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  • El amor evolutivo y otros ensayos sobre ciencia y religión by Charles S. Peirce
  • Roberto Narváez
Charles S. Peirce. El amor evolutivo y otros ensayos sobre ciencia y religión. Ed. and trans. Sara Barrena. Barcelona: Marbot Ediciones, 2010. 198 pp. No index.

This volume collects eleven pieces written by Charles S. Peirce between 1892 and the early 1900’s. It is named after the classic Monist essay “Evolutionary Love” (1893), which is included along with “Letter to Reverend John W. Brown” (1892), “Dmesis” (1892), “The Marriage of Religion and Science” (1893), “What is Christian Faith?” (1893), “The Logic of Events” (1898), “Reasoning” (1901), “How to Theorize” (1903), “Forms of Life” (1905), “A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God” (1908), and “On the Reconciliation of Religion and Science” (1893). It is the third delivery of translations published in book form by the Group of Peircean Studies at the University of Navarra in four years.1 The editorial method used to organize the materials has been the same in all cases: a general introduction followed by indications about the origin of the texts and short presentations heading each one of them. And once again, in the present anthology Sara Barrena is responsible for the translations and the initial writings. [End Page 262]

The general introduction combines information about Peirce’s life in the period when he composed the essays with suggestions on how to read them in the light of certain scholarly interpretations, such as Joseph Brent’s and Gerard Deledalle’s, regarding the later stages of his philosophical career. In the brief presentations to the texts Barrena states her views about their intrinsic meaning and relevance to understanding Peirce’s positions. In my opinion, the ultimate criterion adopted to choose and order these was determined by the desire to offer a picture of Peirce as a Christian mystical thinker who advocated a comprehension of the relations of religion and science based on a doctrinaire vision of love as a cardinal virtue that should be akin to the beliefs of Roman Catholics.

The quality of the translations is very good; years of experience have increased Barrena’s abilities to fairly incorporate the well-known stylistic and terminological peculiarities of our author. I would only say that her choice of “olvidado” as the equivalent of “neglected” when translating “A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God” (selection 10), was not quite fortunate. A careful reading of the piece makes it evident that by using that intransitive verb Peirce intended to mean the disregarding or inattention to such an argument, while in Spanish “olvidado” hardly refers to anything more than a thing or person that is no longer brought into memory for whatever reason, similar to “forgotten” in English. I suppose that “desatendido” or “preterido” would have worked better.

This “Neglected Argument” (hereafter NA) has inspired a significant mass of critical discussions and can certainly be taken as the volume’s feature selection. According to Barrena, Peirce there “tries to apply the scientific method to the question of the Reality of God and reaches the conclusion that the emergence of the hypothesis of God in everyone … proves that God is real” (p. 147). But I think it is arguable that Peirce’s goal was to prove scientifically the Reality of God. For, in the first place, he explains that “Real” is a word used to signify “having … characters sufficing to identify their subject … whether they be anywise attributed to it by any single man or group of men, or not” (CP 6.453).2 The question of what should be expected to happen given God’s Reality and the proved truth of religion (admitted as “a good outweighing all others”) as conditions makes one expect that the possibility of an Argument for the Reality of God, understood as a “process of thought reasonably tending to produce a definite belief” and not as “proceeding upon definitely formulated premisses” (CP 6.456), “should be obvious to all minds” (CP 6.457). This argument, formed with the vague concepts of common sense, would present its conclusion “in a form directly applicable to the conduct of life … for man’s highest growth...


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