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Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, Volume 8


Charles S. Peirce. Compiled by the Editors of the Peirce Edition Project

Publication Year: 1982

Volume 8 of this landmark edition follows Peirce from May 1890 through July 1892 -- a period of turmoil as his career unraveled at the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. The loss of his principal source of income meant the beginning of permanent penury and a lifelong struggle to find gainful employment. His key achievement during these years is his celebrated Monist metaphysical project, which consists of five classic articles on evolutionary cosmology. Also included are reviews and essays from The Nation in which Peirce critiques Paul Carus, William James, Auguste Comte, Cesare Lombroso, and Karl Pearson, and takes part in a famous dispute between Francis E. Abbot and Josiah Royce. Peirce's short philosophical essays, studies in non-Euclidean geometry and number theory, and his only known experiment in prose fiction complete his production during these years.

Peirce's 1883-1909 contributions to the Century Dictionary form the content of volume 7 which is forthcoming.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-ix


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pp. x

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pp. xi-xvii

Volume 8 in the chronological edition of the writings of Charles S. Peirce is part of a projected 30-volume series initiated in 1975 under the leadership of Max H. Fisch and Edward C. Moore. The edition is selective but comprehensive and includes all writings, on any subject, believed to shed significant light on the development of Peirce’s thought. The...


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pp. xix-xxii

Bibliographical Abbreviations in Editorial Matter

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

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pp. xxv-xcvii

The period from the spring of 1890 into the summer of 1892 was a time of emotional turmoil for Peirce, a time of rash ventures and dashed hopes that would culminate in a transforming experience and a new sense of purpose.1 In the previous decade, Peirce had suffered the loss of his teaching appointment at Johns Hopkins University and the stripping away...

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1. Familiar Letters about the Art of Reasoning

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pp. 1-12

The University of Cracow once conferred upon a very good fellow a degree for having taught the philosophical faculty to play cards. I cannot tell you in what year this happened,—perhaps it was 1499. The graduate was Thomas Murner, of whose writings Lessing said that they illustrated all the qualities of the German language; and so they do if...

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2. Ribot’s Psychology of Attention

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pp. 13-16

Every educated man wants to know something of the new psychology. Those who have still to make acquaintance with it may well begin with Ribot’s little book on “attention,” which all who have made progress in the new science will certainly wish to read. It is the chef d’oeuvre of one of the best of those students who have at length erected...

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3. Six Lectures of Hints toward a Theory of the Universe

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pp. 17-18

Lecture II. The ideas of philosophy must be drawn from logic, as Kant draws his categories. For so far as anything intelligible and reasonable can be found in the universe, so far the process of nature and the process of thought are at one...

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4. Sketch of a New Philosophy

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pp. 19-22

1. It is not a historical fact that the best thinking has been done by words, or aural images. It has been performed by means of visual images and muscular imaginations. In reasoning of the best kind, an imaginary experiment is performed. The result is inwardly observed, and is as unexpected as that of a physical experiment. On the other...

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5. [On Framing Philosophical Theories]

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pp. 23-24

Three questions, at least, I think it must be admitted, ought to form the subject of studies preliminary to the formation of any philosophical theory; namely, 1st, the purpose of the theory, 2nd, the proper method of discovering it, 3rd, the method of proving it to be true. I think, too, it can hardly be denied that it will be safer to consider these questions...

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6. The Non-Euclidean Geometry Made Easy

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pp. 25-29

We have an a priori or natural idea of space, which by some kind of evolution has come to be very closely in accord with observations. But we find in regard to our natural ideas, in general, that while they do accord in some measure with fact, they by no means do so to such a point that we can dispense with correcting them by comparison with...

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7. Review of Jevons’s Pure Logic

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pp. 30-32

Though called Minor, these are scientifically Jevons’s most important writings. As when they first appeared, they impress us by their clearness of thought, but not with any great power. The first piece, “Pure Logic,” followed by four years De Morgan’s Syllabus of Logic, a dynamically luminous and perfect presentation of an idea. In comparison...

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8. Review of Carus’s Fundamental Problems

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pp. 33-35

A book of newspaper articles on metaphysics, extracted from Chicago’s weekly journal of philosophy, the Open Court, seems to a New Yorker something singular. But, granted that there is a public with aspirations to understand fundamental problems, the way in which Dr. Carus treats them is not without skill. The questions touched upon are...

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9. Review of Muir’s The Theory of Determinants

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pp. 36-37

The only history of much interest is that of the human mind. Tales of great achievements are interesting, but belong to biography (which still remains in a prescientific stage) and do not make history, because they tell little of the general development of man and his creations. The history of mathematics, although it relates only to a narrow department of...

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10. Review of Fraser’s Locke

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pp. 38-41

Mr. Galton’s researches have set us to asking of every distinguished personality, what were the traits of his family; although in respect, not to Mr. Galton’s eminent persons, but to the truly great—those men who, in their various directions of action, thought, and feeling, make such an impression of power that we cannot name from all history more...

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11. [Notes on the First Issue of the Monist]

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pp. 42-43

—Many minds nowadays are turning towards high philosophy with expectations such as wide-awake men have not indulged during fifty years of Hamiltonianism, Millism, and Spencerianism; so that the establishment of a new philosophical quarterly which may prove a focus for all the agitation of thought that struggles today to illuminate...

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12. My Life

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pp. 44-46

An extraordinary thing happened to me at a tender age,—as I now reflect upon it, a truly marvellous thing, though in my youthful heedlessness, I overlooked the wonder of it and just cried at the pickle. This occurred 1839 September 10. At that time I commenced life in the function of a baby belonging to Sarah Hunt (Mills) Peirce and Benjamin...

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13. Note on Pythagorean Triangles

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pp. 47

A Pythagorean triangle is a set of 3 integer numbers proportional to the legs and hypotheneuse of a right triangle. It is irreducible if the 3 integers have no common measure. The number of irreducible Pythagorean triangles of which a given number is hypotheneuse is 0, if the number contains a prime factor not of the form...

14. Hints toward the Invention of a Scale-Table

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pp. 48-54

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15. Logical Studies of the Theory of Numbers

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pp. 55-56

The object of the present investigation is to analyze carefully the logic of the theory of numbers. I especially desire to clear up the question of whether there can be fundamentally different ways of proving a theorem from given premises; and the law of reciprocity seems likely to be instructive in this respect. I also wish to know whether there is not a...

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16. Promptuarium of Analytical Geometry

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pp. 57-62

When λ has any other value, we may assume that the expression denotes some other point, and as λ varies continuously we may assume that this point moves continuously. As λ passes through the whole series of real values, the point will describe a line; and the simplest assumption to make is that this line is straight. That we will assume

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17. Boolian Algebra

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pp. 63-68

The algebra of logic was invented by the celebrated English mathematician, George Boole, and has subsequently been improved by the labors of a number of writers in England, France, Germany, and America. The deficiency of pronouns in English, as in every other tongue, begins to be felt as soon as there is occasion to discourse of the relations...

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18. Boolian Algebra. First Lection

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pp. 69-77

The algebra of logic (which must be reckoned among man’s precious possessions for that it illuminates the tangled paths of thought) was given to the world in 1842; and George Boole is the name, an honoured one upon other accounts in the mathematical world, of the mortal upon whom this inspiration descended. Although there had been...

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19. Notes on the Question on the Existence of an External World

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pp. 78-79

1. The idealistic argument turns upon the assumption that certain things are absolutely “present,” namely what we have in mind at the moment, and that nothing else can be immediately, that is, otherwise than inferentially known. When this is once granted, the idealist has no difficulty in showing that that external existence which we cannot know...

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20. [Note on Kant’s Refutation of Idealism]

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pp. 80

Kant’s refutation of idealism in the second edition of the Critic of the Pure Reason has been often held to be inconsistent with his main position or even to be knowingly sophistical. It appears to me to be one of the numerous passages in that work which betray an elaborated and vigorous analysis, marred in the exposition by the attempt to state the...

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21. [Notes on Consciousness]

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pp. 81

First let us see what we can make out by considering the nature of conscious nerve matter. It has the general properties of nerve matter. Two states a calm and an excited. In the excited state protoplasm generally has a tendency to contract; but this is little seen in nerve matter. Excited state brought on by any disturbance. Propagated through the whole mass. Growth. This is stimulated by exercise...

The Monist Metaphysical Project

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22. The Architecture of Theories [Initial Version]

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pp. 84-97

Of the fifty or hundred systems of philosophy that have been advanced at different times of the world’s history, perhaps the larger number have been, not so much results of historical evolution, as happy thoughts which have accidentally occurred to their authors. An idea which has been found interesting and fruitful has been adopted, developed...

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23. The Architecture of Theories

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pp. 98-110

Of the fifty or hundred systems of philosophy that have been advanced at different times of the world’s history, perhaps the larger number have been, not so much results of historical evolution, as happy thoughts which have accidentally occurred to their authors. An idea which has been found interesting and fruitful has been adopted, developed...

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24. The Doctrine of Necessity Examined

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pp. 111-125

In the Monist for January, 1891, I endeavored to show what elementary ideas ought to enter into our view of the universe. I may mention that on those considerations I had already grounded a cosmical theory, and from it had deduced a considerable number of consequences capable of being compared with experience. This comparison is now in...

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25. The Law of Mind [Early Try]

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pp. 126-129

In two preceding articles,1 I have considered the ideas which ought to form the chief materials of cosmology, and in particular have argued against unlimited necessitarianism. I propose next to show, by the study of the soul, that, if my previous conclusions are accepted, we shall be naturally led to the belief that the universe is governed by a father, with...

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26. The Law of Mind [Excursus on the Idea of Time]

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pp. 130-134

Time is a system among certain relations. Anything that dures has its time-relations not completely determined in one way; that is to say, for example, Monday is in part a whole day subsequent to Sunday noon and in part not. But every space of time is separated from others by two instants, or temporal individuals; and every instant is wholly determinate...

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27. The Law of Mind

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pp. 135-157

In an article published in the Monist for January 1891, I endeavored to show what ideas ought to form the warp of a system of philosophy, and particularly emphasized that of absolute chance. In the number for April 1892, I argued further in favor of that way of thinking, which it will be convenient to christen tychism...

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28. [Notes for “Man’s Glassy Essence”]

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pp. 158-164

As first step toward this, let us frame a molecular theory of protoplasm. The physical properties of the vital slime must first be catalogued. It has two states. In the first, it is a solid. But when it is disturbed in certain ways, it becomes liquid. The liquidity starts at the point of disturbance and spreads. But the spreading is not uniform in all...

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29. Man’s Glassy Essence

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pp. 165-183

In the Monist for January, 1891, I tried to show what conceptions ought to form the brick and mortar of a philosophical system. Chief among these was that of absolute chance for which I argued again in last April’s number.1 In July, I applied another fundamental idea, that of continuity, to the law of mind. Next in order, I have to elucidate, from...

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30. Evolutionary Love

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pp. 184-205

Philosophy, when just emerging from its golden pupa-skin, mythology, proclaimed the great evolutionary agency of the universe to be Love. Or, since this pirate-lingo, English, is poor in such-like words, let us say Eros, the exuberance-love. Afterwards, Empedocles set up passionate-love and hate as the two co

Studies on the Algebra of the Copula

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31. [Deductions from a Definition of the Copula]

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pp. 208-209

(2) The necessary scriptibility of a formula may however result from I and II. For that purpose A and B must be replaced by such formulae that if the A-formula is scriptible, the B-formula is likewise scriptible...

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32. Algebra of the Copula [Version 1]

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pp. 210-211

Any proposition written is supposed to be true. In writing propositions parentheses are employed to enclose compounds to be treated as single letters in combining them with letters or other such compounds. These may be called clauses. Parentheses ending clauses or propositions are omitted, and the clauses they would have included are not commonly...

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33. Algebra of the Copula [Version 2]

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pp. 212-216

With 4 copulas, there are 14 forms; with 5, 42; with 6, 132; etc. The last letter of a proposition is called its consequent; all those which are followed by copulas not under parentheses are called antecedents. In like manner, the propositions under parentheses have consequents and antecedents...

34. Examination of the Copula of Inclusion

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pp. 217-221

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35. On the Number of Dichotomous Divisions: A Problem in Permutations

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pp. 222-228

We may consider a row of letters, A, B, C, etc., which we may call the ABC, separated into two parts by a punctuation mark, and each part (not consisting of a single letter) into two parts by a subordinate punctuation mark, and so on until all the letters are separated. I shall call the resulting form an ABC-separation. The following are examples...

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36. Methods of Investigating the Constant of Space

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pp. 229-230

1. Find that component of the proper motion which is perpendicular to the direction in which the motion of the solar system tends to make the star appear to move. Call this the first part of the proper motion. The relative numbers of stars in which this is of different magnitudes depends on the constant of space. Calculate on supposition of equable...

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37. James’s Psychology

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pp. 231-239

Upon this vast work no definitive judgment can be passed for a long time; yet it is probably safe to say that it is the most important contribution that has been made to the subject for many years. Certainly it is one of the most weighty productions of American thought. The directness and sharpness with which we shall state some objections to it must be...

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38. [Morality and Church Creed]

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pp. 240-241

Permit me to say something by way of reply to your editorial entitled: “A plain moral question.” This title attached to a discussion of a point of conduct wherein serious men differ is, I need not say, highly offensive. You are right in so insulting those who have reached a conclusion contrary to your own, provided you can sustain your position...

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39. Review of Spencer’s Essays

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pp. 242-244

The theory of ethics which has latterly been taking shape under the hands of Stephen, Spencer, and others, is, from a practical point of view, one of the most important boons that philosophy has ever imparted to the world, since it supplies a worthy motive to conservative morals at a time when all is confused and endangered by the storm of...

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40. Abbot against Royce

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pp. 245-247

From the point of view of propriety of conduct in a student of philosophy, the only adequate excuse for the first of these acts would be that the fact proclaimed was so unmistakable that there could be no two opinions about it on the part of men qualified by mature study to pass judgment on the merits of philosophical writers. In case the act were...

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41. Review of Chambers’s Pictorial Astronomy

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pp. 248-250

There is no lack of popular books about astronomy by those who look upon the subject from the inside, as, Herschel, Secchi, Newcomb, Langley, Young, Lockyer, Ball. Mr. Chambers is none of these. He is not a scientific observer of the stars, nor has he an ordinary astronomer’s acquaintance with celestial mechanics. He is a well-known compiler...

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42. [Lesson in Necessary Reasoning]

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pp. 251-257

What is reasoning? A question is asked. If it can be satisfactorily settled by direct observation, no reasoning is called for. If you want to know whether the other side of this sheet of paper is blue or not, you will naturally turn it over and look, and that will be better than all the reasoning in the world, if your eyes are normal. But when the question...

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43. The Great Men of History

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pp. 258-266

The following list of men who produce upon us the impression of greatness has been drawn up with great care. Of course, different students would make somewhat different lists; but in the main they would agree. A few names have been added in brackets which, though they are not exactly great, are very extraordinary...

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44. The Comtist Calendar

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pp. 267-270

That the contemplation of the lives and characters of great men is a salutary and invigorating spiritual exercise has always been admitted and often proved. But it is so only on condition that the heroes are apprehended in all their living reality and passion; and, unfortunately, biography is infested with pious frauds. Washed-out accounts of Washington...

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45. The Non-Euclidean Geometry

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pp. 271-274

Lobachevski’s little book, Geometrische Untersuchungen, marks an epoch in the history of thought, that of the overthrow of the axioms of geometry. The philosophical consequences of this are undoubtedly momentous, and there are thinkers who hold that it must lead to a new conception of nature, less mechanical than that which has guided the...

46. The Sciences in Their Order of Generality

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pp. 275-276

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47. The Man of Genius

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pp. 277-283

Prof. Lombroso comes to us with a proposition not absolutely new, but which he makes claim now to prove for the first time. It is that genius is a mental disease, allied to epileptiform mania and in a lesser degree to the dementia of cranks, or mattoids, as he calls them; so that, far from being a mental perfection, it is a degenerate and diseased condition...

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48. The Periodic Law

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pp. 284-285

If our correspondent will read carefully what the Council of the Royal Society say about Newlands, he will see that they do not commit themselves very far. In truth, the step taken by him was not a difficult one. The principal precursor of Mendel

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49. Keppler

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pp. 286-291

Johann Keppler it was who discovered the form of the planets’ paths in coursing round the sun and the law of their varying speed. This achievement, by far the most triumphant unravelment of facts ever performed,—cunninger than any deciphering of hieroglyphics or of cuneiform inscriptions—occupied its author’s whole time from October...

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50. [Plan for a Scientific Dictionary]

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pp. 292-295

The articles, though elementary, to be masterly summaries valuable even to specialists. C. S. Peirce to be editor and to write about a third of the whole. The other writers to be young men, specialists who have not yet achieved great reputations, but found out and selected by the editor as having exceptional mental power and special competence. These...

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51. Embroidered Thessaly

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pp. 296-340

The writer was yesterday called into his lumber-room to pronounce upon the disposition to be made of a roll of two loom-fabrics his rummaging young people had found there. The first to be displayed was a queer tapestry, on which was embroidered in worsteds in bold, rough style, with long stitches, a view of the three mountains Pelion, Ossa...

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52. [Why Do We Punish Criminals?]

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pp. 341-344

Sir: Why do we punish criminals? I have asked this question of many intelligent people, and have uniformly been told the security of society requires that men who have committed crime should be prevented from further wrong-doing and that those who are ready to break the law should be deterred by the spectacle of other punishment...

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53. Review of Buckley’s Moral Teachings of Science

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pp. 345-348

Another subject so important, vast, and difficult it would be hard to name—a subject which not every philosopher of the first rank would be competent adequately to treat. Not mere clear insight into one aspect of philosophy is sufficient; a full appreciation of what belongs to the spirit of all the different leading schools of thought is required. To say that the...

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54. Review of Ridgeway’s The Origin of Metallic Currency

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pp. 349-351

Compound arithmetic can certainly make itself very disagreeable. From the urchin writhing in the agonies of a long sum in long measure, up to Belshazzar, watching the hand write upon the wall those distressful words, “Pounds, pounds, ounces, drams,” that suggested there was an account to settle with God, mortals have doubtless undergone more...

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55. Review of Pearson’s The Grammar of Science

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pp. 352-354

The title of this book hardly prepares the reader for its real nature. It is an attempt to elucidate, in an original train of thought, what amounts, generically speaking, to Kantian nominalism, and to show its applicability to contemporary scientific problems. Although the metaphysical doctrine from which it proceeds is all but exploded, and rests upon an...

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56. Review of Curry’s The Province of Expression

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pp. 355-356

The name Elocution, which, even with our own early writers, was nearly equivalent to eloquence, having been subsequently transferred to the subsidiary art of delivery, is at last degraded by Dr. Curry to designate an offensive display of technique without soul or real art. This leaves him no better word than “expression” by which to designate the...

Editorial Backmatter

Editorial Symbols

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pp. 359-361


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pp. 362-469

Bibliography of Peirce’s References

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pp. 470-479

Chronological Catalog, May 1890–July 1892

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pp. 480-510

Supplementary Catalog Entries

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pp. 511-514

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Essay on Editorial Theory and Method

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pp. 515-531

The structures of spoken and written language fascinated Peirce throughout his intellectual life. His early study of Shakespearean pronunciation (1864) and his comprehensive but fragmentary editor’s manual (c. 1900) bookend a lifetime of engagement with issues of presentation and publication, but Peirce also exhibited an implicit awareness of textual patterns in nearly everything he...

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Textual Apparatus

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pp. 532-678

The Textual Apparatus provides (together with the Essay on Editorial Theory and Method) a nearly complete record of what has been done in the editing process, and it presents the necessary evidence for the editorial decisions that have been made in this critical edition. It consists of fifty-six sections, corresponding to the number of items published in the present volume, and each...

Line-End Hyphenation in the Edition Text

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pp. 679


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pp. 681-724

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004215
E-ISBN-10: 0253004217
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253372086

Page Count: 824
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus., 3 maps
Publication Year: 1982