School of Humanities

Invitation to a public lecture by Prof Ivan Mladenov

University of Nova Gorica, 26 September, 18.00, P2 Lecture-room

You are kindly invited to attend a public lecture by Prof Ivan Mladenov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) with the title “The not yet embedded thought: The notion of the ‘Ground’ in Peirce’s philosophy”, which is organised as part of the PhD seminar in Humanities at the University of Nova Gorica. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, 26 September, at 18h in the lecture-room P2 at the University of Nova Gorica in Rožna Dolina (Vipavska 13). The lecture will be in English.

Ivan Mladenov is a Professor (Ph.D. and D.Sc.) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia. His primary topic of interest is the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce, on which he wrote a book – ‘Conceptualizing Metaphors. On Charles Peirce’s Marginalia’, published by Routledge in 2006, republished in 2014. The book is translated in Japanese and published by Keiso-shobo Ltd. in Tokyo in 2012. Mladenov taught Charles Peirce’s philosophy as Guest-Professor at Salzburg Austria, Helsinki Finland, Bloomington US, Bremen, Lüneburg, Darmstadt in Germany. He has lectured extensively in many more European countries and in the United States.

Abstract of the lecture: THE NOT YET EMBEDDED THOUGHT: Is there anything before a thought appears? The notion of the ‘Ground’ in Peirce’s philosophy.

In my lecture, I would like to show the usage and function of the notion of the ground in Charles Peirce’s early thought. Peirce presented the concept of the ground early, in his first widely appreciated essay On a New List of Categories (1867), and never reintroduced it. Instead, he replaced it with the “sign”. Yet, even in the earliest definition of the ground, Peirce used relation as its main characteristic. He describes it as “a pure abstraction, reference to which constitutes a quality or general attribute”. However, it stands to such pure abstraction “in certain respect” only, “in that sense in which we say that one man catches another man’s idea”. This is how Peirce defines the ground – a mysterious sign, which exists “for a tenth of a second”, while the spark of understanding makes a leap from the pole of the representamen to the pole of the object. It is general but it evokes familiar ideas in the mind, it is abstract but it refers to a specific thing, it is “thing-ness”. It relates to both: Aristotles’s substance and Duns Scotus’ haecceitas hinting to a more developed view of what the moving power behind any act of cognition could be. Although Peirce renamed the term soon after he introduced it, the notion of the ground continues to influence his phaneroscopy, sign-classification and logical graphs. It exercises its influence through its synonyms, potentiality mainly, but also pure quality, Firstness, object of Firstness etc. Moreover, the characteristics of the ‘ground’ could easily be traced back to Aristotle, or they could allude to contemporary theories, say of Wittgenstein’s representational thinking. Key words: Peirce, ground, relation, representation, Aristotle.

Ivan Mladenov