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american pragmatism
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peirce peirce

Who is the most original and the most versatile intellect that the Americas have so far produced? The answer "Charles S. Peirce" is uncontested, because any second would be so far behind as not to be worth nominating. Mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, spectroscopist, engineer, inventor; psychologist, philologist, lexicographer, historian of science, mathematical economist, lifelong student of medicine; book reviewer, dramatist, actor, short story writer; phenomenologist, semiotician, logician, rhetorician and metaphysician. He was, for a few examples, the first modern experimental psychologist in the Americas, the first metrologist to use a wave-length of light as a unit of measure, the inventor of the quincuncial projection of the sphere, the first known conceiver of the design and theory of an electric switching-circuit computer, and the founder of "the economy of research." He is the only system-building philosopher in the Americas who has been both competent and productive in logic, in mathematics, and in a wide range of sciences. If he has had any equals in that respect in the entire history of philosophy, they do not number more than two.
Max H. Fisch in Sebeok, The Play of Musement

Born 10 September 1839; died 19 April 1914

Attended Harvard and the Lawrence Scientific School (received degree in Chemistry in 1863)

Founder of pragmatism- new methods and ways of treating truth and meaning.

Derived that human beliefs are originated through "habits of action," and truth defined as inquiry.

Developed pragmatic theory that an innate correlation is present between meaning and action, where the meaning or truth of an idea is to be found in its consequences or "conceivable sensible effects" in human experience ("…our conception of the effects is the whole of our conception of the object.")

Therefore, truth or meaning is dependent on the subject’s conception or paradigm on an idea based on his experiences, making it ever changing; "that reality, as well as human knowledge of it, is constantly evolving, as is morality. What is good or evil… is dependent on its practical outcome… on its effects on human behavior."(grolier 1995)

Believed that "all beliefs, whether scientific of religious, were fallible and criticizable."

Science was superior over all other methods of inquiry was due to its flexibility.

"…investigators of would eventually converge on the truth, in the infinite long run."

Religion : way of life rather than a way of believing.

Wrote on almost all fields of philosophy, yet never wrote a book. Essays include:
"The Fixation of Belief" (1877)
"How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (1878)
"A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God" (1908)

*all other quotes taken from "American pragmatism", an essay by Nancy Frankenberry

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