Self-consciousness is Self-sufficient, and if it is also regarded as All-sufficient, it would seem to follow that it must be Insufficient. I ought to apologize for introducing such Buffoonery into serious lectures. I do so because I seriously believe that a bit of fun helps thought and tends to keep it pragmatical.

Imagine that upon the soil of a country, that has a single boundary line thus



and not






there lies a map of that same country. This map may distort the different provinces of the country to any extent. But I shall suppose that it represents every part of the country that has a single boundary, by a part of the map that has a single boundary, that every part is represented as bounded by such parts as it really is bounded by, that every point of the country is represented by a single point of the map, and that every point of the map represents a single point in the country. Let us further suppose that this map is infinitely minute in its representation so that there is no speck on any grain of sand in the country that could not be seen represented upon the map if we were to examine it under a sufficiently high magnifying power. Since, then, everything on the soil of the country is shown on the map, and since the map lies on the soil of the country, the map itself will be portrayed in the map, and in this map of the map everything on the soil of the country can be discerned, including the map itself with the map of the map within its boundary. Thus there will be within the map, a map of the map, and within that, a map of the map of the map, and so on ad infinitum. These maps being each within the preceding ones of the series, there will be a point contained in all of them, and this will be the map of itself. Each map which directly or indirectly represents the country is itself mapped in the next; i.e., in the next [it] is represented to be a map of the country. In other words each map is interpreted as such in the next. We may therefore say that each is a representation of the country to the next map; and that point that is in all the maps is in itself the representation of nothing but itself and to nothing but itself. It is therefore the precise analogue of pure self-consciousness. As such it is self-sufficient. It is saved from being insufficient, that is as no representation at all, by the circumstance that it is not all-sufficient, that is, is not a complete representation but is only a point upon a continuous map.•P1 I dare say you may have heard something like this before from Professor Royce, but if so, you will remark an important divergency. The idea itself belongs neither to him nor to me, and was used by me in this connection thirty years ago.1)


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