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What was Charles Peirce's philosophical system?
Peirce's philosophical views had idealist underpinnings. He had four systems. In his first system (1859-1861), he agreed with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) that things-in-themselves could not be known either in science or philosophy. Science is concerned with phenomena, or what appears in experience. But there is an objective world underlying phenomena, or what is known. There are three kinds of things: 1) matter; 2) mind; and 3) God, or "It," "Thou," and "I," which Peirce called "Firstness," "Secondness" and "Thirdness," respectively. Peirce thought that ideas in God's mind are as material as objects in our experience. However, he encountered logical problems with this system and was not quite satisfied with the relation between the Kantian categories and the things in themselves.
In his second system of thought (1866-1970), Peirce used Hegelian methodology and assumptions to conclude that what was most real was a dynamic system. He thought that the world of experience or phenomena, which he called "the phaneron," is entirely made up of signs which are qualities, relations, things, events—everything—and that these signs are all meaningful. The meaning of each sign is part of a system that also contains the object and the "interpretant." The object is what the sign is a sign of. The interpretant is the feature or activity of mind that experiences the sign. And, the interpretant is also a sign—because everything is a sign—so it also has an object and a second interpretant.
This structure of sign—object—interpretant, interpretant-as-sign — object — new interpretant goes on infinitely. But the reality of the object consists of a limiting form that is approached as cognitions approach infinity. That is, if an object is real, our process of inquiry and experience can go on almost forever. Reality for Peirce was a "convergence of inquiry," and since what we know is always general or a universal, the object is made up of universals. This makes reality mental, hence Peirce's philosophical idealism.
However, Peirce ran into difficulties with the logic of these relations, and after discovering an original (and still not widely understood, except by logicians) logic of relations, he constructed his third system (1870-1884), which more closely resembled what is now considered pragmatism and is based on the operating principles that most now associate with Peirce, although he called his system "pragmaticism" to distinguish it from the ideas of other pragmatists, who were less concerned with science.
What was Charles Peirce's pragmaticism?
Peirce's starting point in his pragmaticism was his activity and self-identification as a scientist. Peirce thought that philosophy was philosophy of science and that logic was the logic of science. As a pragmaticist, Peirce is best known for two articles: "The Fixation of Belief" and "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," published in Popular Science Monthly (under different titles) in 1877 and 1878, respectively. In these works, he defended science as the best way to overcome doubt and presented the pragmaticist idea of clear concepts. He claimed that concepts, or the meanings of scientific terms, must have "cash value." The "cash value" of a concept is the difference it makes in experience to have the concept, compared with not having it. The entire meaning of a clear concept lay in its consequences. The consequences—meaning—of a scientific concept were possible observations under conditions that could be specified. That is, the concept had to generate predictions and it doesn't matter if the predictions were accurate or not, just so long as it could predict something that would happen.
What was Charles Peirce's fourth system?
Peirce's fourth system (1885-1914) introduced evolution to his second system. The whole system of sign-object-interpretant, with its infinite implications, is an evolving system. The system has evolved over time and continues to evolve, as does our knowledge of it, and every sign within it. Peirce worked out many details of this process, in logic and in what others considered "pragmatism." He ended up with an extreme form
Why wasn't Charles Peirce ever a professor of philosophy?
Pierce did have a job as lecturer in logic at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, from 1879 to 1891. But in 1883 he divorced Harriet Melusina Fay, to whom he had been married since 1862, and married Juliette Froissy. Froissy was thought to be a gypsy, and Peirce was said to have lived with her before their marriage. A scandal ensued, and Peirce left his academic position. Peirce's only subsequent employment was for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which ended in 1901 due to congressional curtailment of funding. Peirce then did odd jobs and was employed as a consultant in chemical engineering. Sometimes, William James (1842-1910) and other friends assisted him financially.
of idealism that posited the entire universe as a living, feeling organism, with habits that are mirrored in our general laws of nature (descriptions of regularities).
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