Thirdnesses: Creative Cognition in Andrei Bely's Symbolist Metaphysics and the Semiotics of Peircean Epistemology
journal contributionposted on 22.05.2017 by Rachel Funari
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Tripartite models of existence are as old as Western philosophy itself. Aristotle conceived of existence as form and matter united in substance, while Christianity defines the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both phenomenological and epistemological systems use trichotomies to explain the ineffable, for example psychology (Ego, Id and Superego) and linguistics (signifier, signified, sign). Whether the ineffable ñ cause, meaning, origin, truth – be conceived of as metaphysical and divine or merely immaterial and unknowable, reality is usually understood in opposition to it. This essay demonstrates how a metaphysical theory, Andrei Bely's symbolism, and an epistemological theory, C S Peirce's semiotics, both figure reality as an activity of the human subject, a welding of sense and thought that is much more a realisation of the ineffable than in opposition to it. For these thinkers, without the welding of immaterial and material through a human act of embodiment, there is no experience of the world. In their foreword to volume one of The Essential Peirce, Nathan Houser and Christian Koesel note that the collected essays of the book were written "while Peirce's real- ism was limited to a single universe, that of thirdness – or the world of thought." This third world of thought is also the realm of reality for Bely.