Welcome to the discussion of Chapter 7 of *Peirce: A Guide for the
Perplexed*. I'm very much looking forward to co-emceeing this discussion
with Phyllis Chiasson as I consider her to be something of an expert in
Peirce's pragmatism, especially when one considers it, as Peirce did in the
1903 Harvard Lectures, as "the logic of abduction." While over the years
I've read a number of her papers, articles, and encyclopedia entries, I am
only now reading her book, *Peirce's Pragmatism:The Design for Thinking*.
While I've just begun it, I can already say that I regret not having read
it earlier.

Our plan is for me to introduce in two posts the first half of the chapter
comprising a brief reflection on the history of pragmatism, and then
section 7.1, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear." Several days later Phyllis will
do something similar with 7.2, Proving pragmatism, and 7.3, Some
applications of the pragmatic maxim. This is an exceedingly rich chapter in
which Kees brings together a number of salient points from the chapters
preceding it while explicitly anticipating the next, the penultimate
chapter, "Truth and reality."

One of the things which I most admire about Kees' book is that, in this
regard analogous to good criticism (and whether or not one fully agrees
with any particular interpretation or not), his explication and analysis
lead one *into* the work, Speaking personally, such an approach makes me
want to reread and more deeply reflect on some of the seminal works Kees
considers, something which I've been doing. I have found that, looking at
the book as a whole, I tend to agree with his interpretations more often
than I disagree with them. Yet, and I think that this was brought home to
me by Joe Ransdell, discussion is most fruitful in those, shall we
say, *crevices
*or even *crevasses of analysis* where we find ourselves not in complete
agreement with or even quite opposed to another's thinking. So, the
following remarks are meant to be taken in that spirit.

Kees begins with the familiar "legend" that modern pragmatism has its
origins in the discussions of The Metaphysical Club (TMC) in Cambridge
(which included Peirce, of course, but also William James, Chauncey Wright,
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and others), most particularly in their
reflections on Bain's definition of *belief* as "that upon which a man is
prepared to act."  Indeed, Peirce will remark that his pragmatism almost
necessarily follows from Bain's definition, and not only pragmatism, but
his theory of inquiry as well.

As Kees notes, the notion that Peirce is the father of pragmatism very
likely comes from William James' pointing to the pragmatic maxim (PM) as it
was first articulated in "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" in James' widely
discussed 1898 Berkeley Union address. Kees claims that the singular
importance of the PM is that it "leaves no intellectual conception,
philosophical or scientific, untouched, and as a result it causes the
entire fabric of thought to shift in significant ways." Thus, it is in fact
as uniquely important as James considered it to be.

My first question is, What can we think of this very broad claim as to the
foundational character of the PM for *all* of science, philosophy, and
thought generally? Does Kees perhaps go too far here? If so, in what
direction(s)? If not, what are the implications of the PM being
*this*foundational for present and future thought and inquiry?

My own sense is that even in the sciences of discovery that it is difficult
to see how the PM is foundational in relation to the sciences which precede
logic (I might also disagree with Kees as to which branch of logic as
semeiotic the PM belongs, something I'll comment on when we get to 7.3) and
especially his claim that it is foundational to theoretical mathematics
(despite Kees' discussion of π in 7.3, which seems to me to apply more to
applied than to pure mathematics) and most especially to phaneroscopy. For
example, Kees quotes Peirce in 7.2 to the effect that pragmatism "is a
study *guided* by mathematics" (118, emphasis added). In another place
Peirce says that the express purpose of the PM is to clarify words and
concepts in *metaphysics*. Now once *that* is accomplished one can readily
see how it might effect sciences further down in his classification of
sciences, notably, the special sciences. But "*all intellectual conception,
philosophic or scientific*"?

The chapter continues with a brief history of late 19th century pragmatism
and how, for better or for worse, James' version dominated the intellectual
scene. His metaphor of truth as the "cash value" of ideas appeared crass
and materialistic to many thinkers (then and now), perhaps contributing to
the fact that pragmatism in all its forms was poorly received by the
philosophical community even though, as Kees notes, both men argued that it
was indeed a very old and even noble idea, Peirce even finding it
adumbrated in Jesus' saying: "by their fruits you may know them."

Kees concludes this prefatory segment of the chapter by commenting on
James' biographer, Ralph Barton Perry's notion, that modern pragmatism was
formed "as a result of James' misunderstanding of Peirce." Contra Perry,
Kees argues that when one looks at James' early work one finds his
pragmatism already formed well before Peirce had published his famous
essay. He judges James' version of pragmatism to be just "another strand"
of it, probably conceived during the years of TMC. That this version gained
great popularity, almost completely overshadowing Peirce's--and yet was so
far from Peirce's own understanding of the doctrine as to, shall we say,
intellectually *lead astray*--famously caused Peirce to rename his doctrine
'pragmaticism', a word "ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers."

It seems to me. whether or not James developed his pragmatic ideas early
on, that Perry makes a good point, namely, that James, lacking thorough
training in the modern logic of his era, found it most difficult to grasp
Peirce's pragmatistic conceptions (consider, for example, James' remarks
about the incomprehensibility of Peirce's 1903 lectures on pragmatism in
letters written at that time). And so, even if both men were influenced by
Bain's dictum during the days of TMC, James, in promulgating his own
(again, as Kees correctly notes, nominalistic) brand of pragmatism, while
yet conflating his idiosyncratic conception with Peirce's radically
different one, did Peircean pragmatism a disservice. It is my sense that
classical pragmatism *was*, as Perry argues, indeed formed under James',
not Peirce's, ideas. In never truly grasping Peirce's doctrine, while yet
ascribing the seminal pragmatic idea to him (and associating his own work
with *that*), James strongly impeded--and, I believe, even to the present
day--the fullest comprehension and furthest development of Peircean



*Gary Richmond*
*Philosophy and Critical Thinking*
*Communication Studies*
*LaGuardia College of the City University of New York*
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