Conversations on Peirce: Reals and Ideals

Conversations on Peirce: Reals and Ideals

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 270
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  • Book Info
    Conversations on Peirce: Reals and Ideals
    Book Description:

    The essays in this book have grown out of conversations between the authors and their colleagues and students over the last decade and a half. Their germinal question concerned the ways in which Charles Sanders Peirce was and was not both an idealist and a realist. The dialogue began as an exploration of Peirce's explicit uses of these ideas and then turned to consider the way in which answers to the initial question shed light on other dimensions of Peirce's architectonic. The essays explore the nature of semiotic interpretation, perception, and inquiry. Moreover, considering the roles of idealism and realism in Peirce's thought led to considerations of Peirce's place in the historical development of pragmatism. The authors find his realism turning sharply against the nominalistic conceptions of science endorsed both explicitly and implicitly by his nonpragmatist contemporaries. And they find his version of pragmatism holding a middle ground between the thought of John Dewey and Josiah Royce. The essays aims to invite others to consider the import of these central themes of Peircean thought.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4932-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Conversation I: Pragmatism, Idealism, Realism
      (pp. 3-15)
      Doug Anderson and Peter Groff

      The exemplary role that Bishop Berkeley played in Peirce’s conception of pragmatism is suggested by Peirce’s frequent references to Berkeley’s proto-pragmatic practice. “It was this medium [the river of pragmatism],” Peirce said, “and not tar water, that gave health and strength to Berkeley’s earlier works, hisTheory of Visionand what remains of hisPrinciples” (CP 5.11). On another occasion he remarked: “In 1871, in a Metaphysical Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I used to preach this principle as a sort of logical gospel representing the unformulated method followed by Berkeley, and in conversation about it I called it ‘Pragmatism’ ”...

    • TWO WHO’S A PRAGMATIST: Royce, Dewey, and Peirce at the Turn of the Century
      (pp. 16-43)
      Doug Anderson

      Ultimately, it may not matter much who is or is not a pragmatist. There are some reasonable political motivations at any given time for wanting or not wanting to be counted as among the pragmatists, depending on whether pragmatism is or is not in vogue. But if we ask how the question “who is a pragmatist?” was answered by Josiah Royce, Charles Peirce, and John Dewey in the early years of the twentieth century, we find some interesting answers that we can use to help sketch a picture of where their respective philosophical commitments lay. It is an interesting heuristic...

    • THREE TWO PEIRCEAN REALISMS: Some Comments on Margolis
      (pp. 44-57)
      Carl R. Hausman and Doug Anderson

      We turn now from considering Peirce’s realism in relation to the work of his contemporaries to a consideration of a commentary by our contemporary Joseph Margolis, who in recent years has undertaken to bring analytic philosophy and pragmatism into conversation. Margolis’s article “The Passing of Peirce’s Realism” provides us with a close probing of Peirce’s views on the reality of generals. In his attempt to bring Peirce’s realism into the context of contemporary debates, however, Margolis seems to us to overlook an important dimension of Peirce’s philosophy; thus he makes some dubious assumptions in his treatment of Peirce’s version of...

      (pp. 58-72)
      Doug Anderson

      Pragmatism has reached its most recent state of notoriety, for better and worse, through the writings of Richard Rorty, who claimed that he drew his inspiration, in part at least, from William James and, even more emphatically, from John Dewey. Some years ago Cornel West, describing inThe American Evasion of Philosophythe trajectory of the development of the political dimensions of pragmatism, provided external evidence to corroborate Rorty’s self-placement in the pragmatic tradition. My task in this chapter is akin to West’s, though I operate from a rather different angle of vision. My purpose is to provide a diagnostic...

  7. Conversation II: Perception and Inquiry
    • FIVE PEIRCE’S DYNAMICAL OBJECT: Realism as Process Philosophy
      (pp. 75-99)
      Carl R. Hausman

      As noted earlier, Peirce’s conception of pragmatism has been interpreted as both a form of objective idealism and a form of realism. Objective idealism, as I understand it, insists that whatever is regarded as real must not only be mind dependent but also constituted by mind in the sense of being ultimately reducible to mental activity. Opposed to idealism is what I think of as ontological realism, which I take to be the view that what is real in relation to thought in general is not itself exhausted by, or actually reducible to, thought. Instead, what is real, although it...

      (pp. 100-113)
      Doug Anderson

      In 1904 William James marked his “radical empiricism” by maintaining that I perceive not only individual things but also the relations of conjunction and disjunction in which they appear. “To be radical,” he asserted, “an empiricism must neither admit into its construction any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as ‘real’ as anything else in the system.”² Peirce, as a fellow pragmatist, though he never used the...

      (pp. 114-131)
      Carl R. Hausman

      In an earlier chapter I examined the metaphysical implications of Peirce’s dynamical or dynamic object; in this chapter I will consider its import for Peirce’s conception of interpretation. Interpretation, for whatever purpose, relates a referent or a dynamic object, that which is to be interpreted, to the interpreter. What sort of relation is this and what constraints contribute to the process of moving from referent to interpretation? This question signals a topic that concerned Peirce not only in his semeiotic but also in his philosophy in general. I would like to extend some of the claims I have made elsewhere...

    • EIGHT PEIRCE AND PEARSON: The Aims of Inquiry
      (pp. 132-146)
      Doug Anderson and Michael J. Rovine

      Peirce and Karl Pearson, his contemporary and British counterpart in the study of statistics and the logic of inquiry, lived radically different lives. Peirce, having alienated himself from the university communities in which he might have found work, lost his fulltime job when the Coast and Geodetic Survey was overhauled in 1891 in the wake of accusations of financial improprieties. Pearson, on the other hand, held a major university appointment in England and was a member of the British Academy. Both were practicing scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers of science. During his lifetime Pearson was honored for his contributions to statistics...

  8. Conversation III: Cultural Considerations
      (pp. 149-165)
      Doug Anderson

      Many scholars come to Peirce’s work from backgrounds in which matters of religion are of little or no interest, and when they encounter Peirce’s religious writings, they see them as an aberration. These writings are interesting or off-putting according to one’s inclinations and aversions. For some scholars, these writings stand out as a blemish on an otherwise elegant and technically compelling philosophical architectonic. But, as Michael Raposa¹ and Hermann Deuser² have shown, Peirce’s interest in religion was manifest at every stage of his career. If then these writings constitute an aberration, the aberration is not a momentary madness but a...

      (pp. 166-177)
      Doug Anderson

      As we have noted several times, Peirce often described his metaphysics as a kind of “objective idealism” (CP 6.24, 6.163); he believed matter to be “a specialization of the mind” (CP 6.268). Peirce’s testimony is borne out by a number of similarities his writings share with the work of Hegel, Schelling, and Royce. Yet he resisted Hegel’s tendency to reduce all being to thirdness; “in the Hegelian system,” Peirce said, “the other two [categories] are only introduced to beaufgehoben” (CP 5.79). And as suggested in chapter 6, he shied from Royce’s tendency to introduce closure into his idealistic system....

    • ELEVEN LOVE OF NATURE: The Generality of Peircean Concern
      (pp. 178-190)
      Doug Anderson

      Peirce’s realistic conception of God and, especially, of the love that God is, holds consequences for issues that lie beyond the boundaries of religious discourses. One such consequence has to do with what we have come to call environmentalism. Although he did not speak directly to what we today call environmental questions, Peirce developed strands of thought that suggest responses to some of these questions. Some connections between Peirce and environmentalism arise in considering Peirce’s life. He claimed to be, for example, instinctively opposed to the hunting of wild animals, and, as I have argued elsewhere, he claimed a strong...

    • TWELVE DEVELOPMENTAL THEISM: A Peircean Response to Fundamentalism
      (pp. 191-204)
      Doug Anderson

      Having brought matters of heart and mind into relation in chapter 10, I turn here to apply this relation to an issue that that has important political import for contemporary culture. The specific issue I wish to explore—religious fundamentalism—is a complex one, open to several avenues of investigation. Though the termfundamentalismwas not available to Peirce, he was concerned with its pragmatic meaning in several ways. My purpose here, therefore, is not to propose any radically new interpretations of Peirce’s thought, but simply to examine some of the ways Peirce might have responded to fundamentalism. I also...

  9. Addendum
    • PEIRCE’S COEFFICIENT OF THE SCIENCE OF THE METHOD: An Early Form of the Correlation Coefficient
      (pp. 207-230)
      Michael J. Rovine and Doug Anderson

      The history of the correlation coefficient is often thought to have begun with Sir Francis Galton. His contribution was notably his realization of the importance of the relationship between two variables for the purpose of describing or predicting some phenomenon. Research in statistics prior to Galton involved a set of components that if ordered differently could have resulted in the enumeration of correlation. However, scientists seemed to stop short of explicitly stating the principles that represented Galton’s contribution. The strain of research that led to Galton’s synthesis or discovery involved modeling errors of measurement and eventually led to the description...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 231-244)
  11. References
    (pp. 245-252)
  12. Index
    (pp. 253-256)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-258)