- Kósmos Noetós: The Metaphysical Architecture of Charles S. Peirce Chamby Ivo Ibri
Originally published in 1992 in Portuguese, the English translation of the 2015, updated edition of Kósmos Noetóswill open Ivo Ibri's fine book to a wider audience. The book ventures into the most difficult territory of Peirce's body of work. The topics of Prof. Ibri's study include the more recondite matters of Peirce's objective idealism, synechism, tychism, cosmology, and the accounts of reality. Starting with the phenomenology, Ibri attempts a coherent picture of Peirce's metaphysics, using the results to provide an interesting interpretation of Peirce's pragmatism.
The book is divided into three major sections: the World as Appearance, the World as Reality, and the Knowable World. In a very nice exegesis of Peirce's phenomenology, Ibri selects passages that show his more poetic side in the interpretation of the things as they appear. As opposed to the more awkward and prolix Peirce that we all know and love, Ibri brings out Peirce's more perceptive and nuanced view of the phenomena of firstness, secondness and thirdness. Ibri's reading shows Peirce at his best, with an adept use of metaphor and analogy to describe the world as it is ordinarily experienced.
Peirce's phenomenological analysis, as is well known, condenses the world of appearance into the three categories of firstness, secondness, and thirdness. It provides no explanation of these various categories, which is now the task of metaphysics, made through the intercession of the normative sciences. This settles on the main question that Ibri attempts to answer throughout the book: "What must the world be like so as to appear to me as it does?" (p. 19).
Through a brief excursus of Peirce's logic, Ibri explains how Peirce's analysis of the categories and their relation to reality is differently [End Page 568]situated than in Plato, Kant and Hegel. He also emphasizes Peirce's insistence that metaphysics can be scientific, although Peirce's demonstration of that is rather lacking.. Ibri articulates how the category of secondness in particular, "from the experience of reaction against consciousness" calls up an analysis of existence and the important distinctions between existence and reality (pp.23–24). Although both are marked by resistance to ego, insistence and externality, the hallmark of reality is two important features: generality and alterity.
In the following chapter, Ibri shows how the notions of chance and evolution explain the characteristic of alterity. This was certainly one of the great insights of Peirce, living in the so-called "statistical century," that the universe was not determined as LaPlace thought, but involved real chance and spontaneity that allowed the possibility of evolution and change. Ibri explains how the concept of chance can evolve the experience of firstness of quality, an interesting approach, although some might suggest an indirect way to account for indeterminism in the world. Nonetheless, it is this interesting and somewhat paradoxical mix of determinism and indeterminism that makes the Peircean cosmos so interesting. As Ibri demonstrates, it is the mix explains the possibility of growth in the universe, even if it is difficult to unravel the conceptual complexities around it.
Whereas alterity made possible by chance leads to evolution and growth, in the next chapter, Ibri tries to show how the tendency toward generality motivates Peirce's objective idealism and the principle of synechism. If chance makes growth possible, it is generality, the tendency to take on habits, that makes the cosmos intelligible (hence, the title of the book). At this point, Ibri tackles the difficult subject of Peirce's objective idealism. As he points out, the core of Peirce's argument for objective idealism rests on the claim that the cosmos, to be cognizable and understandable, must somehow partake of the nature of thought itself (p. 46). Since the incognizable is an inherent anomaly for Peirce, there is only one solution to explaining the tendency toward generality and that is...