Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce (pûrs), 1839–1914, American philosopher and polymath, b. Cambridge, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1859; son of Benjamin Peirce. Except for occasional lectures he renounced the regimen of academic life and was in government service with the Geodetic Survey for many years. Regarding logic as the beginning of all philosophical study, Peirce felt that the meaning of an idea was to be found in an examination of the consequences to which the idea would lead. This principle was published in 1878 in Popular Science Monthly, using the term pragmatism, which was later employed, with acknowledgment, by his friend William James.

A major thinker in a number of fields, Peirce is also recognized as the originator of the modern form of semiotics and the first American experimental psychologist. His influence is clearly seen in the works of Josiah Royce and John Dewey, but recognition of his importance was delayed because of the scarcity of published works. He had a difficult and tumultuous life, died in poverty, and left many fragmentary manuscripts. The only book published during his lifetime was Photometric Researches (1878), in which Peirce originated the technique of using light waves to measure length. His scientific interests had also led him to design an electric switching circuit computer. In all, Peirce made significant contributions to chemistry, physics, astronomy, geodesy, meteorology, engineering, cartography, psychology, philology, the history and philosophy of science and mathematics, phenomenology, and logic. After his death his major essays were edited by M. R. Cohen in Chance, Love, and Logic (1923).


See his collected papers (8 vol., 1931–58); selections of his letters, ed. by C. S. Hardwick (1977); biography by J. Brent (1993); studies by J. Buchler (1939, repr. 1966), M. G. Murphey (1961), A. J. Ayer (1968), J. K. Feibleman (1970), F. E. Reilly (1979), R. J. Bernstein, ed. (1965, repr. 1980), E. Freeman, ed. (1983), and J. Hoopes, ed. (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Charles Sanders Peirce: Selected full-text books and articles

Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition By Charles Peirce; Max H. Fisch Indiana University Press, vol.1, 1982
Librarian’s tip: This is volume 1 of a multi-volume set on Questia
The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce By Cornelis De Waal; Krzysztof Piotr SkowroŃski Fordham University Press, 2012
Peirce's Philosophical Perspectives By Vincent G. Potter; Vincent M. Colapietro Fordham University Press, 1996
Conversations on Peirce: Reals and Ideals By Douglas R. Anderson; Carl R. Hausman Fordham University Press, 2012
Chance, Love, and Logic: Philosophical Essays By Charles Sanders Peirce; John Dewey; Morris Raphael Cohen University of Nebraska Press, 1998
Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic By Charles Sanders Peirce; James Hoopes University of North Carolina Press, 1991
Doctrine and Experience: Essays in American Philosophy By Vincent G. Potter Fordham University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Charles S. Peirce: Action through Thought-The Ethics of Experience"
The Authentication of Doctrines: Hints from C. S. Peirce By Gelpi, Donald L Theological Studies, Vol. 60, No. 2, June 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Community Denied: The Wrong Turn of Pragmatic Liberalism By James Hoopes Cornell University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "Peirce's Logical Communitarianism"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.