Gene, Edwina, and Stephen,
I have been traveling and working on some tight deadlines. So I have
not been able to read, much less comment on, most of the discussions.
But I am reluctant to make long chains of questionable inferences
from Peirce's writings and get into heated arguments about the
I'd just like to make one observation about Thomas Gradgrind,
whom Peirce mentioned in a remark that Gene quoted (March 12):
The Reign of Terror was very bad; but now the Gradgrind banner
has been this century long flaunting in the face of heaven, with
an insolence to provoke the very skies to scowl and rumble. Soon
a flash and quick peal will shake economists quite out of their
complacency, too late. The twentieth century, in its latter half,
shall surely see the deluge-tempest burst upon the social order
-- to clear upon a world as deep in ruin as that greed-philosophy has
long plunged it into guilt. No post-thermidorian high jinks then!”
(Evolutionary Love, 1893, 6.292).
In Dickens' novel _Hard Times_, Gradgrind was, among other things,
a teacher who summarized his educational philosophy in one phrase:
"To fill the little pitchers full of facts".
For Peirce, that slogan is extreme nominalism, which was at least
as evil as the gospel of greed. But in the novel, Gradgrind was
a more complex character who had redeeming qualities and a change
of heart and life at the end.
For a brief summary of Gradgrind's portrayal by Dickens, see
Since Gradgrind is a complex character and Peirce is even more complex,
I have serious doubts about any attempt to make stronger inferences
about Peirce's character or opinions than he stated explicitly.
As for myself, I have never agreed with anyone else's paraphrase
of my opinions. I always ask people to quote my exact words and
not attribute their interpretations to me. I would give Peirce
the same benefit of the doubt.
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