Charles Sanders Peirce Quotes
“Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy: Do not block the way of inquiry.”
“It is the man of science, eager to have his every opinion regenerated, his every idea rationalized, by drinking at the fountain of fact, and devoting all the energies of his life to the cult of truth, not as he understands it, but as he does not yet understand it, that ought properly to be called a philosopher.”
“All human affairs rest upon probabilities, and the same thing is true everywhere. If man were immortal he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted would betray his trust, and, in short, of coming eventually to hopeless misery. He would break down, at last, as every great fortune, as every dynasty, as every civilization does. In place of this we have death.”
“We start, then, with nothing, pure zero. But this is not the nothing of negation. For not means other than, and other is merely a synonym of the ordinal numeral second. As such it implies a first; while the present pure zero is prior to every first. The nothing of negation is the nothing of death, which comes second to, or after, everything. But this pure zero is the nothing of not having been born. There is no individual thing, no compulsion, outward nor inward, no law. It is the germinal nothing, in which the whole universe is involved or foreshadowed. As such, it is absolutely undefined and unlimited possibility -- boundless possibility. There is no compulsion and no law. It is boundless freedom.”
“I hear you say: ‘All that is not /fact/ : it is poetry’. Nonsense! Bad poetry is false, I grant; but nothing is truer than true poetry. And let me tell the scientific men that the artists are much finer and more accurate observers than they are, except of the special minutiae that the scientific man is looking for.”
“Kepler’s discovery would not have been possible without the doctrine of conics. Now contemporaries of Kepler—such penetrating minds as Descartes and Pascal—were abandoning the study of geometry ... because they said it was so UTTERLY USELESS. There was the future of the human race almost trembling in the balance; for had not the geometry of conic sections already been worked out in large measure, and had their opinion that only sciences apparently useful ought to be pursued, the nineteenth century would have had none of those characters which distinguish it from the ancien régime.”
“Notwithstanding all that has been discovered since Newton’s time, his saying that we are little children picking up pretty pebbles on the beach while the whole ocean lies before us unexplored remains substantially as true as ever, and will do so though we shovel up the pebbles by steam shovels and carry them off in carloads.”
“To satisfy our doubts . . . it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency -- by something upon which our thinking has no effect. . . . Our external permanency would not be external, in our sense, if it was restricted in its influence to one individual. It must be something which affects, or might affect, every man. And, though these affections are necessarily as various as are individual conditions, yet the method must be such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same. Such is the method of science. Its fundamental hypothesis, restated in more familiar language, is this: There are Real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those Reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as are our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really and truly are; and any man, if he have sufficient experience and he reason enough about it, will be led to the one True conclusion. The new conception here involved is that of Reality.”
“All human affairs rest upon probabilities, and the same thing is true everywhere. If man were immortal, he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted should betray his trust, and, in short, of coming eventually to hopeless misery. He would break down, at last, as every good fortune, as every dynasty, as every civilization does. In place of this we have death. But what, without death, would happen to every man, with death must happen to some man . . . It seems to me that we are driven to this, that logicality inexorably requires that our interests shall not be limited. They must not stop at our own fate, but must embrace the whole community.”
“Are you sure twice two are four? Not at all. A certain percentage of the human race are insane and subject to illusions. It may be you are one of them, and that your idea that twice two is four is a lunatic notion, and your seeming recollection that other people think so, the baseless fabric of a vision.”
“Some persons fancy that bias and counter-bias are favorable to the extraction of truth–that hot and partisan debate is the way to investigate. This is the theory of our atrocious legal procedure. But Logic puts its heel upon this suggestion. It irrefragably demonstrates that knowledge can only be furthered by the real desire for it, and that the methods of obstinacy, of authority and every mode of trying to reach a foregone conclusion, are absolutely of no value. These things are proved. The reader is at liberty to think so or not as long as the proof is not set forth, or as long as he refrains from examining it. Just so, he can preserve, if he likes, his freedom of opinion in regard to the propositions of geometry; only, in that case, if he takes a fancy to read Euclid, he will do well to skip whatever he finds with A, B, C, etc., for, if he reads attentively that disagreeable matter, the freedom of his opinion about geometry may unhappily be lost forever.”
“Many a man has cherished for years as his hobby some vague shadow of an idea, too meaningless to be positively false; he has, nevertheless, passionately loved it, has made it his companion by day and by night, and has given to it his strength and his life, leaving all other occupations for its sake, and in short has lived with it and for it, until it has become, as it were, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone; and then he has waked up some bright morning to find it gone, clean vanished away like the beautiful Melusina of the fable, and the essence of his life goes with it.”
“„Oni koji izvršavaju na različite načine organizovanu moć u državi neće se nikada moći uveriti u to da opasna razmišljanja ne treba na neki način potčinjavati. Tamo gde pravo govora nije otvoreno sprečavano, jedinstvo mnenja se postiže moralnim terorom sa kojim su poštovani u društvu izričito saglasni. Slediti mišljenje vladajućih znači ići stazom mira. Neka su skretanja dopuštena, druga koja važe kao nesigurna, zabranjena. Ona su različita u različitim zemljama i različitim epohama, ali ma gde bio: ako je poznato da pripadaš tabuisanoj veri možeš biti siguran da će s tobom postupati s okrutnošću koja je manje brutalna, ali rafinovanija od lova na vuka. Najveći duhovni dobročinitelji čovečanstva nikada se nisu usudili a i danas se ne usuđuju da iznesu svoje misli. Senka sumnje prima facie pada na svako razmišljanje koje se čini važnim za sigurnost društva. Po pravilu proganjanje dolazi samo spolja: čovek se sam razdire i često je preplašen time što zastupa stavove protiv kojih su ga njegovog mišljenja autoritetu učili da se bori. Mirnom i dobronamernom karakteru stoga teško pada da se suprotstavi pokušaju potčinjavanja.”
Charles Sanders Peirce
- Date of birth: September 10, 1839
- Died: April 19, 1914
- Born: in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The United States.
- Description: Charles Sanders Peirce (/ˈpɜrs/, like "purse", September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist, sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for 30 years. Today he is appreciated largely for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, scientific methodology, and semiotics, and for his founding of pragmatism.
In 1934, the philosopher Paul Weiss called Peirce "the most original and versatile of American philosophers and America's greatest logician". Webster's Biographical Dictionary said in 1943 that Peirce was "now regarded as the most original thinker and greatest logician of his time."
An innovator in mathematics, statistics, philosophy, research methodology, and various sciences, Peirce considered himself, first and foremost, a logician. He made major contributions to logic, but logic for him encompassed much of that which is now called epistemology and philosophy of science. He saw logic as the formal branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder. As early as 1886 he saw that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits; the same idea was used decades later to produce digital computers.
Bertrand Russell (1959) wrote, "Beyond doubt [...] he was one of the most original minds of the later nineteenth century, and certainly the greatest American thinker ever." Alfred North Whitehead, while reading some of Peirce's unpublished manuscripts soon after arriving at Harvard in 1924, was struck by how Peirce had anticipated his own "process" thinking. Karl Popper viewed Peirce as "one of the greatest philosophers of all times". Yet Peirce's achievements were not immediately recognized. His imposing contemporaries William James and Josiah Royce admired him, and Cassius Jackson Keyser at Columbia and C. K. Ogden wrote about Peirce with respect, but to no immediate effect.The first scholar to give Peirce his considered professional attention was Royce's student Morris Raphael Cohen, the editor of an anthology of Peirce's writings titled Chance, Love, and Logic (1923) and the author of the first bibliography of Peirce's scattered writings. John Dewey studied under Peirce at Johns Hopkins and, from 1916 onwards, Dewey's writings repeatedly mention Peirce with deference. His 1938 Logic: The Theory of Inquiry is much influenced by Peirce. The publication of the first six volumes of the Collected Papers (1931–35), the most important event to date in Peirce studies and one that Cohen made possible by raising the needed funds, did not prompt an outpouring of secondary studies. The editors of those volumes, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, did not become Peirce specialists. Early landmarks of the secondary literature include the monographs by Buchler (1939), Feibleman (1946), and Goudge (1950), the 1941 Ph.D. thesis by Arthur W. Burks (who went on to edit volumes 7 and 8), and the studies edited by Wiener and Young (1952). The Charles S. Peirce Society was founded in 1946. Its Transactions, an academic quarterly specializing in Peirce, pragmatism, and American philosophy, has appeared since 1965.Peirce has gained a significant international following, marked by university research centers devoted to Peirce studies and pragmatism in Brazil (CeneP/CIEP), Finland (HPRC, including Commens), Germany (Wirth's group, Hoffman's and Otte's group, and Deuser's and Härle's group), France (L'I.R.S.C.E.), Spain (GEP), and Italy (CSP). His writings have been translated into several languages, including German, French, Finnish, Spanish, and Swedish. Since 1950, there have been French, Italian, Spanish, British, and Brazilian Peirceans of note.