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Modernity, Post-Modernity and the Collapse of Transcendent Metaphysics & the Semiotic Triadic…

A Phenomenal World anchored in the Ego (Conscious Self — Phenomenon of the Will) without a Noumenal World anchored in the Non-Ego (Unconscious Self — Transcendent Metaphysics)

Richard Schutte
31 min readSep 5, 2023


“The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention”…

— Alan Watts

“The ego is not master in its own house”…

— Sigmund Freud

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile”…

— Plato

“When the ego dies, the soul awakes”…

— Mahatma Gandhi


the conscious self

self as it appears to self (Phenomenal)


the unconscious self

ego as it is in itself (Noumenal)

Primacy of Human Consciousness

the axiom of the centrality of human consciousness in understanding and shaping reality

Primacy of Existence

the axiom that existence exists — the universe exists independent of consciousness — that things are what they are — that they possess a specific nature, an identity

Transcendent Metaphysics

the study of reality and existence beyond the material world or empirical experience

As the Age of Enlightenment progressed, the foundational ideas relating to the nature of reason shifted from a dyadic interaction between the Primacy of Human Consciousness and Primacy of Existence to one increasingly orientated towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness Ego Conscious Self Phenomenon of the WillPhenomena.

A gradual decoupling in the nature of reason that relies on the notion that there is an objective truth and valid principles of inference.

“Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Recognising our ability through reason to understand the world, delineate right from wrong and make good decisions.

Our innate human capacity to discern truth through reason and align our beliefs & actions with natural laws & universal moral frameworks.

“Every new concept first comes to the mind in a judgment. Bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible; and this fact is the foundation of the practical side of logic” …

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Western Civilisation and in particular, Secular Liberalism was increasingly orientating towards the philosophical ideas of Nominalism, Cartesianism, Phenomenology, and Materialism that would eventually metamorphosis the Enlightenment Project of Modernism into the plurality, relativism, subjectivity and ultimately the deconstruction of Post-Modernism. The Modern and Post-Modern Mind was now adrift.

“In short, there was a tidal wave of nominalism. Descartes was a nominalist. Locke and all his following, Berkley, Hartley, Hume, and even Reid, were nominalists. Leibniz was an extreme nominalist, and Remusat who has lately made an attempt to repair the edifice of Liebnizian monadology, does so by cutting away every part which leans at all towards realism. Kant was a nominalist; although his philosophy would have rendered compacter, more consistent, and stronger if its author had taken up realism, as he certainly would have done if he read Scotus. Hegel was a nominalist of realistic yearnings; I might continue the list much further, Thus, in one word, all modern philosophy of every sect has been nominalistic”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Temples of Reason were increasingly replacing Temples of Prayer and no longer was the contemplation of transcendental metaphysics and the immaterial considered relevant.

Abstract concepts and universals that exist in themselves (noumena) beyond the material world or empirical experience (phenomena).

This orientation towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness was further extended by the invention of the self (individualism), sensationalism, phenomenalism, progressivism and romanticism that provided a counter to any excessive reliance on rationality and abstraction by advocating a more intuitive and emotional understanding of morality and society through our subjective lived experience.

When combined these various egocentric forces resulted in a gradual shift away from the study of an objective reality (realism) beyond the product of human conceptualisation (ego & nominalism).

Nominalism and Cartesian Dualism had become the Philosophy of Modernity.

Derailing the ambition of any Enlightenment Project towards a unified exploration of the material and immaterial aspects of Human existence.

The underlying principles and truths that may lie beyond the observable World and enable progress towards the integration of Theology and Philosophy.

The symbiotic relationship between Faith and Reason which had been the very essence of Western Civilisation’s transformation for over two millennia.

Instead, we had the growing influence in the 20th Century of Existentialism, Atheism, Marxism, Materialism, Transhumanism, and Scientific Positivism (Logical Positivism).

Empirical science had become the primary source of legitimate knowledge and economic & scientific management was the new software for the creation of a Modern Society.

No longer was the integration of Transcendent Metaphysics and the notion of the Noumena considered pertinent amongst the intellectual clerisy.

“Nominalism, however, appears in psychology as sensationalism; for nominalism arises from taking the view of reality which regards whatever is in thought as caused by something in sense, and whatever is in sense as caused by something without the mind”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

It represented a gradual shift towards an Ego (Conscious Self — Phenomena) form of human consciousness where Logic is part of the Study of the World of Thought and at the same time a move away from Metaphysics, that being the Study of the World of Being and in particular, the immaterial aspects of Human Existence.

“Philosophy…divides into Logic, which studies the world of thought, and Metaphysics, which studies the world of being” …

– Charles Sanders Peirce

The 16th Century Copernicus Revolution and 19th Century Reconception of Science

“Modern science … started in the 1600s when the search for “vertical causality” (from physics to metaphysics) was replaced by the one for “horizontal causality”, in the sense of searching for laws that express constant relationships between phenomena”…

— Augusto Del Noce

Nicolaus Copernicus’s 16th-century hypothesis — a heliocentric model of the universe — had profoundly reshaped Modern Society's perception of reality.

His fresh approach and ideas to reason catalysed an Age of Science that would drive the Industrial and Digital Revolutions.

It was through abduction — observation (observer & observed), contemplation, and open inquiry — that a hypothesis and deeper understanding of the World could be revealed.

Horizontal causality and the nexus between knowledge of objects and our sensory experience.

Searching for patterns (laws) that express constant relationships between phenomena.

Scientific MethodDiscovery World as Sensed — Patterns of Phenomena — Complexity Compression (Simplifying Complexity)

The courage to question orthodox beliefs (i.e. a geocentric universe) through the pursuit of ground truths that combined our embodiment in the World with abstraction to reveal new relationships of meaning.

New knowledge (epistemic discovery) about the nature of the World.

“To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power, to appreciate in degree the wonderful working of His laws, surely all of this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge” …

— Nicolaus Copernicus

It was a a dyadic approach not dissimilar to the Ancient Greeks where Copernicus and other leading intellectual thinkers of the 16th and 17th Century's search for truth was illuminated by humanity’s relationship with God.

“God is truth and light his shadow”…

- Plato

However, by the late 19th Century (refer Synthesis) in England and amongst European Intellectual Elites the notion of Science had fundamentally transformed from one of Contemplation, Open Inquiry, Hubris, Epistemological Humility and Discovery to one where Science (discovery) combined with the application of Scientific Reason to Technology (creation) was increasingly seen as a “means to an end” and a “will to power”.

Engineering Creation World of Action The Application of Pure Reason (Technique) — According to 20th Century French Philosopher Jacques Ellul :“Technique is the totality of methods, rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity”…

The algorithmic codification of rules of abstraction — epistemic understanding Verstand.

A Cartesian mathematisation of scientific knowledge and heuristics through semiotic signs of abstraction.

“But in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically”...

— Rene Descartes

“The basic economic resource — the means of production -
is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor.
It is and will be knowledge”…

— Peter Drucker

A transition to a Knowledge Society.

Knowledge was Power (the Ego — Conscious Self — Phenomenon of the Will).

“in 1952, F.A. Hayek wrote what became The Counter-Revolution of Science. The idea is that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a new conception of science was born, which reversed a previous understanding. Science was not a process of discovery by research but a codified end state known and understood only by an elite. This elite would impose its view on everyone else. Hayek called this “the abuse of reason” because genuine reason defers to uncertainty and discovery while scientism as an ideology is arrogant and imagines it knows what is unknown”…

The Intellectual Roots of Techno-Primitivism

A reorientation towards an Übermensch, the transcendence of man (transhumanism), Hegel’s Second Nature and an onward & upward progression towards a Kantian Modern Utopia (Phenomenon of the Will).

An end to history where freedom is redefined to one where man increasingly desires to transcend nature (Ego — Conscious Self — Phenomenon of the Will).

“For Hegel, freedom was not just a psychological phenomenon but the essence of what was distinctively human. In this sense, freedom and nature are diametrically opposed. Freedom does not mean the freedom to live in nature or according to nature; rather, freedom begins only where nature ends. Human freedom emerges only when man is able to transcend his natural, animal existence and to create a new self for himself. The emblematic starting point for this process of self-creation is the struggle to the death for pure prestige”…

― Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man

The Crisis of Modernity and Post-Modernity

“Utopia is that which is in contradiction with reality”…

— Albert Camus

By the early part of the 21st Century, the Modern Mind was in a complete state of disarray (refer Adrift) as the objectivity of Modernism had collided with the subjectivity of Post-Modernism.

“Metaphysics has been criticised as unscientific, speculative, and redundant. But any critic of metaphysics inevitably ends up making metaphysical claims of their own. Metaphysics is in fact inescapable – all of our thinking is underpinned by it, and those who ignore it simply espouse an unexamined and possibly faulty metaphysics” …

There is no escaping metaphysics

The meta-crisis was a crisis of metaphysics (the Study of Being) and the erosion of Truth Claims (stable beliefs and habits) that we can make about the World to guide our actions.

A Nominalism where Reality is solely shaped by the Human Ego and the Primacy of Human Consciousness (Phenomena).

“The appearance of Scientism always indicates a crisis of Philosophy”…

— Augusto Del Noce

An ego-centric materialism in which our feelings shape our consciousness (phenomenology) and our consciousness shapes our values, morals and beliefs. These human beliefs become imprinted upon the world.

“Reason is wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle as conscience, or a sense of morals”…

— David Hume

In such a Phenomenological World feelings motivate us to act; reason cannot.

Modernity & Post-Modernity — The gradual collapse of Human Consciousness into a single Consciousness anchored in Phenomena — A drift away from Transcendental Metaphysics & the notion of a Double Consciousness ( Altersense — Peirce)

Modernity was increasingly being influenced by the ideas of Nietzsche who had dismissed the idea of the Noumena that had been a foundational concept of Immanuel Kant’s work — Critique of Pure Reason.

“But it is not in Nominalism alone that modern thought has attributed to the Human Mind the miraculous power of originating a category of thought that has no counterpart at all in Heaven or Earth. Already in that strangely influential hodge-podge, the salad of Cartesianism, the doctrine stands out very emphatically that the only force is the force of impact which clearly belongs to the category of Reaction; and even since Newton’s Principia began to affect the general thought of Europe through the sympathetic spirit of Voltaire, there has been a disposition to deny any kind of action, except purely mechanical action”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The application of Scientific Discovery to New Technology was increasingly being guided by a Cartesian Mechanistic World View, Technique and Moral Relativism rather than any guiding normative principle such as Peirce’s Pragmatic Maxim, Kant’s Categorical Imperative and Christianity’s Divine Commandments & Natural Law.

Hence, the emergence of a Technology Society and Technological System driven by a Primacy of Human Consciousness.

Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

In 1781 (Second edition: 1787) German Philosopher Immanuel Kant produced the book — Critique of Pure Reason — which was a critical examination of the thoughts of leading and earlier rationalist thinkers of the time including Descartes, Leibniz and Wolf.

“The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once”…

— René Descartes

It was also an attempt to integrate the intellectual ideas of Sir Francis Bacon’s inductive reasoning and the British Empiricist Philosophical School including Berkley, Locke and Hume.

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience”…

— John Locke

Kant asserts that we obtain knowledge of the world through our capacities of sensibility and understanding.

Empirical judgments depend on both sensory experience and concept formation.

Kant was attempting to recognise the interplay between our embodiment in a material world and how such perception of the world is shaped by the structures & concepts of the mind (mental world of abstraction).

Kant and the Noumena

Noumena (things in themselves) was an idea central to Kant’s concept of transcendental idealism where our minds impose certain conceptual frameworks (structures) and categories on our sensory experiences (phenomena) thereby shaping how we perceive and understand the world.

We can never directly know things as they exist independently (i.e. Noumena) but only as they appear to us via our senses via phenomena.

For example according to Kant, space and time are merely formal features of how we perceive objects (a priori subjective forms of intuition), not things in themselves that exist independently of us, or properties or relations amongst them.

Kant was attempting to reconcile the subjectivity of our lived experience (phenomenology and later in the early 20th century through the concept of — Umwelt — a self-centred world ) with our desire for objectivity through abstraction, inference, generalisation and the capacity to reason to understand the World.

The idea of the Noumena was a recognition that there were simply aspects of reality that were beyond our direct comprehension (the Ego — Conscious Self).

Things as it is in itself.

Kant’s exploration of the nature of Human Consciousness

“The experience of the self is always a defeat for the ego”…

— Carl Jung

The significance of Immanuel Kant’s exploration and Critique of Pure Reason was profound.

Traditional philosophical approaches had largely focused on our mental structure of thoughts corresponding with a “true” reality to reveal knowledge (i.e. rationalists — reliability of the mind — abstraction): empiricists —reliability of sensory experiences (e.g. observations) — embodied) about the world.

In contrast, Kant through synthesising the ideas of leading rationalist and empiricist thinkers was beginning to study the subjectivity of human consciousness, the nature of perception, the limits of knowledge, and the relationship between the Observer and the Observed.

“Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind”…

— Immanuel Kant

Kant was recognising our entanglement in the World (the Self and Non-Self ) and the role of our Mind (Human Consciousness) in shaping how we perceive Reality.

According to Kant, our perception of the World is shaped by our mental faculties and categories of understanding.

A priori necessary for any possible cognition of objects.

Our minds impose their own structures on our sensory experience that enable us to bring a sense of coherence to the World.

Kant’s philosophy was one anchored in Transcendental Idealism that highlighted the inherent subjectivity of our perception of the World that emerges through our senses.

One that is ultimately shaped by the innate mental structures of the mind.

A Phenomenological World that appears to us and not a Noumenal World that exists in itself.

Foerster’s Second Order Cybernetics and Peirce’s Double Human Consciousness — the Ego (Phenomenal) and Non-Ego (Noumenal)

“If we glance at the most important revolutions in history, we see at once that the greatest number of these originated in the periodical revolutions of the human mind”…

— Wilhelm von Humboldt

Kant’s ideas exploring the nature of Human Consciousness and the Dyadic nature of Reason were extended through the work of 19th and 20th Century United States Philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce who developed a triadic model of Human Consciousness and later in the 20th Century by the Physicist and Meta-Physicist Heinz von Foerster ideas who was critical of the ideas of realism and objectivity Second Order Cybernetics.

Similar to Kant, Foerster believed that our perceptions of reality are influenced by our own cognitive processes and perspectives. There was no independent objective reality independent of our observations and interpretation.

Objectivity is the delusion that observations could be made without an observer”…

— Heinz von Foerster

Truth was contingent and context-dependent.

Foerster was a radical constructivist where all knowledge was a mental construct of each one of us constructing and interpreting the World based-off our experiences.

“Every man is fully satisfied that there is such a thing as truth, or he would not ask any question”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

However, Pierce through his work in areas such as Semiotics and Human Consciousness came to a different conclusion in relation to the pursuit of objective universal truth and the notion of the Noumena (thing in itself)

“The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Peirce recognised that we make sense of and understand the World through our Human Consciousness beginning with our embodiment in the World.

Our Primisense, feelings and sense of being.

Our mind experienced through the sensesLogico Phenomenological.

However, Peirce also recognised that we bring a sense of coherence to our experiences in the World through our Mind’s interaction with our Mind.

“All the actual character of consciousness is merely the sense of shock of the non-ego upon us”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

A Double Consciousness (an Altersense) that revealed the separation of an Observer (Self) and Observed (Not-Self).

“An element of feeling is neither a part of self-consciousness nor is set up over against self-consciousness. But the consciousness of compulsion in sensation as well as the consciousness of willing necessarily involves self-consciousness and also the consciousness of some exterior force. The self and the not-self are separated in this sort of consciousness. The sense of reaction or struggle between self and another is just what this consciousness consists in. Hence, to give it a name, I propose to call it altersense”….

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Nietzsche, the Übermensch, and Modernity

Even today, many educated people think that the victory of Christianity over Greek philosophy is a proof of the superior truth of the former — although in this case, it was only the coarser and more violent that conquered the more spiritual and delicate. So far as superior truth is concerned, it is enough to observe that the awakening sciences have allied themselves point by point with the philosophy of Epicurus, but point by point rejected Christianity”…

— Friedrich Nietzche

Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, cultural critic, and scholar whose work had a profound influence on various fields of thought — refer to Modern Sophism: Post-Truth, an End to History and a Will to Power.

His ideas challenged traditional moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs and were influenced by the emergence of Science and evolutionary Darwinism.

Writings that explored the nature of human existence, concepts of morality, the role of religion, the nature of power and will, and the potential for individual self-overcoming ( Übermensch).

Nietzsche proposed a radical reevaluation and transformation of traditional moral values as a means to overcome what he saw as the limitations and harmful effects of traditional morality. He argued that these moral systems, particularly those founded in Judeo-Christian ethics, were based on what he called “slave morality”.

He believed that these moral systems had inverted the natural order of values by championing qualities such as humility, selflessness, and meekness as virtuous while condemning qualities associated with power, strength, and assertiveness.

The transvaluation of values, as proposed by Nietzsche, involved a process of overturning these prevailing moral norms.

Nietzsche believed that the prevailing moral framework stifled individual potential and creativity, hindered personal growth, and led to a suppression of vital instincts and motivation.

Instead, Nietzsche advocated for a “noble morality” or morality of the “Übermensch” (often translated as the “overman” or “superman”).

The Übermensch represents an ideal, liberated individual who transcends conventional morality and embraces his or her own power and will to create a meaningful existence.

The transvaluation of values seeks to establish a new moral framework that affirms life, celebrates human potential, and embraces qualities such as self-affirmation, self-mastery, and a creative approach to existence.

Nietzsche, Science, Technology and Logical Positivism

“Some think to avoid the influence of metaphysical errors, by paying no attention to metaphysics; but experience shows that these men beyond all others are held in an iron vice of metaphysical theory, because by theories that they have never called in question” …

– Charles Sanders Peirce

It is important to recognise that Nietzsche’s ideas were critical of the logical positivists* and scientific worldview that was emerging in the late 19th Century, although Nietzsche rejected traditional religious and metaphysical conceptions of reality (the Death of God).

[*By the 1920s the Logical Positivists (also known as logical empiricism) had formed the Vienna School – a group of mathematicians, scientists and philosophers. Logical positivism orientates towards the importance of logical analysis, empirical observation, and the verification principle in the philosophy of science. A statement is meaningful only if it is either empirically verifiable or a truth of logic. The Logical Positivists sought to create a scientific foundation for all knowledge and were critical of metaphysical or speculative philosophy, which they viewed as lacking an empirical foundation. The elimination of metaphysical claims beyond the Physical World from philosophy to promote a more scientifically “rigorous” approach.]

Nietzsche saw how an overemphasis on science and technology could lead to a devaluing of human creativity, uniqueness and potential.

The emergence of a “slave morality”.

“Science brings to the light of day everything man had believed sacred. Technique takes possession of it and enslaves it”…

— Jacques Ellul

Thoughts that were not dissimilar to his critique of Judeo-Christian ethics where moral systems are inverted to their natural order that suppresses one’s creative impulses.

It was a cautionary early warning of what was to unfold through the course of the 20th and early parts of the 21st Century.

Highlighting how a will to power (ego — conscious self) through science and technology was a double-edged sword that could be used to overcome humanity’s challenges but also had the potential to be used to serve certain moral and ideological agendas.

Logical Positivism and Scientific Knowledge

Whilst the Logical Positivist philosophy did attempt to integrate empirical observation with logical analysis to determine truth claims, was the elimination of metaphysical claims beyond the physical world (i.e. immaterial realities) a step too far in their desire to create a scientific foundation for knowledge?

What were the different ways in which Humans could be in the World?

Metaphysics — A Study of a World of Being.

Was Philosophy and Theology forms of Knowledge?

Was there a symbiotic relationship between Faith and Reason?

Were there Limits to Scientific Reductionism and Abstraction in an emergent World of complexity? Limits to the Newtonian paradigm.

Did ethics and values Ground Motives — matter as much as our search for Ground Truths?

Are there simply elements of reality that exist beyond our Human Senses?

Things as it is in itself Noumena Primacy of Existence.

The existence of Immaterial Realities.

Metaphysics — the studies of the World of Being and the Limits to Logic

The essential role of Metaphysics — the study of a World of Being — was starkly illuminated in an interview that Heinz von Foerster — twice Guggenheim Fellow, Physicist and Philosopher — gave at the end of his life.

…“In the course of my life, the more I concerned myself with physics, I realised that actually I was a “metaphysicist”…

Heinz von Foerster – Where is Reality? – Can you show it to me?

He was highlighting the risks to a Society based on more & more Cartesian mathematical abstraction.

Logic — the studies of the World of Thought.

A Society that was increasingly ignoring the pivotal role of Metaphysics (studies the World of Being) in contrast to Logic (studies the World of Thought).

…“How can we let a worldwide networked system of machines grow more or less into infinity if it is based on theories that apparently have holes or are only “good stories”?

I mean such shaky foundations?

Isn’t that dangerous?

Well in this worldwide functioning system of machines, all theories are correct”…

“And of course, that’s what people want.

And why are they correct?

Because they can be deduced from other theories and “stories”

But what will it lead to?

How does it go on?

It goes on deducing indefinitely.

But there have to be limits somewhere?

No, not at all, that's the good thing about it. You can go on forever.

In logic…

Yes, precisely…

But in reality?

Where is reality?

Can you show it to me?”…

Heinz von Foerster — Where is Reality? — Can you show it to me?

Humans are embodied and entangled in the World

An interview that highlighted the important role of metaphysics, the limits of logical abstraction and the embodied nature of Human Consciousness in the World.

As Modernity progressed Science was increasingly being mathematicised through the almost universal embracement of Cartesianism as the underlying Philosophy of Modernity.

The Dawn of Secular Liberalism

Secular Liberalism emerged through the complex interplay between the European Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the Christian Reformation.

It separated the State from the Religious beliefs of its citizens and represented the convergence of two ideas — Liberalism and Secularism.

At the core of Liberalism was the notion of Individual Liberty — we as Individuals have Agency — we are free to order our actions without being constrained or prohibited by the will of others.

The onus or burden of proof to justify any restrictions on liberty is on the external powers such as the State and Institutions (noting the Limits of State Action).

The extension of liberty to private property was central to older forms of Liberalism. In contrast, newer forms saw the State’s role in supervising and overseeing economic life to ensure a stable free Society.

At the core of Secularism is a principle that seeks to conduct human affairs independently of Religion and by the natural laws of our Material World.

It was based on the ideas of — pragmatismmaterialism — and naturalism — and was ultimately shaped by how we experience our day-to-day lives in a Material World.

“A Law of Nature (Lex Naturalis) is a Precept or general Rule, found out by Reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit, that, by which he thinketh it may be best preserved”…

― Thomas Hobbes

The rights of individuals were no longer solely imparted by God but by nature and our Material World through Reason.

A World of Human Thought.

The Death of God and Transcendent Metaphysics

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”…
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s pronouncement “God is Dead” was a synthesis of the implications of a range of tectonic post-enlightenment ideas and a recognition of the increasing orientation of humanity towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness (the Ego Phenomenal — Conscious Self — Self as it appears to self) and Human Agency.

Scientific Method Discovery World as Sensed

Humanity now had an increasing power to manipulate and transform the World we inhabit through the process of uncovering new epistemic scientific knowledge (Episteme Discovery — World as Sensed) and application of such knowledge via technology to innovate and solve human problems (Techne — Creation — World of Action).

Engineering Creation World of Action

A Phenomenological (Ego — Conscious Self) World created via Hegel’s Second Nature, and the evolution towards a Kantian Modern Utopia.

An increasing absence of a Double Consciousness, Transcendental Metaphysics, the Noumena, and Primacy of Existence.

Modernity & Post-Modernity — The gradual collapse of Human Consciousness into a single Consciousness anchored in Phenomena — A drift away from Transcendental Metaphysics & the notion of a Double Consciousness ( Altersense — Peirce)

The outcome of history was now through the Death of God an end to history – and through a Will to Power (Ego).

Nietzsche wasn’t celebrating the Death of God which would ultimately lead to nihilism, but through reimagining Phronesis attempting to overcome nihilism.

Contemplated through a revaluation of values — an affirmation of life that celebrates human potential.

A transvaluation of values, that involved a process of overturning existing prevailing moral norms that were the core of Judea-Christian ethics.

The emergence of Semiotics

“The entire universe is perfused with signs, if it is not composed exclusively of signs” …

– Charles Sanders Peirce

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure's work on language and communication began laying the foundations for modern linguistics and semiotics.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, and how they convey meaning.

It is a multidisciplinary field that reflects Human’s embodiment in the world and explores how signs and symbols are used to represent and communicate information, ideas, and concepts.

Semiotics explores our understanding of the ways in which signs work, how they are interpreted, and the cultural & social factors that shape their meaning.

Saussure, Dyadic Semiotics, the Ego, Subjectivity, Phenomenal and Sophism

“The connection between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary” …

– Ferdinand de Saussure

Saussure’s contributions to semiotics included inter alia :

  1. Sign and Signifier: the concept that language consists of bilateral two-sided signs that cannot be conceptually separated consisting of a. a signifier the physical form of the sign, such as a word or sound, and b. the signified the mental concept or meaning associated with the signifier. It represented a Dyadic.
  2. Arbitrary Nature of Signs: Saussure argued that the relationship between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary (subjective), meaning there is no inherent connection between the sound or word and its meaning. It is based on social conventions — a social phenomenon. A Sophist (Ego) form of Semiotics
  3. Synchronic Analysis: Saussure focused on the study of language as it exists at a particular point in time (synchronic analysis) rather than historical change (diachronic analysis).
  4. Language as a System: Saussure viewed language as a structured system of signs, with elements interconnected and defined by their relationships within the system.
  5. Structuralism: His work laid the foundation for structuralism, a broader intellectual movement that applied similar ideas to fields beyond linguistics, such as anthropology, sociology and literary theory.

Peirce, Triadic Semiotics, the Ego & Non-Ego, Phenomenal & Noumenal, Pragmatism, Objectivity and Integration

In the United States during the late 19th and early 20th Century period, Charles Sanders Peirce, an American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist known was independently exploring similar semiotic concepts to Saussure beyond the meaning of language.

Peirce’s Semiotic Theory was more comprehensive and encompassed not only linguistic signs but signs in a broader sense, including symbols, icons, and indexes. Semiotics is an account of signification, representation, reference and meaning.

He developed a detailed typology of signs and emphasised the pragmatic aspects of semiotics, considering the practical consequences and effects of signs.

Peirce is one of the founders of pragmatism, a philosophical movement that emphasises the practical consequences of beliefs and habits.

Peirce, A Theory of Signs and the Semiotic Triadic

“What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning”…

— Werner Heisenberg

Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic triadic is a fundamental aspect of his Theory of Signs.

It describes the relationship between signs and their interpretants (the entities that interpret or understand signs) in a triadic structure.

It was also a departure from Saussure’s dyadic semiotics and his bilateral two-sided signs.

The Semiotic Triadic was a combination of an Observer (Primacy of Human Consciousness), a Sign (Meaning) and the Observed (Primacy of Existence).

‘In perception, there is a double consciousness of an ego and non-ego”…

– Charles Sanders Peirce

It is through the interplay between the Ego (PhenomenalSensemaking) and Non-Ego (Noumenal — Reflexivity) elements of perception — a double consciousness — that truths could be revealed through the process of reason — a process of learning.

“There is a definite opinion to which the mind of man is, on the whole and in the long run tending. On many questions the final agreement is already reached, on all it will be reached if time enough is given… This final opinion, then, is independent, not indeed of thought, in general, but of all that is arbitrary and individual in thought; is quite independent of how you, or I or any number of men think. Everything, therefore, which will be thought to exist in the final opinion is real, and nothing else…

This theory of reality is instantly fatal to the idea of a thing in itself, — a thing existing independent of all relation to the mind’s conception of it. Yet it would by no means forbid, but rather encourage us, to regard the appearances of sense as only signs of the realities. Only, the realities which they represent, would not be the unknowable cause of sensation, but noumena or intelligible conceptions which are the last products of the mental action which is set in motion by sensation”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Metaphysical Idealism and Epistemological Realism — a Primisense, Double Consciousness (Altersense) and Medisense

Perception is the gate to Abstraction and part of Logic, that being the Study of the World of Thought ( Primacy of Human Consciousness — Res cogitans — Apart from World )

Purposive Action is the gate to Embodiment and part of Metaphysics, that being the Study of the World of Being (a holistic exploration of the nature of reality including Res extensa ).

“The elements of every concept enter into logical thought at the gate of perception and make their exit at the gate of purposive action; and whatever cannot show its passports at both those two gates is to be arrested as unauthorized by reason.”

— Charles Sanders Peirce

Peirce developed a Metaphysical framework that assists with the study of the World of Being and also a Logical framework that assists with the study of the World of Thought through the Pragmatic Maxim.

The triadic model consists of three key elements:

  1. Sign (or Representamen): This is the first element and represents something that stands for or signifies something else. It can take various forms, such as words, sounds, tastes, symbols, smells, images, or any medium that conveys meaning.
  2. Object: The object is the second element and refers to the actual thing, concept, or phenomenon that the sign represents. It’s what the sign is about or points to in the world.
  3. Interpretant: The interpretant is the third element and represents the mental or cognitive aspect of semiosis (the process of sign interpretation). It is what the sign evokes or produces in the mind of the interpreter. Interpretants can lead to further signs and interpretations, creating a chain of semiosis.

“Philosophy ought to imitate the successful sciences in its methods, so far as to…trust rather to the multitude and variety of its arguments than to the conclusiveness of any one. Its reasoning should not form a chain which is no stronger than its weakest link, but a cable whose fibres may be ever so slender, provided they are sufficiently numerous and intimately connected”…

- Charles Sanders Peirce

Peirce’s semiotic triadic emphasises the dynamic nature of signs and their interpretive process. It highlights that signs do not have fixed, one-to-one relationships with their objects but operate within a network of meaning and interpretation.

“A concept is not a mere jumble of particulars — that is only its crudest species. A concept is the living influence upon us of a diagram, or icon, with whose several parts are connected in thought an equal number of feelings or ideas. The law of mind is that feelings and ideas attach themselves in thought so as to form systems. But the icon is not always clearly apprehended. We may not know at all what it is: or we may have learned it by the observation of nature.”…

– Charles Sanders Peirce

This triadic model has had a profound influence on the development of semiotics and the understanding of how signs function in communication and cognition.

Modernity, Post-Modernity’s Metaphysics & Semiotic Triadic Collapse

“Postmodernity is said to be a culture of fragmentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality, in which the traditionally valued qualities of depth, coherence, meaning, originality, and authenticity are evacuated or dissolved amid the random swirl of empty signals” …

– Jean Baudrillard

As Modernity progressed and Post-Modernity emerged, the philosophical ideas of Nominalism, Cartesianism and the post-Nietzschean rebuke of Kant’s Noumena combined to not only result in the collapse of Metaphysics – the Death of God – but also the increasing collapse of Peirce’s Semiotic Triadic (A Metaphysical framework that assists with the study of the World of Being and also a Logical framework that assists with the study of World of Thought & Reason through the Pragmatic Maxim).

An increasing reorientation towards the Ego (Phenomenal) of one’s Double Consciousness.

A new vernacular emerged that reflected this shift towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness (a World of Thought — the Ego Phenomenal — Conscious Self — Self as it appears to self) including Scientism, Transhumanism, Genetic Engineering, Bio Engineering, Geo-Engineering, Artificial General Intelligence, Bestand ( a standing reserve) and Singularity.

“Transhumanism is the ethics and science of using things like biological and genetic engineering to transform our bodies and make us a more powerful species”…

— Dan Brown

New social and political structures such as Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Scientism, Communism, Globalism, Market State, State Capitalism, Technocracies and Totalitarianism.

The rise of a Project State with a desire for a human transformation of Society.

There was even the emergence of new types of Neo-Gnosticism anchored in Technology .

However, the paradox of Secular Liberalism was its increasing intolerance for other ways of being as highlighted in Alexander Solzenhitsyn’s 1979 Harvard University commencement address — A World Split Apart.

Modern Sophism, Post–Truth, an End to History and a Will to Power.

Dyadic Semiotics, Cartesianism and Nominalism.

Semiotics & Pragmatism’s new place in the context of the history of Western Civilisation Philosophical Thought

Charles Sanders Peirce is increasingly regarded as America’s greatest thinker and a modern-day Aristotle.

His Theory of Truth, Theory of Meaning and Theory of Inquiry reflect a shift towards a more integral way of being.

A monism where our beliefs and actions are interdependent and interconnected.

The integration of a World of Thought and a World of Being.

The Metaphysical with the Physical.

The subjectivity of each one of our Human experiences with the capacity to seek (via reason) ground truths and be guided (morals) by eternal truths in the world we create through our agency.

Pragmatism represents the third leg of the stool — the rich philosophical tradition of Western Civilisation alongside Analytical and Continental Philosophy.

Peirce’s ideas were about revealing the universal structures of meaning in the universe that integrate our Minds and Bodies — a step beyond Cartesian Dualism.

He stood on the shoulders of the intellectual giants of Western Civilisation and extended the foundational metaphysical concepts of Categories through his Semiotic Theory.

  • Aristotle Categories of Things — Ontological Predicates — Ways things can be
  • Kant — Categories of Understanding — Psychological Predicates — Ways things can be understood
  • Peirce Categories of the WholeTriadic structures of the Universe — Meaning, Mind & Body
The Pragmatic Maxim — Beliefs (Logic) and Habits (Semeiotics) — The meaning of a concept or idea can be found in its practical effects or consequences

Modernity, Post-Modernity and the Collapse of Metaphysics and the Semiotic Triadic

“The transition from signs that dissimulate something to signs that dissimulate that there is nothing marks a decisive turning point”…

- Jean Baudrillard

Edgar Morin is a French philosopher and sociologist of the theory of information who is known for his work on complexity including the Study of the World of Thought.

In an interview, he gave in 2011 on Seven Complex Lessons in Education — he briefly talks about the emergence of the scientific disciplines in supplying new knowledge (the World of Thought) but he also highlights the fundamental flaw in the current approach — sensemaking (ego & Phenomenal element of Double Consciousness ) and the absence of reflexivity (non-ego & Noumenal element of Double Consciousness) — hence, an absence of learning to learn.

A single Human Consciousness rather than a Double Consciousness of Perception that combines the Ego and Non-Ego as revealed by Peirce.

A Phenomenal World of Experience anchored in the Ego (Self — Will) without a Noumenal World of Existence (Things in Themselves) anchored in the Non-Ego (Non-Self).

The absence of Transcendental Metaphysics and Learning.

“It should reflect that it supplies knowledge [in discussing the emergence of scientific disciplines], but it doesn’t supply — not even at Universities — a reflection on what knowledge is. In other words, the risk of error and illusion which always exist. We can recognise the errors and illusions of the past, but obviously emerged in the present, we don’t have the capacity to detect them. Why do we have this problem? Because all knowledge is a translation of reality through one's language, ideas and theories”…

— Edgar Morin

This could be described as a semiotic triadic collapse, in the context of Charles Sanders Peirce’s Semiotic Theory, where the full triadic relationship — the Ego and Non-Ego of consciousness (Altersense ) becomes decoupled.

World of Thought (Logic) & World of Being (Metaphysics) — Double Consciousness — Ego (Phenomena) & Non-Ego (Noumena) — Phenomena (Self) & Noumena (Non-Self )

The nexus between a World of Thought and a World of Being.

A collapse in the bridge to the mind and cognition & knowledge.

Ignoring the Pragmatic Maxim which suggests that the meaning of a concept or idea can be found in its practical effects or consequences. A guiding normative regulating principle of logic and reason.

The Pragmatic Maxim The integration of Semiotics (Meaning) with Logic The meaning of a concept or idea can be found in the practical effects or consequences The Formulation of Beliefs and Habits

“If you desire to see, learn how to act”…

— Heinz von Foerster

The integration of the Metaphysical framework that assists with the study of the World of Being and also a Logical framework that assists with the study of the World of Thought.

No longer was the non-ego or non-self present in what Charles Sanders Peirce called the Altersense (Secondness) — the dyadic relationship — double consciousness of perception.

Our Sense of Being.

Hence, the Medisense and the formation of habits (Thirdness) were no longer about reflection and learning.

Instead, we had a Will without Sensation.

A Will to Power.

“All the actual character of consciousness is merely the sense of shock of the non-ego upon us”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The Semiotic Triadic Collapse has both Metaphysical (study of the World of Being) and Logical ( study of World of Thought and Reason) consequences.

The ever-present risk of eroding our Sense of Coherence.

A decoupling of the Primacy of Human Consciousness from the Primacy of Existence.

The Semiotic Triadic decoupling can result in lies (e.g. Sophism, Ideology, Dogma, Propaganda etc.) or the obfuscation (hiding of meaning) of the truth.

“Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used “to tell” at all.”…

– Umberto Eco

The emergence of a fictional world of HyperReality, the Simulacrum, Simulation, HyperNormalisation and Maps without Territories.

“Animals have no unconscious because they have a territory. Men have only had an unconscious since they lost a territory”…
Jean Baudrillard

Ontological Philosophical Errors and Category Mistakes — Example A and Example B.

“A category mistake, a category error, categorical mistake, or mistake of a category is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category or, alternatively, a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property” …

A collapse in the Semiotic Triadic including Metaphysics, Logic and Reason with all the real-world consequences that follow from a Post-Truth World anchored in the Primacy of Human Consciousness, the Ego (Conscious Self) and a Nietzschean Will to Power.

A World of Thought (Logic) anchored in the Ego and Phenomenal without a World of Being (Metaphysics), the Non-Ego and Noumenal.

“He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see”…

Ayn Rand




Richard Schutte

Innovation, Intrapreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Complexity, Leadership & Community Twitter: @complexityvoid