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Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 – 1914)


American philosopher, chemist and polymath, who is now remembered as a pioneer of the field of semiotics and, with the formulation of the pragmatic maxim, the founder of the philosophies of Pragmatism and Pragmaticism.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Feeling which has not yet emerged into immediate consciousness is already affectible and already affected. In fact, this is habit, by virtue of which an idea is brought up into the present consciousness by a bond that has already been established between it and another idea while it was still in futuro.
Peirce quotes
Fourth, this supreme law, which is celestial and living harmony, does not so much as demand that the special ideas shall surrender their peculiar arbitrariness and caprice entirely; for that would be self-destructive. It only requires that they influence and be influenced by one another.
Peirce
A difficulty which confronts the synechistic philosophy is this. In considering personality, that philosophy is forced to accept the doctrine of a personal God; but in considering communication, it cannot but admit that if there is a personal God, we must have a direct perception of that person and indeed be in personal communication with him. Now, if that be the case, the question arises how it is possible that the existence of this being should ever have been doubted by anybody. The only answer that I can at present make is that facts that stand before our face and eyes and stare us in the face are far from being, in all cases, the ones most easily discerned. That has been remarked since time immemorial.




Peirce Charles Sanders quotes
You are of all my friends the one who illustrates pragmatism in its most needful forms. You are a jewel of pragmatism.
Peirce Charles Sanders
The law of habit exhibits a striking contrast to all physical laws in the character of its commands. A physical law is absolute. What it requires is an exact relation. Thus, a physical force introduces into a motion a component motion to be combined with the rest by the parallelogram of forces; but the component motion must actually take place exactly as required by the law of force. On the other hand, no exact conformity is required by the mental law. Nay, exact conformity would be in downright conflict with the law ; since it would instantly crystallise thought and prevent all further formation of habit. The law of mind only makes a given feeling more likely to arise. It thus resembles the "non-conservative" forces of physics, such as viscosity and the like, which are due to statistical uniformities in the chance encounters of trillions of molecules.
Charles Sanders Peirce quotes
When anything is present to the mind, what is the very first and simplest character to be noted in it, in every case, no matter how little elevated the object may be? Certainly, it is its presentness.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Now, to say that a lot of objects is finite, is the same as to say that if we pass through the class from one to another we shall necessarily come round to one of those individuals already passed; that is, if every one of the lot is in any one-to-one relation to one of the lot, then to every one of the lot some one is in this same relation.
Peirce Charles Sanders quotes
Some minds will jump here jump to the conclusion that a past idea cannot in any sense be present. But that is hasty and illogical. How extravagant too, to pronounce our whole knowledge of the past to be mere delusion! Yet it would seem that the past is completely beyond the bounds of possible experience as a Kantian thing-in-itself.
Peirce
Understand me well. My appeal is to observation observation that each of you must make for himself.
Peirce Charles Sanders
The ordinary logic has a great deal to say about genera and species, or in our nineteeth century dialect, about classes. Now a class is a set of objects compromising all that stand to one another in a special relation of similarity. But where ordinary logic talks of classes the logic of relatives talks of systems. A system is a set of objects compromising all that stands to one another in a group of connected relations. Induction according to ordinary logic rises from the contemplation of a sample of a class to that of a whole class; but according to the logic of relatives it rises from the comtemplation of a fragment of a system to the envisagement of the complete system.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Third, these general ideas are not mere words, nor do they consist in this, that certain concrete facts will every time happen under certain descriptions of conditions; but they are just as much, or rather far more, living realities than the feelings themselves out of which they are concreted. And to say that mental phenomenon are governed by law does not mean merely that they are describable by a general formula; but that there is a living idea, a conscious continuum of feeling which pervades them, and to which they are docile.




Charles Sanders Peirce quotes
Do not block the way of inquiry.
Charles Sanders Peirce
A finite interval of time generally contains an innumerable series of feelings; and when these become welded together in association the result is a general idea.
Peirce quotes
I have taken pains to make my distinction of icons, indices, and tokens clear, in order to enunciate this proposition: in a perfect system of logical notation signs of these several kinds must all be employed. Without tokens there would be no generality in the statements, for they are the only general signs; and generality is essential to reasoning. ... But tokens alone do not state what is the subject of discourse ; and this can, in fact, not be described in general terms ; it can only be indicated. The actual world cannot be distinguished from a world of imagination by any description. Hence the need of pronoun and indices, and the more complicated the subject the greater the need of them.
Peirce Charles Sanders
Thus far, gentlemen, I have been insisting very strenuously upon what the most vulgar common sense has every disposition to assent to and only ingenious philosophers have been able to deceive themselves about. But now I come to a category which only a more refined form of common sense is prepared willingly to allow, the category which of the three is the chief burden of Hegel's song, a category toward which the studies of the new logico-mathematicians, Georg Cantor and the like, are steadily pointing, but to which no modern writer of any stripe, unless it be some obscure student like myself, has ever done anything approaching to justice.
Peirce Charles Sanders quotes
The hypothesis of God is a peculiar one, in that it supposes an infinitely incomprehensible object, although every hypothesis, as such, supposes its object to be truly conceived in the hypothesis. This leaves the hypothesis but one way of understanding itself; namely, as vague yet as true so far as it is definite, and as continually tending to define itself more and more, and without limit. The hypothesis, being thus itself inevitably subject to the law of growth, appears in its vagueness to represent God as so, albeit this is directly contradicted in the hypothesis from its very first phase. But this apparent attribution of growth to God, since it is ineradicable from the hypothesis, cannot, according to the hypothesis, be flatly false. Its implications concerning the Universes will be maintained in the hypothesis, while its implications concerning God will be partly disavowed, and yet held to be less false than their denial would be. Thus the hypothesis will lead to our thinking of features of each Universe as purposed; and this will stand or fall with the hypothesis. Yet a purpose essentially involves growth, and so cannot be attributed to God. Still it will, according to the hypothesis, be less false to speak so than to represent God as purposeless.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Consciousness must essentially cover an interval of time; for if it did not, we could gain no knowledge of time, and not merely no veracious cognition of it, but no conception whatever. We are therefore, forced to say that we are immediately conscious through an infinitesimal interval of time.
Charles Sanders Peirce quotes
The third argument, enclosing and defending the other two, consists in the development of those principles of logic according to which the humble argument is the first stage of a scientific inquiry into the origin of the three Universes, but of an inquiry which produces, not merely scientific belief, which is always provisional, but also a living, practical belief, logically justified in crossing the Rubicon with all the freightage of eternity.
Charles Sanders Peirce
Since space is continuous, it follows that there must be an immediate community of feeling between parts of mind infinitesimally close together. Without this, I believe it would have been impossible for any co-ordination to be established in the action of the nerve-matter of one brain.
Peirce Charles Sanders
Wherever ideas come together they tend to weld into general ideas; and whenever they are generally connected, general ideas govern the connection; and these general ideas are living feelings spread out.


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