The Tinctures and Implicit Quantification Over Worlds

Jay Zeman one must keep a bright lookout for unintended and unexpected changes thereby brought about in the relations of different significant parts of the diagram to one another. Such operations upon diagrams, whether external or imaginary, take the place of the experiments upon real things that one performs in chemical and physical research. Chemists have ere now, I need not say, described experimentation as the putting of questions to Nature. Just so, experiments upon diagrams are questions put to the Nature of the relations concerned (4.530). 1 The diagrammatic nature of mathematical reasoning suggests that as my power to create diagrams increases, so too will my capacity for fruitful mathematical reasoning. Peirce's own work involved an unending series of experiments with different diagrammatic notations, all interesting, some difficult, some extremely fruitful. And the diagrammatic notations available are not only a function of some kind of “internal mental activity.” As Dewey has noted, “Breathing is an affair of the air as truly as of the lungs; digesting an affair of food as truly as of tissues of stomach” (Dewey, 15); so analogously is mathematical reasoning an affair of the diagrams available as truly as of the “mind” (which is then not limited to something inside the head, but includes the relevant diagrams, “external” as well as “internal”); so does mathematical reasoning have its “alembics and cucurbits” just as surely as does chemistry. In doing mathematical reasoning, we make of the diagrams “instruments of thought,” and advances in the technology of diagrams can directly affect our patterns of reasoning. I can imagine Peirce spending hours (and dollars) in a modern artists' supply store.
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