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Query - Charles Pierce

  1. May 17, 2004 #1
    Query - Charles Peirce

    I have only just started really slowly understanding the readings of Charles Peirce, but I still have a few questions. If I understand correctly, Charles Peirce agrees with the scientific method, but how would he explain a few of this questions:

    - What is his (CP's) accurate view of the scientific method? Does he agree it is the only method?
    - Is the scientific method CP's/a philosophers view to prove a way of life? If so how? Or is it CP's way of life (seeing he was a scientist himself, it might seem a redundant question)?
    - What is his way of proving things through the scientific method? Is it also through Observing, Question, Hypothesizing, & Experimenting? Or is there another way he proves this?
    - What is CP’s belief of the way scientific method works?

    These questions are probably tied together but if it can be explained separately I’ll appreciate it
    Last edited: May 19, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2004 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    Gold Member

    I assume you mean Charles Peirce (not "Pierce"). He is one of my all-time favorite philosophers, having been the father of philosophical "pragmatism." He does not dispute the scientific method. He was a trained and devoted physical scientist, and he believed the "hard core" aspects of science might be applied to philosophy as well. His ideas were meant to demonstrate there is an intrinsic relationship between meaning and action such that the nature of meaning can be clarified only by reference to action. As he said, "certain lines of conduct will entail certain kinds of inevitable experiences."

    Peirce said, "For the typical experimentalist, you will find that whatever assertion you may make to him, he will either understand as meaning that if given prescription for an experiment ever can be and ever is carried out in act, an experience of a given description will result, or else he will see no sense at all in what you say."

    So say, for instance, you are wondering if the best way to get your child to learn self-discipline is to control every aspect of his life until he leaves home, or if possibly you should let him do what he pleases, or if some blend of control and freedom is best. A pragmatist will attempt various approaches trying to see what works "most effectively" to help the child learn self-discipline. The pragmatist will NOT assume the truth of an approach from its practical consequences; rather, practical consequences are used as a guide for further experiments.

    The "pragmatic axiom" might be characterized by the following Peirce quotes:

    "Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our concept of those effects is the whole of our conception of the object."

    "In order to ascertain the meaning of an intellectual conception one should consider what practical consequences might conceivably result by necessity from the truth of that conception, and the sum of these consequences will constitute the entire meaning of the conception."

    "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."

    Personally, I wish PF would adopt this as the ideal for philosophizing here. That is, insist aspiring philosophers be able to link conceptions to observable actions (as much as possible anyway) so we can see if they "work" as predicted.
    Last edited: May 17, 2004
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