Charles S. Peirce: The Essential Writings

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Prometheus Books, 1998 - Philosophy - 322 pages
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Physicist, mathematician, and logician Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914) was America's first internationally recognized philosopher, the man who created the concept of "pragmatism," later popularized by William James. Charles S. Peirce: The Essential Writings is a comprehensive collection of the philosopher's writings, including: "Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man" (1868), which outlines his theory of knowledge; a review of the works of George Berkeley; papers from between 1877 and 1905 developing the ground of pragmatism and Peirce's theory of scientific inquiry; his basic concept of metaphysics (1891-93); and the important 1902 articles in Baldwin's dictionary on his later pragmatism (or pragmaticism), uniformity, and synechism. Included are Peirce's well-known essays: "The Fixation of Belief" and "How to Make Our Ideas Clear." Book jacket.

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Preface to an Unwritten Book 189798
Review of the Works of George Berkeley1871

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About the author (1998)

CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 10, 1839. He graduated from Harvard in 1859 and earned a degree from Harvard's Lawrence Scientific school in 1863. A philosopher, mathematician, and logician, until 1891, Peirce was associated with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, an organization concerned with measurements of the earth's geographical features. Peirce's work on gravity determinations gained him international acclaim, and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the London Mathematical Society. From 1888 until his death, Peirce lived on an isolated farm near Milford, Pennsylvania, conducting research and writing papers.

Peirce has been called one of America's most original and versatile thinkers, although his accomplishments are far from well-known. The founder of the philosophical movement known as pragmatism (which he later called pragmaticism to distinguish it from popularized versions such as that of William James), Peirce argued that the truth of any assertion is to be evaluated from its practical consequences and its bearing on human interests. In other words, concepts are to be understood in terms of their practical implications.

Peirce's chief interest was logic, on which he lectured at Johns Hopkins University from 1879 to 1884 (he was creator of the algebra of logic), but he also cofounded the science of signs (semiotics), designed an electric switching-circuit computer, was the first modern psychologist in the United States, and an expert on the pronunciation of Elizabethan English.

Having resigned from the Coast and Geodetic Survey over disagreements regarding the methods and careful quality of his work (called procrastination by some), Peirce lived out his last years in poverty and illness, dying at his Pennsylvania farm on August 19, 1914.

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