The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce

By Cornelis De Waal; Krzysztof Piotr SkowroŃski | Go to book overview

ONE
TRADITIONS OF INNOVATION
AND IMPROVISATION
Jazz as Metaphor, Philosophy as Jazz

Vincent Colapietro

In this essay I address the topic of the normative thought of Charles S. Peirce, more precisely, several of the normative aspects of the Peircean project. But I do not intend to treat his nuanced conception of normative science. Rather the aspects I focus on have as much to do with the animating spirit of Peirce’s endeavor as any explicit doctrine (though in the case of one of these facets—his fallibilistic sensibility—we encounter on numerous occasions a formal articulation of its methodological significance). In him, the pragmatic sensibility is at once an imaginative, playful, reverential, innovative, and of course fallible spirit. These are not simply contingent facts about an idiosyncratic philosopher; they are, from his perspective, traits of character all philosophers ought to cultivate. I intend to address this sensibility both textually and otherwise (i.e., by attending to what Peirce explicitly asserts but also by tracing out the implications of his thought in directions he could not have easily foreseen). My task even encompasses what might be called a literary reading of the implicit narrative in one of his most frequently quoted metaphors (the metaphor of throwing a “sop to Cerberus”). But, more than anything else, it involves highlighting what tends to be slighted or overlooked entirely.

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