May the real Charles Sanders Peirce please stand up? Part 1

4352929013_7108979b2e_bFor Richard Rorty, Peirce did nothing important for pragmatism but giving it its name. He writes:

His contribution to pragmatism was merely to have given it a name, and to have
stimulated James. Peirce himself remained the most Kantian of thinkers – the
most convinced that philosophy gave us an all-embracing ahistorical context in
which every other species of discourse could be assigned its proper place and
rank. (Rorty, 1982 S. 160)

First of all, I think, it was a problem for Rorty, that Peirce understood himself as scientist who investigated the scientific method to show how it helps us to get true believes. Peirce criticised, as Rorty, that we should not believe anything only because an authority told us to. But he meant things like authority, stubborness and a priori reasoning but not the external world as Rorty would like to have it. He was also a fallibilist, which means that he thought that no believe is ever secure of revision.

Peirce was a scientif realist. He wrote:

There are real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions
about  them;  those  realities  affect  our  senses  according  to  regular  laws,  and,
though our sensations  are as different  as  our relations  to the objects,  yet,  by
taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how
things really are, and any man, if he has sufficient experience and reason enough
about it, will be led to the one true conclusion. (Peirce, 1972 S. 133)

Perception as a justification for a believe? Rorty would shudder. Perceptions can cause believes, that means they belong to the space of causes, but they can never justify a believe, because reasons belong to the space of reasons (who had thought?!). The ultimately truth is only justification, which means for Rorty, agreement in the biggest possible speech community. And is it not that, what Peirce says when he writes:

„The opinion that is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real.”  (S.  155)

To be continued…



Rorty, Richard. 1982. Consequnces of Pragmatism. s.l. : University of Minnesota Press,

Peice,  Charles  Sanders.  1972.  How  To  Make  our  Ideas  Clear.  [book  auth.]  Charles
Sanders Peirce. The Essential Writings. New York : Harper & Row, 1972.


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