Spheres of investigation and triads

With reference to Chapter 1’s description of the triad system within research, it is now relevant to mention:

  • How the playing, inquisitive, exploring, testing and investigating person tries to overcome, to gain mastery, control or knowledgeabout objects and items in the form of toys.

On the surface, play is simply a matter of “playing” but, at a so-called “higher” level (in secondness and thirdness play), play is concerned with investigating and understanding objects and problems within a wide variety of different processes, spheres of study and research - i.e. interpreting!

In Peirce terminology, the interpretant is “that which is interpreted by the person-at-play who interprets” when the toys provoke creative thoughts and ideas, motivate to experimentation, manipulation and interpretation.

From Peirce’s basic pragmatic definition, a toy will therefore be a sign which always means something to somebody.

Peirce refers to six categories - physics, biology, physiology, psychology, logic and especially metaphysics - each of which include several triads which are used to experience and interpret the sign’s foundation from the perspective of the person-at-play’s individuality and personality.

These are listed here in arbitrary order and indicate the types of content through which the person-at-play arrives at an interpretation of the many different actions and experiences (the many elements of play), objects and items (the variety of toys):

  1. Toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s physical capabilities

are experienced via the following four triads:

    • Indeterminacy, Haecceity, Process
    • Chance, Law, Habit
    • Rest, Velocity, Acceleration
    • Inertia, Force, Causality
  1. Toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s boilogical capabilities

are experienced via the following three triads:

    • Sensibility, Motion, Growth
    • Variation (Arbitrary Sporting), Heredity, Selection
    • Instinct, Experience, Habit
  1. Toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s physiological capabilities

are experienced within two triads:

    • Cellular Excitation, Excitation Transfer, Habitual Excitation
    • Irritation, Reflex, Repetition
  1. Toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s psychological capabilities

are experienced within the following four triads:

    • Feeling, Willing, Knowing
    • Feeling, Reaction, General Conception
    • Feeling, Activity, Learning
    • Instinct, Desire, Purpose
  1. Toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s logical capabilities

are experienced within the following six triads:

    • Hypothesis, Induction, Deduction
    • Names, Propositions, Inferences
    • Sign, Signified, Cognition
    • Terminus, Connection, Branching
    • Icon, Index, Symbol
    • Absolute Term, Relative Term, Conjugative Term (of recognition)
  1. In metaphysics, toys’, play’s and the person-at-play’s capabilities

are found within the following five triads:

    • I, It, Thou
    • Spirit, Matter, Evolution
    • Origin, End, Mediation(Betweenness)
    • Pluralism, Dualism, Monism
    • Mind, Matter, God

We don’t know whether Peirce had thought that the concepts of investigation and research are play but there is no doubt in my mind that his own investigations/research - his life’s work - occupied him in such a way that the impetus must have been playing with ideas or a playing with things.

At one stage, Peirce formed an idea about research and investigation, that “the irritation provoked by doubt causes a battle to achieve a state of belief. I will call this the battle for investigation.” This statement is the closest I can get in my “game” to connecting the theories of Buber, Jaynes and Peirce - despite the fact that the basic premises are so different - although maybe in fact they aren’t so different after all!

The question of belief and consciousness arises from the human being’s desire to undertake a search, although this seeking or desire to find an explanation for all kinds of questions about life can drive a person to the limits and often beyond!

Wanting to find an explanation, a solution, a form of recognition and belief is the human being’s desire to conquer uncertainty.

We have to work hard and fight for, but also play our way to belief and recognition - and this is exactly what many people do, i.e. allow themselves to be fascinated and play with both things and thoughts all through life.

There is a clear connection between the metaphysical triads and the philosophical paradigms about thirdness play in the play triad and there is all good reason to consider it because children consciously/unconsciously are able to experience toys, play and the possibilities in the situations within the metaphysical triads described by Peirce.

Research and studies within this sphere are very few and far between. As the first and possibly the only researcher, Turkle (1984) includes these metaphysical concepts in connection with children’s recognition of their own play situation - in a study of the use of animism, PCs and video games.

It is obvious that play is an integral part of investigation and research - and vice versa. But the stages or levels (especially the logical or metaphysical phases) of play differ according to the child’s development.

The child’s development - his capacity for understanding his surroundings, his indefatigable desire to find solutions and explanations, well assisted by a sympathetic and stimulating milieu - is dependent upon his age and experience.

Where the metaphysical aspect is concerned, through my own observations of children at play, I have reached the following conclusions about children’s level of development and the theories described:

  • The primary metaphysical phase - the naive phase (0-5 years)

The child is in a dialogic and speculative position on a naive foundation which is processed via awareness and curiosity about a phenomenon through experimentation, manipulation and random, spontaneous testing (naïve research).

  • The second metaphysical phase - mastery(from 6 - 10/11 years)

The child competes with himself and with others on the legitimacy of testing and solving uncertainty and ignorance in all unknown phenomena and questions. His consciousness of his own power over things and situations is crucial to continuation of the dialogic and speculative dimension of the first phase.

  • The third metaphysical phase - identity (from 11/12 years and up)

Children evaluate and consider the truth and value of things on the basis of the earlier phases. They are occupied with the pragmatic complex re the consequences of making the “correct” choice and of recognising trivial but sometimes contradictory explanations.



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