Threesology Research Journal
Texan Killing Texan

(The Study of Threes)

If I had put the the title of this page as "C.S. Pierce's Triadism," "Pierce's Pragmaticism," "Systems of Logic," etc..., many of you wouldn't have even opened up this page. Go ahead, tell the truth- the whole truth- and nothing but the truth. How about that for a Triadism, even though some of us think it's a rather silly representation (and practice) of (at least) the American justice system since it is no magical phrase that can actually force anyone to tell the truth... whether they know what is really true or what they believe is true.

With respect to the "Texan Killing Texan" phrase, it comes by way of an example of deductive logic used by Charles Pierce and can be read on this page under the heading of "(6) Synechism, the Continuum, Infinites, and Infinitesimals":

--- Charles Sanders Peirce ---
(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Here is the three-part (syllogistic) Logic Pierce used to explain a finite set... (In other words, there is a limit to the number of Texans).

  • Every Texan kills some Texan;
  • No Texan is killed by more than one Texan;
  • Therefore every Texan is killed by some Texan.

This statement of logic referring to a finite (fixed) set is neither practical (pragmatic) nor an instance of "appropriate" language usage (pragmatics), though no doubt some readers might prefer other definitions to these terms. And no, I am not using the word "appropriate" to mean social sensitivity to Texans. In this instance of explanation, the "Texans" aren't real people, their a bunch of androids from some futuristic world. So if there are any Texans reading this, don't get hot under the collar.

If this "Texan" example is used to express current logic of a finite set, we are all in trouble. Particularly if it is applied to so-called everyday matters in business and industry. If every Texan kills some Texan and no Texan is killed by more than one Texan, and every Texan is supposed to be killed by some Texan, this means that the last two Texans had to kill each other, or the last one standing had to kill themselves... unless, shame on us, someone from another State or Country joins in the killing game and kills the last Texan.

So, did each Texan who killed another Texan die instantly, or did they stagger around awhile (like we used to die as kids playing cowboys and indians or cops and robbers?... in other words, the "death scene" was exaggerated,) whereby they had a chance to kill another Texan? Do the Texans engage in "Man-to-Man" confrontations suggestive of the Hollywood type of dirt street face-to-face gun fight, or the more realistic get-them-drunk (on religion, patriotism, money, etc.,) and stab-them-in-the-back, or gang up on them (attack them with overwhelming odds,) or bushwhack them; the latter being representative of the method used by the Texan Bush (over and over again that Congress buys in to), though other examples could be used to describe L.B. Johnson's affair with Big Business during the Viet Nam War and Ross Perot's political connections that made him run for the Presidency with no desire to win (he deliberately chose his vice president with this in mind)... except to draw votes away from potential threats to the Presidency of the time. They are all Texans, in more ways than one. All three Texans involved themselves in binary forms of thinking... and if you're wondering which Texan should be the first one killed, it's not too difficult to understand the present logic.

The "Texan Kills Texan" example of logic is neither good for pragmatists (practicality) nor pragmaticists (clarity of language). You and I can find it humorous, but it is less useful than the child's syllogism of "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy was he?" The Texan example of a finite set logic is filled full of buckshot holes that are being overlooked as "the natural order of things" scientifically defined as the evidence of termites. Anthropomorphizing (applying a human characteristic to) logic can be useful such as elucidating a primary problem occurring with all of logic; though many logicians overlook because they prefer to use non-human symbols such as a,b,c, x,y,z, 1,2,3, etc...

Even those with "tested and recorded" high I.Q's are not immune from falling prey to a primary problem in ALL logical systems. Namely, why is there a recurring reliance on a pattern-of-three formula? I don't care what words or symbols are employed to describe your intellectualisms, why a pattern-of-three? Don't tell me it's because this is the standard model you learned from reading someone else's three-part logic system. This still does not answer the question. Whereas some of you might venture to say that all the "Great" philosophers used a pattern-of-three, you still have not answered the question of Why?

You can list all of Charles Pierce's triads as a supporting argument for your own usage, and that he adopted a pattern-of-three orientation due to the influence he received from those he studied, but you still have not answered why. Here's a short piece about Pierce's usage of threes:

[9.] Triadism and the Universal Categories

Merely to say that Peirce was extremely fond of placing things into groups of three, of trichotomies, and of triadic relations, would fail miserably to do justice to the overwhelming obtrusiveness in his philosophy of the number three. Indeed, he made the most fundamental categories of all “things” of any sort whatsoever the categories of “Firstness,” “Secondness,” and “Thirdness,” and he often described “things” as being “firsts” or “seconds” or “thirds.” For example, with regard to the trichotomy “possibility,” “actuality,” and “necessity,” possibility he called a first, actuality he called a second, and necessity he called a third.

Again: quality was a first, fact was a second, and habit (or rule or law) was a third.

Again: entity was a first, relation was a second, and representation was a third.

Again: rheme (by which Peirce meant a relation of arbitrary adicity or arity) was a first, proposition was a second, and argument was a third.

The list goes on and on. Let us refer to Peirce's penchant for describing things in terms of trichotomies and triadic relations as Peirce's “triadism.”

If Peirce had a general technical rationale for his Triadism, Peirce scholars have not yet made it abundantly clear what this rationale might be. He seemed to base his Triadism on what he called “phaneroscopy,” by which word he meant the mere observation of phenomenal appearances. He regularly commented that the phenomena in the phaneron just do fall into three groups and that they just do display irreducibly triadic relations. He seemed to regard this matter as simply open for verification by direct inspection.

Although there are many examples of phenomena that do seem more or less naturally to divide into three groups, Peirce seems to have been driven by something more than mere examples in his insistence on applying his categories to almost everything imaginable. Perhaps it was the influence of Kant, whose twelve categories divide into four groups of three each. Perhaps it was the triadic structure of the stages of thought as described by Hegel. Perhaps it was even the triune commitments of orthodox Christianity (to which Peirce, at least in some contexts and during some swings of mood, seemed to subscribe). Certainly involved was Peirce's commitment to the ineliminability of mind in nature, for Peirce closely associated the activities of mind with the aforementioned triadic relation that he called the “sign” relation. (More on this topic appears below.) Also involved was Peirce's so-called “reduction thesis” in logic (on which more will given below), to which Peirce had concluded as early as 1870.

It is difficult to imagine even the most fervently devout of the passionate admirers of Peirce, of which there are many, saying that his account (or, more accurately, his various accounts) of the three universal categories is (or are) absolutely clear and compelling. Yet, in almost everything Peirce wrote from the time the categories were first introduced, Peirce's firsts, seconds, and thirds found a place. Giving their exact and general analysis and providing an exact and general account of their rationale, if there be such, constitute chief problems in Peirce scholarship.

--- Charles Sanders Peirce ---

(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The referred to "rationale" suggested in the foregoing as to why Pierce used "triads," may be nothing more than an environmentally influenced predisposition that he and other philosophers do not logically assess. In other words, it requires a different system of logic (and logistics) to understand why they use the three-part logic formulas they do. Simplistically put, they don't think outside the three-patterned organizational methodology they've boxed themselves into. Why Pierce (and a few others) are particularly receptive and sensitive to this purported environmentally influenced threes predisposition, can at this point only be answered with a guess such as the presence of a genetic viability. While there are many philosophers, why is it that Pierce seems to have been particularly "inclined" towards the usage of a triadic formula, though it was expressed in different ways? I am not talking about inclinations which arose by the influence of a particular writer's usage of a three-patterned formula, those this may be the case in many instances for large numbers of readers, I am referring to his recurring insistence to "abundantly" repeat this same formulaic patternization. Did he do so merely because his father may have done so? (I am not privy to any information in this regard as being the case.)

Personally, it is of some curiosity to speculate what he might have thought about his many three-patterned-organized ideas had he been aware of the multiplicity of "threes" those of us interested in the "threes phenomena" have uncovered so far. He might have concluded that the triplet coding system in DNA played an underlying hand in his recurring usage of three-patterned logic formulas. Had he been a physicist in the present day and age, he may have attributed his penchant for "Threesological" formulas to be due to the believed in existence of three families of fundamental particles. Or if he were an audiologist living in the present age, he might want to suggest the "three formulizing" is due to the many three-patterned structures of the ear such as the three bones, three semi-circular canals, three divisions, etc...:

For a list of "threes" related to hearing:

--- Language 3's page 1 ---

We can philosophically speculate about a Universal, Cosmological "threes" influence, which is not a bad thing, but we could also consider the possibility that an interest in some "threes" formula, regardless of what it is, may be due to an influence that can not only be clearly conceptualized, but also rendered in the form of a testable hypothesis. The fact that all life forms on this planet appear to have DNA (or RNA), does not say all life forms have an inherent penchant for a three formula. It says we humans claim all life forms have such a formula as part of our structure. Likewise if we discount DNA or RNA, and instead choose to say there is a basic three-patterned (Neutrons- Protons- Electrons) atomic structure.

What if the previously mentioned "rationale" for Pierce's usage of threes formulas has nothing whatsoever to do with a human form of rationale referencing, but is a "rationale" related to one or more "dominant" (Major Premise) three-patterned occurrences arising outside the human body which played a part in the development of several "sub-ordinate" (Minor Premise) three-patterned occurrences which influences the structuring of one or more three-patterned Conclusions... expressed in one way or another via writing, perceiving, speaking, hearing, etc...?

Let me spit it out: If we look about nature to see if there is any three-patterned event which predates the development of a triplet codon system, we can conclude that the three "moments" of the Sun existed. This three-patterned event over billions of years could very well have influenced the development of a triplet codon system in DNA and RNA. However, as mentioned on the --- Home page --- of this site, the three "moments" of the Sun are, in a sense, "fusing" together by way of the Earth's slowing rotation rate and the expansion of the Sun as it moves towards its eventual burnout. This "fusing" represents a 3 to 1 ratio that is also seen in Pierce's work with the addition of the notion "Evolution," with respect to his type of threes formulas. He saw them as evolving towards, a singularity (for want of a better description even though he used the word "Evolutionary").

...a fourth component of Peirce's idealism: Peirce makes everything in the phaneron (world of appearances) evolutionary.... Indeed, he conceived that even the most firmly entrenched of nature's habits (for example, even those habits that are typically called “natural laws”) have themselves evolved, and accordingly can and should be subjects of philosophical and scientific inquiry. One can sensibly seek, in Peirce's view, evolutionary explanations of the existence of particular natural laws. For Peirce, then, the entire phaneron (the world of appearances), as well as all the ongoing processes of its interpretation through mental significations, has evolved and is evolving.

While Pierce himself did not explicitly say "fusion" or reference a specific idea in terms of a 3 to 1 ratio, my interpretation of Pierce is that he was speaking in metaphor about something that had not heretofore knowingly been discussed. He was talking about his (three-patterned) systems of logic with a reference to a natural event. Additionally, because we can identify a 3 to 1 ratio in terms of an evolutionary model, the existence of a 3 to 1 ratio formula in the structure of DNA and RNA suggests they are significantly poised for an evolutionary modification. They are primed and ready to make the transition in accord with the changes which will be brought about by the fusion of the Sun's three "moments" (Dawn- Noon- Dusk) as the Earth's rotation slows and the Sun expands towards a demise and the engulfing of the first three planets (if not more) in its wake.

3in1 (15K)

But for those readers who have difficulty in grasping the foregoing idea, let me take a more mundane excursion by offering them the possibility that the usage of a "three formula" may be due to an exposure to the triad of "Father- Son- Holy Ghost/Spirit," or some forgotten esoteric idea formulated by some extinct "pagan" or "Infidel" group who practiced an uncommon philosophy centuries ago. If we claim it is natural, then what is the nature of that naturalness? Where is the evidence for the "Naturality?" It behooves us to stop trying to convince others of a "natural" three-patterned formula like a child stating game rules they've made up in their imagination (regardless of originality), and then developing the parameters of the game to be "played" (thought about) in accordance with the made-up game rules. This is little different than a person who alters the numbers on tax form deductions in order to acquire a desired result. Fudging the numbers (or symbols or words) is not an answer, it's an attempt to provide a plausible excuse for not having an answer.

Here's another image relating the three solar "phases" (moments/events) with Triadic references:

DND (9K)

Let's look at a list of some other thinkers who have used a pattern-of-three "logic" formula in their respective work, though the formula is sometimes obscured by the writer's long-winded explanation thereof. To avoid this, I have merely extracted the formula from their work, or at least from the work of those who have written about them. I have also added a few examples of philosophical inquiry that do not have any particular philosopher's name attached:

3 patterned philosophical distinctions:

Philosopher 3-part Formula
St. Augustine's Philosophy: Memory ~ Understanding ~ Will
Comte's Philosophy: Great Being ~ Great Medium ~ Great Fetish
Hegel's 3 Spirits: Subjective Spirit ~ 0bjective Spirit ~ Absolute Spirit
Plotinu's Philosophy: One ~ One Many ~ One and Many
Aristotle's 3 Unities: Unity of Action ~ Unity of Time ~ Unity of Place
Sir F. Bacon's 3 Tables: Presence ~ Absence ~ Degree
Thomas Hobbes's 3 Fields: Physics ~ Moral Philosophy ~ Civil Philosophy
Immanuel Kant's 3 Critiques: Pure Reason ~ Practical Reason ~ Judgment
Averroes's 3 Commentaries: Little ~ Middle ~ Great
Karl Marx's 3 isms: Communism ~ Socialism ~ Capitalism
Woodrow Wilson's 3 isms: Colonialism ~ Racism ~ Anti-Communism
Hippocrates's Mind Disorders: Mania ~ Melancholia ~ Phrenitis
Emile Durkeim's 3 Suicides: Egoistic ~ Altruistic ~ Anomic
D. Liesman's 3 Social Characters: Tradition-directed ~ Inner-directed ~ Other-directed
Erich Fromm's 3 Symbols: The Conventional ~ The Accidental ~ The Universal
Pythagoras's "fusion" idea: Monarchy ~ Oligarchy ~ Democracy (into harmonic whole)
M.L. King Jr.'s "Middle Road": Acquiescence ~ Nonviolence ~ Violence
Kierkegaard's 3 Stages: Aesthetic ~ Ethical ~ Religious
Husserl's 3 Reductions: Phenomenological ~ Eidetic ~ Religious
St. Augustine's 3 Laws: Divine Law ~ Natural Law ~ Temporal, or positive Law
Witness Stand "Laws": Tell the Truth ~ The whole Truth ~ Nothing but the Truth
Titus Carus's 3 Ages: Stone Age ~ Bronze Age ~ Iron Age
Feuerbach's 3 Thoughts: God, 1st Thought ~ Reason, 2nd ~ Man, 3rd
Magnus's 3 Universals: Ante Rem ~ In Rem ~ Post Rem
Max Weber's 3 Authorities: Traditional ~ Charismatic ~ Legal-rational
F.  de Sausure's 3 "Signs": Sign ~ Signified ~ Signifier
Charles Pierces 3 "Signs": Qualisign ~ Sinsign (token) ~ Legisign
John Keynes's 3 Eras: Scarcity ~ Abundance ~ Stabilization
George Mead's 3 Distinctions: Self ~ I ~ Me
Thrasher's 3-group Gangs: Inner Circle ~ Rank & File ~ Fringers
Abe Lincoln's 3-For-All: Of the People ~ By the People ~ For the People
Jesus Christ's 3 Praises: In the name of the Father ~ Son ~ Holy Spirit
Samuel Clemmons' 3 lies:
(Mark Twain)
Lies ~ Damned Lies ~ Statistics

3-part Logic

Thesis ~ Antithesis ~ Synthesis
Indulgence  ~ "Middle Way" ~ Ascetism
Major Premise  ~ Minor Premise ~ Conclusion
Contradiction ~  Excluded  Middle ~ Identity Principal
What is real
How change comes
What is mind
Marxian "Dialectology":
Unity of opposites
Quantity & quality
Negation of negation
How we know
What is truth
What is mind
Nature of good
Nature of beautiful
Nature of religious
Quality (1st-ness)
Relation (2nd-ness)
Representation (3rd-ness)

3 times the fool: You can fool some people some of the time - Some people all the time - But not all people all the time.
3 traditional syllogism forms: Categorical - Hypothetical - Disjunctive
3-patterned basic adult syllogism: All ravens are black - Jack is a raven - Therefore, Jack is black.

Let's try a bit of our own "Threes" logic for "Threes" aficionadoes:

If Most people think in threes whether or not they are aware of such;
And a few people think in threes who are aware of such;
Then it stands to reason there will be some who think about thinking about threes...

It's quite "Threesological."

Your Questions, Comments or Additional Information are welcomed:
Herb O. Buckland