The Determinator

Philosophy has only to state, to make explicit, the difference between events which are challenges to thought and events which have met the challenge and hence possess meaning. It has only to note that bare occurrence in the way of having, being, or undergoing is the provocation and invitation to thought – seeking and finding unapparent connections, so that thinking terminates when an object is present: namely, when a challenging event is endowed with stable meanings through relationship to something extrinsic but connected.

— Dewey (1929, 265)

In more Peircean terms, semiosis always involves an object, but it must also produce an interpretant: if the mediation of the sign were to finally accomplish its purpose of stabilizing the act of meaning and complete the process of determining its interpretant, that would be the end of the process (as it is already the end in the sense of purpose). The triadic sign relation would then collapse into a simple static unit, which is what Dewey calls a ‘present’ object, something taken for granted and no longer challenging. Likewise Heidegger (1927) called such a relatively lifeless object vorhanden, ‘present-at-hand.’

‘Experience begins when objects come into existence’ (Deely 2004, 57). It continues until they have arrived, turns its attention to the world that is still coming, and ends when everything is meaningful and all the connections are known – or would end if that could ever happen.

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