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Peirce on truth, science, and community

In his papers "The Fixation of Belief" and "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", C. S. Peirce - arguably America's most original and influential philosopher - offers an unusual and challenging picture of truth. On this picture, truth is best understood as the projected ultimate endpoint of collective empirical research.

Peirce champions science as the adaptive, cooperative alternative to more circular and closed-minded ways of settling disagreements. We can hold as hard as possible to our preferred opinion ("tenacity"), impose somebody's preferred opinion on everybody by coercive pressure ("authority"), or let wish and imagination be our guides in crafting a worldview ("metaphysics"). All of these fail basic tests we confront in everyday life, both privately and publicly. To meet the challenges of recalcitrant experience, we need to admit that reality is not equivalent to ourselves - and this admission issues in the hypothetico-deductive methodology characteristic of the empirical sciences.

Along the way, Peirce introduces his celebrated "pragmatic maxim", later made famous by William James: to understand what our ideas mean, we need to understand how they relate to practice.

Links to the papers:
http://www.peirce.org/writings/p107.html
http://www.peirce.org/writings/p119.html

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Does Peirce (at least in the limited portion of his work we have seen) give creativity any consideration in motivating the process of inquiry? Is curiosity a form of irritating doubt to be overcome?

    August 9, 2013

    • jerry

      Hi Brian. Your question is a little ambiguous to me. However, Arthur Burks states, "Abduction was related to his other doctrines, such as pragmatism and tychism, and treated as a method of discovering new ideas rather than as a mode of argument. The question immediately arises: can there be a logic of discovery? For are
      not discovery and invention the work of genius, and hence the proper subject matter of psychology rather than of logic?" If you mean what is important for maintaining a sustained inquiry, I think Dewey's imagination speaks to that.

      August 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    On my way...looks like I'll be a little late. (Thanks, CTA.)

    August 8, 2013

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