Quotations From CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE


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  • And what, then, is belief? It is the demi-cadence which closes a musical phrase in the symphony of our intellectual life.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly (1878). "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 397, Harvard University Press (1934).

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  • The final upshot of thinking is the exercise of volition, and of this thought no longer forms a part; but belief is only a stadium of mental action, an effect upon our nature due to thought, which will influence future thinking.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly (1878). "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 397, Harvard University Press (1934).

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  • Every new concept first comes to the mind in a judgment.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Fragment written c. 1908. Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 546, Harvard University Press (1934).
  • It is certain that the only hope of retroductive reasoning ever reaching the truth is that there may be some natural tendency toward an agreement between the ideas which suggest themselves to the human mind and those which are concerned in the laws of nature.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. From notes for a projected history of science c. 1896. Collected Papers, vol. 1, para. 81, Harvard University Press (1934). Retroductive reasoning is hypothesis.

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  • If an opinion can eventually go to the determination of a practical belief, it, in so far, becomes itself a practical belief; and every proposition that is not pure metaphysical jargon and chatter must have some possible bearing upon practice.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Written c. 1902. "Reason's Rules," Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 539, Harvard University Press (1934).
  • Consider what effects which might conceivably have practical bearings we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician, founder of pragmatism. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly. "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," pp. 79-100, Pragmatism: The Classical Writings, ed. H.S. Thayer (1878). Classic statement of Peirce's "pragmatic maxim."
  • The essence of belief is the establishment of a habit; and different beliefs are distinguished by the different modes of action to which they give rise.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly (1878). "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 398, Harvard University Press (1934).
  • Theology, I am persuaded, derives its initial impulse from a religious wavering; for there is quite as much, or more, that is mysterious and calculated to awaken scientific curiosity in the intercourse with God, and it [is] a problem quite analogous to that of theology.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Manuscript written 1898. "The Logic of Events," Collected Papers, vol. 6, para. 3, Harvard University Press (1934).

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  • Fate then is that necessity by which a certain result will surely be brought to pass according to the natural course of events however we may vary the particular circumstances which precede the event.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. "The Logic of 1873," Collected Papers, vol. 7, para. 334, Harvard University Press (1934).

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  • Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief in anything else.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), U.S. philosopher, logician. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly (1877). "The Fixation of Belief," Collected Papers, vol. 5, para. 371, Harvard University Press (1934).

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