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I am impelled to express my sense of gratitude at your kind interest in coming to listen to an extra lecture at this busy season of the year. I shall feel myself under an obligation to make a special endeavor to say something germinative . At the end of my last lecture I had just enunciated three propositions which seem to me to give to pragmatism its peculiar character. In order to be able to refer to them briefly this evening, I will call them for the nonce my cotary propositions. Cos, cotis is a whetstone.1 They appear to me to put the edge on the maxim of pragmatism. These cotary propositions are as follows: First, Nihil est in intellectu quin priusfuerit in sensu.2 I take this in a sense somewhat different from that which Aristotle intended.3 By intellectus, I understand the meaning of any representation in any kind of cognition, virtual, 16 Pragmatism as the Logic of Abduction MS 515. [Published in CP 5.180-212 (in part) and in HL 241-56). Unfitted by Peirce, this is the last of the seven Harvard lectures, delivered on 14 May 1903.] This lecture was added so that Peirce could extend his remarks about the relation of pragmatism to abduction. He elaborates in particular on three keypoints raised in the sixth lecture: (i) that nothing is in the intellect that is not first in the senses, (2) that perceptual judgments contain general elements, and (3) that abductive inference shades into perceptualjudgment withoutany sharp line of demarcation between them. Pragmatism follows from these propositions. Peirce reiterates that the function of pragmatism is to help us identify unclear ideas and comprehend difficult ones. It is in this lecture that Peirce delivers his famous dictum: "The elements of every concept enter into logical thought at the gate of perception and make their exit at the gate of purposive action; and whatever cannot show itspassports at both those two gates is to bearrested as unauthorized by reason." In developing these ideas, Peirce emphasizes that in making every conception equivalent to a conception of "conceivable practical effects" the maxim of pragmatism reachesfar beyond the merely practical and allows for any "flight of imagination" provided only that this imagination ^ultimately alights upon a possible practical effect." I Ladies and Gentlemen: symbolic, or whatever it may be. Berkeley and nominalists of his stripe deny that we have any idea at all of a triangle in general, which is neither equilateral, isosceles, nor scalene.4 But they cannot deny that there are propositions about triangles in general, which propositions are either true or false; and as long as that is the case, whether we have an idea of a triangle in some psychological sense or not, I do not, as a logician, care. We have an intellectus, a meaning, of which the triangle in general is an element. Asfor the other term, insensu, that I take in the sense of in aperceptual'judgment, the starting-point or first premiss of all critical and controlled thinking. I will state presently what I conceive to be the evidence of the truth of this first cotary proposition. ButI prefer to begin by recalling to you what all three of themare. The second is that perceptual judgments contain general elements, so that universal propositions are deducible from them in the manner in which the logic of relations shows that particular propositions usually, not to say invariably , allow universal propositions to be necessarily inferred from them. This I sufficiently argued in my last lecture. This evening I shalltake the truth of it for granted. The third cotary proposition is that abductive inference shades into perceptual judgment without any sharp line of demarcation between them; or in other words our first premisses, the perceptual judgments, are to be regarded as an extreme case of abductive inferences, from which they differ in being absolutely beyond criticism. The abductive suggestion comes to us like a flash.5 It is an act of insight, although of extremely fallible insight. It is true that the different elements of the hypothesis were in our minds before; but it is the idea of putting together what we had never before dreamed of putting together which flashes the new suggestion before our contemplation. On its side, the perceptive judgment is the result of a process, although of a process not sufficiently conscious to be controlled, or to state it more truly, not controllable and therefore not fully conscious. If we...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253007810
Related ISBN
9780253211903
MARC Record
OCLC
642416093
Pages
624
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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