C.S. PEIRCE / by Caitlin Murray

Peirce prequel (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) added on December 10th, 2014.

[First published Fri Jun 22, 2001; substantive revision Wed Nov 12, 2014 – The latest version of the entry “Charles Sanders Peirce” (substantive content change) is not yet archived and may change before it is archived in the Winter 2014 edition. You should, if possible, wait for the Winter 2014 archived edition of the Encyclopedia to cite this version. Fixed editions of the Encyclopedia are created and archived every three months, on the 21st of September (Fall), December (Winter), March (Spring), and June (Summer).]

An especially intriguing and curious twist in Peirce’s evolutionism is that in Peirce’s view evolution involves what he calls its “agapeism.” Peirce speaks of evolutionary love. According to Peirce, the most fundamental engine of the evolutionary process is not struggle, strife, greed, or competition. Rather it is nurturing love, in which an entity is prepared to sacrifice its own perfection for the sake of the wellbeing of its neighbor. This doctrine had a social significance for Peirce, who apparently had the intention of arguing against the morally repugnant but extremely popular socio-economic Darwinism of the late nineteenth century. The doctrine also had for Peirce a cosmic significance, which Peirce associated with the doctrine of the Gospel of John and with the mystical ideas of Swedenborg and Henry James. In Part IV of the third of Peirce’s six papers in Popular Science Monthly, entitled “The Doctrine of Chances,” Peirce even argued that simply being logical presupposes the ethics of self-sacrifice: “He who would not sacrifice his own soul to save the whole world, is, as it seems to me, illogical in all his inferences, collectively.” To social Darwinism, and to the related sort of thinking that constituted for Herbert Spencer and others a supposed justification for the more rapacious practices of unbridled capitalism, Peirce referred in disgust as “The Gospel of Greed.”]

“Concerning the Author” / C.S. Peirce

when: pure ratiocination is not everything, it is prudent to take every element into consideration

“I am saturated, through and through, with the spirit of the physical sciences”

The doctrine of the association of ideas, is to my thinking, the finest piece of philosophical work of the prescientific ages / J.S. Mill – Sensationalism: “Sensationalism,” the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sensations, takes several closely related forms / sensationalism lacks a solid bottom

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Duns Scotus / “The works of Duns Scotus have strongly influenced me” / Duns Scotus (c. 1266 – 8 November 1308) was given the medieval accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor) for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought / beatified by Pope John Paul II /

. . .

conjecture as to the constitution of the universe / The demonstrations of the metaphysicians is all moonshine /when the probably errors are too vast to estimate

- “I am a man who critics have never found anything good to say” – “I decline to serve as bellwether”

fallibilism – indeed the first step to finding out is to acknowledge that you do not know already / Indeed, out of a contrite fallisbilism, combined with a high faith in the reality of knowledge, and an intense desire to find things out, all my philosophy has always seemed to me to grow. . .

[Introduction to the Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce]

Peirce’s literary activity began in 1867 and continued almost unceasingly until a few years before his death in 1914 / Upon a synthesis of whatever healthful strains he detected in sensationalism with the older British tradition, Kantism, and the logic of science, he constructed his own empiricism, in which fallibilism replaces scepticism and pragmatism replaces positivism.

. . .

Among thinkers of the first rank, few have in their lifetime addressed so small a public as Peirce / The pages of Peirce vibrate with the effort to place philosophy on a scientific basis / To Peirce the phrase [scientific philosophy] had a perfectly literal implication, at once faithful to the method of science and the scope of philosophic tradition, namely, that the broadest speculative theories should be experimentally verifiable / Philosophy as a branch of progressive inquiry rather than a species of art {what if progressive inquiry was practiced as a species of art?}  / What distinguishes it from all other methods of inquiry is its cooperative factor inviting universal examination and compelling ultimate unanimity; it conceives of its results as essentially provisional or corrigible; and for these reasons it ensures measurable progress

. . .

power of the scientific method (not a royal road): in the capacity, through constant modification of its own conclusions, to approximate indefinitely to the truth

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Pragmatisim: whereas popular pragmatisim is an anti-intellectualist revolt, an embrace of the “will to believe” pathetic in its methodological feebleness, Peircean pragmatism (pragmaticism), demonstrating the fatuity of an emphasis on mere volition or sensation, is precisely intellectualistic / pragmatism is a step forward in the history of empiricism – It differs from Kant’s anti-metaphysical scepticism and from positivism in that it introduces the concept of meaning into empiricist methodology / a theory of meaning

. . .

Peirce maintains that in so far as thought is cognitive it must be linguistic or symbolical in character, that is, it must presuppose communication / Communication takes place by means of signs, and Peirce’s theory, in its investigation of the nature and conditions of the sign-relation, endows with a new and vital significance the old truth that man is a social animal.

Thought is inferential, expectative or predicative, and therefore always in some degree general. It is not a granular succession, but a web of continuously related signs. This is the heart of fallibilism.


logic as the philosophy of communication or theory of signs


Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness

. . .


. . .

drawing inferences, not so much a gift but a long and difficult art

Schoolboy logic – all knowledge either rests on authority or reason, but that whatever is deduced by reason depends ultimately on a premiss derived from authority (Aristotle’s term logic/the syllogistic procedure: two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true – the combination of a general statement (the major premise) and a specific statement (the minor premise), a conclusion is deduced. For example, knowing that all men are mortal (major premise) and that Socrates is a man (minor premise), we may validly conclude that Socrates is mortal.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

The word “therefore” can be represented by the symbol “∴”

. . .

Roger Bacon (Doctor Mirabilis – “wonderful teacher”) / “He saw that experience alone teaches anything – a proposition which to us seems easy to understand, because a distinct conception of experience has been handed down to us from former generation…Of all kinds of experience, the best, he thought, was interior illumination, which teaches many things about Nature which the external senses could never discover, such as the transubstantiation of bread.”

Novum Organum and the Baconian Method – reduction and the use of inductive reasoning. If one wants to find the cause of heat, list all the situations in which heat is found. Then list all situations similar to those of the first except for the lack of heat. The third lists situations where heat can vary. The ‘form nature’, or cause, of heat must be that which is common to all instances in the first table, is lacking from all instances of the second table and varies by degree in instances of the third table.



Multi pertransibunt & augebitur scientia {Daniel 12:4. It means: “Many will travel and knowledge will be increased”.}

Bacon’s inadequate scientific procedure / the early scientists, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, and Gilbert, have methods more like those of their modern brethren.

Kepler’s curve through the places of mars (22 hypothesis) – inductive reasoning.

“Lege, lege lege, labora, ora, et relege” / Read, read, read, find, pray, reread

. . .

The object of reasoning is to find out, from the consideration of what we already know, something else which we do not know. Consequently, reasoning is good if it be such as to give a true conclusion from true premises, and not otherwise / I is true that we do generally reason correctly by nature. But that is an accident; the true conclusion would remain true if we had no impulse to accept it; and the false one would remain false, though we could not resist the tendency to believe it.

Most of us, for example, are naturally more sanguine and hopeful than logic would justify.

That which determines us, from given premisses, to draw once inference rather than another, is some habit of mind, whether it be constitutional or acquired.

guiding principle of inference: Suppose, for example, that we observe that a rotating disk of copper quickly comes to rest when placed between the poles of a magnet, and we infer that this will happen with every disk of copper. The guiding principle is, that what is true of one piece of copper is true of another / A person in an unfamiliar field may behave like a ship in the open sea, with no one on board who understands the rules of navigation.

Almost any fact may serve as a guiding principle – so the subject must be limited / there are many facts that are assumed / In point of fact, the importance of what may be deduced from the assumptions involved in the logical question turns out to be greater than might be supposed – conceptions which are really products of logical reflection, without being readily seen to be so, mingle with our ordinary thoughts, and are frequently the the causes of great confusion

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Ex. the conception of quality = A quality, as such, is never an object of observation. We can see that a thing is blue or green, but the quality of being blue and the quality of being green are not things which we see; they are products of logical reflection.

common-senese or thought is often imbued with that bad epithet metaphysical [metaphysics, a placement of texts – the books that come after the books on physics, a misreading/a misunderstanding, the science beyond the physical/the science of the immaterial (Andronicus of Rhodes/the eleventh scholar of the Peripatetic School- did Aristotle always walk as he taught?)]

. . .

belief and doubt

a dissimilarity between the sensation of doubting and the sensation of believing / what distinguishes doubt from belief? /Out beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions [the Old Man of the Mountain – Isma’ilism] / The feeling of believing is a more or less sure indication of there being established in our nature some habit which will determine our actions. Doubt never has such an effect.

doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state / belief is a calm and satisfactory state – we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe – both belief and doubt have positive effects

The irritation of doubt causes a struggle to attain a state of belief. I shall term this struggle Inquiry.

We may believe that we want more than an opinion, but a true opinion, but as soon as a firm belief is reached we are entirely satisfied, whether the belief be true or false. We seek for a belief that we think to be true.

That the settlement of opinion is the sole end of inquiry is a very important proposition. It sweeps away at once various vague and erroneous conceptions of proof.

The mere putting of a proposition into the interrogative form does not stimulate the mind to any struggle after belief. There must be a real and living doubt, and without this all discussion is idle.

the method of tenacity – a person may go through life, systematically keeping out of view all that might cause a change in his opinions – but this method will be unable to hold its ground in practice

Unless we make ourselves hermits, we shall necessarily influence each others opinions; so that the problem becomes how to fix belief, not in the individual, but in the community.

the consequences of allowing the will of the state or an institution to act instead of that of the individual (a historical method of upholding correct theological or political doctrines) / cruelties always accompany this system; and when it is consistently carried out, they become atrocities of the most horrible kind in the eyes of any rational man / the method of authority

. . .

a different new method / the action of natural preferences / propositions which are “agreeable to reason” – This is an apt expression; it does not mean that which agrees with experience, but that which we find ourselves inclined to believe / “Plato, for example, finds it agreeable to reason that the distances of the celestial spheres from one another should be proportional to the different lengths of strings which produce harmonious chords.” / agreeability is not a developed form of logic


[descartes: he is aiming at a kid of truth which saying so can make to be so. he makes God easier to know than anything else; for whatever we think He is, He is. he fails to remark that this is precisely the definition of a figment.]

[kant: geometrical propositions are held to be universally true. hence, they are not given by experience. consequently, it must be owing to an inward necessity of man’s nature that he sees everything in space. Ergo, the sum of the angles of a triangle will be equal to two right angles for all the objects of our vision – this is merely accepting without question a belief as soon as it is shown to please a great many people very much]

[hegel: He simply launches his boat into the current of thoughts and allows himself to be carried wherever the current leads. dialectic – a frank discussion of the difficulties to which any opinion spontaneously gives rise will lead to modification after modification until a tenable position is attained – a distinct profession of faith in the method of inclinations]

inquiry is not to be confused with the development of taste (the a priori method) – this method does not differ in a very essential way from that of authority.
. . .

To satisfy our doubts it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency – by something upon which our thinking has no effect. / Cannot just be individual – this is where science comes in.

the fundamental hypothesis of science: there are real things, whose character are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those Reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as are our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really and truly are; and any man, if he have sufficient experience and he reason enough about it, will be led to the one True conclusion. (reality – how do we know that there are any Reals?)

To describe the method of scientific investigation is the object of this series of papers. The contrast between it an other methods of fixing belief / a right and wrong way – I may start with known and observed facts to proceed to the unknown. . .the test of whether I am truly following the method is not an immediate appeal to my feelings and purposes, but, on the contrary, itself involves the application of the method. Hence it is that bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible; and this fact is the foundation of the practical side of logic.

[If liberty of speech is to be untrammelled from the grosser forms of constraint, then uniformity of opinion will be secured by a moral terrorism to which the respectability of society will give its thorough approval – Certain non-conformities are permitted; certain others (considered unsafe) are forbidden. These are different in different countries and in different ages; but, wherever you are, let it be known that you seriously hold a tabooed belief, and you may be perfectly sure of being treated with a cruelty less brutal but more refined than hunting you like a wolf] [It is impossible not to envy the man who can dismiss reason, although we know how it must turn out at last]

. . .

The genius of man’s logical method should be loved and reverenced as his bride, whom he has chosen from all the world.

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clear and obscure conceptions / distinct and confused conceptions

(unimproved and unmodified for two centuries)


A CLEAR IDEA: one which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it / familiarity with an idea.

A DISTINCT IDEA: defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear / an idea is distinctly apprehended when we can give a precise definition of it, in abstract terms.

[It is easy to show that the doctrine that familiar use and abstract distinctness make the perfection of apprehension has its only true place in philosophies which have long been extinct; and it is now time to formulate the method of attaining to a more perfect clearness of thought, such as we see and admire in thinkers of out own time]

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Descartes: permit skepticism, discard authority as the ultimate source of truth / passed from the method of authority to apriority (the human mind) / self-consciousness was to furnish us with our fundamental truths / ideas must seem clear at the outset and that a discussion must never make them more obscure

Leibniz: never understood that the machinery of the mind can only transform knowledge, but never originate it, unless it be fed with the facts of observation

(The most essential point of Cartesian philosophy: to accept propositions which seem perfectly evident to us is such a thing which, whether it be logical or illogical, we cannot help doing).

It was quite natural that on observing that the method of Descartes labored under the difficulty that we may seem to ourselves to have clear apprehensions of ideas which in truth are very hazy, no better remedy occurred to him than to require an abstract definition of every important term.

[It may be acknowledges, that the books are right in making familiarity with a notion the first step toward clearness of apprehension, and the defining of it the second. But in omitting all mention of any higher perspicuity of thought, they simply mirror a philosophy which was exploded a hundred years ago]

. . .

For an individual, there can be no question that a few clear ideas are worth more than many confused ones / It is terrible to see how a single unclear idea, a single formula without meaning, lurking in a young man’s head, will sometimes act like an obstruction of inert matter in an artery, hindering the nutrition of the brain, and condemning its victim to pine away in the fulness of his intellectual vigour and in the midst of intellectual plenty / an idea vanished –  like Melusina [a figure of European folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers / spinning yarns /


Remember: the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought. Doubt and belief are the start of any question, no matter how small or how great, and the resolution of it.

Feigned hesitancy, whether feigned for mere amusement or with a lofty purpose, plays a great part in the production of scientific inquiry.

Two sorts of objects, what we are immediately conscious of and what we are mediately conscious of, are found in all consciousness. Some elements (the sensations) are completely present at every instant so long as they last, while others (like thought) are actions having beginning, middle, and end, and consist in a congruence of the succession of sensations which flow though the mind / Thought is a thread of melody running through the succession of our sensations.

Thought in action has for its only possible motive the attainment of thought at rest; and whatever does not refer to belief is no part of the thought itself.

BELIEF: has three properties 1. it is something we are aware of; 2. it appeases the irritation of doubt; 3. it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or a habit / belief as thought at rest

Imaginary distinctions are often drawn between beliefs which differ only in their mode of expression.


ex. to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are thinking / instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially mysterious

ex. to mistake a mere difference in the grammatical construction of two words for a distinction between the ideas they express

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the whole function of thought, again, is to produce habits of action / the identity of habit depends on how it might lead us to act – what the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act (when – every stimulus to action is derived from perception / how – every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result)

transubstantiation of wine: I desire to point out how impossible it is that we should have an idea in our minds which relates to anything but conceived sensible effects of things / Our idea of anything is our idea of its sensible effects; and if we fancy that we have any other we deceive ourselves, and mistake a mere sensation accompanying the thought for a part of the thought itself.

ANOTHER RULE: Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.

ex. what do we mean when we call a thing hard? – that it will not be scratched by many other substances / the whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects

Weight and Force

THE IDEA OF FORCE IN GENERAL: This is the greatest conception which, developed in the early part of the seventeenth century from the rude idea of a cause, and constantly improved upon since, has shown us how to explain all the changes of motion which bodies experience, and how to think about all physical phenomena; which has given birth to modern science, and changed the face of the globe; and which, aside from its more special uses, has played a principle part in directing the course of modern thought, and in furthering modern social development. It is therefore worth some pains to comprehend it.

the path: equal or added

the parallelogram of forces: a method for solving (or visualizing) the results of applying two forces to an object – a rule for compounding accelerations – represent the accelerations by paths and then to geometrically add the paths


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Reality and Fiction

THE REAL: that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.

The only effect which real things have is to cause belief – how is true belief (belief in the real) distinguished from false belief (or belief in fiction)?

So deeply has the idea of loyalty replaced that of truthseeking / sometimes philosophers have been less intent on finding out what the facts are, than on inquiring what belief is most in harmony with their system / in contenting themselves with fixing their own opinions by a method which would lead another man to a different result, they betray their feeble hold of the conception of what truth is.

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 real.


“Truth crashed to earth shall rise again”

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness in the desert air.

[Elegy written in a country churchyard – Thomas Gray]

Do these things not really exist because they are hopelessly beyond the reach of our knowledge? And then, after the universe is dead (according to the prediction of some scientists), and all life has ceased forever, will not the shock of atoms continue though there be no mind to know it? To this I reply that, though in no possible state of knowledge can any number be great enough to express the relation between the amount of what rests unknown to the amount of the known, yet it is unphilosophical to suppose that, with regard to any given question (which has any clear meaning), investigation would not bring forth a solution of it, if it were carried far enough. Who would have said a few years ago, that we could ever know of what substances stars are made whose light may have been longer in reaching us than the human race has existed? Who can be sure of what we shall not know in a few hundred years? Who can guess what would be the result of continuing the pursuit of science for ten thousand years, with the activity of the last hundred? And if it were to go on for a million, a billion, or any number of years you please, how is it possible to say that there is any question which might not ultimately be solved?



How to give birth vital and procreative ideas which multiply into a thousand forms and diffuse themselves everywhere, advancing civilization and making the dignity of man, is an art not reduced to rules, but of the secret of which the history of science affords some hints

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Three types of people – those for whom the chief thing is: art, power, reason / “For men of the first class, nature is a picture; for men of the second class, it is an opportunity; for men of the third class, it is a cosmos, so admirable, that to penetrate to its ways seems to them the only thing that makes life worth living.”

the pursuit of science – it does not consist so much in knowing, nor even in “organized knowledge,” as it does in diligent inquiry into truth for truth’s sake, without any sort of axe to grind, nor for the sake of the delight of contemplating it, but from an impulse to penetrate into the reason of things. This is sense in which this book is entitled a History of Science. Science and philosophy seem to have been changed in their cradles. For it is not knowing, but the love of learning, that characterizes the scientific man; while the “philosopher” is a man with a system which he thinks embodies all that is best worth knowing.

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When a man desires ardently to know the truth, his first effort will be to imagine what that truth can be  / it remains true that there is, after all, nothing but imagination that can ever supply an inkling of truth / the science of the imagination

the exaggerated regard for morality

Wherever there is a large class of academic professors who are provided with good incomes and looked up to as gentleman, scientific inquiry must languish. Wherever the bureaucrats are the more learned class, the case will be still worse.

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The first questions which men ask about the universe are naturally the most general and abstract ones. Nor is it true, as has so often been asserted, that these are the most difficult questions to answer (a problem caused by Francis Bacon)

Mathematics – the most abstract of the sciences / no care for the truth of the postulate / mathematics created a confidence altogether unfounded in man’s power of eliciting truth by inward meditation without any aid from experience

confusion of a prior reason with conscience (ideas of right and wrong) – looking to science for a practical end – no reasoning required – no room for doubt which paralyzes action / “But the scientific spirit requires a man to be at all times ready to dump his whole cartload of beliefs, the moment experience is against them.” / Positive science can only rest on experience; and experience can never result in absolute certainty, exactitude, necessity, or universality. But it is precisely with the universal and necessary, that is, with Law, that [con]science concerns itself / Science is destroyed when made an adjunct of conduct

. . .

As morality supposes self-control, men learn that they must not surrender themselves unreservedly to any method, without considering to what conclusions it will lead them / But this is utterly contrary to the single-mindedness that is requisite in science.

The effect of this shamming is that men come to look upon reasoning as mainly decorative, or at most, as a secondary aid in minor matters – a view not together unjust, if questions of conduct are alone to interest us. They, therefore, demand that it shall be plain and facile. If in special cases, complicated reasoning is indispensable, they hire a professional to perform it. The result of this state of things is, of course, a rapid deterioration of intellectual vigour, very perceptible from one generation to the next. This is just what is taking place among us before our eyes; and to judge from the history of Constantinople, it is likely to go on until the race comes to a despicable end.

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Kepler making Newton possible, differential calculus making Kepler possible and so on / True science is distinctively the study of useless things. For the useful things will get studied without the aid of scientific men. To employ these rare minds on such work is like running a steam engine by burning diamonds.

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evolutionary theory : Darwin (changes in reproduction), Lamarck (changes not in reproduction – not fortuitous, but based on strivings of the individual), cataclysmal evolution (sudden changes in the environment occurring from time to time) / it is probably that all of these modes of evolution have acted  and they have parallels in other departments.

Examples of the Darwinian and Lamarckan methods / But this is not the way in which science mainly progresses / It advances by leaps; and the impulse for each leap is either some new observational resource, or some novel way of reasoning about the observations / ex. Pasteur – at the time of Pasteur, the medical world was dominated by Claude Bernard’s dictum that a disease is not an entity but merely a sum of symptoms / Scientific evolution does not occur from insensible steps

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Our science is altogether middle-sized and mediocre. Its insignificance compared with the universe cannot be exaggerated.

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Upon this first, and in one sense sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall in the city of philosophy:

Do not block the way of inquiry

Four familiar shapes in which this act occurs (often in metaphysics):

 1. The shape of absolute assertion [that we can be sure of nothing in science is an ancient truth] / Science has been infested with overconfident assertion, especially on the part of the third-rate and fourth-rate men, who have been more concerned with teaching than with learning

2. Maintaining that this, that, and the other thing can never be known / And when it comes to positive assertion that the truth never will be found out, that, in the light of the history of our time, seems to me more hazardous than the venture of Andree [remember: Dinner with Carl Andre]

3. Maintaining that this, that, or the other element of science is basic, ultimate, independent of aught else, and utterly inexplicable – not so much from any defect in our knowing as because there is nothing beneath it to know.

4. The holding that this or that law or truth has found its last and perfect formulation – and especially that the ordinary and usual course of nature never can be broken through. “Stones do not gall from heaven” – Laplace

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All positive reasoning is the nature of judging the proportion of something in a whole collection by the proportion found in a sample / Accordingly, there are three things to which we can never hope to attain by reasoning, namely, absolute certainty, absolute exactitude, absolute universality.

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the cases in which it is argued that there are other means to certainty outside of reasoning: of revelations, of the laws which are known to us a priori and the case of direct experience

On the whole, then, we cannot in any way reach perfect certitude nor exactitude. We never can be absolutely sure of anything, not can we with any probability ascertain the exact value of any measure or general ratio / THE DOCTRINE OF FALLIBILISM

a radicalism that tries experiments

It is a matter of real fact to say that in a certain room there are two persons. It is a matter of fact to say that each person has two eyes. It is a matter of fact to day that there are four eyes in the room. But to say that if there are two persons and each person has two eyes there will be four eyes is not a statement of fact, but a statement about the system of numbers which is our own creation.

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Comte’s classification: once science depends upon another for fundamental principles, but does not furnish such principles to the other.

All science is either:

[two branches of science: Theoretical (whose purpose is simply and solely knowledge of God’s truth) and Practical (for the uses of life). Theoretical has two sub-branches, of which the science of discovery is one of them (which has three classes – Mathematics, Philosophy and Metaphysics – all resting on observation, but being observational in very different senses)

A. Science of Discovery:

1. Mathematics / studies what is and what is not logically possible / does not seeks to ascertain any matter of fact whatever, but merely posits hypothesis and traces out their consequences / it is observational in that it makes constructions in the imagination according to abstract precepts and then observes these imaginary objects, finding in them relations of parts not specified in the precept of construction / meddles with every other science without exception / There is no science whatever to which is not attached an application of mathematics / This is not true of any other science, since pure mathematics has no interest in whether a proposition is existentially true or not

a. the Mathematics of Logic

b. the Mathematics of a Discrete Series

c. the Mathematics of Continua and Psuedo-continua

2. Philosophy: is a positive science, in the sense of discovering what is really true (which can be inferred from common experience) / Bentham calls this class cenoscopic / observations from the range of every many’s normal experience / has its application in every other science / theoretic science

a. Phenomenology: ascertains and studies the kinds of elements universally present in phenomena, the phenomenon being whatever is present at any time to the mind in any way / the Doctrine of Categories / whose business it is to unravel the tangled skein of all that in any sense appears and wind it into distinct forms – to make the ultimate analysis of all experiences the first task which philosophy has to apply itself/ the ability to seize clouds, vast and intangible, to set them in orderly array, to put them through their exercises /

b. Normative Science: distinguished what ought to be from what ought not to be – a dualistic distinction / closely related to the fine art, the conduct of life, and the art of reasoning / what does normative mean in this instance – although these sciences study what out to be, i.e. ideals, they are theoretical / “La vraie morale se moque de la morale” (Pascal – True morality mocks morality) /

i. Esthetics: the science of ideals or of that which is objectively admirable without any ulterior reason

ii. Ethics: the science of right and wrong, determining the summum bonum (“the highest good”, which was introduced by Cicero) / self-controlled, deliberate conduct

iii. Logic: the theory of self-controlled, deliberate thought / all thought being performed by means of signs, logic may be regarded as the science of the general laws of signs.

aa. Speculative Grammar: the general theory of the nature and meaning of signs, whether they be icons, indices, or symbols.

bb. Critic: classifies arguments and determines the validity and degree force of each kind

cc. Methodeutic: which studies the methods that ought to be pursued in the investigation, in the exposition, and in the application of truth.

c. Metaphysics: seeks to give an account of the universe of the mind and matter / this attitude toward the universe is nearly that of the special sciences (anciently, physical was its designation) / confines itself to parts pf physics and psychics as can be established without special means of observation

i. General metaphysics or ontology

ii. Psychical or Religious metaphysics: concerned chiefly with the questions of God, Freedom, and Immortality

iii. Physical Metaphysics: discusses the real nature of time, space, laws of nature, matter, etc.

3. Idioscopy / the special sciences, about special classes of positive phenomena, and settling theoretical issues by special experiences or experiments / the accumulation of new facts / another term of Bentham’s / depend of special observation ex. travel or other exploration or some assistance to the senses either instrumental or given by training power / Every department of idioscopy is based upon special observation, and only resorts to philosophy in order that certain obstacles to its proper special observational inquiries may be cleared out of the way

a. the Physical Sciences (physiognosy) : physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geognosy / efficient causation /

b. the Psychical or Human Sciences (psychognosy) : psychology, linguistics, ethnology, sociology, history, etc. / final causation

i. Nomological Psychics or Psychology: discovers the general elements and laws of mental phenomenon

ii. Classificatory Psychics or Ethnology: classifies products of mind and endeavors to explain them on psychological principles

iii. Descriptive Psychics or History: describes individual manifestations of mind, whether they be permanent works or actions

B. Science of Review: the business of those who occupy themselves with arranging the results of discovery – forming a philosophy of science, perhaps

c. Practical Science

. . .

How do we classify the sciences of the remote future?

. . .

[Aristotle and Causation: In several places Aristotle distinguishes four types of cause, or explanation. First, he says, there is that of which and out of which a thing is made, such as the bronze of a statue. This is called the material cause. Second, there is the form or pattern of a thing, which may be expressed in its definition; Aristotle’s example is the proportion of the length of two strings in a lyre, which is the formal cause of one note’s being the octave of another. The third type of cause is the origin of a change or state of rest in something; this is often called the “efficient cause.” Aristotle gives as examples a person reaching a decision, a father begetting a child, a sculptor carving a statue, and a doctor healing a patient. The fourth and last type of cause is the end or goal of a thing—that for the sake of which a thing is done. This is known as the “final cause.”]

For Aristotle all causation divides into two grand branches, the efficient or forceful and the idea or final

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CONFUSION: classes, natural classes,  etc [pp 63-64]

. . .

The sciences are, in part, produced each from others, but this is not the whole genesis of the science, it has its own peculiar problem springing from an idea / ex. That geometry derived its birth from land surveying is the tradition, which is borne out by the tradition that it took its origin in Egypt where the yearly floods must have rendered accurate surveying of special importance

All natural classification is then essentially, we may almost say, an attempt to find out the true genesis of the objects classified / Genesis is production from ideas / A science is defined by its problem; and its problem is clearly formulated on the basis of abstractor science

. . .

observation and observational

. . .

“Is physical space hyperbolic, that is, infinite and limited, or is is elliptic, that is finite and unlimited? Only the exact measurements of the start can decide. Yet even with them the question cannot be answered without recourse to philosophy.”

. . .

Kant’s parallel between philosophy and architecture

Wherever the arbitrary and the individualistic is particularly prejudicial, there logical deliberation, or discourse of reason, must be allowed as much play as possible

. . .


How many people have thought about what’s next? / There is no future, there’s no past, and maybe there’s no present either / Just as dignity is a quality made by individuals, so is presentness / No one agrees, except on the status quo, and they are not going to think enough even to intelligently disagree, much less agree on something new and constructive (Judd, “In addition”)

Other fragments:

They’re a rowboat under the superstructure of an aircraft carrier / a substitute society / the animal should thank the butcher for the axe



By the term architectonic I mean the art of constructing a system. Without systematic unity, our knowledge cannot become science; it will be an aggregate, and not a system. Thus architectonic is the doctrine of the scientific in cognition, and therefore necessarily forms part of our methodology.

Reason cannot permit our knowledge to remain in an unconnected and rhapsodistic state, but requires that the sum of our cognitions should constitute a system (various cognitions under one idea).

THE RELATIONSHIP OF PARTS TO A WHOLE: The unity of the end, to which all the parts of the system relate, and through which all have a relation to each other, communicates unity to the whole system, so that the absence of any part can be immediately detected from our knowledge of the rest / It is, thus, like an animal body, the growth of which does not add any limb, but, without changing their proportions, makes each in its sphere stronger and more active.

. . .


. . .

I. The domain of Phenomenology

Phaneroscopy [or Phenomenology] is the description of the phaneron; and by the phaneron I mean the collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the mind, quite regardless of whether it corresponds to any real thing or not / English philosophers have quite commonly used the word idea in a sense approaching to that which I give to the phaneron. But in various ways they have restricted the meaning of it too much to cover my conception

phaneros “visible, showable”

Phaneroscopy signalizes very broad classes of phanerons, describes the features of each, shows that although they are so inextricably mixed together that no one can be isolated, yet it is manifest that their characters are quite disparate, proves that a short list comprises the broadest categories of phanerons that there are, and then enumerates the principle subdivisions of these categories

[The student’s great effort is not to be influenced by any such tradition, any authority, any reasons for supposing that such and such ought to be the facts, or any fancies of any kind, and to confine himself to honest, single-minded observation of the appearances. The reader, upon his side, must repeat the author’s observations for himself, and decide from his own observations whether the author’s account of the appearances is correct or not.]

2. The Categories: Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness

My view is that there are three modes of being.

What is actuality? / then and there? / the actuality of an event seems to lie in its relations to the universe of other existents / actuality if brute – there is no reason in it / On the whole, I think that we have a mode of being of one thing which consists in how a second object is.

sui generis : unique

Firstness: the mode of being which consists in its subject’s being positively such as it is regardless of aught else. That can only be a possibility [firstness is only a possibility] – For as long as things do not act upon one another there is no sense or meaning in saying that they have any being, unless it be that they are such in themselves that they may perhaps come in relation with others. Comprises the quality of phenomena:

[red, bitter, tedious, hard, heartrending, noble]

things or sensations?

Wherever there is a phenomenon there is a quality / single but partial determinations

Secondness: the actual facts / the qualities (their firstness), in so far as they are general, are somewhat vague and potential. But an occurrence is perfectly individual [a perfectly individual occurrence – not just red, but the red of your sweater] /  facts resist our will, that is why we describe them as brutal – mere qualities, unmaterialized, cannot actually react or cause a sensation / we only know the potential through the actual an only infer qualities by generalization from what we perceive in matter : quality is one element of phenomena, and fact action, actuality is another

Thirdnessthe predictive nature of life / a rule to which future events tend to conform / the mode of being which consists in the fact that future facts of Secondness will take on a determinate general  character, I call a Thirdness : a law or a thought, or neither : this third category of phenomena consists of what we call laws when we contemplate them from the outside only, but which when we see both sides of the shield we call thoughts / thoughts are neither qualities nor facts (not qualities because they can be produced and grow, while a quality is eternal, independent of time and of any realization – thoughts have reason)

3. The Manifestations of the Categories

The idea of First is predominant in the ideas of freshness, life and freedom / the first is predominant in feeling, as distinctive from objective perception, will and thought

The idea of second is predominant in the ideas of causation and of statistical force / in the idea of reality, secondness is predominant; for the real is that which insists upon forcing its way to recognition as something other  than the mind's creation [Remember that before the French word, second, was adopted into out language, other was merely the ordinal numeral corresponding to two] / The real is active; we acknowledge it, in calling it actual.

By the third, I mean the medium or connecting bond between the absolute first and last / a fork in the road is a third, it supposes three ways; a straight road is a second, but so far as it implies passing through intermediate places it is third / Action is second but conduct is third / sympathy, flesh and blood, that by which I feel my neighbor's feelings, is third [a sign stands for something to the idea which it produces, or modifies. Or, it is a vehicle conveying to the mind something from without.

the elements of phenonomena are of three categories: quality, fact, and thought

4. Firstness

Among phanerons there are certain qualities of feeling (ex. the color green) / A quality of feeling can be imagined to be without any occurrence (ex. a stink of rotten cabbage). It's mere may-being gets along without any realization at all.

feeling: an instance of that kind of consciousness which involves no analysis, comparison or process whatsoever; has its own positive quality which consists in nothing else; which is of itself all that it is - an instance of that sort of element of consciousness which is all that it is positively, in itself, regardless of anything else / a feeling is a quality of immediate consciousness

all that is immediately present to a man is what is in his mind in the present instant / his whole life is in the present - but when he asks what is the content of the present instant, his question always comes too late - the present is gone and what remains is greatly metamorphosed.

what is a quality : it is not dependent upon mind, not dependent on being, it is not dependent on sense / a quality is a mere abstract potentiality - the error of the nominalists is maintaining that the potential or possible, is nothing but what the actual makes it to be . it is impossible to hold consistently that a quality only exists when it adheres to a body / the idea of a quality is the idea of a phenomenon or partial phenomenon considered a monad, without reference to its parts or components and without reference to anything else

[Experience is the course of life. The world is that which experience inculcates. Quality is the monadic element of the world. Anything whatever, however complex and heterogeneous, has its quality sui generis, its possibility of sensation, would our sense respond to it.

5. Secondness

We call the world of fancy the internal world and the world of fact the external world - man defends himself from the angles of hard fact by clothing himself with a garment of contentment and habituation - Were it not for this garment, he would every now and then find his internal world rudely disturbed and his fiats set at naught by brutal inroads of ideas from without -  I call such forcible modification of out ways of thinking the influence of the world of fact or experience.

the difference between perception and experience / it is the special field of experience to acquaint us with events, with changes of perception / it is more to changes and contrasts of perception that we apply the world "experience" / It is in the compulsion, the absolute constraint upon us to think otherwise than we have been thinking that constitutes experience - constraint and compulsion cannot exists without resistance, and resistance is effort opposing change, therefore there must be an element of effort in experience

have your necessitarianism if you approve of it; but still I think you must admit that no law of nature makes a stone fall, or a Leyden jar to discharge, or a steam engine to work

what is a fact : the general is excluded from the category of fact - generality is wither of that negative sort which belongs to the merely potential, as such, and this is peculiar to the category of quality; or it is of that positive kind which belongs to conditional necessity, and this is peculiar to the category of law / fact - the contingent, the accidentally actual and brute force (???)

6. Thirdness

means and meaning : In truth the only difference is that when a person mean to do anything he is in some state in consequence of which the brute reactions between things will be moulded to conformity to the form to which the man's mind is itself moulded, while the meaning of a world really lies in the way in which it might tend to mould the conduct of a person into conformity to that to which it is itself moulded

thirdness is that which what it is by virtue of imparting a quality to reactions in the future

7. The Categories in Consciousness

Kant's three departments of the mind: Feeling (pleasure and pain), Knowing, and Will

It seems that the true categories of consciousness are: first, feeling, the consciousness which can be included with an instant of time, passive consciousness of quality, without recognition or analysis; second, consciousness of an interruption into the field of consciousness, sense of resistance, of an external fact, of another something; third, external consciousness, binding time together, sense of learning, thought.

the consciousness of process - the consciousness of synthesis - Immediate feeling is the concsiousness of the first, the polar sense is the consciousness of the second; and synthetical consciousness is the consciousness of the third or medium

8. The Interrelationship of the Categories

dissociation :  we can imagine sound without melody but not melody without sound
prescission : we can suppose uncolored space, though we cannot dissociate space from color
distinction :we can neither imagine nor suppose a taller without a shorter, yet we can distinguish the taller from the shorter

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[Logic as semiotic: The THEORY OF SIGNS]

Logic is another name for semiotic - the doctrine of signs / a sign or representamen, is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity - It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign - that sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign - the sign stands for something, its object - It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I sometimes called the ground of the representamen / every representamen is connected with three things: the ground, the object, and the interpretant

science of semiotic has three branches:

1. Pure Grammar - what must be true of the representamen that it may embody meaning
2. Logic proper - the conditions of the truth of represenation
3. Pure rhetoric - the laws by which one sign gives birth to another - one thought brings forth another

Triadic relationship of: First (SIgn/Representamen), Second (Object), Third (interpretant)

a sign must relate to an object

"That vessel there carries no freight at all, but only passengers."

II. Three Trichotomies of SIgns

Qualisign (a quality which is a sign), Sinsign (single - an actual existent thing or event which is a sign) Legisign (a law that is a sign - ex. the word "the" will occur from fifteen to twenty-five times on a page - it is in all these occurences one and the same word, the same legisign - each instance is a replica)

According to the second trichotomy, a Sign may be termed an Icon, Index, or Symbol

Icon: a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes merely by virtue of characters of its own, and which it possesses, just the same, whether any such Object actually exists or not

Index: a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes by virtue of really being affected by that Object

Symbol: a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes by virtue of a law, usually an association of general ideas, which operates to cause the Symbol to be interpreted as referring to that Object

According to the third trichotomy, a Sign may be termed an Rheme, Dicisign or Dicent Sign, or an Argument

Rheme: a sign, which, for its interpretant, is a Sign of qualitative possibility, that is, is understood as representing such and such a kind of possible Object

Dicent Sign: a sign, which, for its interpretant, is a sign of actual existence

Argument: a sign, which, for its interpretant, is a sign of law

(a judgment: the mental act by which the judger sees to impress upon himself the truth of a proposition)

III. Icon, Index, and Symbol

A sign is either a Icon, Index, and Symbol

Icon: a sign which would possess the character which renders it significant, even though its object had no existence ex. such as a lead-pencil streak as representing a geometrical line

  • a possibility alone is an Icon purely by virtue of its quality; and its object can only be a Firstness
  • any material image, as a painting, is largely conventional in its mode of representation; but in itself, without legend or label it may be called a hypoicon (types: images, diagrams, metaphors)
  • the only way of directly communicating an idea is by means of an icon / the idea which the set of icons contained in an assertion signifies may be termed the predicate of the assertion
  • a great distinguishing property of the icon is that by direct observation of it other truths concerning its object can be distinguished ex. by means of two photographs a map can be drawn
  • the question of likeness, photography, and algebra

Index: a sign which would, at once, lose the character which makes it a sign if its object were removed, but would not lose that character if there were no interpretant ex. such, for instance, is a piece of mould with a bullethole in it as a sign of a shot; for without the shot there would have been no hole; but there is a hole there, whether anybody has the sense to attribute it to a shot or not.

  • in dynamical connection both with the individual object and with the senses or memory of the person for who it serves as a sign, on the other hand ex. demonstrative pronouns and personal pronouns are "genuine indices"
  • indices 1. have no significant resemblance to their objects, 2. they refer to single units, single collections of units, etc. 3. they direct attention to their objects by blind compulsion
  • "a rap on the door is an index" "anything which focuses the attention is an index" "anything which startles us is an index" "a low barometer with a moist air is an index of rain"
  • the demonstrative pronouns "this" and "that" are indices

Symbol: a sign which would lose its character which renders it a sign if there were no interpretant ex. such is any utterance of speech which signifies what it does by virtue of being understood to have that signification