Who is Charles Sanders Peirce?

Who is Charles Sanders Peirce?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Charles Sanders (1839-1914) was an American pragmatist philosopher. First of all, he became the father of the pragmatism movement, and then he outlined its method.

He started with the subject of knowledge in philosophy and made a synthesis of Aristotle’s objective approach, which finds order in nature, and Kant’s subjective approach, which states that the order in knowledge is the work of the mind. According to Peirce, who identifies the correctness of our concepts, ideas and theories with their usefulness, the method consists primarily of making our thoughts clear and distinct, so that philosophy will turn into a science with this method.

Peirce is the son of a Harvard mathematician. He has been trained in scientific and technical subjects from a young age. He is often told that he was raised in a laboratory. He has worked for many years at the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, working on engineering practices for surveying the earth. In general, he was interested in precision measurement and made some contributions to the theory of pendulums. In 1886, he claimed that logical operations could be performed by electrical circuits, and as such he predicted the operation of modern computers.

Peirce was interested in philosophy from an early age. He works on the texts of Kant and Hegel. His interest mainly focuses on logic and probability theory. Until the 19th century, Aristotle’s theory of logic in general remained valid. Overcoming Aristotelian logic and developing logic in its current form was possible thanks to the studies carried out in the second half of the 19th century. (As we will discuss in the next section, the greatest contribution to this issue belongs to the German mathematician and philosopher Gottlob Frege.) On the other hand, the influence of Peirce’s original views on this subject is indisputable.

Frege especially developed the logic of quantification, which is an integral part of deductive logic today. Peirce also has studies on deductive logic. On the other hand, Peirce’s area of ​​interest was not limited to this, he also made original studies on the logic of induction, which is extremely important for the development of sciences. In addition to these, he was particularly interested in abductive inference, which starts with the facts and tries to put forward the hypothesis that best explains the facts in question. Today, this form of inference is also referred to as inference to the best explanation.

Today, Gottlob Frege is accepted as the founder of quantification logic. On the other hand, it is known that Peirce developed quantification theory independently of Frege’s work and made a distinction between first and second order quantifiers.

In addition to his interest in science and logic, Peirce did not stay away from the effort to develop a metaphysical system. He tried to combine some approaches of Darwinian evolutionary theory with an absolute idealism similar to Hegel’s system of thought. Peirce argued that reality essentially has a mental content and moves towards a rational purpose. However, it is not these metaphysical approaches that make Peirce worthy of discussion today; It is a way of thinking that he calls pragmatism. “Pragma” is a Greek word meaning deed or deed. Peirce uses this word to highlight the close ties between the intellectual (concepts, opinions, theories, etc.) and the practical / practical (acts, actions, etc.).

Instead of paragmatism, Peirce sometimes used the terms practicalism or critical common sense. When examining John Dewey’s views in the next subsection, we will see that the term instrumentalism used by Dewey has very close ties with pragmatism. Dewey uses this term to emphasize that the concepts we use have an instrumental function. In this respect, Dewey, like Peirce, highlights the ties between the actual and the intellectual.

Over time, pragmatism began to be used in very different meanings than Peirce meant. Thereupon, Peirce coined the word pragmatism to name his views and said that it was a word that was “ugly enough to be sure of those who thought of stealing it”.

Subject Headings
Peirce’s life and works
What is pragmatism
The relationship between semiotics and meaning
What is fallibility
Chance and the theory of evolution
fixation of faith
faith and doubt
Truth and reality
Relationship between pragmatism and meaning

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook Who is Peirce?