THE philosopher's father, Benjamin Peirce, was a remarkable man. Well and broadly educated, an inspiring teacher and a foremost mathematician of his day, he lost little time when his second son was born on September 10, 1839. From the very beginning he took almost a maternal interest in the upbringing of little Charles. It so happened that Charles was extremely precocious. At the age of 8 he played chess-with his father, of course-and began seriously to study chemistry. Though he did attend a private school, his education took place mainly at home.
Peirce entered Harvard University in 1855, but found his courses too easy, too elementary; instead, he read extensively and mastered both philosophy and astronomy through his own efforts. In due time he earned B.A., M.A., and also Sc.B. (in chemistry). In 1861 he joined the U.S. Coast Survey with which he was connected for over a quarter of century.
A hard and persistent worker by habit, Peirce found his position rather easy, for it enabled him to study and even to have parttime work on the side, as assistant at the Harvard Observatory, for instance. All along he was carrying on some research and did much writing, most of which was just put away and published only posthumously.
He was not exactly a hermit, however; in spare time, whenever he had it, he could be an excellent conversationalist and a charming companion. He became an active member of the "Metaphysical Club," where he met Chauncey Wright, Francis Abbot, Oliver W. Holmes, Jr., John Fiske, and William James. In 1878 he wrote an article, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", published in the Popular Science Monthly, and formulated his ideas on pragmatism, a new approach to philosophy. His main interest, however, had become by this time logic in which he followed A. de Morgan and G. Boole, developed the logic of relations and made important contributions to other fields of modern logic; he also