Charles Sanders Peirce

M. Gail Hamner

in American Pragmatism

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155471
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834266 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

 Charles Sanders Peirce

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Charles Sanders Peirce was an American pragmatist whose notions of, and about community, inform not only his reformulation of ‘science’ and ontology but also the complex theory of continuity (synechism) that structures his pragmatism. Peirce's realism is examined through his theorizing of community and synechism, and an assessment of his attempt to reconcile Kant's idealism with British empiricism. One consequence of this reconciliation is a theory of truth that posits both the singleness of truth (a characteristic presumed by Hermann von Helmholtz and William Hamilton), and truth's infinite deferral in the light of the fallible modes of human perception and reasoning. Envisioning fallibilism as occurring always within and between communities of inquiry, Peirce develops the famous pragmatic supposition that truth is that which no one has a reason to disbelieve. The discussion of Peirce's realism includes his theory of generals and its resonance with Helmholtz's theory of the reality of natural laws; for both thinkers, the reality of a law (or general) differs from individual (and equally real) instances of that law, with the difference residing in Peirce's synechism, where Helmholtz attributes the reality of natural laws to the overarching action of causality.

Keywords: belief; causality; community; empiricism; fallibilism; William Hamilton; Hermann von Helmholtz; idealism; Kant; natural laws; Charles Sanders Peirce; pragmatism; psychology; realism; synechism; theory of continuity; theory of generals; truth; U.S.A

Chapter.  18084 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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