Pragmatism


Pragmatism was a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States around 1870. The most important of the ‘classical pragmatists’ were Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), William James (1842–1910) and John Dewey (1859–1952). The influence of pragmatism declined during the first two thirds of the twentieth century, but it has undergone a revival since the 1970s with philosophers being increasingly willing to use the writings and ideas of the classical pragmatists, and also a number of thinkers, such as Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom developing philosophical views that represent later stages of the pragmatist tradition. The core of pragmatism was the pragmatist maxim, a rule for clarifying the contents of hypotheses by tracing their ‘practical consequences’. In the work of Peirce and James, the most influential application of the pragmatist maxim was to the concept of truth. But the pragmatists have also tended to share a distinctive epistemological outlook, a fallibilist anti-Cartesian approach to the norms that govern inquiry.
(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Peirce conceived of pragmatism as methodology to clarify the meaning of concepts. James developed pragmatism particularly as a theory of truth, and Dewey further developed pragmatism as a theory of inquiry.

 



PRAGMATISM

Pragmatism disparaged abstract metaphysical speculation in favor of judging ideas through experience, experimentation, and their practical effects.
Charles S. Peirce proposed that ideas should be evaluated pragmatically, that is, in terms of their consequences, and these consequences alone constituted their meaning.
William James popularized pragmatism, broadening Peirce's theory of MEANING to include a theory of TRUTH and, implicitly, of action. He stated that the truth of a proposition is determined by its UTILITY - its "cash value".
John Dewey reformulated pragmatism into his philosophy of instrumentalism, in which he stressed Peirce's emphasis on empirical inquiry and defined an idea's value in terms of its "warranted assertibility". In this view, the search for knowledge is not a quest for abstract truth but for solutions to practical problems.
Some recent thinkers, such as Willard van Orman Quine and Richard Rorty, are considered "neopragmatists" because of their view that scientific and philosophical inquiry should be connected to real-world experience and practical consequences.

PRAGMATISM

The philosophy which is called Pragmatism or Humanism is genuinely new, and is singularly well adapted to the predominant intellectual temper of our time. As regards its adaptation to the age, we shall have more to say when we have considered what it is. As regards novelty, its authors show a modesty which, in our opinion, is somewhat excessive. " Pragmatism, a new name for some old ways of thinking," William James calls his book ; and Dr. Schiller constantly asserts that his doctrines are those of Protagoras. As for Protagoras, we know sufficiently little about him to be able to read into him almost any doctrine we please ; and the appeal to him may be regarded as mainly due to the desire to produce an ancestry which has acquired respectability by the lapse of time. With regard to more modern pre- cursors, it must be admitted that many philosophers — as chief among whom we may mention Nietzsche — have paved the way for the new doctrines. Nevertheless the cardinal point in the pragmatist philosophy, namely, its theory of truth, is so new, and so necessary to the rest of the philosophy, even to those parts which had been previously maintained by others, that its inventors cannot be regarded as merely developing the thoughts of less explicit predecessors.

The name "pragmatism" was first invented by Mr. C. S. Peirce, as long ago as 1878. It was applied by him to the doctrine that the significance of a thought lies in the actions to which it leads. In order to estimate the difference between two different beliefs about the same matter, he maintained, we ought to consider what difference in conduct would result according as we adopted the one belief or the other. If no difference would result, the two beliefs are not effectively different. Mr. Peirce's doctrine, however, remained sterile until it was taken up twenty years later by William James, who, while retaining the word "pragmatism," gave it a more sweeping significance. The full-fledged philosophy is to be attributed to him and Dr. Schiller jointly. Professor Dewey, of Columbia University, is also to be reckoned among the founders of pragmatism. His writings are more technical and less popular than those of James and Dr. Schiller, but on certain points his exposition is perhaps preferable to theirs.

 



Three doctrines of Pragmatism

Three doctrines are associated with Pragmatism:
1. Beliefs are hypotheses and ideas are plans for action. (Theory of mind)
2. Ideas can be clarified by showing their relation to action. (Theory of meaning)
3. Beliefs are true when they are successful guides for prediction and action. (Theory of truth)
(The Columbia History of Western Philosophy. page 592)

The common element is an emphasis on the intimate connection between thought and action and between concept and practice,

1. Theory of mind       Read Peirce’s 'The Fixation of Belief'
Although pragmatism is best known as a theory of meaning or truth, its more fundamental theory is an account of mind.
According to Peirce, the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought.
Beliefs are really habits of action - the rules we apply regularly to solve our habitual problems. They tell us what to expect and how to act in certain circumstances. They are useful to the degree that they eliminate surprises. If unexpected result occurs, doubt arises and thought is excited in an attempt to form more adequate beliefs.
Thus, the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action.

2. Theory of meaning       Read Peirce’s 'How to Make Our Ideas Clear'
According to Descartes and Leibnitz, a proposition is “true and certain” insofar as it is clear and distinct to the mind. A clear and distinct idea contains nothing which is not clear. It is so clear and so distinct that it is recognized unmistakably without the possibility of confusing it with any other idea; and we can give a precise definition of it.
Peirce set out to clarify and to improve the conception of Descartes’ and Leibnitz's writings. He believes that in order to make our ideas clear we need to know what we think, in other word, to understand the logic of the mind. The very first lesson that we have a right to demand that logic shall teach us is, how to make our ideas clear.
Peirce pragmatic maxim for clarifying ideas derives from this account of mind. His most famous statement of this is: “Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object”.
In other words, the meaning of a concept derives from its conceivable “practical consequences”.
This view is that we clarify an idea by considering its “practical consequences”.
Peirce argued that his maxim provides a higher degree of clearness than Descartes’s and Leibnitz's notions of clarity and distinctness since it provides a rule for testing whether the concept applies.
According to Peirce, the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action. Habits are rules that determine how we act in certain circumstances. Thus, the meaning of the word “chair” is related, not to certain sense-data, but to the circumstances that the conception of chair invokes in us the habit to sit on it.
Peirce later qualified his theory of meaning. Read Proof of Pragmatism segment below.

3. Theory of truth       Read James’ ' Pragmatism's Conception of Truth’
*James’s theory of truth derives from his theory of meaning. James believed that in deciding what a concept means, we must ask “what sensations we are to expect from it, and what reactions we must prepare”. True ideas, he held, are those that we can “assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify”; idea become true so far as they get us into “satisfactory relations with other parts of experience.
According to James, truth is that character of a proposition that, in believing it, would lead us to such conduct as would tend to satisfy our desires or purposes.
*For Peirce, the pragmatic maxim is a theory of meaning, not a theory of truth. However, the maxim can be applied to all philosophical conceptions as well as to the notion of truth. Applying the pragmatic maxim to define the meaning of truth is referred as the pragmatic conception of truth.
In How to Make Our Ideas Clear, Peirce applied the pragmatic maxim to the concept of reality. He held that the truth is “the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate … and the object represented in this opinion is the real” - True ideas are those to which responsible investigators, were they to push their inquiry far enough, would finally agree; reality is what true ideas represent.
Application of the pragmatic maxim to Peirce’s conception of truth and reality gives the following pragmatic definition of truth when applied to propositions: "Proposition P is truth if and only if, if inquiry into P (by an indefinite community of inquirers) continues long enough, this inquiry will ultimately result in a permanently settled belief that P (within an indefinite community of inquirers)". - (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 25)
Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth. A further explanation of what this concordance consists in will be given below. Reality is that mode of being by virtue of which the real thing is as it is, irrespectively of what any mind or any definite collection of minds may represent it to be. The truth of the proposition that Caesar crossed the Rubicon consists in the fact that the further we push our archaeological and other studies, the more strongly will that conclusion force itself on our minds forever --or would do so, if study were to go on forever. (CP 5-565)
The underlying idea is that this ultimate belief is reached when all that can be inquired into is inquired into, so that no future inquiry can possibly reveal anything new of it. Therefore, the ultimate belief, or as Peirce also phrases it, the final opinion, is a permanently settled belief. (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 25)
In his reply to Monist editor Paul Carus, Peirce writes: “My view is that the real is nothing but the immediate object in a true cognition”. For him, real is that a true cognition (whether it’s an idea, belief, statement, etc.) is about.
The claim that a cognition is true when ita immediate object is real can be used to derive a pragmatic defination of truth which is that truth is nothing more, and also nothing less, than permanently settled opinion. The real is “that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be” and that which the community of observers will agree in the long run. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear)
“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 be 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 have sufficient experience and reason enough about it, will be led to the one true conclusion”. (The Fixation of Belief)
This doctrine solves the problem posed by Peirce’s theory of mind. Since there are no intuitions, we cannot discover the truth simply by examining experience; all beliefs are hypotheses, so it is always possible to be mistaken. How then can we arrive at the truth? Peirce’s answer is that we should follow the method of science and conduct experiments; eventually, reality will weed out the false beliefs and leave the true ones.

There is thus an underlying unity in all three of the doctrines associated with Peirce’s pragmatism. The theory that there are no intuitions and all belief is hypothetical leads to the pragmatic maxim and this, in turn, leads to a theory of truth that guarantees the success of science even without intuition. As Peirce said, the aim of pragmatic clarification is to rid metaphysics of unclarity and make it possible to solve its problems.

Peirce's conception of truth (as the final opinion) and of reality (as the object of this final opinion) has received much criticism. It has been argued, for instance, that we will never reach such final opinion; that we will never be in a position to know that we have reached it. (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 26)

Peirce later modified his theory of truth. (See below)

There were three significant differences between Peirce’s and James’ versions of pragmatism (Reference: The Columbia History of Western Philosophy) :
1. James took consequences to include effects of holding a belief as well as effects of the proposition itself. Thus, in considering claims about God and the Absolute, he was willing to accept emotional satisfaction that follow from acceptance of the claim as well as verifiable consequences of the claim itself. The critics such as A.Q. Lovejoy argued that it vitiated the doctrine’s usefulness as a critical tool, for such a broad notion of consequences leaves unverifiable propositions meaningful, if believing them has useful emotional effects and helps us cope with the world.

2. James' pragmatism was also confused with his controversial philosophy of religion. In “Will to Believe” (1897), James held that we have the right to believe on nonevident grounds (to have ‘overbelief', as he called them) when the evidence is insufficient. However, he held that the decision must be forced: We must not be able to put off the decision until we have further evidence but must decide immediately. He also held that the right to accept overbeliefs does not give us the right to criticize those who disagree with us; they also have a right to their overbeliefs. Overbeliefs must not affect decisions that have social consequences; for example, decisions as jurors or public servants must be based solely on evidence. Finally, James insisted that he did not think that believing something on “passional” rather than evidential grounds made it true.
His point was simply that there is no reason to think we should refrain from believing as we wish when evidence fails to settle the question, provided these other conditions are met. His critics, Peirce included, interpreted his views on this question in terms of his theory of truth. Since James equated truth with what works, they took him to be arguing that what gives private emotional satisfaction is true and thus to be opting for subjective account of truth. James’s broad interpretation of practical effects contributed to the misunderstanding.

3. James also accepted an instrumental conception of theories. He held that a theory is not “an absolute transcript of reality” but an instrument of prediction whose only standard is utility in organizing experience. This was not Peirce’s understanding of truth at all. He held that truth value of a belief depends solely on whether it depicts reality, where reality is a preexisting condition of truth. Peirce believed that if we investigate long enough, we will be forced to accept the one true theory on every meaningful question, but he did not think these theories are just instruments and their objects convenient fictions.

These differences were among the reasons Peirce changed the name of his doctrine from “pragmatism” to “pragmaticism” in 1905, a name that he said was “ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers”. But Peirce also had other reasons for changing the name. By 1905, he had given up his early theory of truth. In 1878, he held that science is “fated” to reach agreement on every meaningful question; that is, continued inquiry will settle every question on which there is a fact of the matter. Later, he became convinced that the reasons that led him to this position were unfounded and came to believe the success of science was just “a cheerful hope”. Peirce continued to reject intuition and to accept the pragmatic theory of mind and the pragmatic maxim, but he now also accepted a realist account of truth. His early view can be taken to be an optimistic version of scientific progress; it was also a version of absolute idealism, since it took the real to be conceptually dependent on what the community thinks in the long run. His later view took truth to be independent of the beliefs of any individuals or groups, whether finite or infinite in number, and so was a version of realism rather than idealism. Instead of defining truth as the ultimate belief of the community, Peirce fell back on the second level of clearness; namely, that it is independent of what any group of inquirers believes. Peirce’s 'What Pragmatism Is'

In sum, the pragmatism maxim is for Peirce a method for determining, or fixing, the meaning of our concept. James was the first to use the word "pragmatism" in a lecture on 26 August 1898 before the Philosophical Union of Berkeley University. Shortly afterward the lecture appeared in The University Chronicle under the title "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results". In this lecture James tries to show his audience “the most likely direction in which to start upon the trail of truth”, in the course of which he introduces the ‘principle to pragmatism” as his compass, and he explicitly attributes this principle to Peirce. (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 26-28)

Pragmatic Realism: the New Pragmatism's Epistemology and Metaphysics.

The new pragmatism's epistemological and metaphysical view, the editorial opinion, is based on the following beliefs:

§ Reality and Truth Read 'Pragmatism’s Conception of Reality'
Reality and truth are coordinate concepts in pragmatic thinking, each being defined in relation to the other, and both together as they participate in the course of inquiry. Inquiry is not the occupation of a singular individual, but the common life of a community. - Peirce.
[Note: It is always an individual who first discovers the truth, however.]
"The opinion which 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. That is the way I would explain reality." (Peirce's How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-407)
For a realist, the real is nothing but the immediate object of that which is true. (Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vol 6, BOOK I. ONTOLOGY AND COSMOLOGY, CHAPTER 12: NOTES ON METAPHYSICS, §18 Sufficient Reason CP6-393)

1. The world exists externally and is independently of our mind. (Philosophical Realism)
*Peirce: "Thus we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be." (How to Make Our Ideas Clear §4: REALITY, CP5-405)
"That is real which has such and such characters, whether anybody thinks it to have those characters or not. At any rate, that is the sense in which the pragmaticist uses the word". (WHAT PRAGMATISM IS CP 5-430)
"The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you." (Some Consequences of Four Incapacities §4: MAN, A SIGN. CP5-311).
[Note: Thus, It can be said that Peirce holds the view that truth value of a belief depends solely on whether it depicts reality - A Correspondence Theory of Truth.]
*William James, in his Principles of Psychology- Chapter IX: The Stream of Thought, describes the fourth characteristic in thought: “Human thought appears to deal with objects independent of itself; that is, it is cognitive, or possesses the function of knowing.” (William James’ theory of consciousness)

2. There can be truths that would evade inquiry forever. (Metaphysical Reality)
a) The Ultimate Reality, the Abolute, or the existence of God can never be proven.
b) The thing-in-itself, the Dinge an sich, or noumenon is unknowable. (Kant’s Agnostic Realism)
*Peirce: "Who would have said, a few years ago, that we could ever know of what substances stars are made whose light may have been longer in reaching us than the human race has existed? Who can be sure of what we shall not know in a few hundred years? Who can guess what would be the result of continuing the pursuit of science for ten thousand years, with the activity of the last hundred? And if it were to go on for a million, or a billion, or any number of years you please, how is it possible to say that there is any question which might not ultimately be solved? (How to Make Our Ideas Clear §4: REALITY, CP5-409)
Peirce's conception of truth (as the final opinion) and of reality (as the object of this final opinion) has received much criticism. It has been argued, for instance, that we will never reach such final opinion; that we will never be in a position to know that we have reached it. (Cornelis De Waal's "On Pragmatism", page 26)
Later, Peirce acknowledged that there might be important questions that remain, in the end, unanswered. But that does not take away the need that we should always proceed on “[the] hope that the particular question which we are inquiring is susceptible of an approximate answer in a reasonable time” (In Illustrations of the Logic of Science by Charles Peirce (R422-16), Edited by Cornelis De Waal 2014). That is to say, for Peirce, the idea that there is a reality becomes a practical postulate of reason. (Cornelis De Waal’s “On Pragmatism”, page 15)
*The knowledge about the Ultimate Reality is by our definition, Truth of Certainty; and Dewey, in his Quest for Certainty, denied the Truth of Certainty.
*William James, in his The Will to Believe, tells us that we, sometimes and under certain conditions, have the right to believe the unknowable.

3. Practical Reality (or Pragmatic Reality) is something of which we must take account, whether we like it or not, if some purpose of our own is to get its fulfillment. (Read A.E. Taylor's Reality)
*For Peirce, truth is what scientific investigators would ultimately agree on. (Scientific Realism)
Peirce: "The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a community, without definite limits, and capable of an indefinite increase of knowledge." (Some Consequences of Four Incapacities CP5-311).
*William James: "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes to us to have true ideas; that, therefore, is the meaning of truth, for it is all that truth is known-as." ('Pragmatism's Conception of Truth' )
*Dewey prefers to use the term, "warranted assertiblity", to describe the distinctive property of ideas that results from successful inquiry. (warranted assertiblity - Naturalism)

§ Epistemology
1. The direct effect of the world of things upon our sense organs produces a sensation.

2. The a priori conditions of our understanding (space & time sensibility and the basic understanding structure of the mind) select and mold the sensations into a coherent perception.
*We accept Kant’s notion of basic and universal structure of human mind of understanding, although the details may not be the categories of understanding as he described.
*Peirce argued that there were three phenomenological categories, which he called “Firstness” (sensation), “Secondness” (perception), and “Thirdness” (conception or thought).
*William James, in his A World of Pure Experience,: "Radical empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as real as anything else in the system." 'A World of Pure Experience')

3. Conception is what the mind manufactures out of the raw material supplied by perception.
A "thing" is a colligation (a bundle) of concepts; a particular paper, for example, is the sum of our concepts of whiteness, thinness, smoothness and etc.

4. With the incorporation of subjective feelings and purposes, the mind generates the "concrete idea" or "particular idea" - a concept with a particular meaning, feeling and purpose.

5. By intellectual reflection and reasoning, abstract idea is formed and it is called "general idea" or "universal idea".



Sensation, Perception, Imagination, and Belief.

James states that if we track the dynamic of mental activity, we discern a standard pattern from sensation to perception to imagination to belief.
Through sensation, we become acquainted with some given fact. This can, but need not, lead to knowledge about that fact, achieved by perceiving its relations to other given facts.
Both sensation and perception involve an immediate intuition of some given objects.
Imagination, less immediate, retrieves mental copies of past sensations and perceptions, even when their external stimuli are no longer present.
Belief is the sense or feeling that ideas or propositions formed in the imagination correspond to reality.
Every proposition can be analyzed in terms of its object and whether that object is believed.
The object of a proposition comprises a subject (such as my horse), a predicate (wings), and a relation between them (my horse has sprouted wings).
The belief is the psychic attitude a mind has towards that object (for example, I believe it or deny it or am in doubt about it)
(Principles, vol. 2, pp. 1-3, 44, 76-77, 82-83, 283-284, 287-290; Psychology, pp. 12-14, 302, 312, 316-317).




When we see a “table”, that insight comes packaged with it all of human endeavors, as Dreyfus points out:
A normal person experiences the objects of the world as already interrelated and full of meaning. There is no justification for the assumption that we first experience isolated facts, or snapshots of facts, or momentary views of snapshots of isolated facts, and then give them significance. The analytical superfluousness of such a process is what contemporary philosophers such as Heidegger and Wittgenstein are trying to point out..
Note that Dreyfus is talking about conscious experience.




THE PRAGMATIST CONCEPTION OF EXPERIENCE (Excerpt and Condensation)
As is evident from the pragmatist maxim, pragmatism is a form of empiricism. Our ability to understand external things rests upon our experience. However, the pragmatists all adopted accounts of experience and perception that were radically different from the views of established empiricism which linked experience to what is sometimes called ‘the given’: we are the passive recipients of atomistic, determinate and singular sensory contents, the kinds of things that are sometimes called sense data. Since these sensory inputs are our only source of knowledge of the external world, we have no direct awareness of external things. (Note: Experience provides the material for our concepts (ideas) of the external world and these ideas are all that we know.) It is no surprise that this way of thinking about experience can easily lead to skepticism about the external world.

In different ways, Peirce, James, and Dewey all argued that experience is far richer than the tradition had supposed. We can begin with James's ‘radical empiricism’, of which he said that ‘the relations between things, conjunctive as well as disjunctive, are just as much matters of direct experience, neither more nor less so, than the things themselves.’ And, second, he concludes that ‘the parts of experience are held together from next to next by relations that are themselves parts of experience. The directly apprehended universe needs, in short, no extraneous trans-empirical connective support, but possesses in its own right a concatenated or continuous structure.’

This suggestion is echoed in Peirce's account of perception. He too emphasizes the continuous character of perceptual experience, and also adds that we directly perceive external things as external, as ‘other’, that we can perceive necessary connections between events, and that experience contains elements of generality.

Dewey's account of experience contributes an additional twist. Like Peirce, he thought that experience was ‘full of inference’. Experience is a process through which we interact with our surroundings, obtaining information that helps us to meet our needs. We experience all sorts of objects, events and processes and what we experience is shaped by our habits of expectation. The dichotomy between the passive given of experience and the rich results of our active conceptualization is not supported by our experience. It is yet another of the philosophers’ distortions.

 

 

WHAT PRAGMATISM IS

Peirce's third Monist series opened with the April 1905 publication of "What Pragmatism Is" (reproduced in The Essential Peirce (EP) Volume 2, sel. 24). This was to be the first of three papers that would explain in detail Peirce's special brand of pragmatism, give examples of its application, and prove it. Not long into his paper, Peirce paused to deliver a short lesson on philosophical nomenclature—the message being essentially the same as that of selection 19—as a rationale for renaming his form of pragmatism. He chose the name "pragmaticism" as one "ugly enough" to be safe from kidnappers. Peirce lamented that his word "pragmatism" was now met with in the literary journals, "where it gets abused in the merciless way that words have to expect when they fall into literary clutches." He would continue using his new "ugly" word for the rest of the Monist series, and as late at 1909 (sel. 30, p. 457) he used "pragmaticism" because, he wrote, James and Schiller had made "pragmatism" imply "the will to believe, the mutability of truth, the soundness of Zeno's refutation of motion, and pluralism generally"; but he would often revert to his original name, indicating that he may not really have wanted to give it up.
After his excursus into philosophical terminology, Peirce examined the presuppositions of pragmaticism with his proof in mind. One key assumption was that all mental development (learning) takes place in the context of a mass of already formed conceptions, and another was that meaning is always virtual. He also argued for the relevance of all three of the categories of being for his pragmaticism: thought (thirdness) can only govern through action (secondness) which, in turn, cannot arise except in feeling (firstness). (Introduction to EP Volume 2.)

This paper was composed in the middle of the summer 1904. When it appeared in The Monist, it was supposed to be followed by two additional papers, "The Consequences of Pragmaticism" and "The Evidences for Pragmaticism," but this plan metamorphosed over the following two years, and even though two more papers appeared, the series was never concluded. With this series, Peirce returns to his 1903 project to explain his pragmatism in a way that would distinguish it from popular variants and facilitate the exposition of its proof. He renames it "pragmaticism," a name "ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers," and explores the underlying presuppositions, summing them up in the cryptic admonition: "Dismiss make-believes." A key belief is that learning, or mental development of any kind, has to begin with the "immense mass of cognition already formed." In an imagined dialog between a pragmaticist and a critic, Peirce addresses concerns about the purpose and consequences of pragmaticism, emphasizing the importance of experimentation and explaining how the meaning of every proposition lies in the future. He concludes by arguing that while the pragmaticist regards Thirdness as an essential ingredient of reality, it can only govern through action, and action cannot arise except in feeling. It is the dependence of Thirdness on action (Secondness) and feeling (Firstness) that distinguishes pragmaticism from the absolute idealism of Hegel. (Head Notes for the EP 2, Chapter 24)

In the April (1905) number of the Monist I proposed that the word "pragmatism" should hereafter be used somewhat loosely to signify affiliation with Schiller, James, Dewey, Royce, and the rest of us, while the particular doctrine which I invented the word to denote, which is your first kind of pragmatism, should be called "pragmaticism." The extra syllable will indicate the narrower meaning. (Peirce's CORRESPONDENCE with SIGNOR CALDERONI - CP 8-205)

Excerpt and condensation from Peirce's "WHAT PRAGMATISM IS"

The writer of this article has been led by much experience to believe that every physicist, and every chemist, and, in short, every master in any department of experimental science, has had his mind molded by his life in the laboratory to a degree.(CP 5-411)

He framed the theory that a conception, that is, the rational purport of a word or other expression, lies exclusively in its conceivable bearing upon the conduct of life; so that, since obviously nothing that might not result from experiment can have any direct bearing upon conduct, if one can define accurately all the conceivable experimental phenomena which the affirmation or denial of a concept could imply, one will have therein a complete definition of the concept, and there is absolutely nothing more in it. For this doctrine he invented the name pragmatism. Some of his friends wished him to call it practicism or practicalism (perhaps on the ground that praktikos is better Greek than pragmatikos). But for one who had learned philosophy out of Kant, and who still thought in Kantian terms most readily, praktisch and pragmatisch were as far apart as the two poles, the former belonging in a region of thought where no mind of the experimentalist type can ever make sure of solid ground under his feet, the latter expressing relation to some definite human purpose. Now quite the most striking feature of the new theory was its recognition of an inseparable connection between rational cognition and rational purpose; and that consideration it was which determined the preference for the name pragmatism. (CP 5-412)

Concerning the matter of philosophical nomenclature, there are a few plain considerations, which the writer has for many years longed to submit to the deliberate judgment of those, who deplore the present state of philolosophy, and who are intent upon rescuing it therefrom and bringing it to a condition like that of the natural sciences, where investigators, instead of condemning each the work of most of the others as misdirected from beginning to end, co-operate, stand upon one another’s shoulders, and multiply incontestable results; where every observation is repeated, and isolated observations go for little; where every hypothesis that merits attention is subjected to severe but fair examination, and only after the predictions to which it leads have been remarkably borne out by experience is trusted at all, and even then only provisionally; where a radically false step is rarely taken, even the most faulty of those theories which gain wide credence being true in their main experiential predictions.
To those students, it is submitted that no study can become scientific in the sense described, until it provides itself with a suitable technical nomenclature, whose every term has a single definite meaning universally accepted among students of the subject, and whose vocables have no such sweetness or charms as might tempt loose writers to abuse them,—which is a virtue of scientific nomenclature too little appreciated. It is submitted that the experience of those sciences which have conquered the greatest difficulties of terminology, which are unquestionably the taxonomic sciences, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, zoölogy, has conclusively shown that the one [and] only way in which the requisite unanimity and requisite ruptures with individual habits and preferences can be brought about is so to shape the canons of terminology that they shall gain the support of moral principle and of every man’s sense of decency; and that, in particular (under defined restrictions), the general feeling shall be that he who introduces a new conception into philosophy is under an obligation to invent acceptable terms to express it, and that when he has done so, the duty of his fellow-students is to accept those terms, and to resent any wresting of them from their original meanings, as not only a gross discourtesy to him to whom philosophy was indebted for each conception, but also as an injury to philosophy itself; and furthermore, that once a conception has been supplied with suitable and sufficient words for its expression, no other technical terms denoting the same things, considered in the same relations, should be countenanced.
Should this suggestion find favor, it might be deemed needful that the philosophians in congress assembled should adopt, after due deliberation, convenient canons to limit the application of the principle. Thus, just as is done in chemistry, it might be wise to assign fixed meanings to certain prefixes and suffixes. For example, it might be agreed, perhaps, that the prefix prope- should mark a broad and rather indefinite extension of the meaning of the term to which it was prefixed; the name of a doctrine would naturally end in -ism, while -icism might mark a more strictly defined acception of that doctrine, etc. Then again, just as in biology no account is taken of terms antedating Linnaeus, so in philosophy it might be found best not to go back of the scholastic terminology. To illustrate another sort of limitation, it has probably never happened that any philosopher has attempted to give a general name to his own doctrine without that name’s soon acquiring in common philosophical usage, a signification much broader than was originally intended. Thus, special systems go by the names Kantianism, Benthamism, Comteanism, Spencerianism, etc., while transcendentalism, utilitarianism, positivism, evolutionism, synthetic philosophy, etc. have irrevocably and very conveniently been elevated to broader governments. (CP 5-413)

After awaiting in vain, for a good many years, some particularly opportune conjuncture of circumstances that might serve to recommend his notions of the ethics of terminology, the writer has now, at last, dragged them in over head and shoulders, on an occasion when he has no specific proposal to offer nor any feeling but satisfaction at the course usage has run without any canons or resolutions of a congress. His word "pragmatism" has gained general recognition in a generalized sense that seems to argue power of growth and vitality. The famed psychologist, James, first took it up, seeing that his "radical empiricism" substantially answered to the writer’s definition of pragmatism, albeit with a certain difference in the point of view. Next, the admirably clear and brilliant thinker, Mr. Ferdinand C. S. Schiller, casting about for a more attractive name for the "anthropomorphism" of his Riddle of the Sphinx, lit, in that most remarkable paper of his on Axioms as Postulates, upon the same designation "pragmatism," which in its original sense was in generic agreement with his own doctrine, for which he has since found the more appropriate specification "humanism," while he still retains "pragmatism" in a somewhat wider sense. So far all went happily, But at present, the word begins to be met with occasionally in the literary journals, where it gets abused in the merciless way that words have to expect when they fall into literary clutches. Sometimes the manners of the British have effloresced in scolding at the word as ill-chosen—ill-chosen, that is, to express some meaning that it was rather designed to exclude. So then, the writer, finding his bantling "pragmatism" so promoted, feels that it is time to kiss his child good-by and relinquish it to its higher destiny; while to serve the precise purpose of expressing the original definition, he begs to announce the birth of the word "pragmaticism," which is ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers. (CP 5-414)

Much as the writer has gained from the perusal of what other pragmatists have written, he still thinks there is a decisive advantage in his original conception of the doctrine. From this original form every truth that follows from any of the other forms can be deduced, while some errors can be avoided into which other pragmatists have fallen. The original view appears, too, to be a more compact and unitary conception than the others. But its capital merit, in the writer’s eyes, is that it more readily connects itself with a critical proof of its truth. Quite in accord with the logical order of investigation, it usually happens that one first forms an hypothesis that seems more and more reasonable the further one examines into it, but that only a good deal later gets crowned with an adequate proof. The present writer having had the pragmatist theory under consideration for many years longer than most of its adherents, would naturally have given more attention to the proof of it. (CP 5-415)

Philosophers of very diverse stripes propose that philosophy shall take its start from one or another state of mind. One proposes that you shall begin by doubting everything, and says that there is only one thing that you cannot doubt, as if doubting were "as easy as lying." Another proposes that we should begin by observing "the first impressions of sense," forgetting that our very percepts are the results of cognitive elaboration.
But in truth, there is but one state of mind from which you can "set out," namely, the very state of mind in which you actually find yourself at the time you do "set out"—a state in which you are laden with an immense mass of cognition already formed, of which you cannot divest yourself if you would; and who knows whether, if you could, you would not have made all knowledge impossible to yourself?
The reality is that there is much that you do not doubt, in the least. Now that which you do not at all doubt, you must and do regard as infallible, absolute truth.
"What! Do you mean that what a man does not doubt is ipso facto true?"
No, but unless he can make a thing white and black at once, he has to regard what he does not doubt as absolutely true.
"But you tell me there are scores of things I do not doubt. I really cannot persuade myself that there is not some one of them about which I am mistaken."
You are adducing one of your make-believe facts, which, even if it were established, would only go to show that doubt has a limen, that is, is only called into being by a certain finite stimulus. You only puzzle yourself by talking of this metaphysical "truth" and metaphysical "falsity," that you know nothing about. All you have any dealings with are your doubts and beliefs, with the course of life that forces new beliefs upon you and gives you power to doubt old beliefs.
If your terms "truth" and "falsity" are taken in such senses as to be definable in terms of doubt and belief and the course of experience (and not the "truth" of absolute fixity), well and good: in that case, you are only talking about doubt and belief. But if by truth and falsity you mean something not definable in terms of doubt and belief in any way, then you are talking of entities of whose existence you can know nothing, and which Ockham’s razor would clean shave off. Your problems would he greatly simplified, if, instead of saying that you want to know the "Truth," you were simply to say that you want to attain a state of belief unassailable by doubt. (CP 5-416)

Belief is not a momentary mode of consciousness; it is a habit of mind essentially enduring for some time, and mostly (at least) unconscious; and like other habits, it is, (until it meets with some surprise that begins its dissolution), perfectly self-satisfied. Doubt is of an altogether contrary genus. It is not a habit, but the privation of a habit. Now a privation of a habit, in order to be anything at all, must be a condition of erratic activity that in some way must get superseded by a habit. (CP 5-417)

Among the things a rational person does not doubt, is that he not merely has habits, but also can exert a measure of self-control over his future actions; which means, however, not that he can impart to them any arbitrarily assignable character, but, on the contrary, that a process of self-preparation will tend to impart to action, (when the occasion for it shall arise), one fixed character, which is indicated and perhaps roughly measured by the absence (or slightness) of the feeling of self-reproach, which subsequent reflection will induce. Now, this subsequent reflection is part of the self-preparation for action on the next occasion. Consequently, there is a tendency, as action is repeated again and again, for the action to approximate indefinitely toward the perfection of that fixed character, which would be marked by entire absence of self-reproach. The more closely this is approached, the less room for self-control there will be; and where no self-control is possible there will be no self-reproach. (CP 5-418)

These phenomena seem to be the fundamental characteristics which distinguish a rational being. Blame, in every case, appears to be a modification, often accomplished by a transference, or "projection," of the primary feeling of self-reproach. Accordingly, we never blame anybody for what had been beyond his power of previous self-control. Now, thinking is a species of conduct which is largely subject to self-control. In all their features (which there is no room to describe here), logical self-control is a perfect mirror of ethical self-control,—unless it be rather a species under that genus. In accordance with this, what you cannot in the least help believing is not, justly speaking, wrong belief. In other words, for you it is the absolute truth. True, it is conceivable that what you cannot help believing today, you might find you thoroughly disbelieve tomorrow. But then there is a certain distinction between things you "cannot" do, merely in the sense that nothing stimulates you to the great effort and endeavors that would be required, and things you cannot do because in their own nature they are insusceptible of being put into practice. In every stage of your excogitations, there is something of which you can only say, "I cannot think otherwise," and your experientially based hypothesis is that the impossibility is of the second kind. (CP 5-419)

There is no reason why "thought," in what has just been said, should be taken in that narrow sense in which silence and darkness are favorable to thought. It should rather be understood as covering all rational life, so that an experiment shall be an operation of thought. Of course, that ultimate state of habit to which the action of self-control ultimately tends, where no room is left for further self-control, is, in the case of thought, the state of fixed belief, or perfect knowledge. (CP 5-420)

Two things here are all-important to assure oneself of and to remember. The first is that a person is not absolutely an individual. His thoughts are what he is "saying to himself," that is, is saying to that other self that is just coming into life in the flow of time. When one reasons, it is that critical self that one is trying to persuade; and all thought whatsoever is a sign, and is mostly of the nature of language. The second thing to remember is that the man’s circle of society, (however widely or narrowly this phrase may be understood), is a sort of loosely compacted person, in some respects of higher rank than the person of an individual organism. It is these two things alone that render it possible for you—but only in the abstract, and in a Pickwickian sense,—to distinguish between absolute truth and what you do not doubt. (CP 5-421)

Let us now hasten to the exposition of pragmaticism itself. Here it will be convenient to imagine that somebody to whom the doctrine is new, but of rather preternatural perspicacity, asks questions of a pragmaticist.

What is the raison d’être of the doctrine? What advantage is expected from Pragmatism?
Pragmatism will serve to show that almost every proposition of ontological metaphysics is either meaningless gibberish—one word being defined by other words, and they by still others, without any real conception ever being reached—or else is downright absurd; so that all such rubbish being swept away, what will remain of philosophy will be a series of problems capable of investigation by the observational methods of the true sciences—the truth about which can be reached without those interminable misunderstandings and disputes which have made the highest of the positive sciences a mere amusement for idle intellects, a sort of chess—idle pleasure its purpose, and reading out of a book its method. In this regard, pragmaticism is a species of prope-positivism. But what distinguishes it from other species is, first, its retention of a purified philosophy; secondly, its full acceptance of the main body of our instinctive beliefs; and thirdly, its strenuous insistence upon the truth of scholastic realism, (or a close approximation to that, well stated by the late Dr. Francis Ellingwood Abbot in the Introduction to his Scientific Theism). So, instead of merely jeering at metaphysics, like other prope-positivists, whether by long-drawn-out parodies or otherwise, the pragmaticist extracts from it a precious essence, which will serve to give life and light to cosmology and physics. At the same time, the moral applications of the doctrine are positive and potent; and there are many other uses of it not easily classed. On another occasion, instances may be given to show that it really has these effects. (CP 5-423)

Questioner: I hardly need to be convinced that your doctrine would wipe out metaphysics. Is it not as obvious that it must wipe out every proposition of science and everything that bears on the conduct of life? For you say that the only meaning that, for you, any assertion bears is that a certain experiment has resulted in a certain way: Nothing else but an experiment enters into the meaning. Tell me, then, how can an experiment, in itself, reveal anything more than that something once happened to an individual object and that subsequently some other individual event occurred?

Charles S. Peirce: "That question is, indeed, to the purpose—the purpose being to correct any misapprehensions of pragmaticism. You speak of an experiment in itself, emphasizing "in itself." You evidently think of each experiment as isolated from every other. It has not, for example, occurred to you, one might venture to surmise, that every connected series of experiments constitutes a single collective experiment. What are the essential ingredients of an experiment? First, of course, an experimenter of flesh and blood. Secondly, a verifiable hypothesis. This is a proposition relating to the universe environing the experimenter, or to some well-known part of it and affirming or denying of this only some experimental possibility or impossibility. The third indispensable ingredient is a sincere doubt in the experimenter’s mind as to the truth of that hypothesis. Passing over several ingredients on which we need not dwell, the purpose, the plan, and the resolve, we come to the act of choice by which the experimenter singles out certain identifiable objects to be operated upon. The next is the external (or quasi-external) act by which he modifies those objects. Next, comes the subsequent reaction of the world upon the experimenter in a perception; and finally, his recognition of the teaching of the experiment. While the two chief parts of the event itself are the action and the reaction, yet the unity of essence of the experiment lies in its purpose and plan, the ingredients passed over in the enumeration". (CP 5-424)

Another thing: in representing the pragmaticist as making rational meaning to consist in an experiment (which you speak of as an event in the past) you strikingly fail to catch his attitude of mind. Indeed, it is not in an experiment, but in experimental phenomena, that rational meaning is said to consist. When an experimentalist speaks of a phenomenon, such as "Hall’s phenomenon," "Zeemann’s phenomenon" and its modification, "Michelson’s phenomenon," or "the chess-board phenomenon," he does not mean any particular event that did happen to somebody in the dead past, but what surely will happen to everybody in the living future who shall fulfill certain conditions. The phenomenon consists in the fact that when an experimentalist shall come to act according to a certain scheme that he has in mind, then will something else happen, and shatter the doubts of skeptics, like the celestial fire upon the altar of Elijah. (CP 5-425)

And do not overlook the fact that the pragmaticist maxim says nothing of single experiments or of single experimental phenomena, (for what is conditionally true in futuro can hardly be singular), but only speaks of general kinds of experimental phenomena. Its adherent does not shrink from speaking of general objects as real, since whatever is true represents a real. Now the laws of nature are true. (CP 5-426)

According to the pragmaticist, it is that form in which the proposition becomes applicable to human conduct, not in these or those special circumstances, nor when one entertains this or that special design, but that form which is most directly applicable to self-control under every situation, and to every purpose. This is why he locates the meaning in future time; for future conduct is the only conduct that is subject to self-control. But in order that that form of the proposition which is to be taken as its meaning should be applicable to every situation and to every purpose upon which the proposition has any bearing, it must be simply the general description of all the experimental phenomena which the assertion of the proposition virtually predicts. (CP 5-427)

Pragmaticism is not phenomenalism, although the latter doctrine may be a kind of pragmatism. (CP 5-428)

As to the general, it will be a help to thought to notice that there are two ways of being general. A statue of a soldier on some village monument, in his overcoat and with his musket, is for each of a hundred families the image of its uncle, its sacrifice to the Union. That statue, then, though it is itself single, represents any one man of whom a certain predicate may be true. It is objectively general. The word "soldier," whether spoken or written, is general in the same way; while the name "George Washington" is not so. But each of these two terms remains one and the same noun, whether it be spoken or written, and whenever and wherever it be spoken or written. This noun is not an existent thing: it is a type, or form, to which objects, both those that are externally existent and those which are imagined, may conform, but which none of them can exactly be. This is subjective generality. The pragmaticistic purport is general in both ways. (CP 5-429)

  

As to reality, one finds it defined in various ways; but if that principle of terminological ethics that was proposed be accepted, the equivocal language will soon disappear. For realis and realitas are not ancient words. They were invented to be terms of philosophy in the thirteenth century, and the meaning they were intended to express is perfectly clear. That is real which has such and such characters, whether anybody thinks it to have those characters or not. At any rate, that is the sense in which the pragmaticist uses the word. Now, just as conduct controlled by ethical reason tends toward fixing certain habits of conduct, the nature of which, (as to illustrate the meaning, peaceable habits and not quarrelsome habits), does not depend upon any accidental circumstances, and in that sense, may be said to be destined; so, thought, controlled by a rational experimental logic, tends to the fixation of certain opinions, equally destined, the nature of which will be the same in the end, however the perversity of thought of whole generations may cause the postponement of the ultimate fixation. If this be so, as every man of us virtually assumes that it is, in regard to each matter the truth of which he seriously discusses, then, according to the adopted definition of "real," the state of things which will be believed in that ultimate opinion is real. But, for the most part, such opinions will be general. Consequently, some general objects are real. (Of course, nobody ever thought that all generals were real; but the scholastics used to assume that generals were real when they had hardly any, or quite no, experiential evidence to support their assumption; and their fault lay just there, and not in holding that generals could be real.) One is struck with the inexactitude of thought even of analysts of power, when they touch upon modes of being. One will meet, for example, the virtual assumption that what is relative to thought cannot be real. But why not, exactly? Red is relative to sight, but the fact that this or that is in that relation to vision that we call being red is not itself relative to sight; it is a real fact. (CP 5-430)

Not only may generals be real, but they may also be physically efficient, not in every metaphysical sense, but in the common-sense acception in which human purposes are physically efficient. Aside from metaphysical nonsense, no sane man doubts that if I feel the air in my study to be stuffy, that thought may cause the window to be opened. My thought, be it granted, was an individual event. But what determined it to take the particular determination it did, was in part the general fact that stuffy air is unwholesome, and in part other Forms, concerning which Dr. Carus has caused so many men to reflect to advantage—or rather, by which, and the general truth concerning which Dr. Carus’s mind was determined to the forcible enunciation of so much truth. For truths, on the average, have a greater tendency to get believed than falsities have. Were it otherwise, considering that there are myriads of false hypotheses to account for any given phenomenon, against one sole true one (or if you will have it so, against every true one), the first step toward genuine knowledge must have been next door to a miracle. So, then, when my window was opened, because of the truth that stuffy air is malsain, a physical effort was brought into existence by the efficiency of a general and non-existent truth. This has a droll sound because it is unfamiliar; but exact analysis is with it and not against it; and it has besides, the immense advantage of not blinding us to great facts—such as that the ideas "justice" and "truth" are, notwithstanding the iniquity of the world, the mightiest of the forces that move it. Generality is, indeed, an indispensable ingredient of reality; for mere individual existence or actuality without any regularity whatever is a nullity. Chaos is pure nothing. (CP 5-431)

That which any true proposition asserts is real, in the sense of being as it is regardless of what you or I may think about it. Let this proposition be a general conditional proposition as to the future, and it is a real general such as is calculated really to influence human conduct; and such the pragmaticist holds to be the rational purport of every concept. (CP 5-432)


Accordingly, the pragmaticist does not make the summum bonum to consist in action, but makes it to consist in that process of evolution whereby the existent comes more and more to embody those generals which were just now said to be destined, which is what we strive to express in calling them reasonable. In its higher stages, evolution takes place more and more largely through self-control, and this gives the pragmaticist a sort of justification for making the rational purport to be general. (CP 5-433)

There is much more in elucidation of pragmaticism that might be said to advantage. For example, it might have been well to show clearly that the pragmaticist does not attribute any different essential mode of being to an event in the future from that which he would attribute to a similar event in the past, but only that the practical attitude of the thinker toward the two is different. It would also have been well to show that the pragmaticist does not make Forms to be the only realities in the world, any more than he makes the reasonable purport of a word to be the only kind of meaning there is. These things are, however, implicitly involved in what has been said. There is only one remark concerning the pragmaticist’s conception of the relation of his formula to the first principles of logic which need detain the reader. (CP 5-434)

Note: It is necessary to say that "belief" is throughout used merely as the name of the contrary to doubt, without regard to grades of certainty nor to the nature of the proposition held for true, i. e., "believed."

Note: Peirce, like most English logicians, invariably uses the word proposition, not as the lnguage-expression of a judgment, but as that which is related to any assertion, whether mental and self-addressed or outwardly expressed, just as any possibility is related to its actualization.

 

 

Pragmatism’s Conception of Reality

Pragmatist’s concept of Reality is basically similar to what we found later in the writing of A.E. Taylor.
When we say that a thing “is” or “has Being”, we seem primarily to mean that it is an object for the knowing consciousness, that it has its place in the system of objects which rational mind recognizes. Thus the “non-existent” primarily means that which finds no place in the scheme of objects contemplated by consistent and coherent thought.
When we call the same object “real” or a “reality”, we lay the emphasis on the consideration that it is something of which we must take account, whether we like it or not, if some purpose of our own is to get its fulfillment. Thus, the “unreal” means that which we have not, for any human purposes, to reckon.




Pragmatic Realism: the New Pragmatism's Epistemology and Metaphysics.

The new pragmatism's epistemological and metaphysical view, the editorial opinion, is based on the following beliefs.


Reality and truth are coordinate concepts in pragmatic thinking, each being defined in relation to the other, and both together as they participate in the course of inquiry. Inquiry is not the occupation of a singular individual, but the common life of a community. (Peirce)
[Note: It is always an individual who first discovers the truth, however.]
"The opinion which 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. That is the way I would explain reality." (Peirce's How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-407)
For a realist, the real is nothing but the immediate object of that which is true. (Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vol 6, BOOK I. ONTOLOGY AND COSMOLOGY, CHAPTER 12: NOTES ON METAPHYSICS, §18 Sufficient Reason CP6-393)

1. The world exists externally and is independently of our mind. (Philosophical Realism)
*Peirce: "Thus we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be." (How to Make Our Ideas Clear §4: REALITY, CP5-405)
      "Let us now approach the subject of logic, and consider a conception which particularly concerns it, that of reality. Taking clearness in the sense of familiarity, no idea could be clearer than this. Every child uses it with perfect confidence, never dreaming that he does not understand it. As for clearness in its second grade, however, it would probably puzzle most men, even among those of a reflective turn of mind, to give an abstract definition of the real. Yet such a definition may perhaps be reached by considering the points of difference between reality and its opposite, fiction. A figment is a product of somebody's imagination; it has such characters as his thought impresses upon it. That those characters are independent of how you or I think is an external reality. There are, however, phenomena within our own minds, dependent upon our thought, which are at the same time real in the sense that we really think them. But though their characters depend on how we think, they do not depend on what we think those characters to be. Thus, a dream has a real existence as a mental phenomenon, if somebody has really dreamt it; that he dreamt so and so, does not depend on what anybody thinks was dreamt, but is completely independent of all opinion on the subject. On the other hand, considering, not the fact of dreaming, but the thing dreamt, it retains its peculiarities by virtue of no other fact than that it was dreamt to possess them. Thus we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be." (CP5-405)
*Peirce: "That is real which has such and such characters, whether anybody thinks it to have those characters or not. At any rate, that is the sense in which the pragmaticist uses the word". (WHAT PRAGMATISM IS CP 5-430)
"The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you." (Some Consequences of Four Incapacities §4: MAN, A SIGN. CP5-311).
[Note: Thus, It can be said that Peirce holds the view that truth value of a belief depends solely on whether it depicts reality - A Correspondence Theory of Truth.]
*William James, in his Principles of Psychology- Chapter IX: The Stream of Thought, describes the fourth characteristic in thought: “Human thought appears to deal with objects independent of itself; that is, it is cognitive, or possesses the function of knowing.” (William James’ theory of consciousness)

2. There can be truths that would evade inquiry forever. (Metaphysical Reality)
a) The Ultimate Reality, the Abolute, or the existence of God can never be proven.
b) The thing-in-itself, the Dinge an sich, or noumenon is unknowable. (Kant’s Agnostic Realism)
*Peirce: "Who would have said, a few years ago, that we could ever know of what substances stars are made whose light may have been longer in reaching us than the human race has existed? Who can be sure of what we shall not know in a few hundred years? Who can guess what would be the result of continuing the pursuit of science for ten thousand years, with the activity of the last hundred? And if it were to go on for a million, or a billion, or any number of years you please, how is it possible to say that there is any question which might not ultimately be solved? (How to Make Our Ideas Clear §4: REALITY, CP5-409)
Peirce's conception of truth (as the final opinion) and of reality (as the object of this final opinion) has received much criticism. It has been argued, for instance, that we will never reach such final opinion; that we will never be in a position to know that we have reached it. (Cornelis De Waal's "On Pragmatism", page 26)
Later, Peirce acknowledged that there might be important questions that remain, in the end, unanswered. But that does not take away the need that we should always proceed on “[the] hope that the particular question which we are inquiring is susceptible of an approximate answer in a reasonable time” (In Illustrations of the Logic of Science by Charles Peirce (R422-16), Edited by Cornelis De Waal 2014). That is to say, for Peirce, the idea that there is a reality becomes a practical postulate of reason. (Cornelis De Waal’s “On Pragmatism”, page 15)
*The knowledge about the Ultimate Reality is by our definition, Truth of Certainty; and Dewey, in his Quest for Certainty, denied the Truth of Certainty.
*William James, in his The Will to Believe, tells us that we, sometimes and under certain conditions, have the right to believe the unknowable.

3. Practical Reality (or Pragmatic Reality) is something of which we must take account, whether we like it or not, if some purpose of our own is to get its fulfillment. (Read A.E. Taylor's Reality)
*For Peirce, truth is what scientific investigators would ultimately agree on. (Scientific Realism)
Peirce: "The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a community, without definite limits, and capable of an indefinite increase of knowledge." (Some Consequences of Four Incapacities CP5-311).
"So with all scientific research. Different minds may set out with the most antagonistic views, but the progress of investigation carries them by a force outside of themselves to one and the same conclusion. This activity of thought by which we are carried, not where we wish, but to a foreordained goal, is like the operation of destiny. No modification of the point of view taken, no selection of other facts for study, no natural bent of mind even, can enable a man to escape the predestinate opinion. This great hope is embodied in the conception of truth and reality. The opinion which 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. That is the way I would explain reality." (How to Make Our Ideas Clear, CP5-407).
"But it may be said that this view is directly opposed to the abstract definition which we have given of reality, inasmuch as it makes the characters of the real depend on what is ultimately thought about them. But the answer to this is that, on the one hand, reality is independent, not necessarily of thought in general, but only of what you or I or any finite number of men may think about it; and that, on the other hand, though the object of the final opinion depends on what that opinion is, yet what that opinion is does not depend on what you or I or any man thinks. Our perversity and that of others may indefinitely postpone the settlement of opinion; it might even conceivably cause an arbitrary proposition to be universally accepted as long as the human race should last. Yet even that would not change the nature of the belief, which alone could be the result of investigation carried sufficiently far; and if, after the extinction of our race, another should arise with faculties and disposition for investigation, that true opinion must be the one which they would ultimately come to. "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again," and the opinion which would finally result from investigation does not depend on how anybody may actually think. But the reality of that which is real does depend on the real fact that investigation is destined to lead, at last, if continued long enough, to a belief in it." (CP5-408).
"But it may be objected, "Why make so much of these remote considerations, especially when it is your principle that only practical distinctions have a meaning?" Well, I must confess that it makes very little difference whether we say that a stone on the bottom of the ocean, in complete darkness, is brilliant or not -- that is to say, that it probably makes no difference, remembering always that that stone may be fished up tomorrow. But that there are gems at the bottom of the sea, flowers in the untraveled desert, etc., are propositions which, like that about a diamond being hard when it is not pressed, concern much more the arrangement of our language than they do the meaning of our ideas." (CP5-409).
"It seems to me, however, that we have, by the application of our rule, reached so clear an apprehension of what we mean by reality (Note: What Peirce means by 'reality' here is our concept of 'pragmatic reality'), and of the fact which the idea rests on, that we should not, perhaps, be making a pretension so presumptuous as it would be singular, if we were to offer a metaphysical theory of existence for universal acceptance among those who employ the scientific method of fixing belief. However, as metaphysics is a subject much more curious than useful, the knowledge of which, like that of a sunken reef, serves chiefly to enable us to keep clear of it, I will not trouble the reader with any more Ontology at this moment. (CP5-410)."


*William James: "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes to us to have true ideas; that, therefore, is the meaning of truth, for it is all that truth is known-as." ('Pragmatism's Conception of Truth' )


*Dewey prefers to use the term, "warranted assertiblity", to describe the distinctive property of ideas that results from successful inquiry. (warranted assertiblity - Naturalism)



 

Charles S. Peirce considered himself a scholastic realist.
Charles S. Peirce: "In this regard, pragmaticism is a species of prope-positivism. But what distinguishes it from other species is, first, its retention of a purified philosophy; secondly, its full acceptance of the main body of our instinctive beliefs; and thirdly, its strenuous insistence upon the truth of scholastic realism, (or a close approximation to that, well stated by the late Dr. Francis Ellingwood Abbot in the Introduction to his Scientific Theism). So, instead of merely jeering at metaphysics, like other prope-positivists, whether by long-drawn-out parodies or otherwise, the pragmaticist extracts from it a precious essence, which will serve to give life and light to cosmology and physics. At the same time, the moral applications of the doctrine are positive and potent; and there are many other uses of it not easily classed. On another occasion, instances may be given to show that it really has these effects". (CP 5-423)
Peirce considered himself an Aristotelian of the "scholastic wing, approaching Scotism, but going much further in the direction of scholastic realism". ... Peirce explicitly subscribed to the Scholastic realism school.(Sandia Report/Philip L. Campbell Peirce, Pragmatism, and The Right Way of Thinking. p 37)



 

Peirce ON REALITY (1873)

In his manuscripts and partial drafts written in 1872-1873, dubbed 'The logic 0f 1873', (reproduced in the Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vol. 7, CP7. 313-361), for a book to be title “Logic”, Peirce wrote about his view on ‘Reality’ in section 4 (CP7. 336-345):

§4. REALITY (CP7. 336-345)

336. The question is, "Whether corresponding to our thoughts and sensations, and represented in some sense by them, there are realities, which are not only independent of the thought of you, and me, and any number of men, but which are absolutely independent of thought altogether." The objective final opinion is independent of the thoughts of any particular men, but is not independent of thought in general. That is to say, if there were no thought, there would be no opinion, and therefore, no final opinion.

337. All that we directly experience is our thought --what passes through our minds; and that only, at the moment at which it is passing through. We here see thoughts determining and causing other thoughts, and a chain of reasoning or of association is produced. But the beginning and the end of this chain, are not distinctly perceived. A current is another image under which thought is often spoken of, and perhaps more suitably. We have particularly drawn attention to the point to which thought flows, and that it finally reaches: a certain level, as it were --a certain basin, where reality becomes unchanging. It has reached its destination, and that permanency, that fixed reality, which every thought strives to represent and image, we have placed in this objective point, towards which the current of thought flows.

338. But the matter has often been regarded from an opposite point of view; attention being particularly drawn to the spring, and origin of thought. It is said that all other thoughts are ultimately derived from sensations; that all conclusions of reasoning are valid only so far as they are true to the sensations; that the real cause of sensation therefore, is the reality which thought presents. Now such a reality, which causes all thought, would seem to be wholly external to the mind --at least to the thinking part of the mind, as distinguished from the feeling part; for it might be conceived to be, in some way, dependent upon sensation.

339. Here then are two opposite modes of conceiving reality. The one which has before been developed at some length, and which naturally results from the principles which have been set forth in the previous chapters of this book is an idea which was obscurely in the minds of the medieval realists; while the other was the motive principle of nominalism. I do not think that the two views are absolutely irreconcilable, although they are taken from very widely separated stand-points. The realistic view emphasizes particularly the permanence and fixity of reality; the nominalistic view emphasizes its externality. But the realists need not, and should not, deny that the reality exists externally to the mind; nor have they historically done so, as a general thing. That is external to the mind, which is what it is, whatever our thoughts may be on any subject; just as that is real which is what it is, whatever our thoughts may be concerning that particular thing. Thus an emotion of the mind is real, in the sense that it exists in the mind whether we are distinctly conscious of it or not. But it is not external because although it does not depend upon what we think about it, it does depend upon the state of our thoughts about something. Now the object of the final opinion which we have seen to be independent of what any particular person thinks, may very well be external to the mind. And there is no objection to saying that this external reality causes the sensation, and through the sensation has caused all that line of thought which has finally led to the belief.

340. At first sight it seems no doubt a paradoxical statement that, "The object of final belief which exists only in consequence of the belief, should itself produce the belief"; but there have been a great many instances in which we have adopted a conception of existence similar to this. The object of the belief exists it is true, only because the belief exists; but this is not the same as to say that it begins to exist first when the belief begins to exist. We say that a diamond is hard. And in what does the hardness consist? It consists merely in the fact that nothing will scratch it; therefore its hardness is entirely constituted by the fact of something rubbing against it with force without scratching it. And were it impossible that anything should rub against it in this way, it would be quite without meaning, to say that it was hard, just as it is entirely without meaning to say that virtue or any other abstraction is hard. But though the hardness is entirely constituted by the fact of another stone rubbing against the diamond yet we do not conceive of it as beginning to be hard when the other stone is rubbed against it; on the contrary, we say that it is really hard the whole time, and has been hard since it began to be a diamond. And yet there was no fact, no event, nothing whatever, which made it different from any other thing which is not so hard, until the other stone was rubbed against it.

341. So we say that the inkstand upon the table is heavy. And what do we mean by that? We only mean, that if its support be removed it will fall to the ground. This may perhaps never happen to it at all --and yet we say that it is really heavy all the time; though there is no respect whatever, in which it is different from what it would be if it were not heavy, until that support is taken away from it. The same is true in regard to the existence of any other force. It exists only by virtue of a condition, that something will happen under certain circumstances; but we do not conceive it as first beginning to exist when these circumstances arise; on the contrary, it will exist though the circumstances should never happen to arise. And now, what is matter itself? The physicist is perfectly accustomed to conceive of it as merely the centre of the forces. It exists, therefore, only so far as these forces exist. Since, therefore, these forces exist only by virtue of the fact, that something will happen under certain circumstances, it follows that matter itself only exists in this way.

342. Nor is this conception one which is peculiar to the physicists and to our views of the external world. A man is said to know a foreign language. And what does that mean? Only that if the occasion arises, the words of that language will come into his mind; it does not mean that they are actually in his mind all the time. And yet we do not say that he only knows the language at the moment that the particular words occur to him that he is to say; for in that way he never could be certain of knowing the whole language if he only knew the particular word necessary at the time. So that his knowledge of the thing which exists all the time, exists only by virtue of the fact that when a certain occasion arises a certain idea will come into his mind.

343. A man is said to possess certain mental powers and susceptibilities, and we conceive of him as constantly endowed with these faculties; but they only consist in the fact that he will have certain ideas in his mind under certain circumstances; and not in the fact of his having certain ideas in his mind all the time. It is perfectly conceivable that the man should have faculties which are never called forth: in which case the existence of the faculties depends upon a condition which never occurs. But what is the mind itself but the focus of all the faculties? and what does the existence of the mind consist in but in these faculties? Does the mind cease to exist when it sleeps? and is it a new man who wakes every morning?

344. It appears then that the existence of mind equally with that of matter according to these arguments which have led to this view which is held by all psychologists, as well as physicists, depends only upon certain hypothetical conditions which may first occur in the future, or which may not occur at all. There is nothing extraordinary therefore in saying that the existence of external realities depends upon the fact, that opinion will finally settle in the belief in them. And yet that these realities existed before the belief took rise, and were even the cause of that belief, just as the force of gravity is the cause of the falling of the inkstand --although the force of gravity consists merely in the fact that the inkstand and other objects will fall.

345. But if it be asked us, whether some realities do not exist, which are entirely independent of thought; I would in turn ask, what is meant by such an expression and what can be meant by it. What idea can be attached to that of which there is no idea? For if there be an idea of such a reality, it is the object of that idea of which we are speaking, and which is not independent of thought. It is clear that it is quite beyond the power of the mind to have an idea of something entirely independent of thought --it would have to extract itself from itself for that purpose; and since there is no such idea there is no meaning in the expression. The experience of ignorance, or of error, which we have, and which we gain by means of correcting our errors, or enlarging our knowledge, does enable us to experience and conceive something which is independent of our own limited views; but as there can be no correction of the sum total of opinions, and no enlargement of the sum total of knowledge, we have no such means, and can have no such means of acquiring a conception of something independent of all opinion and thought.

Commentary on Peirce’s view on ‘Reality’ in 1873:

Peirce’s view on “Reality’ in 1878 is different from that of 1873. In How to Make Our Ideas Clear, published in 1878, he wrote the following in Part III. SOME APPLICATIONS OF THE PRAGMATIC MAXIM”:

Let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard. Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. The whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects. (CP5-403)
However, Peirce also stated that “There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and a soft thing so long as they are not brought to the test. ….. Suppose, then, that a diamond could be crystallized in the midst of a cushion of soft cotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Would it be false to say that that diamond was soft? …. We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask what prevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft until they are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressure until they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this: there would be no falsity in such modes of speech.” (CP5-403)

Comment: This is Peirce’s nominalist view in 1878. In his later years, he would return to his view in 1873 and held a realist position.

      In his CORRESPONDENCE TO SIGNOR CALDERONI, in 1905, Peirce wrote: “I myself went too far in the direction of nominalism when I said that it was a mere question of the convenience of speech whether we say that a diamond is hard when it is not pressed upon, or whether we say that it is soft until it is pressed upon. I now say that experiment will prove that the diamond is hard, as a positive fact. That is, it is a real fact that it would resist pressure, which amounts to extreme scholastic realism. I deny that pragmaticism as originally defined by me made the intellectual purport of symbols to consist in our conduct. On the contrary, I was most careful to say that it consists in our concept of what our conduct would be upon conceivable occasions.” (CP8-208)

In 1905, in "Issues of Pragmaticism" (sel. 25), Peirce restated his pragmatic maxim in semiotic terms, along lines suggested in his sixth Harvard Lecture (sel. 15). He identified the meaning that pragmaticism seeks to enunciate as that of symbols rather than of simple conceptions. The thrust of this article was to articulate his forms of critical common-sensism and scholastic realism, which he regarded as consequences (or "issues") of pragmaticism. He extended his realism to include the acceptance of "real vagues" and "real possibilities," and he pointed out that "it is the reality of some possibilities that pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon." According to Fisch, pragmaticism had now become pragmatism "purged of the nominalistic dross of its original exposition". (Introduction to Essential Pierce Volume 2)

Let us now take up the case of that diamond which, having been crystallized upon a cushion of jeweler's cotton, was accidentally consumed by fire before the crystal of corundum that had been sent for had had time to arrive, and indeed without being subjected to any other pressure than that of the atmosphere and its own weight. The question is, was that diamond really hard? It is certain that no discernible actual fact determined it to be so. But is its hardness not, nevertheless, a real fact? To say, as the article of January 1878 seems to intend, that it is just as an arbitrary "usage of speech" chooses to arrange its thoughts, is as much as to decide against the reality of the property, since the real is that which is such as it is regardless of how it is, at any time, thought to be. Remember that this diamond's condition is not an isolated fact. There is no such thing; and an isolated fact could hardly be real. It is an unsevered, though presciss part of the unitary fact of nature. Being a diamond, it was a mass of pure carbon, in the form of a more or less transparent crystal (brittle, and of facile octahedral cleavage, unless it was of an unheard-of variety), which, if not trimmed after one of the fashions in which diamonds may be trimmed, took the shape of an octahedron, apparently regular (I need not go into minutiæ), with grooved edges, and probably with some curved faces. Without being subjected to any considerable pressure, it could be found to be insoluble, very highly refractive, showing under radium rays (and perhaps under "dark light" and X-rays) a peculiar bluish phosphorescence, having as high a specific gravity as realgar or orpiment, and giving off during its combustion less heat than any other form of carbon would have done. From some of these properties hardness is believed to be inseparable. For like it they bespeak the high polemerization of the molecule. But however this may be, how can the hardness of all other diamonds fail to bespeak some real relation among the diamonds without which a piece of carbon would not be a diamond? Is it not a monstrous perversion of the word and concept real to say that the accident of the non-arrival of the corundum prevented the hardness of the diamond from having the reality which it otherwise, with little doubt, would have had? ("Issues of Pragmaticism" CP5-457)

Around the time he wrote "How to make our ideas clear", Peirce had come to reject the view that is tacitly implied in his earlier account, namely, that what would occur when certain circumstances were to take place is a real fact. (Cornelis De Waal’s “ON PRAGMATISM” page 22)
Peirce later clarified his view on conditional propositions. Although he rejected conditional proposition of an isolated fact like "If Napoleon had not done as he did before the battle of Leipzig (specifying in what respect his behaviour is supposed different from what it was) he would have won that battle." , he accepted a real assertion of a general nature like "If A, then B".

It involves the acceptance of real possibilities and real habits; or as Peirce puts it, of real can-be and real would-be. It may even involve the acceptance of certain real would-have-beens, real might-have-beens, etc. According to Peirce, the denial of real possibilities result from the … erroneous view that the potential, or possible, “is nothing but what the actual makes it to be” (CP1-422). Peirce denies that possibilities can be thus reduced, remarking that “it is sheer insanity to deny the reality of the possibility of my raising my arm, even if, when the time comes, I do not raise it” (CP4-579). Around the same time, Peirce describes the quality of darkness as “a capacity or a habit, the possibility that its subject should sustain the moderate pressure of a knife edge drawn over it without being scratched” (R 283:157) --------------To accept that some possibilities are real Peirce later comes to regard as indispensable for pragmatism. For this reason, Peirce holds that one can only be a pragmatist if one is also a realist, meaning that one accepts that there is more to reality than the existing individuals alone. … Note that James and Schiller both reject this type of realism. (Cornelis De Waal’s “ON PRAGMATISM” page 23)

      In his CORRESPONDENCE TO F.A. WOODS, ON "WOULD BE", in 1913, Peirce wrote: "A conditional proposition, --say "If A, then B" is equivalent to saying that "Any state of things in which A should be true, would (within limits) be a state of things in which B is true." It is therefore essentially an assertion of a general nature, the statement of a "would-be." But when the antecedent supposes an existential fact to be different from what it actually is or was, the conditional proposition does not accurately state anything; and if it conveys any meaning, i.e. if it is calculated to produce any state of mind, in a person who trusts in it, it must be that it establishes a habit in that mind, using the word "habit" in the original sense, as meaning only that the person or thing that has the habit, would behave (or usually behave) in a certain way whenever a certain occasion should arise. But if this occasion did in actuality not arise, such habit of thought as the conditional proposition might produce would be a nullity pragmatistically and practically. A historian simply talks nonsense when he says "If Napoleon had not done as he did before the battle of Leipzig (specifying in what respect his behaviour is supposed different from what it was) he would have won that battle." Such historian may have meant something; but he utterly fails to express any meaning."

What, then, is a quality?
Before answering this, it will be well to say what it is not. It is not anything which is dependent, in its being, upon mind, whether in the form of sense or in that of thought. Nor is it dependent, in its being, upon the fact that some material thing possesses it. That quality is dependent upon sense is the great error of the conceptualists. That it is dependent upon the subject in which it is realized is the great error of all the nominalistic schools. A quality is a mere abstract potentiality; and the error of those schools lies in holding that the potential, or possible, is nothing but what the actual makes it to be. It is the error of maintaining that the whole alone is something, and its components, however essential to it, are nothing. The refutation of the position consists in showing that nobody does, or can, in the light of good sense, consistently retain it. The moment the fusillade of controversy ceases they repose on other conceptions. First, that the quality of red depends on anybody actually seeing it, so that red things are no longer red in the dark, is a denial of common sense. I ask the conceptualist, do you really mean to say that in the dark it is no longer true that red bodies are capable of transmitting the light at the lower end of the spectrum? Do you mean to say that a piece of iron not actually under pressure has lost its power of resisting pressure? If so, you must either hold that those bodies under the circumstances supposed assume the opposite properties, or you must hold that they become indeterminate in those respects. If you hold that the red body in the dark acquires a power of absorbing the long waves of the spectrum, and that the iron acquires a power of condensation under small pressure, then, while you adopt an opinion without any facts to support it, you still admit that qualities exist while they are not actually perceived -- only you transfer this belief to qualities which there is no ground for believing in. If, however, you hold that the bodies become indeterminate in regard to the qualities they are not actually perceived to possess, then, since this is the case at any moment in regard to the vast majority of the qualities of all bodies, you must hold that generals exist. In other words, it is concrete things you do not believe in; qualities, that is, generals -which is another word for the same thing -- you not only believe in but believe that they alone compose the universe. Consistency, therefore, obliges you to say that the red body is red (or has some color) in the dark, and that the hard body has some degree of hardness when nothing is pressing upon it. (CP1-422)

 

 

.

Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth

*James’s theory of truth derives from his theory of meaning. James believed that in deciding what a concept means, we must ask “what sensations we are to expect from it, and what reactions we must prepare”. True ideas, he held, are those that we can “assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify”; idea become true so far as they get us into “satisfactory relations with other parts of experience.
According to James, truth is that character of a proposition that, in believing it, would lead us to such conduct as would tend to satisfy our desires or purposes.
*For Peirce, the pragmatic maxim is a theory of meaning, not a theory of truth. However, the maxim can be applied to all philosophical conceptions as well as to the notion of truth. Applying the pragmatic maxim to define the meaning of truth is referred as the pragmatic conception of truth.
In How to Make Our Ideas Clear, Peirce applied the pragmatic maxim to the concept of reality. He held that the truth is “the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate … and the object represented in this opinion is the real” - True ideas are those to which responsible investigators, were they to push their inquiry far enough, would finally agree; reality is what true ideas represent.
Application of the pragmatic maxim to Peirce’s conception of truth and reality gives the following pragmatic definition of truth when applied to propositions: "Proposition P is truth if and only if, if inquiry into P (by an indefinite community of inquirers) continues long enough, this inquiry will ultimately result in a permanently settled belief that P (within an indefinite community of inquirers)". - (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 25)
Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth. A further explanation of what this concordance consists in will be given below. Reality is that mode of being by virtue of which the real thing is as it is, irrespectively of what any mind or any definite collection of minds may represent it to be. The truth of the proposition that Caesar crossed the Rubicon consists in the fact that the further we push our archaeological and other studies, the more strongly will that conclusion force itself on our minds forever --or would do so, if study were to go on forever. (CP 5-565)
The underlying idea is that this ultimate belief is reached when all that can be inquired into is inquired into, so that no future inquiry can possibly reveal anything new of it. Therefore, the ultimate belief, or as Peirce also phrases it, the final opinion, is a permanently settled belief. (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 25)
In his reply to Monist editor Paul Carus, Peirce writes: “My view is that the real is nothing but the immediate object in a true cognition”. For him, real is that a true cognition (whether it’s an idea, belief, statement, etc.) is about.
The claim that a cognition is true when ita immediate object is real can be used to derive a pragmatic defination of truth which is that truth is nothing more, and also nothing less, than permanently settled opinion. The real is “that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be” and that which the community of observers will agree in the long run. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear)
“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 be 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 have sufficient experience and reason enough about it, will be led to the one true conclusion”. (The Fixation of Belief)
This doctrine solves the problem posed by Peirce’s theory of mind. Since there are no intuitions, we cannot discover the truth simply by examining experience; all beliefs are hypotheses, so it is always possible to be mistaken. How then can we arrive at the truth? Peirce’s answer is that we should follow the method of science and conduct experiments; eventually, reality will weed out the false beliefs and leave the true ones.

There is thus an underlying unity in all three of the doctrines associated with Peirce’s pragmatism. The theory that there are no intuitions and all belief is hypothetical leads to the pragmatic maxim and this, in turn, leads to a theory of truth that guarantees the success of science even without intuition. As Peirce said, the aim of pragmatic clarification is to rid metaphysics of unclarity and make it possible to solve its problems.

Peirce's conception of truth (as the final opinion) and of reality (as the object of this final opinion) has received much criticism. It has been argued, for instance, that we will never reach such final opinion; that we will never be in a position to know that we have reached it. (Cornelis De Waal's On Pragmatism, page 26)

Peirce later modified his theory of truth. (See below)

There were three significant differences between Peirce’s and James’ versions of pragmatism (Reference: The Columbia History of Western Philosophy) :
1. James took consequences to include effects of holding a belief as well as effects of the proposition itself. Thus, in considering claims about God and the Absolute, he was willing to accept emotional satisfaction that follow from acceptance of the claim as well as verifiable consequences of the claim itself. The critics such as A.Q. Lovejoy argued that it vitiated the doctrine’s usefulness as a critical tool, for such a broad notion of consequences leaves unverifiable propositions meaningful, if believing them has useful emotional effects and helps us cope with the world.

2. James's pragmatism was also confused with his controversial philosophy of religion. In “Will to Believe” (1897), James held that we have the right to believe on nonevident grounds (to have ‘overbelief', as he called them) when the evidence is insufficient. However, he held that the decision must be forced: We must not be able to put off the decision until we have further evidence but must decide immediately. He also held that the right to accept overbeliefs does not give us the right to criticize those who disagree with us; they also have a right to their overbeliefs. Overbeliefs must not affect decisions that have social consequences; for example, decisions as jurors or public servants must be based solely on evidence. Finally, James insisted that he did not think that believing something on “passional” rather than evidential grounds made it true.
His point was simply that there is no reason to think we should refrain from believing as we wish when evidence fails to settle the question, provided these other conditions are met. His critics, Peirce included, interpreted his views on this question in terms of his theory of truth. Since James equated truth with what works, they took him to be arguing that what gives private emotional satisfaction is true and thus to be opting for subjective account of truth. James’s broad interpretation of practical effects contributed to the misunderstanding.

3. James also accepted an instrumental conception of theories. He held that a theory is not “an absolute transcript of reality” but an instrument of prediction whose only standard is utility in organizing experience. This was not Peirce’s understanding of truth at all. He held that truth value of a belief depends solely on whether it depicts reality, where reality is a preexisting condition of truth. Peirce believed that if we investigate long enough, we will be forced to accept the one true theory on every meaningful question, but he did not think these theories are just instruments and their objects convenient fictions.


William James’s "Conception of Truth"

Excerpt from "Pragmatism's Conception of Truth" by William James

Truth, as any dictionary will tell you, is a property of certain of our ideas. It means their 'agreement', as falsity means their disagreement, with 'reality'. Pragmatists and intellectualists both accept this definition as a matter of course. They begin to quarrel only after the question is raised as to what may precisely be meant by the term 'agreement,' and what by the term 'reality,' when reality is taken as something for our ideas to agree with.

The popular notion is that a true idea must copy its reality.
Our true ideas of sensible things do indeed copy them. Shut your eyes and think of yonder clock on the wall, and you get just such a true picture or copy of its dial. But your idea of its 'works' is much less of a copy; and when you speak of the 'time-keeping function' of the clock, or of its spring's 'elasticity,' it is hard to see exactly what your ideas can copy.

You perceive that there is a problem here. Where our ideas cannot copy definitely their object, what does agreement with that object mean?

Some idealists seem to say that they are true whenever they are what God means that we ought to think about that object. Others hold the copy-view all through, and speak as if our ideas possessed truth just in proportion as they approach to being copies of the Absolute’s eternal way of thinking.
The great assumption of the intellectualists is that truth means essentially an inert static relation. When you’ve got your true idea of anything, there’s an end of the matter. You’re in possession; you KNOW; you have fulfilled your thinking destiny. You are where you ought to be mentally; you have obeyed your categorical imperative; and nothing more need follow on that climax of your rational destiny. Epistemologically you are in stable equilibrium.

Pragmatism, on the other hand, asks its usual question. "Grant an idea or belief to be true," it says, "what concrete difference will its being true make in any one's actual life? How will the truth be realized? What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth's cash-value in experiential terms?"

The moment pragmatism asks this question, it sees the answer: True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes to us to have true ideas; that, therefore, is the meaning of truth, for it is all that truth is known-as.

Let me begin with the fact that the possession of true thoughts means everywhere the possession of invaluable instruments of action; and that our duty to gain truth can account for itself by excellent practical reasons. (James's Instrumental theory of truth)

The possession of truth, so far from being here an end in itself, is only a preliminary means towards other vital satisfactions. ... You can say of it then either that 'it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful.' Both these phrases mean exactly the same thing, namely that here is an idea that gets fulfilled and can be verified. True is the name for whatever idea starts the verification-process, useful is the name for its completed function in experience. True ideas would never have been singled out as such, would never have acquired a class-name, least of all a name suggesting value, unless they had been useful from the outset in this way.

By 'realities' we mean either things of common sense, sensibly present, or else common-sense relations, such as dates, places, distances, kinds, activities.

Any idea that helps us to deal, whether practically or intellectually, with either the reality or its belongings, that doesn't entangle our progress in frustrations, that fits, in fact, and adapts our life to the reality's whole setting, will agree sufficiently to meet the requirement. It will hold true of that reality. (Note: All truths are real.)

Names are just as 'true' or 'false' as definite mental pictures are. They set up similar verification-processes, and lead to fully equivalent practical results.
The overwhelming majority of our true ideas admit of no direct or face-to-face verification-those of past history. The stream of time can be remounted only verbally, or verified indirectly by the present prolongations or effects of what the past harbored. Yet if they agree with these verbalities and effects, we can know that our ideas of the past are true. As true as past time itself was, so true was Julius Caesar. That past time itself was, is guaranteed by its coherence with everything that's present. True as the present is, the past was also.

Take, for instance, yonder object on the wall. You and I consider it to be a 'clock,' although no one of us has seen the hidden works that make it one. We let our notion pass for true without attempting to verify. If truths mean verification-process essentially, ought we then to call such unverified truths as this abortive? No, for they form the overwhelmingly large number of the truths we live by. Indirect as well as direct verifications pass muster. Where circumstantial evidence is sufficient, we can go without eye-witnessing. Just as we here assume Japan to exist without ever having been there, because it works to do so, everything we know conspiring with the belief, and nothing interfering, so we assume that thing to be a clock. We use it as a clock, regulating the length of our lecture by it. The verification of the assumption here means its leading to no frustration or contradiction. Verifiability of wheels and weights and pendulum is as good as verification. For one truth-process completed there are a million in our lives that function in this state of nascency. They turn us towards direct verification; lead us into the surroundings of the objects they envisage; and then, if everything runs on harmoniously, we are so sure that verification is possible that we omit it, and are usually justified by all that happens.

Realities mean, then, either concrete facts, or abstract kinds of thing and relations perceived intuitively between them. They furthermore mean the whole body of other truths already in our possession, the things that new ideas of ours must take account of. (Note: If we read James correctly, those other truths would include laws of physics and concepts like gravity, electron, liberty, justice, etc.)
Read William James’s 'Pragmatism's Conception of Truth'

Dewey’s Pragmatism and Conception of Truth

For Dewey, what pragmatism stands for is very much the result of an empirical study (mostly scientific) inquiry; knowledge is an essential way the product of an indeterminate situation that requires resolution. As he puts it in How We Think (1910),
      “[Pragmatism] starts from acts, functions, as primary data, functions both biological and social in character; from organic responses, adjustments. It treats the knowledge standpoints, in all its patterns, structures, and purposes, as evolving out of, and operating in the interests of, the guidance and enrichment of these primary functions.” (MW 6:88)

What Dewey objects to traditional, intellectualistic philosophy is its radical separation of knowledge acquisition from its original function, which is to resolve indeterminate situations (which do include practical interests, emotions, and desires). Dewey calls this the “intellectualistic fallacy” (MW 6:89). Much of Dewey’s logic is aimed at debunking this old notion of an autonomous, self-sufficient rationality.

However, while pragmatism may be called anti-intellectual, it is not anti-intelligent. To make this point Dewey shifts the focus from reason (as a fixed faculty) to reasonableness:
      “What is reasonableness? You see a person doing something that is unreasonable. What do you mean? … Either he is setting up ends that he hasn’t got the means for realizing, or he is using the means in such a way that they won’t give him the result he is after. Or, on the other hand, here are these conditions which might be used as means and he isn’t using them as means. He isn’t forming an end consequently to be reached in terms of the means, the resources that he has got in connection with the obstacles and the obstructions that have got to be overcome.” (LW 11:565f)

When the notion or reason is not set a priori as a fixed faculty, but derived from a notion of reasonableness like the one sketched above, pragmatists are rationalists, Dewey claims, and they are so in a more sophisticated way than intellectualists are.

Although pragmatism sees reason as purpose-directed and action-involved, Dewey denies that pragmatism seeks to subordinate knowledge to desired practical results: “My pragmatism affirms that action is involved in knowledge, not that knowledge is subordinated to action or ‘practice’.” (LW 14:13) Pragmatism simply seeks to reintegrate knowledge with the world wherein we live. As Dewey puts it, “Pragmatism regards both knowledge and truth as bridges which enable us to approach our purposes”. (MW 12:213) Aiming for Elysian bliss, the intellectualist tradition has burned those bridges.

Dewey’s Essays in Experimental Logic contains two essays on pragmatism. In it, he describes pragmatism as follows:
      “[Pragmatism] insists that general notions shall “cash in” as particular objects and qualities in experience; that “principles” are ultimately subsumed under facts, rather the reverse; that the empirical consequence rather than the a priori basis is the sanctioning and warranting factor. But all of these ideas are colored and transformed by the dominant influence of experimental science: the method of treating conceptions, theories, etc., as working hypotheses, as directors for certain experiments and experimental observation. (MW 4:100)

Dewey agrees with Peirce that pragmatism represents the habit of mind we find in the laboratory. Pragmatism brings the method of the experimental sciences into philosophy. Dewey also agrees with James that the method of pragmatism “should be applied as widely as possible; and to things as diverse as controversies, beliefs, truths, ideas, and objects”. (MW 4:101)

Pragmatism grows out of the development of experimental methods and of genetic and evolutionary conceptions in science”. (MW 4:253) … Dewey’s pragmatism is by and large his experimental logic. However, while Dewey’s pragmatism is empirical, he avoids a reductionist materialism and keeps realist stance by allowing for the reality of universals. Pragmatism, Dewey remarks, “gives to thought and thought relations (universals) a primary and constructive function” (MW 7:328)

In Dewey’s view, pragmatism pans out differently, depending on what it is applied to. In cases where we start with an empirically given object. Dewey followed the German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald’s rule, Quoted in James’s Pragmatism, that the meaning of an object is the effects it produces upon us. … The situation is different when we begin with ideas, not yet knowing the object they are meant to refer to or whether there even are such objects. In Dewey’s view, such an idea is in essence “a draft drawn upon existing things”. When the draft is honored, Dewey continues, that is, when “existences, following upon the actions, rearrange or readjust themselves in the way the idea intends”, then we could say that the idea is true. For instance, the notions of mutation in genetics and of neutrino in physics were introduced first as ideas, and it was only later that the “objects” were found that corresponded with them.

Dewey briefly summaries the difference between the two situations as follows: “the meaning of an object is the changes it requires in our attitude, the meaning of an idea is the changes it, as our attitude, effects in objects” (MW 4:103). The first situation is closely related to pierce’s interpretation of pragmatism; the second resonates, however faintly, James’s will-to-believe argument.
Read 'Dewey's Concept of Truth and Knowledge'

 

Dewey’s "What Pragmatism Means by Practical"

EXCERPT AND CONDENSATION
Pragmatism, according to Mr. James, is a temper of mind, an attitude; it is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth; and, finally, it is a theory about reality. It is pragmatism as method which is emphasized, I take it, in the subtitle, "a new name for some old ways of thinking." ... The briefest and at the same time the most comprehensive formula for the method is: "The attitude of looking away from first things, principles, `categories,' supposed necessities; and of looking towards last things, fruits, consequences, facts" (James's "Pragmatism" pp54-55).

But pragmatism is "used in a still wider sense, as meaning also a certain theory of truth" (p. 55); it is "a genetic theory of what is meant by truth" (p. 65). Truth means, as a matter of course, agreement, correspondence, of idea and fact (p. 198), but what do agreement, correspondence, mean? With rationalism they mean "a static, inert relation," which is so ultimate that of it nothing more can be said. With pragmatism they signify the guiding or leading power of ideas by which we "dip into the particulars of experience again," and if by its aid we set up the arrangements and connections among experienced objects which the idea intends, the idea is verified; it corresponds with the things it means to square with (pp. 205-6). The idea is true which works in leading us to what it purports (p. 80). Or, "any idea that will carry us prosperously from any one part of experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor, is true for just so much, true in so far forth" (p. 58). This notion presupposes that ideas are essentially intentions (plans and methods), and that what they, as ideas, ultimately intend is prospective — certain changes in prior existing things. This contrasts again with rationalism, with its copy theory, where ideas, as ideas, are ineffective and impotent, since they mean only to mirror a reality (p. 69) complete without them. Thus we are led to the third aspect of pragmatism. The alternative between rationalism and pragmatism "concerns the structure of the universe itself" (p. 258). "The essential contrast is that reality . . . . for pragmatism is still in the making" (p. 257). And in a recent number of the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, he says: "I was primarily concerned in my lectures with contrasting the belief that the world is still in the process of making with the belief that there is an eternal edition of it ready-made and complete."

I
It will be following Mr. James's example, I think, if we here regard pragmatism as primarily a method, and treat the account of ideas and their truth and of reality somewhat incidentally so far as the discussion of them serves to exemplify or enforce the method. Regarding the attitude of orientation which looks to outcomes and consequences, one readily sees that it has, as Mr. James points out, points of contact with historic empiricism, nominalism, and utilitarianism. It insists that general notions shall "cash in" as particular objects and qualities in experience; that "principles" are ultimately subsumed under facts, rather than the reverse; that the empirical consequence rather than the a priori basis is the sanctioning and warranting factor. But all of these ideas are colored and transformed by the dominant influence of experimental science: the method of treating conceptions, theories, etc., as working hypotheses, as directors for certain experiments and experimental observations. Pragmatism as attitude represents what Mr. Peirce has happily termed the "laboratory habit of mind" extended into every area where inquiry may fruitfully be carried on. A scientist would, I think, wonder not so much at the method as at the lateness of philosophy's conversion to what has made science what it is. Nevertheless it is impossible to forecast the intellectual change that would proceed from carrying the method sincerely and unreservedly into all fields of inquiry. Leaving philosophy out of account, what a change would be wrought in the historical and social sciences —in the conceptions of politics and law and political economy! Mr. James does not claim too much when he says: "The center of gravity of philosophy must alter its place. The earth of things, long thrown into shadow by the glories of the upper ether, must resume its rights . . . . . It will be an alteration in the `seat of authority' that reminds one almost of the Protestant Reformation" (p. 123).

Mr. Peirce himself (in 1878) had applied the method to the proper way of conceiving and defining objects. Then it has been applied to ideas in order to find out what they mean in terms of what they intend, and what and how they must intend in order to be true. Again, it has been applied to beliefs, to what men actually accept, hold to, and affirm. Indeed, it lies in the nature of pragmatism that it should be applied as widely as possible; and to things as diverse as controversies, beliefs, truths, ideas, and objects. But yet the situations and problems aye diverse; so much so that, while the meaning of each may be told on the basis of "last things," "fruits," "consequences," "facts," it is quite certain that the specific last things and facts will be very different in the diverse cases, and that very different types of meaning will stand out. "Meaning" will itself mean something quite different in the case of "objects" from what it will mean in the case of "ideas," and for "ideas" something different from "truths."

When we consider separately the subjects to which the pragmatic method has been applied, we find that Mr. James has provided the necessary formula for each — with his never-failing instinct for the concrete.
1. We take first the question of the significance of an object: the meaning which should properly be contained in its conception or definition. "To attain perfect clearness in our thoughts of an object, then, we need only consider what conceivable effects of a practical kind the object may involve — what sensations we are to expect from it and what reactions we must prepare" (pp. 46-4;) . Or, more shortly, as it is quoted from Ostwald, "All realities influence our practice, and that influence is their meaning for us" (p. 48). Here it will be noted that the start is from objects already empirically given or presented, existentially vouched for, and the question is as to their proper conception — What is the proper meaning, or idea, of an object? And the meaning is the effects these given objects produce. One might doubt the correctness of this theory, but I do not see how one could doubt its import, or could accuse it of subjectivism or idealism, since the object with its power to produce effects is assumed. Meaning is expressly distinguished from objects, not confused with them (as in idealism), and is said to consist in the practical reactions objects exact of us or impose upon us. When, then, it is a question of an object, "meaning" signifies its conceptual content or connotation, and "practical" means the future responses which an object requires of us or commits us to.

2. But we may also start from a given idea, and ask what the idea means. Pragmatism will, of course, look to future consequences, but they will clearly be of a different sort when we start from an idea as idea, than when we start from an object. For what an idea as idea means, is precisely that an object is not given. The pragmatic procedure here is to set the idea" at work within the stream of experience. It appears less as a solution than as a program for more work, and particularly as an indication of the ways in which existing realities may be changed. Theories, thus, become instruments . . . . . We don't lie back on them, we move forward, and, on occasion, make nature over again by their aid" (p. 53). In other words, an idea is a draft drawn upon existing things, and intention to act so as to arrange them in a certain way. From which it follows that if the draft is honored, if existences, following upon the actions, rearrange or readjust themselves in the way the idea intends, the idea is true. When, then, it is a question of an idea, it is the idea itself which is practical (being an intent) and its meaning resides in the existences which, as changed, it intends. While the meaning of an object is the changes it requires in our attitude, the meaning of an idea is the changes it, as our attitude, effects in objects. (Note: Only those who have already lost in the idealistic confusion of existence and meaning will take this to mean that the object is those changes in our reactions.)

3. Then we have another formula, applicable not to objects nor ideas as objects and ideas, but to truths —to things, that is, where the meaning of the object and of the idea is assumed to be already ascertained. It reads: "What difference would it practically make to anyone if this notion rather than that notion were true ? If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing, and all dispute is idle" (p. 45). There can be "no difference in abstract truth that doesn't express itself in a difference in concrete fact, and in conduct consequent upon the fact, imposed on somebody" (p. 50). (Note: 5.I assume that the reader is sufficiently familiar with Mr. James's book not to be misled by the text into thinking that Mr. James himself discriminates as I have done these three types of problems from one another. He does not; but, none the less, the three formulae for the three situations are there.) Now when we start with something which is already a truth (or taken to be truth), and ask for its meaning in terms of its consequences, it is implied that the conception, or conceptual significance, is already clear, and that the existences it refers to are already in hand. 'Meaning here, then, can be neither the connotative nor denotative reference of a term; they are covered by the two prior formulae. 'Meaning here means value, importance. The practical factor is, then, the worth character of these consequences: they are good or bad; desirable or undesirable; or merely rail, indifferent, in which latter case belief is idle, the controversy a vain and conventional, or verbal, one.

The term "meaning" and the term "practical" taken in isolation, and without explicit definition from their specific context and problem, are triply ambiguous. The meaning may be the conception or definition of an object; it may be the denotative existential reference of an idea; it may be actual value or importance. So practical in the corresponding cases may mean the attitudes and conduct exacted of us by objects; or the capacity and tendency of an idea to effect changes in prior existences; or the desirable and undesirable quality of certain ends. The general pragmatic attitude, none the less, is applied in all cases.

If the differing problems and the correlative diverse significations of the terms "meaning" and "practical" are borne in mind, not all will be converted to pragmatism, but the present uncertainty as to what pragmatism is, anyway, and the present constant complaints on both sides of misunderstanding will, I think, be minimized. At all events, I have reached the conclusion that what the pragmatic movement just now wants is a clear and consistent bearing in mind of these different problems and of what is meant by practical in each. Accordingly the rest of this paper is an endeavor to elucidate from the standpoint of pragmatic method the importance of enforcing these distinctions.

II
First, as to the problems of philosophy when pragmatically approached, Mr. James says: "The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me, at definite instants of our life, if this world-formula or that world-formula be true" (p. 50).
Here the world-formula is assumed as already given; it is there, defined and constituted, and the question is as to its import if believed.
But from the second standpoint, that of idea as working hypothesis, the chief function of philosophy is not to find out what difference ready-made formulae make, if true, but to arrive at and to clarify their meaning as programs of behavior for modifying the existent world. From this standpoint, the meaning of a world-formula is practical and moral, not merely in the consequences which flow from accepting a certain conceptual content as true, but as regards that content itself.
And thus at the very outset we are compelled to face this question: Does Mr. James employ the pragmatic method to discover the value in terms of consequences in life of some formula which has its logical content already fixed; or does he employ it to criticize and revise and, ultimately, to constitute the meaning of that formula? If it is the first, there is danger that the pragmatic method will be employed only to vivify, if not validate, doctrines which in themselves are pieces of rationalistic metaphysics, not inherently pragmatic. If the last, there is danger that some readers will think old notions are being confirmed, when in truth they are being translated into new and inconsistent notions.

Consider the case of design. Mr. James begins with accepting a ready-made notion, to which he then applies the pragmatic criterion.
The traditional notion is that of a "seeing force that runs things." This is rationalistically and retrospectively empty; its being there makes no difference. (This seems to overlook the fact that the past world may be just what it is in virtue of the difference which a blind force or a seeing force has already made in it. A pragmatist as well as a rationalist may reply that it makes no difference retrospectively only because we leave out the most important retrospective difference). But "returning with it into experience, we gain a more confiding outlook on the future. If not a blind force, but a seeing force, runs things, we may reasonably expect better issues.
This vague confidence in the future is the sole pragmatic meaning at present discernible in the terms design and designer" (p. 115). Now is this meaning intended to replace the meaning of a "seeing force which runs things"? Or is it intended to superadd a pragmatic value and validation to that concept of a seeing force? Or does it mean that, irrespective of the existence of any such object, a belief in it has that value? Strict pragmatism would seem to require the first interpretation.

The same difficulties arise in the discussion of spiritualistic theism versus materialism.
Compare the two following statements: "The notion of God . . . . guarantees an ideal order that shall be permanently preserved" (p. 106). "Here, then, in these different emotional and practical appeals, in these adjustments of our attitudes of hope and expectation, and all the delicate consequences which their differences entail, lie the real meanings of materialism and spiritualism" (p. 107).
Does the latter method of determining the meaning of, say, a spiritual God afford the substitute for the conception of him as a "superhuman power" effecting the eternal preservation of something; does it, that is, define God, supply the content for our notion of God ? Or does it merely superadd a value to a meaning already fixed? And, if the latter, does the object, God as defined, or the notion, or the belief (the acceptance of the notion) effect these consequent values?
In either of the latter alternatives, the good or valuable consequences cannot clarify the meaning or conception of God; for, by the argument, they proceed from a prior definition of God. They cannot prove, or render more probable, the existence of such a being, for, by the argument, these desirable consequences depend upon accepting such an existence; and not even pragmatism can prove an existence from desirable consequences which themselves exist only when and if that other existence is there.
On the other hand, if the pragmatic method is not applied simply to tell the value of a belief or controversy, but to fix the meaning of the terms involved in the belief, resulting consequences would serve to constitute the entire meaning, intellectual as well as practical, of the terms; and hence the pragmatic method would simply abolish the meaning of an antecedent power which will perpetuate eternally some existence. For that consequence flows not from the belief or idea, but from the existence, the power. It is not pragmatic at all.

Accordingly, when Mr. James says: "Other than this practical significance, the words God, free will, design, have none . Yet dark though they be in themselves, or intellectualistically taken, when we bear them on to life's thicket with us, the darkness then grows light about us" (p. 121), what is meant?
Is it meant that when we take the intellectualistic notion and employ it, it gets value in the way of results, and hence then has some value of its own; or is it meant that the intellectual content itself must be determined in terms of the changes effected in the ordering of life's thicket?
An explicit declaration on this point would settle, I think, not merely a point interesting in itself, but one essential to the determination of what is pragmatic method.
For myself, I have no hesitation in saying that it seems unpragmatic for pragmatism to content itself with finding out the value of a conception whose own inherent significance pragmatism has not first determined; a fact which entails that it be taken not as a truth but simply as a working hypothesis. In the particular case in question, moreover, it is difficult to see how the pragmatic method could possibly be applied to a notion of "eternal perpetuation," which, by its nature, can never be empirically verified, or cashed in any particular case.

This brings us to the question of truth. The problem here is also ambiguous in advance of definition. Does the problem of what is truth refer to discovering the "true meaning" of something; or to discovering what an idea has to effect, and how, in order to be true; or to discovering what the value of truth is when it is an existent and accomplished fact?
(1) We may, of course, find the "true meaning" of a thing, as distinct from its incorrect interpretation, without thereby establishing the truth of the "true meaning" —as we may dispute about the "true meaning" of a passage in the classics concerning Centaurs, without the determination of its true sense establishing the truth of the notion that there are Centaurs.
Occasionally this "true meaning" seems to be what Mr. James has in mind.
"But if cosmic confidence is right, not wrong, better, not worse, that [vague confidence in the future] is a most important meaning. That much at least of possible `truth' the terms will then have in them" (p. 115).
"Truth" here seems to mean that design has a genuine, not merely conventional or verbal, meaning that something is at stake. And there are frequently points where "truth" seems to mean just meaning that is genuine as distinct from empty or verbal.
(2) But the problem of the meaning of truth may also refer to the meaning or value of truths that already exist as truths. We have them; they exist; now what do they mean?
The answer is: "True ideas lead us into useful verbal and conceptual quarters as well as directly up to useful sensible termini. They lead to consistency, stability, and flowing human intercourse" (p. 215).
This, referring to things already true, I do not suppose the most case-hardened rationalist would question; and even if he questions the pragmatic contention that these consequences define the meaning of truth, he should see that here is not given an account of what it means for an idea to become true, but only of what it means after it has become true, truth as fait accompli. It is the meaning of truth as fait accompli which is here defined.

Truth is valuable not per se, but because, when given, it leads to desirable consequences. " … “The practical value of true ideas is thus primarily derived from the practical importance of their objects to us.” (p. 203)
Our duty to pursue "truth" is conditioned upon its leading to objects which upon the whole are valuable. "The concrete benefits we gain are what we mean by calling the pursuit a duty" (p. 231, compare p. 76).
(3) Difficulties have arisen chiefly because Mr. James is charged with converting simply the foregoing proposition, and arguing that since true ideas are good, any idea if good in any way is true. Certainly transition from one of these conceptions to the other is facilitated by the fact that ideas are tested as to their validity by a certain goodness, viz., whether they are good for accomplishing what they intend, for what they claim to be good for, that is, certain modifications in prior given existences. In this case, it is the idea which is practical, since it is essentially an intent and plan of altering prior existences in a specific situation, which is indicated to be unsatisfactory by the very fact that it needs or suggests a specific modification. Then arises the theory that ideas as ideas are always working hypotheses concerning the attaining of particular empirical results, and are tentative programs (or sketches of method) for attaining them. If we stick consistently to this notion of ideas, only consequences which aye actually produced by the working of the idea in co-operation with, or application to, prior existences are good consequences in the specific sense of good which is relevant to establishing the truth of an idea. This is, at times, unequivocally recognized by Mr. James. (See, for example, the reference to verification, on p. 201; the acceptance of the idea that verification means the advent of the object intended, on p. 205.)

But at other times any good which flows from acceptance of a belief is treated as if it were an evidence, in so far, of the truth of the idea. This holds particularly when theological notions are under consideration. Light would be thrown upon how Mr. James conceives this matter by statements on such points as these: If ideas terminate in good consequences, but yet the goodness of the consequences was no part of the intention of an idea, does the goodness have any verifying force? If the goodness of consequences arises from the context of the idea in belief rather than from the idea itself, does it have any verifying force? (Note: The idea of immortality, or the traditional theistic idea of God, for example, may produce its good consequences, not in virtue of the idea as idea, but from the character of the person who entertains the belief; or it may be the idea of the supreme value of ideal considerations, rather than that of their temporal duration, which works.) If an idea leads to consequences which are good in the one respect only of fulfilling the intent of the idea (as when one drinks a liquid to test the idea that it is a poison), does the badness of the consequences in every other respect detract from the verifying force of consequences?

Since Mr. James has referred to me as saying "truth is what gives satisfaction" (p. 234), I may remark (apart from the fact that I do not think I ever said that truth is what gives satisfaction) that I have never identified any satisfaction with the truth of an idea, save that satisfaction which arises when the idea as working hypothesis or tentative method is applied to prior existences in such a way as to fulfil what it intends.

My final impression (which I cannot adequately prove) is that upon the whole Mr. James is most concerned to enforce, as against rationalism, two conclusions about the character of truths as faits accomplis: namely, that they are made, not a priori, or eternally in existence, (Note: "Eternal truth" is one of the most ambiguous phrases that philosophers trip over. It may mean eternally in existence; or that a statement which is ever true is always true (if it is true a fly is buzzing, it is eternally true that just now a fly buzzed); or it may mean that some truths, in so far as wholly conceptual, are irrelevant to any particular time determination, since they are non-existential in import —e.g., the truth of geometry dialectically taken-that is, without asking whether any particular existence exemplifies them.) and that their value or importance is not static, but dynamic and practical.
The special question of how truths are made is not particularly relevant to this anti-rationalistic crusade, while it is the chief question of interest to many. Because of this conflict of problems, what Mr. James says about the value of truth when accomplished is likely to be interpreted by some as a criterion of the truth of ideas; while, on the other hand, Mr. James himself is likely to pass lightly from the consequences that determine the worth of a belief to those which decide the worth of an idea.
When Mr. James says the function of giving "satisfaction in marrying previous parts of experience with newer parts" is necessary in order to establish truth, the doctrine is unambiguous. The satisfactory character of consequences is itself measured and defined by the conditions which led up to it; the inherently satisfactory quality of results is not taken as validating the antecedent intellectual operations.
But when he says (not of his own position, but of an opponent's) of the idea of an absolute, (Note: Such statements, it ought in fairness to be said, generally come when Mr. James is speaking of a doctrine which he does not himself believe, anal arise, I think, in that fairness and frankness of Mr. James, so unusual in philosophers, which cause him to lean over backward — unpragmatically, it seems to me. As to the claim of his own doctrine, he consistently sticks to his statement: "Pent in, as the pragmatist, more than any one, sees himself to be, between the whole body of funded truths squeezed from the past and the coercions of the world of sense about him, who, so well as he, feels the immense pressure of objective control under which our minds perform their operations? If anyone imagines that this law is lax, let him keep its commandments one day, says Emerson" (p. 233).) "so far as it affords such comfort it surely is not sterile, it has that amount of value; it performs a concrete function. As a good pragmatist I myself ought to call the absolute true in so far forth then; and I unhesitatingly now do so" (p. 73), the doctrine seems to be as unambiguous in the other direction: that any good, consequent upon acceptance of a belief is, in so far forth, a warrant of truth. (Note: 9.Of course, Mr. James holds that this "in so far" goes a very small way. See pp. 77-79. But even the slightest concession is, I think, non-pragmatic unless the satisfaction is relevant to the idea as intent. Now the satisfaction in question comes not from the idea as idea, but from its acceptance as true. Can a satisfaction dependent on an assumption that an idea is already true be relevant to testing the truth of an idea? And can an idea, like that of the absolute, which, if true, "absolutely" precludes any appeal to consequences as test of truth, be confirmed by use of the pragmatic test without sheer self-contradiction ? In other words, we have a confusion of the test of an idea as idea, with that of the value of a belief as belief. On the other hand, it is quite possible that all Mr. James intends by truth here is true (i.e., genuine) meaning at stake in the issue-true not as distinct from false, but from meaningless or verbal.)
In such passages as the following (which are of the common type) the two notions seem blended together: "Ideas become true just in so far as they help us to get into satisfactory relations with other parts of our experience" (p. 58); and, again, on the same page: "Any idea that will carry us prosperously from any one part of our experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor, is true for just so much" (italics mine). An explicit statement as to whether the carrying function, the linking of things, is satisfactory and prosperous and hence true in so far as it executes the intent of an idea; or whether the satisfaction and prosperity reside in the material consequences on their own account and in that aspect make the idea true, would, I am sure, locate the point at issue and economize and fructify future discussion.
At present pragmatism is accepted by those whose own notions are thoroughly rationalistic in make-up as a means of refurbishing, galvanizing, and justifying those very notions. It is rejected by non-rationalists (empiricists and naturalistic idealists) because it seems to them identified with the notion that pragmatism holds that the desirability of certain beliefs overrides the question of the meaning of the ideas involved in them and the existence of objects denoted by them.
Others (like myself), who believe thoroughly in pragmatism as a method of orientation, as defined by Mr. James, and who would apply the method to the determination of the meaning of objects, the intent and worth of ideas as ideas, and to the human and moral value of beliefs, when these various problems are carefully distinguished from one another, do not know whether they are pragmatists in some other sense, because they are not sure whether the practical, in the sense of desirable facts which define the worth of a belief, is confused with the practical as an attitude imposed by objects, and with the practical as a power and function of ideas to effect changes in prior existences. Hence the importance of knowing which one of the three senses of practical is conveyed in any given passage.

It would do Mr. James an injustice, however, to stop here. His real doctrine is that a belief is true when it satisfies both personal needs and the requirements of objective things. Speaking of pragmatism, he says, "Her only test of probable truth is what works best in the way of leading us, what fits every part of life best and combines with the collectivity of experience's demands, nothing being omitted" (p. 8o). And again, "That new idea is truest which performs most felicitously its function of satisfying our double urgency" (p. 64). It does not appear certain from the context that this "double urgency" is that of the personal and the objective demands, respectively, but it is probable (see, also, p. 217, where "consistency with previous truth and novel fact" is said to be "always the most imperious claimant"). On this basis, the "in so far forth" of the truth of the absolute because of the comfort it supplies, means that one of the two conditions which need to be satisfied has been met, so that if the idea of the absolute met the other one also, it would be quite true. I have no doubt this is Mr. James's meaning, and it sufficiently safeguards him from the charge that pragmatism means that anything which is agreeable is true. At the same time, I do not think, in logical strictness, that satisfying one of two tests, when satisfaction of both is required, can be said to constitute a belief true even "in so far forth."

III
At all events this raises a question not touched so far: the place of the personal in the determination of truth. Mr. James, for example, emphasizes the doctrine suggested in the following words: "We say this theory solves it [the problem] more satisfactorily than that theory; but that means more satisfactorily to ourselves, and individuals will emphasize their points of satisfaction differently" (p. 6 1, italics mine). This opens out into a question which, in its larger aspects — the place of the personal factor in the constitution of knowledge systems and of reality — I cannot here enter upon, save to say that a synthetic pragmatism such as Mr. James has ventured upon will take a very different form according as the point of view of what he calls the "Chicago School" or that of humanism is taken as a basis for interpreting the nature of the personal. According to the latter view, the personal appears to be ultimate and unanalyzable,the metaphysically real. Associations with idealism, moreover, give it an idealistic turn, a translation, in effect, of monistic intellectualistic idealism into pluralistic, voluntaristic idealism. But, according to the former, the personal is not ultimate, but is to be analyzed and defined, biologically on its genetic side, ethically on its prospective and functioning side.

There is, however, one phase of the teaching illustrated by the quotation which is directly relevant here. Because Mr. James recognizes that the personal clement enters into judgments passed upon whether a problem has or has not been satisfactorily solved, he is charged with extreme subjectivism, with encouraging the element of personal preference to run roughshod over all objective controls. Now the question raised in the quotation is primarily one of fact, not of doctrine. Is or is not a personal factor found in truth evaluations? If it is, pragmatism is not responsible for introducing it. If it is not, it ought to be possible to refute pragmatism by appeal to empirical fact, rather than by reviling it for subjectivism. Now it is an old story that philosophers, in common with theologians and social theorists, are as sure that personal habits and interests shape their opponents' doctrines as they are that their own beliefs are "absolutely" universal and objective in quality. Hence arises that dishonesty, that insincerity characteristic of philosophic discussion. As Mr. James says (p. 8), "The most potential of all our premises is never mentioned." Now the moment the complicity of the personal factor in our philosophic valuations is recognized, is recognized fully, frankly, and generally, that moment a new era in philosophy will begin. We shall have to discover the personal factors that now influence us unconsciously, and begin to accept a new and moral responsibility for them, a responsibility for judging and testing them by their consequences. So long as we ignore this factor, its deeds will be largely evil, not because it is evil, but because, flourishing in the dark, it is without responsibility and without check. The only way to control it is by recognizing it. And while I would not prophesy of pragmatism's future, I would say that this element which is now so generally condemned as intellectual dishonesty (perhaps because of an uneasy, instinctive recognition of the searching of hearts its acceptance would involve) will in the future be accounted unto philosophy for righteousness' sake.

So much in general. In particular cases, it is possible that Mr. James's language occasionally leaves the impression that the fact of the inevitable involution of the personal factor in every belief gives some special sanction to some special belief. Mr. James says that his essay on the right to believe was unluckily entitled the "Will to believe" (p. 258). Well, even the term "right" is unfortunate, if the personal or belief factor is inevitable — unfortunate because it seems to indicate n privilege which might be exercised in special cases, in religion, for example, though not in science; or, because it suggests to some minds that the fact of the personal complicity involved in belief is a warrant for this or that special personal attitude, instead of being a warning to locate and define it so as to accept responsibility for it. If we mean by "will" not something deliberate and consciously intentional (much less, something insincere), but an active personal participation, then belief as will, rather than either the right or the will to believe seems to phrase the matter correctly.

I have attempted to review not so much Mr. James's book as the present status of the pragmatic movement which is expressed in the book; and I have selected only those points which seem to bear directly upon matters of contemporary controversy. Even as an account of this limited field, the foregoing pages do an injustice to Mr. James, save as it is recognized that his lectures were "popular lectures," as the title-page advises us. We cannot expect in such lectures the kind of explicitness which would satisfy the professional and technical interests that have inspired this review. Moreover, it is inevitable that the attempt to compose different points of view, hitherto unco-ordinated, into a single whole should give rise to problems foreign to any one factor of the synthesis, left to itself. The need and possibility of the discrimination of various elements in the pragmatic meaning of "Practical," attempted in this review, would hardly have been recognized by me were it not for by-products of perplexity and confusion which -Mr. James's combination has effected. Mr. James has given so many evidences of the sincerity of his intellectual aims, that I trust to his pardon for the injustice which the character of my review may have done him, in view of whatever service it may render in clarifying the problem to which he is devoted.

As for the book itself, it is in any case beyond a critic's praise or blame. It is more likely to take place as a philosophical classic than any other writing of our day. A critic who should attempt to appraise it would probably give one more illustration of the sterility of criticism compared with the productiveness of creative genius. Even those who dislike pragmatism can hardly f ail to find much of profit in the exhibition of Mr. James's instinct for concrete facts, the breadth of his sympathies, and his illuminating insights. Unreserved frankness, lucid imagination, varied contacts with life digested into summary and trenchant conclusions, keen perceptions of human nature in the concrete, a constant sense of the subordination of philosophy to life, capacity to put things into an English which projects ideas as if bodily into space till they are solid things to walk around and survey from different sides-these things are not so common in philosophy that they may not smell sweet even by the name of pragmatism.

 




Peirce's "Conception of Truth"

Truth is a character which attaches to an abstract proposition, such as a person might utter. It essentially depends upon that proposition's not professing to be exactly true. But we hope that in the progress of science its error will indefinitely diminish. (CP5-565)
TRUTH AS CORRESPONDENCE: Truth is the conformity of a representamen to its object. (CP5-554)
But what does this correspondence or reference of the sign, to its object, consist in?
(Truth is) something that thought can compass. Now thought is of the nature of a sign. In that case, then, if we can find out the right method of thinking and can follow it out --the right method of transforming signs --then truth can be nothing more nor less than the last result to which the following out of this method would ultimately carry us. (CP5-553)

TRUTH

Excerpt and condensation from "TRUTH" (CP5. 549-573)

§1. TRUTH AS CORRESPONDENCE
549. A state of things is an abstract constituent part of reality, of such a nature that a proposition is needed to represent it.
There is but one individual, or completely determinate, state of things, namely, the all of reality.
A fact is so highly a prescissively abstract state of things, that it can be wholly represented in a simple proposition, and the term "simple," here, has no absolute meaning, but is merely a comparative expression.

550. A mathematical form of a state of things is such a representation of that state of things as represents only the samenesses and diversities involved in that state of things.
Every mathematical form of a state of things is the complete mathematical form of some state of things.

551. Before any conclusion shall be made to rest upon this almost self-evident proposition, a way of setting it quite beyond doubt shall be explained. It is a private opinion of the writer's which will serve to explain the great interest he attaches to the emphatic dualism of the three normative sciences, which may be regarded as being the sciences of the conditions of truth and falsity, of wise and foolish conduct, of attractive and repulsive ideas. ………
For it is evident that it is in esthetics that we ought to seek for the deepest characteristics of normative science, since esthetics, in dealing with the very ideal itself whose mere materialization engrosses the attention of practics and of logic, must contain the heart, soul, and spirit of normative science. But that dualism which is so much marked in the True and False, logic's object of study, and in the Useful and Pernicious of the confessional of Practics, is softened almost to obliteration in esthetics. Nevertheless, it would be the height of stupidity to say that esthetics knows no good and bad. It must never be forgotten that evil of any kind is none the less bad though the occurrence of it be a good. Because in every case the ultimate in some measure abrogates, and ought to abrogate, the penultimate, it does not follow that the penultimate ought not to have abrogated the antepenultimate in due measure. On the contrary, just the opposite follows.

552. Esthetic good and evil are closely akin to pleasure and pain. They are what would be pleasure or pain to the fully developed superman. What, then, are pleasure and pain? They are secondary feelings; that is, of feelings attaching themselves to, and excited by, other feelings. A toothache is painful. … However, the quality of the feeling of toothache is a simple, positive feeling, distinct from pain; though pain accompanies it.
The feeling of pain is a symptom of a feeling which repels us; the feeling of pleasure is the symptom of an attractive feeling. Attraction and repulsion are kinds of action. Feelings are pleasurable or painful according to the kind of action which they stimulate. In general, the good is the attractive --not to everybody, but to the sufficiently matured agent; and the evil is the repulsive to the same.

Mr. Ferdinand C.S. Schiller (in Studies in Humanism) informs us that he and James have made up their minds that the true is simply the satisfactory. No doubt; but to say "satisfactory" is not to complete any predicate whatever. Satisfactory to what end?

553. That truth is the correspondence of a representation with its object is, as Kant says, merely the nominal definition of it. Truth belongs exclusively to propositions. A proposition has a subject (or set of subjects) and a predicate. The subject is a sign; the predicate is a sign; and the proposition is a sign that the predicate is a sign of that of which the subject is a sign. If it be so, it is true. But what does this correspondence or reference of the sign, to its object, consist in?
The pragmaticist answers this question as follows. Suppose, he says, that the angel Gabriel were to descend and communicate to me the answer to this riddle from the breast of omniscience. Is this supposable; or does it involve an essential absurdity to suppose the answer to be brought to human intelligence? In the latter case, "truth," in this sense, is a useless word, which never can express a human thought. It is real, if you will; it belongs to that universe entirely disconnected from human intelligence which we know as the world of utter nonsense.
Having no use for this meaning of the word "truth," we had better use the word in another sense presently to be described. But if, on the other hand, it be conceivable that the secret should be disclosed to human intelligence, it will be something that thought can compass. Now thought is of the nature of a sign. In that case, then, if we can find out the right method of thinking and can follow it out --the right method of transforming signs --then truth can be nothing more nor less than the last result to which the following out of this method would ultimately carry us. In that case, that to which the representation should conform, is itself something in the nature of a representation, or sign --something noumenal, intelligible, conceivable, and utterly unlike a thing-in-itself.

554. Truth is the conformity of a representamen to its object, its object, ITS object, mind you. …
There must be an action of the object upon the sign to render the latter true. Without that, the object is not the representamen's object.
If a colonel hands a paper to an orderly and says, "You will go immediately and deliver this to Captain Hanno," and if the orderly does so, we do not say the colonel told the truth; we say the orderly was obedient, since it was not the orderly's conduct which determined the colonel to say what he did, but the colonel's speech which determined the orderly's action.
Here is a view of the writer's house: what makes that house to be the object of the view? Surely not the similarity of appearance. There are ten thousand others in the country just like it. No, but the photographer set up the film in such a way that according to the laws of optics, the film was forced to receive an image of this house. What the sign virtually has to do in order to indicate its object --and make it its --all it has to do is just to seize its interpreter's eyes and forcibly turn them upon the object meant: it is what a knock at the door does, or an alarm or other bell, or a whistle, a cannon-shot, etc. It is pure physiological compulsion; nothing else.

So, then, a sign, in order to fulfill its office, to actualize its potency, must be compelled by its object. This is evidently the reason of the dichotomy of the true and the false. For it takes two to make a quarrel, and a compulsion involves as large a dose of quarrel as is requisite to make it quite impossible that there should be compulsion without resistance.

$2 TRUTH AND SATISFACTION
555. The truth is that the act of knowing a real object alters it.
It seems that our oblivion to this truth is due to our not having made the acquaintance of a new analysis that the True is simply that in cognition which is Satisfactory. As to this doctrine, if it is meant that True and Satisfactory are synonyms, it strikes me that it is not so much a doctrine of philosophy.

556. But it seems plain that the formula does express a doctrine of philosophy, although quite vaguely; so that the assertion does not concern two words of our language but, attaching some other meaning to the True, makes it to be coextensive with the Satisfactory in cognition.

557. In that case, it is indispensable to say what is meant by the True: that by the True is meant that at which inquiry aims.

558. It is equally indispensable to ascertain what is meant by Satisfactory; but this is by no means so easy. Whatever be meant, however, if the doctrine is true at all, it must be necessarily true. For it is the very object, conceived in entertaining the purpose of the inquiry, that is asserted to have the character of satisfactoriness.

559. Is the Satisfactory meant to be whatever excites a certain peculiar feeling of satisfaction? In that case, the doctrine is simply hedonism in so far as it affects the field of cognition. For when hedonists talk of "pleasure," they do not mean what is so-called in ordinary speech, but what excites a feeling of satisfaction.

560. But to say that an action or the result of an action is Satisfactory is simply to say that it is congruous to the aim of that action. Consequently, the aim must be determined before it can be determined, either in thought or in fact, to be satisfactory. An action that had no other aim than to be congruous to its aim would have no aim at all, and would not be a deliberate action.

561. The hedonists do not offer their doctrine as an induction from experience but insist that, in the nature of things, that is, from the very essence of the conceptions, an action can have no other aim than "pleasure." Now it is conceivable that an action should be disconnected from every other in its aim. Such an action, then, according to hedonistic doctrine, can have no other aim than that of satisfying its own aim, which is absurd.

562. But if the hedonist replies that his position does not relate to satisfaction, but to a feeling that only arises upon satisfaction, the rejoinder will be that feeling is incomprehensible; so that no necessary truth can be discovered about it. But as a matter of observation we do, now and then, meet with persons who very largely behave with a view of experiencing this or that feeling. These people, however, are exceptional, and are wretched beings sharply marked off from the mass of busy and happy mankind.


563. It is, however, no doubt true that men act, especially in the action of inquiry, as if their sole purpose were to produce a certain state of feeling, in the sense that when that state of feeling is attained, there is no further effort. It was upon that proposition that I originally based pragmaticism, laying it down in the article that in November 1877 prepared the ground for my argument for the pragmaticistic doctrine (Pop. Sci. Monthly for January, 1878). In the case of inquiry, I called that state of feeling "firm belief," and said, "As soon as a firm belief is reached we are entirely satisfied, whether the belief be true or false," and went on to show how the action of experience consequently was to create the conception of real truth. Early in 1880, in the opening paragraphs of my memoir in Vol. III of the American Journal of Mathematics, I referred the matter to the fundamental properties of protoplasm, showing that purposive action must be action virtually directed toward the removal of stimulation.

564. My paper of November 1877, setting out from the proposition that the agitation of a question ceases when satisfaction is attained with the settlement of belief, and then only, goes on to consider how the conception of truth gradually develops from that principle under the action of experience; beginning with willful belief, or self-mendacity, the most degraded of all intellectual conditions; thence rising to the imposition of beliefs by the authority of organized society; then to the idea of a settlement of opinion as the result of a fermentation of ideas; and finally reaching the idea of truth as overwhelmingly forced upon the mind in experience as the effect of an independent reality.

§3. DEFINITIONS OF TRUTH
565. Logical. (1) Truth is a character which attaches to an abstract proposition, such as a person might utter. It essentially depends upon that proposition's not professing to be exactly true. But we hope that in the progress of science its error will indefinitely diminish, just as the error of 3.14159, the value given for π, will indefinitely diminish as the calculation is carried to more and more places of decimals. What we call π is an ideal limit to which no numerical expression can be perfectly true.
If our hope is vain; if in respect to some question --say that of the freedom of the will --no matter how long the discussion goes on, no matter how scientific our methods may become, there never will be a time when we can fully satisfy ourselves either that the question has no meaning, or that one answer or the other explains the facts, then in regard to that question there certainly is no truth. But whether or not there would be perhaps any reality is a question for the metaphysician, not the logician. Even if the metaphysician decides that where there is no truth there is no reality, still the distinction between the character of truth and the character of reality is plain and definable.
Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth.
Reality is that mode of being by virtue of which the real thing is as it is, irrespectively of what any mind or any definite collection of minds may represent it to be. The truth of the proposition that Caesar crossed the Rubicon consists in the fact that the further we push our archaeological and other studies, the more strongly will that conclusion force itself on our minds forever --or would do so, if study were to go on forever.
An idealist metaphysician may hold that therein also lies the whole reality behind the proposition; for though men may for a time persuade themselves that Caesar did not cross the Rubicon, and may contrive to render this belief universal for any number of generations, yet ultimately research --if it be persisted in --must bring back the contrary belief. But in holding that doctrine, the idealist necessarily draws the distinction between truth and reality.

566. In the above we have considered positive scientific truth. But the same definitions equally hold in the normative sciences. If a moralist describes an ideal as the summum bonum (the highest good), in the first place, the perfect truth of his statement requires that it should involve the confession that the perfect doctrine can neither be stated nor conceived. If, with that allowance, the future development of man's nature will only lead to a firmer satisfaction with the described ideal, the doctrine is true.
A metaphysician may hold that the fact that the ideal thus forces itself upon the mind, so that minds in their development cannot fail to come to accept it, argues that the ideal is real: he may even hold that that fact (if it be one) constitutes a reality. But the two ideas, truth and reality, are distinguished here by the same characters given in the above definitions.

567. These characters equally apply to pure mathematics. Projective geometry is not pure mathematics, unless it be recognized that whatever is said of rays holds good of every family of curves of which there is one and one only through any two points, and any two of which have a point in common. But even then it is not pure mathematics until for points we put any complete determinations of any two-dimensional continuum. Nor will that be enough. A proposition is not a statement of perfectly pure mathematics until it is devoid of all definite meaning, and comes to this --that a property of a certain icon is pointed out and is declared to belong to anything like it, of which instances are given. The perfect truth cannot be stated, except in the sense that it confesses its imperfection. The pure mathematician deals exclusively with hypotheses. Whether or not there is any corresponding real thing, he does not care. His hypotheses are creatures of his own imagination; but he discovers in them relations which surprise him sometimes.
A metaphysician may hold that this very forcing upon the mathematician's acceptance of propositions for which he was not prepared, proves, or even constitutes, a mode of being independent of the mathematician's thought, and so a reality. But whether there is any reality or not, the truth of the pure mathematical proposition is constituted by the impossibility of ever finding a case in which it fails. This, however, is only possible if we confess the impossibility of precisely defining it.

568. The same definitions hold for the propositions of practical life. A man buys a bay horse, under a warranty that he is sound and free from vice. He brings him home and finds he is dyed, his real colour being undesirable. He complains of false representations; but the seller replies, "I never pretended to state every fact about the horse; what I said was true, so far as it professed to be true." In ordinary life all our statements, it is well understood, are, in the main, rough approximations to what we mean to convey. A tone or gesture is often the most definite part of what is said. Even with regard to perceptual facts, or the immediate judgments we make concerning our single percepts, the same distinction is plain. The percept is the reality. It is not in propositional form. But the most immediate judgment concerning it is abstract. It is therefore essentially unlike the reality, although it must be accepted as true to that reality. Its truth consists in the fact that it is impossible to correct it, and in the fact that it only professes to consider one aspect of the percept.

569. But even if it were impossible to distinguish between truth and reality, that would not in the least prevent our defining what it is that truth consists in. Truth and falsity are characters confined to propositions. A proposition is a sign which separately indicates its object. Thus, a portrait with the name of the original below it is a proposition. It asserts that if anybody looks at it, he can form a reasonably correct idea of how the original looked. A sign is only a sign in actu by virtue of its receiving an interpretation, that is, by virtue of its determining another sign of the same object. This is as true of mental judgments as it is of external signs. To say that a proposition is true is to say that every interpretation of it is true. Two propositions are equivalent when either might have been an interpretant of the other. This equivalence, like others, is by an act of abstraction (in the sense in which forming an abstract noun is abstraction) conceived as identity. And we speak of believing in a proposition, having in mind an entire collection of equivalent propositions with their partial interpretants. Thus, two persons are said to have the same proposition in mind. The interpretant of a proposition is itself a proposition. Any necessary inference from a proposition is an interpretant of it. When we speak of truth and falsity, we refer to the possibility of the proposition being refuted; and this refutation (roughly speaking) takes place in but one way. Namely, an interpretant of the proposition would, if believed, produce the expectation of a certain description of percept on a certain occasion. The occasion arrives: the percept forced upon us is different. This constitutes the falsity of every proposition of which the disappointing prediction was the interpretant.

Thus, a false proposition is a proposition of which some interpretant represents that, on an occasion which it indicates, a percept will have a certain character, while the immediate perceptual judgment on that occasion is that the percept has not that character. A true proposition is a proposition belief in which would never lead to such disappointment so long as the proposition is not understood otherwise than it was intended.

570. All the above relates to complex truth, or the truth of propositions. This is divided into many varieties, among which may be mentioned ethical truth, or the conformity of an assertion to the speaker's or writer's belief, otherwise called veracity, and logical truth, that is, the concordance of a proposition with reality, in such way as is above defined.

571. (2) The word truth has also had great importance in philosophy in widely different senses, in which it is distinguished as simple truth, which is that truth which inheres in other subjects than propositions.
Plato in the Cratylus (385B) maintains that words have truth; and some of the scholastics admitted that an incomplex sign, such as a picture, may have truth.

572. But truth is also used in senses in which it is not an affection of a sign, but of things as things. Such truth is called transcendental truth. The scholastic maxim was Ens est unum, verum, bonum. Among the senses in which transcendental truth was spoken of was that in which it was said that all science has for its object the investigation of truth, that is to say, of the real characters of things. It was, in other senses, regarded as a subject of metaphysics exclusively. It is sometimes defined so as to be indistinguishable from reality, or real existence. Another common definition is that truth is the conformity, or conformability, of things to reason. Another definition is that truth is the conformity of things to their essential principles.

573. (3) Truth is also used in logic in a sense in which it inheres only in subjects more complex than propositions. Such is formal truth, which belongs to an argumentation which conforms to logical laws.

 

METHODS FOR ATTAINING TRUTH

Excerpt and condensation from "METHODS FOR ATTAINING TRUTH" (CP5. 574-604)

§1. THE FIRST RULE OF LOGIC
574. Certain methods of mathematical computation correct themselves; so that if an error be committed, it is only necessary to keep right on, and it will be corrected in the end. For instance, I want to extract the cube root of 2. The true answer is 1.25992105. . . . The rule is as follows:

  

Form a column of numbers, which for the sake of brevity we may call the A's. The first 3 A's are any 3 numbers taken at will. To form a new A, add the last two A's, triple the sum, add to this sum the last A but two, and set down the result as the next A. Now any A, the lower in the column the better, divided by the following A gives a fraction which increased by 1 is approximately [cube root of 2]
calculate Cube root of 2

You see the error committed in the second computation, though it seemed to multiply itself greatly, became substantially corrected in the end.

If you sit down to solve ten ordinary linear equations between ten unknown quantities, you will receive materials for a commentary upon the infallibility of mathematical processes. For you will almost infallibly get a wrong solution. I take it as a matter of course that you are not an expert professional computer. He will proceed according to a method which will correct his errors if he makes any.

575. One of the most wonderful features of reasoning and one of the most important philosophemes in the doctrine of science is that reasoning tends to correct itself.

  

575. One of the most wonderful features of reasoning and one of the most important philosophemes in the doctrine of science is that reasoning tends to correct itself, and the more so, the more wisely its plan is laid. Nay, it not only corrects its conclusions, it even corrects its premisses.
The theory of Aristotle is that a necessary conclusion is just equally as certain as its premisses, while a probable conclusion is somewhat less so. Hence, he was driven to his strange distinction between what is better known to Nature and what is better known to us. But were every probable inference less certain than its premisses, science, which piles inference upon inference, often quite deeply, would soon be in a bad way. Every astronomer, however, is familiar with the fact that the catalogue place of a fundamental star, which is the result of elaborate reasoning, is far more accurate than any of the observations from which it was deduced.

576. That Induction tends to correct itself, is obvious enough. When a man undertakes to construct a table of mortality upon the basis of the Census, he is engaged in an inductive inquiry. And lo, the very first thing that he will discover from the figures, if he did not know it before, is that those figures are very seriously vitiated by their falsity. The young find it to their advantage to be thought older than they are, and the old to be thought younger than they are. The number of young men who are just 21 is altogether in excess of those who are 20, although in all other cases the ages expressed in round numbers are in great excess. Now the operation of inferring a law in a succession of observed numbers is, broadly speaking, inductive; and therefore we see that a properly conducted Inductive research corrects its own premisses.

577. That the same thing may be true of a Deductive inquiry our arithmetical example has shown. Theoretically, I grant you, there is no possibility of error in necessary reasoning. But to speak thus "theoretically," is to use language in a Pickwickian sense. In practice, and in fact, mathematics is not exempt from that liability to error that affects everything that man does. Strictly speaking, it is not certain that twice two is four. If on an average in every thousand figures obtained by addition by the average man there be one error, and if a thousand million men have each added 2 to 2 ten thousand times, there is still a possibility that they have all committed the same error of addition every time. If everything were fairly taken into account, I do not suppose that twice two is four is more certain than Edmund Gurney held the existence of veridical phantasms of the dying or dead to be. Deductive inquiry, then, has its errors; and it corrects them, too. But it is by no means so sure, or at least so swift to do this as is Inductive science. A celebrated error in the Mécanique Céleste concerning the amount of theoretical acceleration of the moon's mean motion deceived the whole world of astronomy for more than half a century. Errors of reasoning in the first book of Euclid's Elements, the logic of which book was for two thousand years subjected to more careful criticism than any other piece of reasoning without exception ever was or probably ever will be, only became known after the non-Euclidean geometry had been developed. The certainty of mathematical reasoning, however, lies in this, that once an error is suspected, the whole world is speedily in accord about it.

578. As for Retroductive Inquiries, or the Explanatory Sciences, such as Geology, Evolution, and the like, they always have been and always must be theatres of controversy. These controversies do get settled, after a time, in the minds of candid inquirers; though it does not always happen that the protagonists themselves are able to assent to the justice of the decision. Nor is the general verdict always logical or just.

579. So it appears that this marvellous self-correcting property of Reason, which Hegel made so much of, belongs to every sort of science, although it appears as essential, intrinsic, and inevitable only in the highest type of reasoning, which is induction. But the logic of relatives shows that the other types of reasoning, Deduction and Retroduction, are not so thoroughly unlike Induction as they might be thought, and as Deduction, at least, always has been thought to be.
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580. We see, then, that Induction and Deduction are after all not so very unlike. It is true that in Induction we commonly make many experiments and in Deduction only one. Yet this is not always the case. The chemist contents himself with a single experiment to establish any qualitative fact. True, he does this because he knows that there is such a uniformity in the behaviour of chemical bodies that another experiment would be a mere repetition of the first in every respect. But it is precisely such aknowledge of a uniformity that leads the mathematician to content himself with one experiment. The inexperienced student in mathematics will mentally perform a number of geometrical experiments, which the veteran would regard as superfluous, before he will permit himself to come to a general conclusion. ..... .....

581. As for retroduction, it is itself an experiment. A retroductive research is an experimental research; and when we look upon Induction and Deduction from the point of view of Experiment and Observation, we are merely tracing in those types of reasoning their affinity to Retroduction. It begins always with colligation, of course, of a variety of separately observed facts about the subject of the hypothesis. How remarkable it is, by the way, that the entire army of logicians from Zeno to Whateley should have left it to this mineralogist [Whewell] to point out colligation as a generally essential step in reasoning. To return to Retroduction, then, it begins with colligation. Something corresponding to iteration may or may not take place. And then comes an Observation. Not, however, an External observation of the objects as in Induction, nor yet an observation made upon the parts of a diagram, as in Deduction; but for all that just as truly an observation. For what is observation? What is experience? It is the enforced element in the history of our lives. It is that which we are constrained to be conscious of by an occult force residing in an object which we contemplate. The act of observation is the deliberate yielding of ourselves to that force majeure --an early surrender at discretion, due to our foreseeing that we must, whatever we do, be borne down by that power, at last. Now the surrender which we make in Retroduction, is a surrender to the Insistence of an Idea. The hypothesis, as the Frenchman says, c'est plus fort que moi. It is irresistible; it is imperative. We must throw open our gates and admit it at any rate for the time being.

582. Thus it is that inquiry of every type, fully carried out, has the vital power of self-correction and of growth. This is a property so deeply saturating its inmost nature that it may truly be said that there is but one thing needful for learning the truth, and that is a hearty and active desire to learn what is true. If you really want to learn the truth, you will, by however devious a path, be surely led into the way of truth, at last. No matter how erroneous your ideas of the method may be at first, you will be forced at length to correct them so long as your activity is moved by that sincere desire. Nay, no matter if you only half desire it, at first, that desire would at length conquer all others, could experience continue long enough. But the more veraciously truth is described at the outset, the shorter by centuries will the road to it be.


583. In order to demonstrate that this is so, it is necessary to note what is essentially involved in the Will to Learn. The first thing that the Will to Learn supposes is a dissatisfaction with one's present state of opinion. There lies the secret of why it is that our American universities are so miserably insignificant. What have they done for the advance of civilization? What is the great idea or where is [the] single great man who can truly be said to be the product of an American university? The English universities, rotting with sloth as they always have, have nevertheless in the past given birth to Locke and to Newton, and in our time to Cayley, Sylvester, and Clifford. The German universities have been the light of the whole world. The medieval University of Bologna gave Europe its system of law. The University of Paris and that despised scholasticism took Abelard and made him into Descartes. The reason was that they were institutions of learning while ours are institutions for teaching. In order that a man's whole heart may be in teaching he must be thoroughly imbued with the vital importance and absolute truth of what he has to teach; while in order that he may have any measure of success in learning he must be penetrated with a sense of the unsatisfactoriness of his present condition of knowledge. The two attitudes are almost irreconcilable. But just as it is not the self-righteous man who brings multitudes to a sense of sin, but the man who is most deeply conscious that he is himself a sinner, and it is only by a sense of sin that men can escape its thraldom; so it is not the man, who thinks he knows it all, that can bring other men to feel their need of learning, and it is only a deep sense that one is miserably ignorant that can spur one on in the toilsome path of learning. That is why, to my very humble apprehension, it cannot but seem that those admirable pedagogical methods, for which the American teacher is distinguished, are of little more consequence than the cut of his coat, that they surely are as nothing compared with that fever for learning that must consume the soul of the man who is to infect others with the same apparent malady. Let me say that of the present condition of Harvard I really know nothing at all except that I know the leaders of the department of philosophy to be all true scholars, particularly marked by eagerness to learn and freedom from dogmatism. And in every age, it can only be the philosophy of that age, such as it may be, which can animate the special sciences to any work that shall really carry forward the human mind to some new and valuable truth. Because the valuable truth is not the detached one, but the one that goes toward enlarging the system of what is already known.

584. The Inductive Method springs directly out of dissatisfaction with existing knowledge. The great rule of predesignation, which must guide it, is as much as to say that an induction to be valid must be prompted by a definite doubt or at least an interrogation; and what is such an interrogation but first, a sense that we do not know something; second, a desire to know it; and third, an effort -implying a willingness to labor --for the sake of seeing how the truth may really be. If that interrogation inspires you, you will be sure to examine the instances; while if it does not, you will pass them by without attention.

585. I hope to find out whether Harvard is an educational establishment or whether it is an institution for learning what is not yet thoroughly known, whether it is for the benefit of the individual students or whether it is for the good of the country and for the speedier elevation of man into that rational animal of [which] he is the embryonic form.

There is one thing that I am sure a Harvard education cannot fail to do, because it did that much even in my time, and for a very insouciant student; I mean that it cannot fail to disabuse the student of the popular notion that modern science is so very great a thing as to be commensurate with Nature and indeed to constitute of itself some account of the universe, and to show him that it is yet, what it appeared to Isaac Newton to be, a child's collection of pebbles gathered upon the beach --the vast ocean of Being lying there unsounded.

586. It is not merely that in all our gropings we bump up against problems which we cannot imagine how to attack, why space should have but three dimensions, if it really has but three, why the Listing numbers which define its shape should all equal one, if they really do, or why some of them should be zero, as Listing himself and many geometers think they are, if that be the truth, of why forces should determine the second derivative of the space rather than the third or fourth, of why matter should consist of about seventy distinct kinds, and all those of each kind apparently exactly alike, and these different kinds having masses nearly in arithmetical progression and yet not exactly so, of why atoms should attract one another at a distance in peculiar ways, if they really do, or if not what produced such vortices, and what gave the vortices such peculiar laws of attraction, of how or by what kind of influence matter came to be sifted out, so that the different kinds occur in considerable aggregations, of why certain motions of the atoms of certain kinds of protoplasm are accompanied by sensation, and so on through the whole list..1 These things do indeed show us how superficial our science still is; but its littleness is made even more manifest when we consider within how narrow a range all our inquiries have hitherto lain. The instincts connected with the need of nutrition have furnished all animals with some virtual knowledge of space and of force, and made them applied physicists. The instincts connected with sexual reproduction have furnished all animals at all like ourselves with some virtual comprehension of the minds of other animals of their kind, so that they are applied psychists. Now not only our accomplished science, but even our scientific questions have been pretty exclusively limited to the development of those two branches of natural knowledge. There may for aught we know be a thousand other kinds of relationship which have as much to do with connecting phenomena and leading from one to another, as dynamical and social relationships have. Astrology, magic, ghosts, prophecies, serve as suggestions of what such relationships might be.

587. Not only is our knowledge thus limited in scope, but it is even more important that we should thoroughly realize that the very best of what we, humanly speaking, know [we know] only in an uncertain and inexact way.
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588. There are various ways in which the natural cocksuredness and conceit of man struggles to escape such confession of total ignorance. But they seem to be all quite futile.
For to suppose that any man who could see the moving clouds and survey a wide expanse of landscape and note its wonderful complexity, and consider how unimaginably small it all was in comparison to the whole face of the globe, not to speak of the millions of orbs in space, and who would not presume to predict what move Morphy or Steinitz might make in so simple a thing as a game of chess, should undertake to say what God would do, would seem to impeach his sanity.

589. People talk of a hypothesis where there is a vera causa. But in such cases the inference is not hypothetic but inductive. A vera causa is a state of things known to be present and known partially at least to explain the phenomena, but not known to explain them with quantitative precision. Thus, when seeing ordinary bodies round us accelerated toward the earth's centre and seeing also the moon, which both in its albedo and its volcanic appearance altogether resembles stone, to be likewise accelerated toward the earth, and when finding these two accelerations are in the inverse duplicate ratios of their distances from that centre, we conclude that their nature, whatever it may be, is the same, we are inferring an analogy, which is a type of inference having all the strength of induction and more, besides.
Moreover, when we consider that all that we infer about the gravitation of the moon is a continuity between the terrestrial and lunar phenomena, a continuity which is found throughout physics, and when we add to that, the analogies of electrical and magnetical attractions, both of which vary inversely as the square of the distance, we plainly recognize here one of the strongest arguments of which science affords any example. .....
Thus inferences concerning veræ causæ are inductions not retroductions, and of course have only such uncertainty and inexactitude as belong to induction. When I say that a reductive inference is not a matter for belief at all, I encounter the difficulty that there are certain inferences which, scientifically considered, are undoubtedly hypotheses and yet which practically are perfectly certain. Such for instance is the inference that Napoleon Bonaparte really lived at about the beginning of this century, a hypothesis which we adopt for the purpose of explaining the concordant testimony of a hundred memoirs, the public records of history, tradition, and numberless monuments and relics. It would surely be downright insanity to entertain a doubt about Napoleon's existence.
A still better example is that of the translations of the cuneiform inscriptions which began in mere guesses, in which their authors could have had no real confidence. Yet by piling new conjectures upon former conjectures apparently verified, this science has gone on to produce under our very eyes a result so bound together by the agreement of the readings with one another, with other history, and with known facts of linguistics, that we are unwilling any longer to apply the word theory to it.
You will ask me how I can reconcile such facts as these with my dictum that hypothesis is not a matter for belief.
In order to answer this question I must first examine such inferences in their scientific aspect and afterwards in their practical aspect.
The only end of science, as such, is to learn the lesson that the universe has to teach it. In Induction it simply surrenders itself to the force of facts. … But it finds that this is not enough. It is driven in desperation to call upon its inward sympathy with nature, its instinct for aid, just as we find Galileo at the dawn of modern science making his appeal to il lume naturale. But in so far as it does this, the solid ground of fact fails it. It feels from that moment that its position is only provisional. It must then find confirmations or else shift its footing. Even if it does find confirmations, they are only partial. It still is not standing upon the bedrock of fact. It is walking upon a bog, and can only say, this ground seems to hold for the present. Here I will stay till it begins to give way. Moreover, in all its progress, science vaguely feels that it is only learning a lesson. The value of Facts to it, lies only in this, that they belong to Nature; and Nature is something great, and beautiful, and sacred, and eternal, and real --the object of its worship and its aspiration. It therein takes an entirely different attitude toward facts from that which Practice takes.
For Practice, facts are the arbitrary forces with which it has to reckon and to wrestle. Science, when it comes to understand itself, regards facts as merely the vehicle of eternal truth, while for Practice they remain the obstacles which it has to turn, the enemy of which it is determined to get the better.
Science feeling that there is an arbitrary element in its theories, still continues its studies, confident that so it will gradually become more and more purified from the dross of subjectivity; but practice requires something to go upon, and it will be no consolation to it to know that it is on the path to objective truth --the actual truth it must have, or when it cannot attain certainty must at least have high probability, that is, must know that, though a few of its ventures may fail, the bulk of them will succeed.
After a while, as Science progresses, it comes upon more solid ground. It is now entitled to reflect: this ground has held a long time without showing signs of yielding. I may hope that it will continue to hold for a great while longer. This reflection, however, is quite aside from the purpose of science. It does not modify its procedure in the least degree. It is extra-scientific.
For Practice, however, it is vitally important, quite altering the situation. As Practice apprehends it, the conclusion no longer rests upon mere retroduction, it is inductively supported. For a large sample has now been drawn from the entire collection of occasions in entertain a doubt about Napoleon's existence. For a large sample has now been drawn from the entire collection of occasions in which the theory comes into comparison with fact, and an overwhelming proportion, in fact all the cases that have presented themselves, have been found to bear out the theory. And so, says Practice, I can safely presume that so it will be with the great bulk of the cases in which I shall go upon the theory; especially as they will closely resemble those which have been well tried. In other words there is now reason to believe in the theory, for belief is the willingness to risk a great deal upon a proposition. But this belief is no concern of science, which has nothing at stake on any temporal venture but is in pursuit of eternal verities (not semblances to truth) and looks upon this pursuit, not as the work of one man's life, but as that of generation after generation, indefinitely.
Thus those retroductive inferences which at length acquire such high degrees of certainty, so far as they are so probable, are not pure retroductions and do not belong to science, as such; while, so far as they are scientific and are pure retroductions, have no true probability and are not matters for belief. We call them in science established truths, that is, they are propositions into which the economy of endeavor prescribes that, for the time being, further inquiry shall cease.

§2. ON SELECTING HYPOTHESES
590. If we are to give the names of Deduction, Induction, and Abduction to the three grand classes of inference, then Deduction must include every attempt at mathematical demonstration, whether it relate to single occurrences or to "probabilities," that is, to statistical ratios; Induction must mean the operation that induces an assent, with or without quantitative modification, to a proposition already put forward, this assent or modified assent being regarded as the provisional result of a method that must ultimately bring the truth to light; while Abduction must cover all the operations by which theories and conceptions are engendered.

591. How is it that man ever came by any correct theories about nature? We know by Induction that man has correct theories; for they produce predictions that are fulfilled. But by what process of thought were they ever brought to his mind? A chemist notices a surprising phenomenon. Now if he has a high admiration of Mill's Logic, as many chemists have, he will remember that Mill tells him that he must work on the principle that, under precisely the same circumstances, like phenomena are produced. ..... How have they learned this? By an induction. Very well, that induction must have been based upon a theory which the induction verified. How was it that man was ever led to entertain that true theory? You cannot say that it happened by chance, because the possible theories, if not strictly innumerable, at any rate exceed a trillion --or the third power of a million; and therefore the chances are too overwhelmingly against the single true theory in the twenty or thirty thousand years during which man has been a thinking animal, ever having come into any man's head. Besides, you cannot seriously think that every little chicken, that is hatched, has to rummage through all possible theories until it lights upon the good idea of picking up something and eating it. On the contrary, you think the chicken has an innate idea of doing this; that is to say, that it can think of this, but has no faculty of thinking anything else. The chicken you say pecks by instinct. But if you are going to think every poor chicken endowed with an innate tendency toward a positive truth, why should you think that to man alone this gift is denied?
If you carefully consider with an unbiassed mind all the circumstances of the early history of science and all the other facts bearing on the question, which are far too various to be specifically alluded to in this lecture, I am quite sure that you must be brought to acknowledge that man's mind has a natural adaptation to imagining correct theories of some kinds, and in particular to correct theories about forces, without some glimmer of which he could not form social ties and consequently could not reproduce his kind. In short, the instincts conducive to assimilation of food, and the instincts conducive to reproduction, must have involved from the beginning certain tendencies to think truly about physics, on the one hand, and about psychics, on the other. It is somehow more than a mere figure of speech to say that nature fecundates the mind of man with ideas which, when those ideas grow up, will resemble their father, Nature.

592. But if that be so, it must be good reasoning to say that a given hypothesis is good, as a hypothesis, because it is a natural one, or one readily embraced by the human mind. It must concern logic in the highest degree to ascertain precisely how far and under what limitations this maxim may be held. For of all beliefs, none is more natural than the belief that it is natural for man to err. The logician ought to find out what the relation is between these two tendencies.

593. It behooves a man first of all to free his mind of those four idols of which Francis Bacon speaks in the first book of the Novum Organum. So much is the dictate of Ethics, itself. But after that, what? Descartes, as you know, maintained that if a man could only get a perfectly clear and distinct idea --to which Leibniz added the third requirement that it should be adequate --then that idea must be true. But this is far too severe. For never yet has any man attained to an apprehension perfectly clear and distinct, let alone its being adequate; and yet I suppose that true ideas have been entertained. Ordinary ideas of perception, which Descartes thought were most horribly confused, have nevertheless something in them that very nearly warrants their truth, if it does not quite so. "Seeing is believing," says the instinct of man.

594. The question is what theories and conceptions we ought to entertain. Now the word "ought" has no meaning except relatively to an end. That ought to be done which is conducive to a certain end. The inquiry therefore should begin with searching for the end of thinking. What do we think for? What is the physiological function of thought? If we say it is action, we must mean the government of action to some end. To what end? It must be something, good or admirable, regardless of any ulterior reason. This can only be the esthetically good. But what is esthetically good? Perhaps we may say the full expression of an idea? Thought, however, is in itself essentially of the nature of a sign. But a sign is not a sign unless it translates itself into another sign in which it is more fully developed. Thought requires achievement for its own development, and without this development it is nothing. Thought must live and grow in incessant new and higher translations, or it proves itself not to be genuine thought.

595. But the mind loses itself in such general questions and seems to be floating in a limitless vacuity. It is of the very essence of thought and purpose that it should be special, just as truly as it is of the essence of either that it should be general. Yet it illustrates the point that the valuable idea must be eminently fruitful in special applications, while at the same time it is always growing to wider and wider alliances.

596. Classical antiquity was far too favorable to the sort of concept that was
fortis, et in se ipso totus, teres atque rotundus.
I often meet with such theories in philosophical books, especially in the works of theological students and of others who draw their ideas from antiquity. Such is the circular theory, which assumes itself and returns into itself --the aristocratical theory which holds itself aloof from vulgar facts. Logic has not the least objection to such a view, so long as it maintains its self-sufficiency, keeps itself strictly to itself, as its nobility obliges it to do, makes no pretension of meddling with the world of experience, and does not ask anybody to assent to it.

597. Auguste Comte, at the other extreme, would condemn every theory that was not "verifiable." Like the majority of Comte's ideas, this is a bad interpretation of a truth.
An explanatory hypothesis, that is to say, a conception which does not limit its purpose to enabling the mind to grasp into one a variety of facts, but which seeks to connect those facts with our general conceptions of the universe, ought, in one sense, to be verifiable; that is to say, it ought to be little more than a ligament of numberless possible predictions concerning future experience, so that if they fail, it fails.
Thus, when Schliemann entertained the hypothesis that there really had been a city of Troy and a Trojan War, this meant to his mind among other things that when he should come to make excavations at Hissarlik he would probably find remains of a city with evidences of a civilization more or less answering to the descriptions of the Iliad, and which would correspond with other probable finds at Mycenae, Ithaca, and elsewhere. So understood, Comte's maxim is sound. Nothing but that is an explanatory hypothesis. But Comte's own notion of a verifiable hypothesis was that it must not suppose anything that you are not able directly to observe. From such a rule it would be fair to infer that he would permit Mr. Schliemann to suppose he was going to find arms and utensils at Hissarlik, but would forbid him to suppose that they were either made or used by any human being, since no such beings could ever be detected by direct percept. He ought on the same principle to forbid us to suppose that a fossil skeleton had ever belonged to a living ichthyosaurus. This seems to be substantially the opinion of M. Poincaré at this day. The same doctrine would forbid us to believe in our memory of what happened at dinnertime today.
I have for many years been an adherent of what is technically called Common Sense in philosophy, myself; and do not think that my Tychistic opinions conflict with that position; but I nevertheless think that such theories as that of Comte and Poincaré about verifiable hypotheses frequently deserve the most serious consideration; and the examination of them is never lost time; for it brings lessons not otherwise so easily learned. Of course with memory would have to go all opinions about everything not at this moment before our senses. You must not believe that you hear me speaking to you, but only that you hear certain sounds while you see before you a spot of black, white, and flesh color; and those sounds somehow seem to suggest certain ideas which you must not connect at all with the black and white spot. A man would have to devote years to training his mind to such habits of thought, and even then it is doubtful whether it would be possible. And what would be gained? If it would alter our beliefs as to what our sensuous experience is going to be, it would certainly be a change for the worse, since we do not find ourselves disappointed in any expectations due to common sense beliefs. If on the other hand it would not make any such difference, as I suppose it would not, why not allow us the harmless convenience of believing in these fictions, if they be fictions? Decidedly we must be allowed these ideas, if only as cement for the matter of our sensations. At the same time, I protest that such permission would not be at all enough. Comte, Poincaré, and Karl Pearson take what they consider to be the first impressions of sense, but which are really nothing of the sort, but are percepts that are products of psychical operations, and they separate these from all the intellectual part of our knowledge, and arbitrarily call the first real and the second fictions. These two words real and fictive bear no significations whatever except as marks of good and bad. But the truth is that what they call bad or fictitious, or subjective, the intellectual part of our knowledge, comprises all that is valuable on its own account, while what they mark good, or real, or objective, is nothing but the pretty vessel that carries the precious thought.

598. I can excuse a person who has lost a dear companion and whose reason is in danger of giving way under the grief, for trying, on that account, to believe in a future life. I can more than excuse him because his usefulness is at stake, although I myself would not adopt a hypothesis, and would not even take it on probation, simply because the idea was pleasing to me. Without judging others, I should feel, for my own part, that that would be a crime against the integrity of the reason that God has lent to me. But if I had the choice between two hypotheses, the one more ideal and the other more materialistic, I should prefer to take the ideal one upon probation, simply because ideas are fruitful of consequences, while mere sensations are not so; so that the idealistic hypothesis would be the more verifiable, that is to say, would predict more, and could be put the more thoroughly to the test.

Upon this same principle, if two hypotheses present themselves, one of which can be satisfactorily tested in two or three days, while the testing of the other might occupy a month, the former should be tried first, even if its apparent likelihood is a good deal less.

599. It is a very grave mistake to attach much importance to the antecedent likelihood of hypotheses, except in extreme cases; because likelihoods are mostly merely subjective, and have so little real value, that considering the remarkable opportunities which they will cause us to miss, in the long run attention to them does not pay.
Every hypothesis should be put to the test by forcing it to make verifiable predictions. A hypothesis on which no verifiable predictions can be based should never be accepted, except with some mark attached to it to show that it is regarded as a mere convenient vehicle of thought -a mere matter of form.

600. In an extreme case, where the likelihood is of an unmistakably objective character, and is strongly supported by good inductions, I would allow it to cause the postponement of the testing of a hypothesis. For example, if a man came to me and pretended to be able to turn lead into gold, I should say to him, "My dear sir, I haven't time to make gold."
But even then the likelihood would not weigh with me directly, as such, but because it would become a factor in what really is in all cases the leading consideration in Abduction, which is the question of Economy --Economy of money, time, thought, and energy.

601. It is Prof. Ernst Mach, (in The Economical Nature of Physical Inquiry), who has done the most to show the importance in logic of the consideration of Economy although I had written a paper on the subject as early as 1878. But Mach goes altogether too far. For he allows thought no other value than that of economizing experiences. This cannot for an instant be admitted. Sensation, to my thinking, has no value whatever except as a vehicle of thought.

602. Proposals for hypotheses inundate us in an overwhelming flood, while the process of verification to which each one must be subjected before it can count as at all an item, even of likely knowledge, is so very costly in time, energy, and money --and consequently in ideas which might have been had for that time, energy, and money, that Economy would override every other consideration even if there were any other serious considerations. In fact there are no others. For abduction commits us to nothing. It merely causes a hypothesis to be set down upon our docket of cases to be tried.

603. I shall be asked, Do you really mean to say that we ought not to adopt any opinion whatever as an opinion until it has sustained the ordeal of furnishing a prediction that has been verified?

In order to answer that question, it will be requisite to inquire how an abduction can be justified, here understanding by abduction any mode or degree of acceptance of a proposition as a truth, because a fact or facts have been ascertained whose occurrence would necessarily or probably result in case that proposition were true. The abduction so defined amounts to observing a fact and then professing to say what idea it was that gave rise to that fact. One would think a man must be privy to the counsels of the Most High so to presume. The only justification possible, other than some such positive fact which would put quite another color upon the matter, is the justification of desperation. That is to say, that if he is not to say such things, he will be quite unable to know anything of positive fact.

In a general way, this justification certainly holds. If man had not had the gift, which every other animal has, of a mind adapted to his requirements, he not only could not have acquired any knowledge, but he could not have maintained his existence for a single generation. But he is provided with certain instincts, that is, with certain natural beliefs that are true. They relate in part to forces, in part to the action of minds. The manner in which he comes to have this knowledge seems to me tolerably clear. Certain uniformities, that is to say certain general ideas of action, prevail throughout the universe, and the reasoning mind is [it]self a product of this universe. These same laws are thus, by logical necessity, incorporated in his own being.
For example, what we call straight lines are nothing but one out of an innumerable multitude of families of nonsingular lines such that through any two points there is one and one only. The particular family of lines called straight has no geometrical properties that distinguish it from any other of the innumerable families of lines of which there is one and one only through any two points. It is a law of dynamics that every dynamical relation between two points, no third point being concerned, except by combinations of such pairs, is altogether similar, except in quantity, to every such dynamical relation between any other two points on the same ray, or straight line. It is a consequence of this that a ray or straight line is the shortest distance between two points; whence, light appears to move along such lines; and that being the case, we recognize them by the eye, and call them straight. Thus, the of sight naturally causes us to assign great prominence to such lines; and thus when we come to form a hypothesis about the motion of a particle left uninfluenced by any other, it becomes natural for us to suppose that it moves in a straight line. The reason this turns out true is, therefore, that this first law of motion is a corollary from a more general law which, governing all dynamics, governs light, and causes the idea of straightness to be a predominant one in our minds.

604. In this way, general considerations concerning the universe, strictly philosophical considerations, all but demonstrate that if the universe conforms, with any approach to accuracy, to certain highly pervasive laws, and if man's mind has been developed under the influence of those laws, it is to be expected that he should have a natural light, or light of nature, or instinctive insight, or genius, tending to make him guess those laws aright, or nearly aright. This conclusion is confirmed when we find that every species of animal is endowed with a similar genius. For they not only one and all have some correct notions of force, that is to say, some correct notions, though excessively narrow, of phenomena which we, with our broader conceptions, should call phenomena of force, and some similarly correct notions about the minds of their own kind and of other kinds, which are the two sufficient cotyledons of all our science, but they all have, furthermore, wonderful endowments of genius in other directions. Look at the little birds, of which all species are so nearly identical in their physique, and yet what various forms of genius do they not display in modelling their nests? This would be impossible unless the ideas that are naturally predominant in their minds were true. It would be too contrary to analogy to suppose that similar gifts were wanting to man. Nor does the proof stop here. The history of science, especially the early history of modern science, on which I had the honor of giving some lectures in this hall some years ago, completes the proof by showing how few were the guesses that men of surpassing genius had to make before they rightly guessed the laws of nature. . . .

 

KNOWLEDGE

Excerpt and condensation from Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology (CP5. 574-604)

§ 1. KNOWLEDGE
605. This word is used in logic in two senses: (1) as a synonym for Cognition, and (2), and more usefully, to signify a perfect cognition, that is, a cognition fulfilling three conditions:
first, that it holds for true a proposition that really is true;
second, that it is perfectly self-satisfied and free from the uneasiness of doubt;
third, that some character of this satisfaction is such that it would be logically impossible that this character should ever belong to satisfaction in a proposition not true.

606. Knowledge is divided,
firstly, according to whatever classification of the sciences is adopted. Thus, Kantians distinguish formal and material knowledge.

Secondly, knowledge is divided according to the different ways in which it is attained, as into immediate and mediate knowledge.
Immediate knowledge is a cognition, or objective modification of consciousness, which is borne in upon a man with such resistless force as to constitute a guarantee that it (or a representation of it) will remain permanent in the development of human cognition. Such knowledge is, if its existence be granted, either borne in through an avenue of sense, external or internal, as a percept of an individual, or springs up within the mind as a first principle of reason or as a mystical revelation.
Mediate knowledge is that for which there is some guarantee behind itself, although, no matter how far criticism be carried, simple evidency, or direct insistency, of something has to be relied upon. The external guarantee rests ultimately either upon authority, i.e., testimony, or upon observation. In either case mediate knowledge is attained by Reasoning, which see for further divisions.
It is only necessary to mention here that the Aristotelians distinguished knowledge {hoti}, or of the facts themselves, and knowledge {dioti}, or of the rational connection of facts, the knowledge of the how and why (cf. the preceding topic). They did not distinguish between the how and the why, because they held that knowledge {dioti} is solely produced by Syllogism in its greatest perfection, as demonstration.
The term empirical knowledge is applied to knowledge, mediate or immediate, which rests upon percepts; while the terms philosophical and rational knowledge are applied to knowledge, mediate or immediate, which rests chiefly or wholly upon conclusions or revelations of reason.
Thirdly, knowledge is divided, according to the character of the immediate object, into apprehensive and judicative knowledge, the former being of a percept, image, or Vorstellung, the latter of the existence or non-existence of a fact.

Fourthly, knowledge is divided, according to the manner in which it is in the mind, into actual, virtual, and habitual knowledge. (See Scotus, Opus Oxoniense, lib. I, dist. iii. quest. 2, paragraph beginning "Loquendo igitur.")

Fifthly, knowledge is divided according to its end, into speculative and practical.


§2. REPRESENTATIONISM
607. The doctrine that percepts stand for something behind them.

In a certain sense it must be admitted, even by presentationists, that percepts only perform the function of conveying knowledge of something else. That is to say, they have to be combined and generalized to become useful knowledge; so that they may be said to represent their own generalizations.
In this, representationists and presentationists may agree. But the dispute between them consists in this, that the representationist regards the percept in the light of testimony or a picture, from which by inference, or a mental act analogous to inference, the hidden cause of the percept may become known; while the presentationist holds that perception is a two-sided consciousness in which the percept appears as forcibly acting upon us, so that in perception the consciousness of an active object and of a subject acted on are as indivisible as, in making a muscular effort, the sense of exertion is one with and inseparable from the sense of resistance.
The representationist would not allow that there is any bilateral consciousness even in the latter sense, regarding the bilaterality as a quasi-inference, or product of the mind's action; while the presentationist insists that there is nothing intellectual or intelligible in this duality. It is, he says, a hard fact experienced but never understood. A representationist will naturally regard the theory that everything in the outward world is atoms, their masses, motions, and energy, as a statement of the real fact which percepts represent.
The presentationist, on the other hand, will more naturally regard it as a formula which is fitted to sum up and reconcile the percepts as the only ultimate facts. These are, however, merely different points of view in which neither ought to find anything absolutely contrary to his own doctrine.

§3. ULTIMATE
608. (1) Last in a series; especially in a series of purposes each, except the last, subsidiary to an ulterior one following it in the arrangement considered, or of actions each of which, except the last, leads to the performance of another.

Thus, the phrase ultimate signification implies that a sign determines another sign of the same object, and this another; and so on until something is reached which is a sign only for itself. Ultimate fact implies that there is a series of facts each explicable by the one following it, until a fact is reached utterly nexplicable.

609. (2) Applied also to the limiting state of an endless series of states which approach indefinitely near to the limiting state, and on the whole nearer and nearer, without necessarily ever reaching it; although the word ultimate does not imply a denial of actual attainment.

Thus, it has been held that a real object is that which will be represented in the ultimate opinion about it. This implies that a series of opinions succeed one another, and that it is hoped that they may ultimately tend more and more towards some limiting opinion, even if they do not reach and rest in a last opinion.

 

 

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Peirce's Proof of Pragmatism

In “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (1878), Peirce criticizes Descartes' doctrine of the clearness of ideas and goes on to develop his own theory, according to which there are three levels or grades of clearness. The theory of meaning associated with the third grade of clearness is represented in the pragmatic maxim (and is sometimes thought of as an operationalist theory). Peirce ends the paper by applying the pragmatic maxim in his examination of the meaning of several conceptions, including 'realism'. (He later thought that his early pragmatism was too nominalistic.)

When Peirce's efforts to prove pragmatism are understood to be attempts to provide a convincing rationale or argument for the truth of his maxim, it makes sense to suppose that his first proof began to take shape in the early 1870s when he promoted pragmatism among the members of the Cambridge Metaphysical Club ... and it is strongly supported by Peirce himself in his first Harvard Lecture (sel. 10): "The argument upon which I rested the maxim in my original paper was that belief consists mainly in being deliberately prepared to adopt the formula believed in as the guide to action." This belief, in turn, was carried back to "an original impulse to act consistently, to have a definite intention." We might think of this early proof as the proof based on Peirce's theory of belief. But this is a "psychological principle" and by 1903 Peirce no longer thought it "satisfactory to reduce such fundamental things to psychology." Besides, as he wrote in the "additament" to his "Neglected Argument" (sel. 29), "I must confess the argument . . . might with some justice be said to beg the question."

From his first Harvard Lecture: What is the proof that the possible practical consequences of a concept constitute the sum total of the concept? The argument upon which I rested the maxim in my original paper was that belief consists mainly in being deliberately prepared to adopt the formula believed in as the guide to action. If this be in truth the nature of belief, then undoubtedly the proposition believed in can itself be nothing but a maxim of conduct. That I believe is quite evident. (Harvard Lecture I, CP5-27)
But how do we know that belief is nothing but the deliberate preparedness to act according to the formula believed?
My original article carried this back to a psychological principle. The conception of truth, according to me, was developed out of an original impulse to act consistently, to have a definite intention. But in the first place, this was not very clearly made out, and in the second place, I do not think it satisfactory to reduce such fundamental things to facts of psychology. For man could alter his nature, or his environment would alter it if he did not voluntarily do so, if the impulse were not what was advantageous or fitting. Why has evolution made man's mind to be so constructed? That is the question we must nowadays ask, and all attempts to ground the fundamentals of logic on psychology are seen to be essentially shallow. (CP5-28)

What is probably the single most significant time in Peirce's mature life of ideas is his time in Cambridge in 1903 when he gave his famous "Harvard Lectures", followed not long after by his third series of Lowell Lectures. Peirce had paid close attention to the stream of writings on pragmatism that was gaining momentum and he thought the time had come for him to make a case for a more or less definitive core statement. But making his case or, as he saw it, proving his thesis, was a complicated matter requiring the marshaling of support from all areas of his vast system of thought. Further complicating matters was the fact that Peirce's system had gone through many changes since the 1870s. Among the more significant of those changes, some already mentioned above, was his acceptance of the reality of actuality (secondness) and later of possibility (firstness); his realization that human rationality is continuous with an immanent rationality in the natural cosmos; and his new-found conviction that logic is a normative science, epistemically dependent on ethics and esthetics. For Peirce, pragmatism had become a doctrine that conceptions are fundamentally relative to aims rather than to action per se as he had held in earlier years. To prove pragmatism, then, called for a basic rethinking within the context of a transformed, and still growing, philosophy. That was the task Peirce set out to perform in his 1903 Harvard and Lowell Lectures, and the program he inaugurated that year would guide him for the rest of his life.

By 1903 Peirce was much better prepared to build a proof of pragmatism, and it is clear that he was thinking of "proof" in a more rigorous sense.
In his more technical restatement of his maxim for his Harvard Lectures, pragmatism was restricted to conceptions that can be expressed in sentential form. Accordingly, the meaning of a theoretical judgment expressible in a sentence in the indicative mood (what was originally expressed as "the object of our conception") lies in its tendency to enforce a corresponding practical maxim that takes the form of a conditional sentence (originally, "our conception of effects that might conceivably have practical bearings"). This is the thesis Peirce set out in 1903 to demonstrate.
How did he go about it? Roughly by establishing, first, that all intellectual contents amount to theoretical judgments expressible in indicative sentences and, second, that all such judgments fundamentally appeal to imperative practical conditionals.
To support the first part, he established: (1) nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses, (2) the process by which sensory stimulation rises to perceptual judgment is not subject to self-control, (3) perceptual judgments cannot be called into question and are the first premisses of all our reasonings, (4) perceptual judgments contain general (i.e. interpretative) elements (as in predicates of propositions), and (5) although literally particular, perceptual judgments entail general propositions. Then Peirce argued that (6) the process which results in perceptual judgments is a quasi-abductive process (depending on intellectual habits) which "interprets" percepts as cases falling under practical conditionals (and, therefore in relation to a purpose).
This effectively proved his thesis. We might think of this as Peirce's proof of pragmatism based on his theory of perception.

It was in the Harvard Lectures that Peirce, for the first time, made it clear that his realism was opposed to idealism as well as to nominalism. Peirce's new theory of perception embraced the doctrine of immediate perception, to deny which, according to Peirce, "cuts off all possibility of ever cognizing a relation." That idea was carried forward into the Lowell Lectures, where Peirce continued with his effort to prove pragmatism. In "What Makes a Reasoning Sound" (sel. 17), Peirce made a strong case for objective grounds for evaluating reasonings and argued that with the right method even "a slight tendency to guess correctly" will assure progress toward the truth.

On 7 March 1904 he wrote to William James: "The humanistic element of pragmatism is very true and important and impressive; but I do not think that the doctrine can be proved in that way. The present generation likes to skip proofs. . . . You and Schiller carry pragmatism too far for me. I don't want to exaggerate it but keep it within the bounds to which the evidences of it are limited." By this time he was already at work on the first article of another series of papers for the Monist where he would again take up the proof of pragmatism.

Peirce's third Monist series opened with the April 1905 publication of "What Pragmatism Is" (sel. 24). This was to be the first of three papers that would explain in detail Peirce's special brand of pragmatism, give examples of its application, and prove it. Not long into his paper, Peirce paused to deliver a short lesson on philosophical nomenclature as a rationale for renaming his form of pragmatism. He chose the name "pragmaticism" as one "ugly enough" to be safe from kidnappers. Peirce lamented that his word "pragmatism" was now met with in the literary journals, "where it gets abused in the merciless way that words have to expect when they fall into literary clutches." He would continue using his new "ugly" word for the rest of the Monist series, and as late at 1909 (sel. 30, p. 457) he used "pragmaticism" because, he wrote, James and Schiller had made "pragmatism" imply "the will to believe, the mutability of truth, the soundness of Zeno's refutation of motion, and pluralism generally"; but he would often revert to his original name, indicating that he may not really have wanted to give it up.

After his excursus into philosophical terminology, Peirce examined the presuppositions of pragmaticism with his proof in mind. One key assumption was that all mental development (learning) takes place in the context of a mass of already formed conceptions, and another was that meaning is always virtual. He also argued for the relevance of all three of the categories of being for his pragmaticism: thought (thirdness) can only govern through action (secondness) which, in turn, cannot arise except in feeling (firstness).

The same year, in "Issues of Pragmaticism" (sel. 25), Peirce restated his pragmatic maxim in semiotic terms, along lines suggested in his sixth Harvard Lecture (sel. 15). He identified the meaning that pragmaticism seeks to enunciate as that of symbols rather than of simple conceptions. The thrust of this article was to articulate his forms of critical common-sensism and scholastic realism, which he regarded as consequences (or "issues") of pragmaticism. He extended his realism to include the acceptance of "real vagues" and "real possibilities," and he pointed out that "it is the reality of some possibilities that pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon." According to Fisch, pragmaticism had now become pragmatism "purged of the nominalistic dross of its original exposition."

There are a number of manuscript drafts for a third Monist article which indicate that Peirce intended to proceed with his proof along lines he would follow in selection 28. In one of those drafts, "The Basis of Pragmaticism in Phaneroscopy" (sel. 26), he began with an argument from the valency of concepts based in his phenomenology (phaneroscopy) and theory of categories. In another, "The Basis of Pragmaticism in the Normative Sciences" (sel. 27), he focused on the normative sciences, especially on his general theory of signs, as the key to the proof. Peirce pointed out that the pragmaticist will grant that the "summum bonum" consists in a "continual increase of the embodiment of the idea-potentiality" but insisted that without embodiment in something other than symbols, "the principles of logic show there never could be the least growth in idea-potentiality."

Around this time, Peirce was working intensely on the formal structure and systematic interconnections of semiotic relations. His logic notebook (MS 339) in 1905 and 1906 is rife with semiotic analyses and discoveries giving weight to the idea that it was in the context of his theory of signs that he expected to deliver his promised proof of pragmaticism. But when the third article of the series, "Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism," finally appeared in October 1906, it turned out to be an explication of his system of logical graphs, the Existential Graphs, instead of the expected proof. Peirce had decided that it was by means of the Existential Graphs that he could most convincingly set out his proof, which was to follow in subsequent articles (although it is significantly previewed in this one). Peirce had decided to use his system of graphs for his proof for three principal reasons: it employed the fewest possible arbitrary conventions for representing propositions, its syntax was iconic, and it facilitated the most complete analysis. Peirce worked for years on the continuation of this series, but he never finished it.

Among the more entangled and confounding sets of manuscripts in the Harvard collection (the manuscripts acquired by the Harvard Philosophy Department after Peirce's death) is one from 1906-7 in which Peirce attempted to compose a more or less popular account of pragmaticism—but again called "pragmatism"—and to give at least a summary proof (MSS 316-22). Nominally, Peirce was composing a "letter to the editor," initially for the Nation but later for the Atlantic, although Peirce recognized it as a full-fledged article in his correspondence. In the two variants combined in selection 28, Peirce delivered a proof that is probably the one he was intending to give in the Monist before he decided on a more formal approach using his Existential Graphs. The proof in selection 28 is based on Peirce's theory of signs, beginning with the premiss that every concept and every thought beyond immediate perception is a sign, and concluding with the proposition that a final logical interpretant must be of the nature of a habit. This selection provides an illuminating integration of Peirce's theory of signs, including his mature theories of propositions and inference, with his pragmaticism.

It is evident from the refinement of the theory of signs expressed in his remarkable "letter" that Peirce had not given up work on semiotics when he turned to his Existential Graphs for his Monist proof of pragmatism. There may have been a hiatus following his failure to get his "letter" into print, but by August 1908 he was hard at work on the classification of triadic relations (MS 339) and in December he resumed discussion of his theory of signs in correspondence with Lady Welby (sel. 32). Peirce's letters to Lady Welby record, often in summary form, the most advanced theory of signs ever fashioned. The theory as a whole is far too complex to be represented here, although it was lightly sketched in the general introduction in EP1, and a recent book by James Liszka provides an excellent introduction to the system in full.(28) For the thread of intellectual development being pursued here, it is noteworthy that early in 1906 Peirce wrote to Lady Welby that he had found it necessary to distinguish two semiotic objects (immediate and dynamical) and three interpretants (here called "intentional," "effectual," and "communicational"), and he introduced the important conception of the commens, which "consists of all that is, and must be, well understood between utterer and interpreter, at the outset, in order that the sign in question should fulfill its function." On 23 December 1908 Peirce defined "sign" as "anything which is so determined by something else, called its Object, and so determines an effect upon a person, which effect I call its Interpretant, that the latter is thereby mediately determined by the former." He immediately added that the only reason he had inserted "upon a person" into his definition was because he despaired of making his broader conception understood. Over the course of the next few days he laid out his "ten main trichotomies of signs" (eight of them had been quietly given in a single remarkable paragraph on pp. 402-3 of selection 28), the tenth one being the division that expresses the three sources of assurance utterances can have: instinct, experience, or form. This tenth trichotomy would occupy Peirce a great deal during his remaining five years. Peirce's correspondence with William James (sel. 33) repeats many of the same semiotic developments recorded in the letters to Lady Welby, but sometimes more perspicuously and always in a different voice. Modal considerations are more evident in the letters to James. As pointed out above, by 1909 Peirce had made deep advances into modal logic and this is reflected in various ways; for example, in Peirce's emphatic statement that the final interpretant consists in the way every mind "would act," not in the way any mind does act, and also in Peirce's division of semiotic objects into may-be's, actualities, and would-be's.

In "Pragmatism" (EP2 - selection 28)/"A Survey of Pragmatism" (CP5 464-496) A Survey of Pragmatism, Peirce shifted the burden of his proof to his theory of signs. First he characterized pragmatism as a method of ascertaining the meaning of "intellectual concepts" and he noted that "triadic predicates" are the principal examples (although, in passing, he considered whether there might be non-intellectual triadic relations). He noted that while signs can convey any of three forms of predicates (monadic, dyadic, or triadic), only triadic predicates are properly called "intellectual concepts." Only intellectual concepts convey more than feeling or existential fact, namely the "would-acts" of habitual behavior; and no agglomeration of actual happenings can ever completely fill up the meaning of a "would-be." This line of thought (with many steps left out) led Peirce to his thesis, what he called "the kernel of pragmatism": "The total meaning of the predication of an intellectual concept consists in affirming that, under all conceivable circumstances of a given kind, the subject of the predication would (or would not) behave in a certain way,—that is, that it either would, or would not, be true that under given experiential circumstances (or under a given proportion of them, taken as they would occur in experience) certain facts would exist." He also expressed his thesis in a simpler form: "The whole meaning of an intellectual predicate is that certain kinds of events would happen, once in so often, in the course of experience, under certain kinds of existential circumstances." This is what Peirce set out to prove in 1907.

Peirce's proof, much abbreviated, ran something like this:
1. "Every concept and every thought beyond immediate perception is a sign."
2. The object of a sign is necessarily unexpressed in the sign.
3. The interpretant is the "total proper effect of the sign" and this effect may be emotional, energetic, or logical, but it is the logical interpretant alone that constitutes "the intellectual apprehension of the meaning of a sign."
4. "A sign is anything, of whatsoever mode of being, which mediates between an object and an interpretant; since it is both determined by the object relatively to the interpretant, and determines the interpretant in reference to the object, in such wise as to cause the interpretant to be determined by the object through the mediation of this 'sign.'"
5. The logical interpretant does not correspond to any kind of object, but is essentially in a relatively future tense, what Peirce calls a "would-be." Thus the logical interpretant must be "general in its possibilities of reference."
6. Therefore, the logical interpretant is of the nature of habit.
7. A concept, proposition, or argument may be a logical interpretant, but not a final logical interpretant. The habit alone, though it may be a sign in some other way, does not call for further interpretation. It calls for action.
8. "The deliberately formed, self-analyzing habit . . . is the living definition, the veritable and final logical interpretant."
9. "Consequently, the most perfect account of a concept that words can convey will consist in a description of that habit which that concept is calculated to produce. But how otherwise can a habit be described than by a description of the kind of action to which it gives rise, with the specification of the conditions and of the motive?"
This conclusion is virtually a paraphrase of Peirce's thesis, the "kernel of pragmatism," so it completes his proof. We might think of this as the proof from Peirce's theory of signs. On 10 April 1907, Peirce sent Giovanni Papini a similar, though somewhat fuller, outline and explained that "among all scientific proofs with which I am acquainted [this is] the one that seems to me to come nearest to popular apprehension."

When Peirce began his third Monist series, represented in EP2 in selections 24-27, he probably had something like the above proof in mind, although perhaps something more wide-ranging. The definition of pragmatism as set out in "What Pragmatism Is" (sel. 24) gives some idea of what he was aiming for: pragmatism, he wrote, is "the theory that a conception, that is, the rational purport of a word or other expression, lies exclusively in its conceivable bearing upon the conduct of life; so that, since obviously nothing that might not result from experiment can have any direct bearing upon conduct, if one can define accurately all the conceivable experimental phenomena which the affirmation or denial of a concept could imply, one will have therein a complete definition of the concept, and there is absolutely nothing more in it" (332). Peirce pointed out that to prove this thesis it would be necessary to appeal to a wide range of "preliminary propositions." Don D. Roberts has listed seventeen "premisses" that he thinks are likely to be among the ones Peirce had in mind, and these include "dismiss make-believes," "logical self-control is a mirror of ethical self-control," "an experiment is an operation of thought," "we do not doubt that we can exert a measure of self-control over our future actions," "a person is not absolutely individual," and "thinking is a kind of dialogue."

Midway through his third Monist series, Peirce changed his mind and decided to base his proof on his Existential Graphs. He never completed his graph-based proof, but there are many manuscript pages indicating what he had in mind. In one draft (MS 298) Peirce explained: "You 'catch on,' I hope. I mean, you apprehend in what way the system of Existential Graphs is to furnish a test of the truth or falsity of Pragmaticism. Namely, a sufficient study of the Graphs should show what nature is truly common to all significations of concepts; whereupon a comparison will show whether that nature be or be not the very ilk that Pragmaticism (by the definition of it) avers that it is. . . ."

That proof, as represented in preliminary form in Peirce's 1906 "Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism" (CP 4.530-72) and in MSS 296-300, is extremely complex. It depends heavily on establishing that the system of Existential Graphs provides a working model of thought and that experimenting with the Graphs amounts to experimenting with concepts themselves. The sweep of issues addressed in the premisses of this proof includes: that the proper objects for investigation in experiments with diagrams are forms of relation; that deductive reasoning is no more certain than inductive reasoning when experimentation can be "multiplied at will at no more cost than a summons before the imagination"; that icons have more to do with the living character of truth than either symbols or indices; that reasoning must be chiefly concerned with forms; that diagrams are icons of the forms of relations that constitute their objects; that members of a collection, taken singly, are not as numerous as the relations among them; that there can be no thought without signs and there are no isolated signs; that every logical evolution of thought should be dialogic; and that thought is not necessarily connected with a brain. This is only a sampling. There is little doubt that the full exposition of Peirce's Graphs-based proof would shed considerable light on the complex network of relationships internal to Peirce's system of thought that support pragmatism, but it is not so clear whether its upshot would be to prove pragmatism or to prove that the system of Existential Graphs is a valid normative logic of cognition—really a "moving picture of thought" as Peirce once said (CP 4.11).

Most of Peirce's arguments for pragmatism, and there are a number that have not been mentioned, seem to be quite straightforward in setting out what is to be proved—the pragmatic maxim as a carefully stated thesis—and in supplying the assumptions and premisses that entail that thesis as conclusion. The intractibility of these arguments usually results from their large number of premisses, ranging over vast sweeps of Peirce's system of thought, and from the difficulty involved in establishing the premisses. But the matter is complicated by the fact that many of the involved premisses require inductive support, and by apparent promises of inductive confirmation for the pragmatic conclusion, which Peirce thought his readers might hesitate to accept because of the overall complexity of the argument and the novel ideas it involved. An important question emerges: What kind of principle is the pragmatic maxim after all? Is it a logical maxim and a regulative principle, or is it a positive truth that can be treated as a scientific hypothesis calling for inductive confirmation? Peirce's treatment suggests that it is both. But as a positive truth informing us how to construe the meaning of conceptions or propositions—signs with intellectual value—how could the pragmatic maxim be confirmed? In criticizing the argument of his 1877-78 "Illustrations," Peirce disallowed any appeal to psychology, and in any case his classification of the sciences shows that the only positive sciences that can legitimately be appealed to are phenomenology and the prior normative sciences (and parts of logic) on which logical methods must rely. Peirce thought the maxim could be tested by using it to analyze familiar intellectual conceptions such as "real," "identity," "sequence," "substance," "time," and "probability," but only after he had established that his logical analyses of those conceptions was neither psychological nor question-begging. That seems to be why he had first to prove that working with his Existential Graphs was "equivalent" to working with conceptions themselves. His proof from the Existential Graphs, then, appears to have been integral to his effort to prove pragmatism inductively. One of the limitations of this approach is that it can never wield demonstrative force, and the argument can always be carried further; but the hope must be that the time will come when further confirmation is beside the point. It is probably this inductive approach that has lent support to the view that Peirce's proof is rather amorphous and perhaps at best a cable with fibers of independent sub-arguments. Overall, it is easy to see why Thompson said that a "real proof" of pragmatism "would amount to a kind of elucidation of most of Peirce's philosophy and formal logic" and why Robin said that "coming to terms with pragmatism's proof" means coming to terms "with the whole Peirce."

When Peirce died in the spring of 1914 he left a lot of important work unfinished. Perhaps most to be regretted is that he was unable to complete his "System of Logic, Considered as Semeiotic," which he hoped would stand for realism in the twentieth century as Mill's System of Logic had stood for nominalism in the nineteenth. As it was, he did leave far more than has since been put to good use. More than fifty years ago, the great American social philosopher, Sidney Hook, wrote of Peirce that "he is just as much the philosopher's philosopher [today], just as much the pioneer of a second Copernican revolution in thought (one more genuine than Kant's) as he was when his meteoric genius first flashed across American skies." It is still true that Peirce is mainly a "philosopher's philosopher." But it may turn out that his pioneering work, perhaps especially his later writings so tightly packed with ideas, will bloom at last into the influential legacy that Peirce in hopeful moments imagined would be his bequest to the future. Perhaps this collection, in spite of its limitations, will contribute to that end.

Most of Peirce's arguments for pragmatism, and there are a number that have not been mentioned, seem to be quite straightforward in setting out what is to be proved—the pragmatic maxim as a carefully stated thesis—and in supplying the assumptions and premisses that entail that thesis as conclusion. The intractibility of these arguments usually results from their large number of premisses, ranging over vast sweeps of Peirce's system of thought, and from the difficulty involved in establishing the premisses. But the matter is complicated by the fact that many of the involved premisses require inductive support, and by apparent promises of inductive confirmation for the pragmatic conclusion, which Peirce thought his readers might hesitate to accept because of the overall complexity of the argument and the novel ideas it involved. An important question emerges: What kind of principle is the pragmatic maxim after all? Is it a logical maxim and a regulative principle, or is it a positive truth that can be treated as a scientific hypothesis calling for inductive confirmation? Peirce's treatment suggests that it is both. But as a positive truth informing us how to construe the meaning of conceptions or propositions—signs with intellectual value—how could the pragmatic maxim be confirmed? In criticizing the argument of his 1877-78 "Illustrations," Peirce disallowed any appeal to psychology, and in any case his classification of the sciences shows that the only positive sciences that can legitimately be appealed to are phenomenology and the prior normative sciences (and parts of logic) on which logical methods must rely. Peirce thought the maxim could be tested by using it to analyze familiar intellectual conceptions such as "real," "identity," "sequence," "substance," "time," and "probability," but only after he had established that his logical analyses of those conceptions was neither psychological nor question-begging. That seems to be why he had first to prove that working with his Existential Graphs was "equivalent" to working with conceptions themselves. His proof from the Existential Graphs, then, appears to have been integral to his effort to prove pragmatism inductively. One of the limitations of this approach is that it can never wield demonstrative force, and the argument can always be carried further; but the hope must be that the time will come when further confirmation is beside the point. It is probably this inductive approach that has lent support to the view that Peirce's proof is rather amorphous and perhaps at best a cable with fibers of independent sub-arguments. Overall, it is easy to see why Thompson said that a "real proof" of pragmatism "would amount to a kind of elucidation of most of Peirce's philosophy and formal logic" and why Robin said that "coming to terms with pragmatism's proof" means coming to terms "with the whole Peirce."

In the final article in EP2, "An Essay Toward Reasoning in Security and in Uberty" (sel. 31), Peirce carried further his consideration of the benefits afforded by the different kinds of reasoning—although here again the discussion is left incomplete. This paper, written in October 1913, only a few months before his death, might suggest that he was having doubts about the value of pragmatism. But it would be more accurate to conclude that in his later years Peirce's thought gravitated to ideas and concerns that forced him—or enabled him—to see the limitations of pragmatism. In 1903 he had proclaimed Pragmatism to be "a wonderfully efficient instrument . . . of signal service in every branch of science" (sel. 10). He had recommended it as advantageous for the conduct of life. Now he saw that the appeal of pragmatism was its contribution to the security of reasoning—but there is a price to pay for security. According to Peirce, reasoning always involves a trade-off between security and uberty (rich suggestiveness; potency). Deductive reasoning provides the most security, but it is austere and almost entirely without evocative power. Abduction, on the other hand, is abundant in its uberty though nearly devoid of security. Peirce had come to see that pragmatism has the limitations that come with choosing security over uberty: "[it] does not bestow a single smile upon beauty, upon moral virtue, or upon abstract truth;—the three things that alone raise Humanity above Animality."

Naturalism had grown into a powerful force in Peirce's thought. He had come to believe that attunement to nature was the key to the advancement of knowledge—as it was for life itself—and he thought that the power to guess nature's ways was one of the great wonders of the cosmos. Just as with animals, whose instinct enables them to "rise far above the general level of their intelligence" in performing their proper functions, so it is with humans, whose proper function, Peirce insisted, is to embody general ideas in art-creations, in utilities, and above all in theoretical cognition. But if attunement to nature is the key to the advancement of knowledge, it is at most a necessary condition; it puts thought on the scent of truth, which, to attain, must be won by skilled reasoning. Peirce remained a logician to the end.

This concludes the thread of development chosen here to draw together the separate papers in EP2, but it is only one of many approaches that could have been taken. Peirce's shift to a graphical syntax for his formal logic, with its corresponding emphasis on the importance of icons for reasoning, led to remarkable results in logic and in philosophy that parallels the course of development outlined above. Alternatively, the evolution of Peirce's theory of signs that is evident throughout EP2 might have been more systematically used to mark movements in Peirce's thought through these years. Or one might have expanded on Fisch's account of Peirce's ever-strengthening commitment to realism—or have followed the shifting influence of major thinkers and scientific discoveries on Peirce's thought. These and other approaches could be turned into useful heuristic guides to Peirce's intellectual life in his final two decades. But the growth of his pragmatism and, in particular, the development of its proof, surely represents a strong current running through the period and for much of it probably best represents Peirce's leading idea.

Something more should be said about Peirce's proof of pragmatism—one of the great puzzles for Peirce scholars. Max Fisch characterized it as "elusive" and Richard Robin says it is "unfinished business." When he first claimed publicly in 1905 to have a proof (sel. 24), he said it was "a proof which seems to the writer to leave no reasonable doubt on the subject." Elsewhere he called it a "strict proof" or "scientific proof." We should not accept the pragmatic maxim, Peirce told the auditors of his second Harvard Lecture (sel. 11), "until it has passed through the fire of a drastic analysis." Peirce literally meant to "prove" pragmatism—but in the sense called for by philosophy. Philosophical proofs seek to prove truths, not just theorems (they strive to be sound, not just valid), and must therefore be concerned with establishing the truth of their premisses. Only rarely is the deductive form of a philosophical argument in dispute; the crucial questions almost always have to do with the legitimacy and strength of the premisses. And as with science generally, establishing the relevance and truth of contingent premisses calls for non-deductive forms of reasoning. As a result, proving pragmatism calls for marshaling an appropriate set of assumptions and supportable claims which, as premisses, will entail pragmatism as expressed in Peirce's maxim. In his first Harvard Lecture, to add to the "strictness" of the proof, Peirce deliberately expressed his maxim as a theorem: "Pragmatism is the principle that every theoretical judgment expressible in a sentence in the indicative mood is a confused form of thought whose only meaning, if it has any, lies in its tendency to enforce a corresponding practical maxim expressible as a conditional sentence having its apodosis in the imperative mood." So when Peirce claimed to have a proof of pragmatism, he meant that he could produce what he believed to be a convincing rationale, an argument (or, as he would say in his "Neglected Argument," an argumentation), to demonstrate that the pragmatic maxim, in a given form, strictly follows from a given set of premisses, and, furthermore, that each of the premisses is either a common assumption or can otherwise be shown to be admissible.


 

"Theory of Truth"

Theory of Truth
Theory of Truth.

"Idealism loses to Pragmatism."

Idealism loses to Pragmatism
Idealism loses to Pragmatism when it comes to winning elections.