Looking at Razie Mah’s (2014) A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion” (Part 1 of 24)

0001 Many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that declare themselves to be “not religious”.

Can a “not religious” sovereign establish a religion?

I like to call this apparent anomaly, “Big Government (il)Liberalism”.

Other names also apply.

0002 Indeed, parents and teachers suspect that the standards… or perhaps, the norms… of these godless educational… er, indoctrinating agencies do not allow a type of thinking that has been common to Christian civilization since its inception.  This type of thinking is both analytic and synthetic and is promulgated by the schoolmen (or “scholastics”) of the so-called “Middle Ages”.

As it turns out, scholastic debates concerning mind-independent and mind-dependent reality end up with a definition of sign-relation that incorporates modern science, while at the same time transcending it.

Of course, the mechanical philosophers of the 1600s don’t know this.  Modern scientists try to model observations and measurements of phenomena, using their highly specialized disciplinary languages.  These models break down into two elements: cause and effect.

But, material and physical cause and effect cannot describe the causality inherent in sign relations.

0003 Surely, there are three elements to all existence.

Charles Peirce (1839-1914 AD) reads Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Baroque Scholastic, and comes up with the idea that there are three categories.  Firstness has one element.  Secondness (which includes mechanical science) has two elements.  Thirdness has three.  These three categories describe the causality inherent in a sign relation.

These three categories are also the foundation for the category-based nested form.

0004 So, what does this mean to parents and teachers?

None of the government agencies, who declare themselves to be “scientific”, can define the sign as a triadic relation.

So, perhaps that is a good place to start.

0005 Semiotics encompasses the natural sciences, not the other way around.

Teaching your students the analytic and synthetic practices of the category-based nested form and semiotics will prepare them for technology, engineering and mathematics. Science typifies secondness.  And, secondness stands between thirdness and firstness.

Say what?

Take a look at the following figure.  Even without familiarity with Peirce’s categories, the diagram tells a story concerning the relevance of triadic relations1 in regards to inquiry3 and science2.  Understanding is not the same as scientific determination.

Figure 01

0006 What about the social sciences?

I wonder, can modern social scientists observe and measure social phenomena?

Can they model observations of religious behavior, when they describe themselves as “not religious”?

If everyone can be religious and if social scientists choose not to be religious in order to build models of their observations of those who are, then isn’t there some sort of contradiction?

Or, is that the nature of specialization?

Speaking of specialization, sociologists do not study psychology.  Psychologists do not study sociology.  Plus, sociology and psychology ignore biology.  All these disciplines are alchemically sealed within their own academic echo-chambers.  They cannot hear one another.

Say what?

0007 The category-based nested form is a triadic relation, that is both synthetic and analytic.  It is useful for reading texts.  It is a powerful tool for picturing the purely relational characteristics of psychology, sociology, cognition and evolution.

A Course on How to Define the Word “Religion” offers a unique path into topics covered by the so-called “social sciences”, without the blinders of BG(il)L.

Please consider this course when developing a curriculum for your children and your students.


Looking at Razie Mah’s Series (2015)  A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”  (Part 24 of 24)

0161 In conclusion, many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that promulgate a religion, even they they declare themselves to be “not religious”.

This course is one way to approach the difficulty.

This course offers a path, a text, along which you, the adult, and your children and your students may walk together.

0162 No other work in the field of education in 2022 compares.

Except of course, other courses by Razie Mah, such as A Course on The Archaeology of the Fall and A Course on the Human Niche.

Welcome to the fourth age of understanding.

0163 A Course on How To Define The Word “Religion” may be found at smashwords and other e-book vendors, using the search terms: Razie Mah, series,  course, how to define the word “religion”.

The course consists of ten primers, followed by the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

Each primer and masterwork is punctuated, not by page numbers, but by points.  A one-hour class may cover between twenty and forty points.  That is a little slower than one per minute.  If you conduct a class, record the number of points covered per session and report to raziemah@reagan.com.

0164 These blogs provide a taste of the style and the content.  They complement, rather than substitute for the primers and the masterwork.

I hope that you enjoy these blogs and pass them onto others who may serve as guides in a world where education is the job of parents and those similarly motivated, rather than those who are certified by the state.

God bless.


Day 1: Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 1 of 8)

0001 What is Reality?

Reality is a journal for philosophical discourse.

It is worthy of financial support by people of good will.

Reality is the only journal, to date, closing the gap between Thomistic philosophy and Peircean semiotics.

Brian Kemple Ph.D. is the editor of Reality.

0002 He is also the last graduate student of the late John Deely (1942-2017), of fond memory.  

0003 The essay at hand appears in 2020, volume 1, and covers pages 76-123.

The full title is “Signs and Reality: An Advocation for Semiotic Realism”.

0004 The issue is captured on page 115.

Kemple writes (more or less), “If we are to have a living, thriving realism, it must be a realism capable of dealing with the entirety of the real; not only the reality that we engage directly through our senses, but the reality we experience perceptually and intellectually as well, a reality comprising the relations and especially the sign-relations that constitute so much of our experience.”


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 2 of 8)

0005 Matthew Minerd Ph.D. pens a commentary that follows Brian Kemple’s essay.

Thomists currently exhibit an attitude when it comes to semiotic things.

0006 He notes (more or less), “For contemporary scholastics, the domain of cognition-dependent reality generally is a kind of terra non-considerata.  Real being is ens naturae and is separate from the domains of knowledge, technical craft and moral freedom.  These are entia rationis (mind-dependent beings) that, honestly, belong in the shadow.”

0007 How so?

The shadow is not the causalities inherent in ens rationis.

The shadow is the awfulness of the topic.

Look at the shadow side of the domains that Minerd mentions: ignorance (shadow of knowledge), incompetence (shadow of technical craft) and depravity (shadow of moral freedom).

Entia rationis are the things of original sin.

0008 What Thomist wants to wade into that mess?


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 3 of 8)

0009 Now, I regard Kemple’s article “Signs and Reality”, in the journal, Reality, and Razie Mah’s Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (available at the smashwords website).

Is there a crack in the mirror of the scholastic world, as it reflects on res (thing)?

Things are real.

So are sign relations.

If so, are sign relations things?

0010 If sign relations are real, then the consequences of their realness cannot be denied.

This if-then statement applies to biology.

Are sign-relations so real that they are able to support a niche, into which some hapless creature may adapt?  A niche is the potential of an actuality independent of the adapting genus.  Could sign-relations, or triadic relations in general, be so real as to constitute a niche?

Consider the masterwork, The Human Niche.

0011 There are more consequences.

If sign relations are real, then a cultural change in the natural-sign character of talk may account for a rapid, inexorable alteration of a Lebenswelt.  Does such a transition explain why our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

Consider the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall.

0012 Finally, if our current Lebenswelt turns the evolutionary progression upside down, elevating stipulation over custom and custom over nature, then how do we validate our spoken words?  If the meaning, presence and message underlying a spoken word is stipulated, upon what thing do we staple our stipulation?  How about this: If we construct an artifact, then that artifact should validate our stipulation.  The artifact validates what we stipulate it to be.

What can go wrong with that?

Consider the masterwork, How to Define the Word “Religion”.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 4 of 8)

0013 Three masterworks, all available on smashwords, The Human NicheAn Archaeology of the Fall and How to Define the Word “Religion”, expose scientific implications of Brian Kemple’s claims.

If sign-relations are things, then we have an entirely new way to appreciate human evolution, including a recent, and revelatory, twist.

0014 Another triadic relation, the category-based nested form, proves invaluable in discussing these issues.

A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction provide the background.

A category-based nested form consists in a normal context3, an actuality2 and a potential1.  The subscripts refer to Peirce’s categories.  These three elements fulfill four relational statements.

0015 Here is a picture.

Figure 1

Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 5 of 8)

0016 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available on the smashwords website, examines Kemple’s work using the category-based nested form and the three-level interscope.

0017 Kemple presents three actualities: species impressaspecies expressa and species intelligibilis from various texts by Aquinas.

These fit into a three-level interscope in the following fashion.

Figure 2

0018 Of course, one may contest these associations.

But, how else would these terms fit into the empty slots of a three-level interscope?

Perhaps, I could put in the word “normal context” for the normal context3 for all three levels and “potential” for the potential1 of all three levels.

But, that would not change the overall picture.

0019 Even more curious, these three actualities serve as sign-objects and sign-vehicles in sign-relations.  There are three sign-relations in this figure.  So each actuality may serve as both a sign-vehicle and a sign-object.

The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels. 


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 6 of 8)

0020 Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story and suggests associations between Kemple’s… er…. Aquinas’s terminology and the category-based nested form.

First, three kinds of sign-objects correspond to three actualities in a three-level interscope.

Second, three sign-relations couple the levels, so that each object may serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object.  The only sign that does not serve as both a sign-vehicle and sign-object is the interventional sign.

0021 Here is a picture.

Figure 3

0022 The interventional sign couples the perspective and content levels.

The specifying sign couples the content and situation levels.

The exemplar sign couples the situation and perspective levels.

0023 Kemple specifically mentions three types of signs.  These correspond to the character of the sign-vehicle for the interventional sign.

These types are nature, custom and stipulation.  

These three types associate to periods in human evolution.

0024 The first two are discussed in Comments on Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language”.  See this blog for the middle of May, 2021.

Early in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, natural events serve as sign-vehicles for interventional signs.  Since hominins adapt into the niche of triadic relations, the sign-objects of the interventional sign, sensations and feelings, turn into sign-vehicles for specifying signs.

Later in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, linguistic manual-brachial word-gestures serve as sign vehicles for interventional signs.  The sign-objects decode the interventional signs according to custom.  Specifying signs are trained by timeless traditions.  Exemplar signs cannot be articulated using hand talk, yet they involve crucial adaptations, because the exemplar sign-object manifests as a commitment.

0025 Finally, after the first singularity, in our current Lebenswelt, the exemplar sign is able to be symbolized by speech-alone talk.

This turns out to be most problematic, since speech-alone allows the interventional sign-vehicle to be stipulated.  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” tells a story about a stipulation.  The story also tells about concupiscence.

0026 The sign-object of the exemplar sign occupies the same position in the three-level interscope as the sign-vehicle of the interventional sign.  This is significant.  Thomas Aquinas’s theology of original sin conducts itself precisely along the circuit depicted above, as discussed in Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and the Challenge of Evolution”.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 7 of 8)

0027  Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”, available at smashwords, includes a story of a rot consuming the Age of Ideas, the third age of understanding.  Modernism is frozen in its gaze upon a thing, an innocent thing.  Certain modern elites hunger to financialize and harvest such innocence.  Call it what you will.  The yearning goes by many names.

In time, the rot will run its course.

Modernism will fail.

However, in this theodrama, the premodern Thomism of the Latin Age, the second age of understanding, may transubstantiate into the postmodern Thomism of the Age of Triadic Relations, the fourth age of understanding.  Deely predicts it.  Kemple aims to manifest it.  Signs are real, just like things.

0028 This is not the only fissure to appear in the scholastic mirror of the world.

Shall I elaborate?

0029 Smashwords contains an entire series of commentaries devoted to the question, “Is Aristotle’s hylomorphism an expression of Peirce’s category of secondness?

Another series is devoted to empirio-schematics, starting with Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) “Natural Philosophy” and Comments on Nicholas Berdyaev’s Book (1939) “Spirit and Reality”.

Several commentaries in the series, Reverberations of the Fall, expand on Aquinas’s breakthrough concept of original justice.

0030 These series are not anomalies.  They are features of what happens when Thomists take seriously the very topic that they struggle to avoid.

Kemple’s advocation leads the way.


Looking at Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality” (Part 8 of 8)

0031 Look to Reality: A Journal of Philosophical Discourse.

Visit the website.

Donate to its flourishing.

Read the works.

Take a course.

0032 Most challenging of all, hire a budding scholar to compare and contrast Kemple’s article “Signs and Reality”, in the journal, Reality, and Razie Mah’s Comments on Brian Kemple’s Essay (2020) “Signs and Reality”.

The assignment will not disappoint.