The Nineteenth Century [Routledge History of Philosophy, V. 7]

By C. L. Ten | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12

American pragmatism

Peirce

Cheryl Misak


INTRODUCTION

Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), one of America’s greatest philosophers, mathematicians, and logicians, was a difficult and not altogether pleasant character. That, combined with what the establishment regarded as moral lapses, resulted in the fact that he was thwarted in his attempts to obtain a permanent academic post and died a malnourished and impoverished outcast. He was dismissed from his brief stint at Johns Hopkins University, dismissed from his service with the US Coast Survey (a job handed to him by his father, its superintendent), and ostracized by his alma mater—Harvard University.

Despite this grim life, Peirce was the founder of pragmatism, semiotics, and a theory of truth and knowledge that is still popular today. He was a serious student of the history of philosophy and of science and he was generous in acknowledging the influence of others. One of the most important influences is Kant, of whom the young Peirce was a ‘passionate devotee’ ([12.1], 4:2). 1 It is from Kant, for instance, that Peirce inherits a quest for the categories, a penchant for the notion of continuity and a desire to develop an ‘architectonic’ system. But there is also a strong gust of medieval philosophy blowing throughout his work, Duns Scotus in particular. It is from here that Peirce gets his Scholastic realism, which is set against the nominalism and individualism of the British empiricists. But there is also a clear affinity between Peirce and those empiricists. For instance, Peirce credits Berkeley’s arguments that all meaningful language be matched with sensory experience as the precursor of pragmatism: ‘Berkeley on the whole has more right to be considered the introducer of pragmatism

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The Nineteenth Century [Routledge History of Philosophy, V. 7]
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • General Editors' Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Chronology xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Early Utilitarians 5
  • Chapter 2 - Whewell's Philosophy of Science and Ethics 32
  • Chapter 3 - J. S. Mill 62
  • Bibliography 96
  • Chapter 4 - J. S. Mill 98
  • Chapter 5 - Sidgwick 122
  • Chapter 6 - Comte and Positivism 148
  • Bibliography 174
  • Chapter 7 - Nietzsche 177
  • Chapter 8 - Dilthey 206
  • Bibliography 235
  • Chapter 9 - Logic and the Philosophy of Mathematics in the Nineteenth Century 242
  • Chapter 10 - Philosophy of Biology in the Nineteenth Century 272
  • Bibliography 296
  • Chapter 11 - The Separation of Psychology from Philosophy 297
  • Chapter 12 - American Pragmatism 357
  • Chapter 13 - American Pragmatism 381
  • Bibliography 405
  • Chapter 14 - Green, Bosanquet and the Philosophy of Coherence 408
  • Bibliography 434
  • Chapter 15 - Bradley 437
  • Bibliography 458
  • Glossary 459
  • Index 461
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